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    Training for an incredible tough group race?

    Hello everyone. I just participated in an incredible tough group race. The race consists of teams of up to 40 riders, riding a rolling paceline (Belgian tourniquet). The fastest team from start to goal (which is 210 kms) wins, and our goal was to make it in 5 hours max. This means 42 km/h. I manage to stay with the group and take my pulls for 3 hours and 40 minutes, and then I was basically spent.. I didn't bonk, my muscles just didn't want anymore. I had 280 watts on average when I had to let the group go (we had a headwind).

    How do you train for such event? I don't want to lose the group next time.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    How did you train, precisely?

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    Senior Member TexMac's Avatar
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    Sounds like you might want to train at 280 watts for 3 minutes on and 3/2 minutes off. This might simulate when you are pulling and drafting... Just my 2 cents & not an expert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    How did you train, precisely?
    I trained with progressively higher intensity on the workouts. I had one long ride (4-5 hours, 100 to 140 kms) every week though. Base1, 2 & 3, then Build 1 & 2, peak, etc. Closer to the race I focused on anaerobic efforts, like you normally would. By the way, when I was tired, it felt like my lungs were "exhausted". Also I had 400-500 w in each pull.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexMac View Post
    Sounds like you might want to train at 280 watts for 3 minutes on and 3/2 minutes off. This might simulate when you are pulling and drafting... Just my 2 cents & not an expert.
    I think it’s a good tip. But how long, how often etc? Also I had 400-500 w in each pull.

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    Training for specialized events be it in cycling, running, swimming etc. usually has to mimic the race. For something that long you'd want to recreate the duration though with slightly less intensity lest you overtrain.

    If I was you and training to do another one I'd figure out how long each pull was, what the avg wattage per pull was and avg duration and intensity of each rest period then recreate that in training. Probably keep my wattage to 95% of the figures from the actual event and start the new training period at about a two hour ride, working up to five hours several weeks from the event and then start to taper a couple of weeks out.

    I'd limit myself to one of those rides per week and do an LSD ride every week as well. I typically work up to LSD workouts of 125-150% of the expected duration of my target event. Between those two rides alone you'd be doing close two 12 hours a week, personally I'd probably stay off the bike other than a couple of short recovery rides in between.

    You also have to consider the possibility that your nutrition wasn't up to snuff and/or you physically just won't be able to ride at that intensity no matter what you do. You may have to pull a little less hard every time to make it through 5 hours and remember that a 5 hour ride with a 42 kph avg is pro tour speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
    Training for specialized events be it in cycling, running, swimming etc. usually has to mimic the race. For something that long you'd want to recreate the duration though with slightly less intensity lest you overtrain.

    If I was you and training to do another one I'd figure out how long each pull was, what the avg wattage per pull was and avg duration and intensity of each rest period then recreate that in training. Probably keep my wattage to 95% of the figures from the actual event and start the new training period at about a two hour ride, working up to five hours several weeks from the event and then start to taper a couple of weeks out.

    I'd limit myself to one of those rides per week and do an LSD ride every week as well. I typically work up to LSD workouts of 125-150% of the expected duration of my target event. Between those two rides alone you'd be doing close two 12 hours a week, personally I'd probably stay off the bike other than a couple of short recovery rides in between.

    You also have to consider the possibility that your nutrition wasn't up to snuff and/or you physically just won't be able to ride at that intensity no matter what you do. You may have to pull a little less hard every time to make it through 5 hours and remember that a 5 hour ride with a 42 kph avg is pro tour speed.
    Thanks! This is useful. I've considered myself that I should have focused on race simulation instead of short anaerobic workouts closer to the event. I think I had to let the group go because of "exhausted lungs" (this is what I felt), if it sounds logical. I think this should be possible to train for. About nutrition: Maybe my nutrition was not up to snuff. I had in total 4 bottles High5/powerbar, and about 5 high5 bars, and one gel. But my stomach didn't feel any good, after 3,5 hours I lost the desire to drink and eat. Also my back and neck hurt.. What do you think about my nutrition?

