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Night Riding and Fatigue?

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Old 05-03-15, 08:22 PM
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Capt Overpacker
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Night Riding and Fatigue?

Hello,

I just completed my first 400-km ride. My first attempt was in 2013. Fatigue hit me really early, before 2pm, forcing me to bail (details here). A 300-km ride last year was painful, too. I had since discovered that keeping myself well-fed is very helpful. I went into Saturday's 400-km ACP with a lot of optimism. I'm usually left by the other riders within the first eight miles, sometimes earlier. As a result, I'm used to riding alone. However, the group was very tame with a cruising speed of about 16 mph. We left at 6am and were together for the first 45 miles. It was great! We split up as riders spent differing times at the control. We split up even more at the second control at the 70 mile mark. I wound up alone since I needed to make equipment adjustments.

I finished the first 200-km in 9.5 hours, a match for my fastest 200k time, which I considered good since this route had more hills than our usual courses. I met another randonneur along the way. We pushed kind of hard for a bit and finished 300-km in 15 hours, my fastest 300k. I was feeling good. It was about an hour after sunset at that point. We could see a 3am finishing time, very pleasing to me since it was far ahead of the 24-hour time I expected.

Then I hit a wall of sorts. I cannot recall exactly when, but we were on a 39-mile stint on country roads with absolutely no civilization. I was suddenly overcome with an urgent need to sleep. It was bizarre and perhaps a little frightening. I had the leg power to keep going, but my brain just couldn't process what I was seeing. I could hardly keep my eyes open and (I think) I was having micro-blackouts. The temps were dropping and, because I had slowed down, I was starting to get cold. I couldn't imagine stopping to nap in the cold, especially with no apparent places to stop.

It was VERY tempting to call it quits. But my new riding companion was very encouraging and wanted me to get this 400k under my belt. Besides, there was no place to abandon the ride. My only choice was to keep riding. HAHA! I'm trying for a SR. We finally hobbled into the last control stop, about 25 miles from the end. Our hope was to catch about 30-minutes of shut-eye. But the management wouldn't let us (and they were put off by our 14 riders asking for initials all day). My eyes were closed for about 10 seconds. I think I was in the store for about 20-30 minutes, hoping that the lights would jumpstart my brain. It seemed to work.

We continued to the finish at about 15 mph. I was starting to feel tired again about five miles from the end. But I was too close to my bed to let that stop me. We finished at 3:55 am, which is still better than I had hoped.

Now that I've shared my long story, what could I have done to prevent my fatigue? I feel like I ate plenty all day, including a large breakfast, a footlong sub at 70 miles, ice cream at 98 miles, another footlong at 126 miles, and a breakfast wrap at 188 miles (just two hours before I started having problems). There were some stretches where I pushed too hard earlier in the day. Could that have done it? Perhaps more sleep in the days leading up to the event? The 600-km brevet is June 13 and takes place on many of the same roads as the 400 (perhaps warm enough to nap next to a tree). The format is 388k, hotel, 212k. So, I need to make it through to about 3-4 am, sleep until 7am(?) and then ride mostly in daylight for the rest. I'd like to avoid a repeat of last night's unpleasant events. I appreciate any advice you can offer.

Thanks!

Scott

Last edited by Capt Overpacker; 05-03-15 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Fixed a typo... I'm still out of it from the ride! ;-)
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Old 05-04-15, 06:26 AM
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The cause of sleep inducing fatigue is not entirely understood but there is a central fatique theory that basically says after a certain length of time during long endurance pace rides, the body will begin burning certain proteins/amino acids (glycogenesis) resulting in an over abundance of Tryptophan that then has few competing amino acids to cross the blood brain barrier where it converts to Serotonin, which slows you down and makes you sleepy. If you footlong was turkey, you added the problem. (Assuming you are fit for the distance)

Another theory shared with me by an MD who did RAAM is that hard efforts product ammonia-like biproducts that somehow create this sleepiness....this was shared on a long ride and I forget the details......he said not riding too hard is a key not to getting this type of sleepy fatique.

We pushed kind of hard for a bit and finished 300-km in 15 hours
I did a 400k on Saturday and finished just after dark so my experiences might not help but I was alert and felt I could ride another 200k and indeed did not go to sleep until 1:30 am. I will eat a small bag of salty cashews at each control later in rides. The leucine, isoleucine, and valine in these nuts are easier and tastier than carrying BCAA powder and to me, it seems to help a bit. YMMV.
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Old 05-04-15, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Capt Overpacker View Post
Hello,

I just completed my first 400-km ride. My first attempt was in 2013. Fatigue hit me really early, before 2pm, forcing me to bail (details here). A 300-km ride last year was painful, too. I had since discovered that keeping myself well-fed is very helpful. I went into Saturday's 400-km ACP with a lot of optimism. I'm usually left by the other riders within the first eight miles, sometimes earlier. As a result, I'm used to riding alone. However, the group was very tame with a cruising speed of about 16 mph. We left at 6am and were together for the first 45 miles. It was great! We split up as riders spent differing times at the control. We split up even more at the second control at the 70 mile mark. I wound up alone since I needed to make equipment adjustments.

I finished the first 200-km in 9.5 hours, a match for my fastest 200k time, which I considered good since this route had more hills than our usual courses. I met another randonneur along the way. We pushed kind of hard for a bit and finished 300-km in 15 hours, my fastest 300k. I was feeling good. It was about an hour after sunset at that point. We could see a 3am finishing time, very pleasing to me since it was far ahead of the 24-hour time I expected.

Then I hit a wall of sorts. I cannot recall exactly when, but we were on a 39-mile stint on country roads with absolutely no civilization. I was suddenly overcome with an urgent need to sleep. It was bizarre and perhaps a little frightening. I had the leg power to keep going, but my brain just couldn't process what I was seeing. I could hardly keep my eyes open and (I think) I was having micro-blackouts. The temps were dropping and, because I had slowed down, I was starting to get cold. I couldn't imagine stopping to nap in the cold, especially with no apparent places to stop.

It was VERY tempting to call it quits. But my new riding companion was very encouraging and wanted me to get this 400k under my belt. Besides, there was no place to abandon the ride. My only choice was to keep riding. HAHA! I'm trying for a SR. We finally hobbled into the last control stop, about 25 miles from the end. Our hope was to catch about 30-minutes of shut-eye. But the management wouldn't let us (and they were put off by our 14 riders asking for initials all day). My eyes were closed for about 10 seconds. I think I was in the store for about 20-30 minutes, hoping that the lights would jumpstart my brain. It seemed to work.

We continued to the finish at about 15 mph. I was starting to feel tired again about five miles from the end. But I was too close to my bed to let that stop me. We finished at 3:55 am, which is still better than I had hoped.

Now that I've shared my long story, what could I have done to prevent my fatigue? I feel like I ate plenty all day, including a large breakfast, a footlong sub at 70 miles, ice cream at 98 miles, another footlong at 126 miles, and a breakfast wrap at 188 miles (just two hours before I started having problems). There were some stretches where I pushed too hard earlier in the day. Could that have done it? Perhaps more sleep in the days leading up to the event? The 600-km brevet is June 13 and takes place on many of the same roads as the 400 (perhaps warm enough to nap next to a tree). The format is 388k, hotel, 212k. So, I need to make it through to about 3-4 am, sleep until 7am(?) and then ride mostly in daylight for the rest. I'd like to avoid a repeat of last night's unpleasant events. I appreciate any advice you can offer.

Thanks!

Scott
Hey, Scott,

If your blood sugar is low, it can make you feel sleepy since there isn't enough to feed your brain. Eating a gel can be a big help in a circumstance like this. Mint supposedly has anti-sleep effects. Caffeine can help, of course, but it works best if you have spent the prior few months de-addicting yourself to caffeine so that a small amount during the ride will have noticeable effects without causing stomach upset. A fifteen-minute nap can also be a life-saver. Even if it's a little chilly out, that's OK. I took a fifteen minute nap during the fleche when it was about 40 degrees out, just lying on the ground. Being a bit cold will help keep you from oversleeping. I shivered for a while when we first got going, but I was really glad to have taken the nap. You can also look for a post-office lobby or an ATM lobby, or even a sidewalk under some eaves if it is raining.

Coming up to the 600, try to "bank" sleep by going to bed early enough that you can get nine hours of sleep a night. The night before the start, set two alarms or maybe even three. That way you won't be worried that you will oversleep. Tell yourself out loud that it's OK to go to sleep. Sounds stupid, but it works. Don't worry if you feel like you aren't getting to sleep--even if you think you are just lying there, chances are that you are really drifting off but then waking up again. So you're getting some sleep, which is better than the "none" that you'll get if you give up and just get up early.