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    I'm really not the guy to ask about nutrition but one thing I do know is that when you're on the rivet solid food is really hard for your body to digest. Like almost impossible, so bars are not really your friend. Calories in liquid and gel form go down best.

    Based on your own body weight, power output and event duration you should be able to roughly calculate your energy requirements and consume accordingly. I don't know what you ate before the event but personally I like to get some healthy fats and a bunch of carbs a minimum of two hours before my event starts. That' way the energy fully digested and stored for use and my stomach has nothing in it to get upset when the effort comes.

    That being said most people need some solid food at some point just to feel like they've eaten. Notice that pros in the peloton regularly have sandwiches at some point during the day (and fans of coke!!!) though they tend to not be hammering all day long. YMMV of course.

    Also did you warm up before the start of the race? Going from rest to 42 kph is a shock to your system and will make most people hurt right out of the gate. That'll make it mentally tough to keep up the pace even if your body can handle it.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I agree with CAR. That, and emphasize volume. You want ~250 miles/week for 2-3 months before the event. Most of that at endurance pace. I don't do training rides of over 6 hours, tending to split it up a bit more than CAR recommends.

    Nutrition: During base, it's a good idea to do some of those rides low on nutrition to stimulate fat burning. I've read that Lance used to do 6 hour rides on water only during the winter. I think you ran out of nutrition during the race. The lungs sensation may have been your blood sugar dropping out. But probably what happened was that your stomach shut down. You don't say what strength you used for your High5 drink. But at the 47g/bottle strength, that would be 700 kcal, plus 1100 kcal for the 5 High5 Sports Bars, and another 90 for that gel, so that's 1800 kcal total in 3.5 hours or 514 kcal/hr. That's much too high at that effort level. For most people, it's impossible to pass more than about 300 cal/hr across the stomach wall. Maybe with that High5 drink it's possible to pass more. They claim up to 360 kcal/hr., but that would certainly be the upper limit. If I've made incorrect assumptions here, please correct.

    If one takes in more than what's individually possible during race conditions, one gets a "sloshy belly bonk." The stomach is full, but food doesn't enter the blood stream because stomach osmolality is too high. If I'm correct here, you need to train with your race nutrition during race simulation rides as CAR suggests. I suggest only using the High5 drink, no solid food. Add their electrolyte stuff. Experiment with the concentration to see if you can handle it at the 90g/hr rate, but I think that's too high for that effort level. In training, you might add about 5g of BCAAs/bottle to protect your muscles.

    During the race, concentrate on aero. If everyone is riding on the hoods in the line, I move into the drops when I'm 3rd wheel and keep my elbows and knees in and don't move to the hoods again until I'm 4th or the guy in front of me sits up.

    Your back and neck hurt. Try rolling your pelvis forward so you sit on the front of your sit bones and straighten your back. Concentrate on that. You could also do more core work. I use Tom Danielson's Core Advantage book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
    I'm really not the guy to ask about nutrition but one thing I do know is that when you're on the rivet solid food is really hard for your body to digest. Like almost impossible, so bars are not really your friend. Calories in liquid and gel form go down best.

    Based on your own body weight, power output and event duration you should be able to roughly calculate your energy requirements and consume accordingly. I don't know what you ate before the event but personally I like to get some healthy fats and a bunch of carbs a minimum of two hours before my event starts. That' way the energy fully digested and stored for use and my stomach has nothing in it to get upset when the effort comes.

    That being said most people need some solid food at some point just to feel like they've eaten. Notice that pros in the peloton regularly have sandwiches at some point during the day (and fans of coke!!!) though they tend to not be hammering all day long. YMMV of course.

    Also did you warm up before the start of the race? Going from rest to 42 kph is a shock to your system and will make most people hurt right out of the gate. That'll make it mentally tough to keep up the pace even if your body can handle it.
    Well, this is new to me! Nobody really told me that gels are the way to go, so I relied on bars. My stomach felt bad after a certain distance, that's for sure, but I least I got a good breakfast with some healthy fats and lots of carbs. I did not warm up much, but I didn't feel this was a problem. Maybe it was anyway? )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I agree with CAR. That, and emphasize volume. You want ~250 miles/week for 2-3 months before the event. Most of that at endurance pace. I don't do training rides of over 6 hours, tending to split it up a bit more than CAR recommends.

    Nutrition: During base, it's a good idea to do some of those rides low on nutrition to stimulate fat burning. I've read that Lance used to do 6 hour rides on water only during the winter. I think you ran out of nutrition during the race. The lungs sensation may have been your blood sugar dropping out. But probably what happened was that your stomach shut down. You don't say what strength you used for your High5 drink. But at the 47g/bottle strength, that would be 700 kcal, plus 1100 kcal for the 5 High5 Sports Bars, and another 90 for that gel, so that's 1800 kcal total in 3.5 hours or 514 kcal/hr. That's much too high at that effort level. For most people, it's impossible to pass more than about 300 cal/hr across the stomach wall. Maybe with that High5 drink it's possible to pass more. They claim up to 360 kcal/hr., but that would certainly be the upper limit. If I've made incorrect assumptions here, please correct.

    If one takes in more than what's individually possible during race conditions, one gets a "sloshy belly bonk." The stomach is full, but food doesn't enter the blood stream because stomach osmolality is too high. If I'm correct here, you need to train with your race nutrition during race simulation rides as CAR suggests. I suggest only using the High5 drink, no solid food. Add their electrolyte stuff. Experiment with the concentration to see if you can handle it at the 90g/hr rate, but I think that's too high for that effort level. In training, you might add about 5g of BCAAs/bottle to protect your muscles.

    During the race, concentrate on aero. If everyone is riding on the hoods in the line, I move into the drops when I'm 3rd wheel and keep my elbows and knees in and don't move to the hoods again until I'm 4th or the guy in front of me sits up.

    Your back and neck hurt. Try rolling your pelvis forward so you sit on the front of your sit bones and straighten your back. Concentrate on that. You could also do more core work. I use Tom Danielson's Core Advantage book.
    Thank you for this useful reply! I think 6 hours on water only must be torture, at least I would need to replace some minerals/electrolytes, or I would feel like I had a hang-over after the ride. I guess this is where the tablets from High5 with only caffeine/minerals/electrolytes come in.

    About the nutrition. I read something about respiratory muscles that need to be trained for endurance as well, do you do this? It would be interesting to know what exactly happened. Is the sensation of low blood sugar from sloshy belly bonk the same as a "normal bonk"? I didn't feel low on blood sugar, but I felt like my lungs were exhausted and I just *had* to rest. Also at this point my HR rised and my legs stopped functioning, but this could be because I at this point got to far back in the group and took too much wind. I used two spoons per 750ml on two of the bottles, and 1 spoon in the two bottles we got during the race. And I had 4 bars during the first 3,5 hours, in total 5 bars (over 5,5 hours). What's interesting here is the first 3,5 hours, and then I had about 1500 kcal (~430kcal/hour). Still too much. By the way what is BCAA?

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    That average speed over the distance is UCI pro tour metrics for a one day classic. IMO, you need a lot of tempo riding leading up to the event. And 400 to 500 watts OFT at 42Km/hr is too much power. IMO, you need to dramatically improve your position to lower your power requirement at 42km/hr. I assume the terrain is relatively flat with not much wind but you have not indicated what the race course conditions are like.

    For what it is worth a 40 man rotating pace line just does not make a lot of sense in practice. The pro riders would ride in a peloton and form an arrowhead. The guys at the front would rotate. Then fresh guys from the back could come to the front and take some pulls. I have done the rotating pace lines and it takes a lot of concentration to execute that and 5 hours seems like too long of a time. Breakaways use rotating pace lines but the groups are small.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    That average speed over the distance is UCI pro tour metrics for a one day classic. IMO, you need a lot of tempo riding leading up to the event. And 400 to 500 watts OFT at 42Km/hr is too much power. IMO, you need to dramatically improve your position to lower your power requirement at 42km/hr. I assume the terrain is relatively flat with not much wind but you have not indicated what the race course conditions are like.