During the 600, after you finish your first day, get everything completely ready to go for the next morning. Then after sleeping for way too short a time you will get up and have a 200km to look forward to. I often find that I am so disoriented that I feel like I am inside out. The Rule: Regardless of how you feel, you must get back on your bike for at least five minutes. If you've ridden five minutes and you still want to quit, that's OK. But in my experience, once you've been back on the bike for five minutes, you start to feel OK, and it's not long before you are riding into the beautiful sunrise with birds tweeting all around you, and you're thinking "This is the greatest sport ever!"

Nick
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Old 05-04-15, 11:57 AM
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We were riding a 400k once and started getting tired, stopped at a church, slept a while on the front porch, which actually had carpet. So yes, sleeping is sometimes necessary. Not all 400k's are in absolutely desolate areas, either.
Sometimes caffeine will do the trick. Sometimes it loses it's charm.
Sometimes you have get off the bike and walk around a bit.
Riding with other people and talking helps.
Getting lots of sleep the night before helps.
If you've ridden the course before, you know where to look for sleep spots, too! If it's an out-and-back, watch as you're going out.

A couple of years ago, we did a 24 hour race on the tandem. I started getting sleepy, and on one lap, we stopped two or three times so I could get off the bike, walk around a minute. And once, I felt a jerk at the rear of the bike and found my stoker had just snapped back to attention. So it happens. However, on that particular race, we stopped about 5:30 AM and took a 45-minute sleep break that made all the difference in the world. Later in the morning, we met another of the 24-hour riders walking his bike back along the course. We found out later, he had dozed off and made a slow-speed crash (no real harm done, tho). I felt kind of stupid having to stop and walk around to stay awake, but after hearing that, I was sure glad that I had.
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Old 05-04-15, 02:58 PM
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Supposedly chewing gum helps fight the night sleepies.

At around Midnight last year on a 600K climbing the last big climb before Brattleboro, Vt, i was feeling a little sleepy and tired from the long climb and thinking I was far from the crest, I pull off and bedded down on some pine needles in a Pine grove. I might has napped for 10-15 minutes and then got back on the bike. The summit was surprisingly only a few hundred meters up the road. I forgot it was raining.
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Old 05-04-15, 04:30 PM
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On my first 600k, I rode with the idiots that chose not to sleep at the 400k mark. One of the other riders was struggling with sleepiness, and stopped for a snack. He fell asleep, but the people at the store were worried about him and woke him up after 10 minutes. He was like a changed man and caught us. I never had that much luck with a short nap myself. On that ride, I fell asleep on the bike, but I was so scared by the experience that I wasn't sleepy after that. I have had trouble during the day in extreme heat. Usually it's very short-lived.
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Old 05-04-15, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Capt Overpacker View Post
...

Now that I've shared my long story, what could I have done to prevent my fatigue? ...
Talk to Keith; he's done many rando rides and had his share of struggles.

Also, BobB, who had to skip the Tidewater 400 to attend a family funeral / memory service, usually has the kind of trouble on 400's that you describe. Chat with him (if he comes for the Tidewater 600 -- he's doing the LSR-1000, so he prob is not doing the Tidewater-600).
  • I've taken an hour-long nap on the Raleigh 400 when only 30-miles from the finish. Helped a lot.
  • I've also taken a half-hour nap on the Raleigh 400 when only 15-miles from the finish. Then I dragged my buddies to the finish.
  • I've also done the Raleigh 400 without napping, but had 20-miles of hellish falling asleep on the bike issues. Solved the sleep issue by riding 8 or 10 miles as fast as I could, followed by a short stop 30-miles from the finish to eat some food. Also, the sun started rising when approx 20-miles from the finish, and sunrise and natural rhythms helped me wake up. (And on that 2010 brevet, I had NO energy after only 50-miles. Determination, perseverance, two well-known and well-liked lantern rouge riders, and there being no reasonable way to abandon, got me through.)
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Old 05-05-15, 07:50 AM
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Thanks for the input, everyone!

I didn't have turkey, but it's good to know its drawbacks. I don't drink coffee. So perhaps caffeine will work. The Gu gels w/caffeine don't seem to make a difference. But I'm probably not using it frequently enough. I may pick up a flask or two for more convenient carry/delivery. I also need to work on pace (resisting the urge to ride faster when I feel good) and keeping my rest stops brief. Many of the other riders really weren't riding that fast, but they certainly kept their stops shorter than mine.