    For what it is worth a 40 man rotating pace line just does not make a lot of sense in practice. The pro riders would ride in a peloton and form an arrowhead. The guys at the front would rotate. Then fresh guys from the back could come to the front and take some pulls. I have done the rotating pace lines and it takes a lot of concentration to execute that and 5 hours seems like too long of a time. Breakaways use rotating pace lines but the groups are small.
    Hey. It's not a flat course, we start by sea level and end up in the mountains 850m above sea level. It may be closer to 400w though, and my position is good. A peloton is interesting, but not sure if a peloton would be efficient? We need to go as fast as possible, while saving energy.
    Last edited by PedalOC; 05-28-14 at 05:14 PM.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PedalOC View Post
    Thank you for this useful reply! I think 6 hours on water only must be torture, at least I would need to replace some minerals/electrolytes, or I would feel like I had a hang-over after the ride. I guess this is where the tablets from High5 with only caffeine/minerals/electrolytes come in.

    About the nutrition. I read something about respiratory muscles that need to be trained for endurance as well, do you do this? It would be interesting to know what exactly happened. Is the sensation of low blood sugar from sloshy belly bonk the same as a "normal bonk"? I didn't feel low on blood sugar, but I felt like my lungs were exhausted and I just *had* to rest. Also at this point my HR rised and my legs stopped functioning, but this could be because I at this point got to far back in the group and took too much wind. I used two spoons per 750ml on two of the bottles, and 1 spoon in the two bottles we got during the race. And I had 4 bars during the first 3,5 hours, in total 5 bars (over 5,5 hours). What's interesting here is the first 3,5 hours, and then I had about 1500 kcal (~430kcal/hour). Still too much. By the way what is BCAA?
    I know what you mean about the breathing muscles. I think core work helps, but mostly just a lot of very hard breathing. I like to do long climbs, an hour or two at as fast a pace as I can hold. That really gives the chest a workout.

    There are many types of exhaustion. If your HR was going up, that's probably not a bonk. Mine usually drops when I start to bonk. Rising HR is usually a sign of dehydration. However, it would be good to experiment further with your maximum carbohydrate uptake.

    BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids:
    BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings - WebMD
    Bodybuilding.com - BCAAs: The Many Benefits Of Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplements

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    That average speed over the distance is UCI pro tour metrics for a one day classic. IMO, you need a lot of tempo riding leading up to the event. And 400 to 500 watts OFT at 42Km/hr is too much power. IMO, you need to dramatically improve your position to lower your power requirement at 42km/hr. I assume the terrain is relatively flat with not much wind but you have not indicated what the race course conditions are like.

    For what it is worth a 40 man rotating pace line just does not make a lot of sense in practice. The pro riders would ride in a peloton and form an arrowhead. The guys at the front would rotate. Then fresh guys from the back could come to the front and take some pulls. I have done the rotating pace lines and it takes a lot of concentration to execute that and 5 hours seems like too long of a time. Breakaways use rotating pace lines but the groups are small.
    Agree with everything here. Rotating pacelines are fairest not fastest. They are used in breakaways as it's a simple way to ensure everyone does the same amount of work. It's faster and more efficient to have a single line rather than 2 wide. Also a rotating paceline can work well if everyone has a similar level of power. However, it will tend to punish the weaker riders moreso than a single line where the stronger riders can take longer pulls.

    If I had to deal with a 40 person team I'd try breaking it up into five 8-person teams and have them do the work on the front for 30 min at a time.

    280W avg seems a little high for 42 kph. I've done crits over 43kph with an average power under 250W. Mind you the crits didn't last for 3 hrs

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