Regardless, I think they would have lost me in the hills. I'm a terrible climber. I suspect I really need to keep my 70-mile stop really brief so I can have a head start in the hills. Then, MAYBE, I'll be close enough to ride with a group if they don't get too far ahead after catching me in the hills. I think I could avoid some of the fatigue by shortening my stops and simply not being on the road as late... plus, I'd get more sleep at the control, right? Maybe I'm dreaming?

I've never been a cat-nap guy. My attempt to nap during the 400 was going to be my first until the store manager nixed it. I will certainly keep my options open during the 600k.

Thanks Again,

Scott
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Old 05-05-15, 08:18 AM
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People get tired for many different reasons. And many different people can get tired for exactly the same reason. Isn't funny how different riders can have "highs and lows" and different times during a long ride?

Congratulations on completing the 400k. What you have learned about yourself during this ride - is the basis for success at your next long brevet!

Tips and advice on an Internet forum are great for discussing - but experience is the wisest of all cyclists.......
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Old 05-05-15, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Capt Overpacker View Post
I think I could avoid some of the fatigue by shortening my stops and simply not being on the road as late... plus, I'd get more sleep at the control, right? Maybe I'm dreaming?

I've never been a cat-nap guy. My attempt to nap during the 400 was going to be my first until the store manager nixed it. I will certainly keep my options open during the 600k.

Thanks Again,

Scott
I don't believe in catnaps either.

You seemed to have 3 fairly substantial meals, that is something you might want to think about. Granted, you need the calories, but you probably don't want to eat them all at once. And the 600k will probably be warmer, so maybe digestion will be more of an issue. Definitely put all your stopped time to use, don't mess around during stops. If you think about it, the longer a ride takes you, the more resources you have to pour into it. And you want to waste as little time as possible so that you can sleep as much as possible at the overnight. Our sleep cycles are 90 minutes, give or take a few. So you want to have some multiple of that. If I'm having a crummy ride, I get 90 minutes of sleep and that works, but 3 hours is much better. And 5 hours is ideal. Sleep is good, but you don't want to overdo it. I like to have some amount of time after the sleep cycle is over to just lie in bed and re-orient myself. So I usually ask for an extra 10 minutes to compensate for falling asleep and hopefully having some time after I wake up.
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Old 05-05-15, 04:14 PM
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Regarding eating on hot rides....I cheat at controls. I pop open the beverages or whatever I am buying and drink/eat while waiting in line to pay.....the extra maybe 5 minutes of digestion in more relaxed state compared to riding does matter. The cashier never cares, I just saying I am dying and sorry I had to suck these down. I keep my stops to 5 minutes maximum unless it is to sleep or maybe one big meal (not on 300k or 200k....I see these two distances as more social fun rides, 400k is a different beast for me and I do not *****foot around at controls because I want off the roads before a certain time).

Alertness is a largely a function of acetylcholine, NE and serotonin levels. Exercise depletes acetylcholine and glycogenesis diminished certain amino acids except Tryptophan resulting in elevated serotonin levels. Just a thought here....REM sleep shuts off the serotonin and REm is about 10 minutes in duration after 90 minutes more or less depending upon our age. Being woken at 80-90 minutes and you may be short changing yourself from REM sleep and getting up all disoriented. What, when, and how much you put into your mouth can have a huge impact on alertness. It is a big, controversial topic but worth discovering what works for you. A recommendation that I wanted to make but think I forgot......Don' forget to have lots of food with you at night and eat the food. There can be 6-10 hours of night riding and it is not unusual for riders to eat a lot less at night when in fact this is the best time to pack it in because it is cooler and almost all of us slow down at night making digestion easier.
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Old 05-05-15, 05:18 PM
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I have a lot of experience with getting just 90 minutes of sleep, unfortunately. You really don't want to get less than that, and probably not much more. For example, 90 minutes is much better than 2 hours. My experience is that if I get a full sleep cycle in, I wake up in 90 minutes (or 180, or 270) with very good alertness and awareness of what is going on. The worst experience I have had was when I was woken up at 70 minutes to tell me that I really needed to leave in a half hour But I rode through that, and after a half hour of riding I was fine. I suspect that if the rest of that ride wasn't in daylight, it might not have gone well for me.
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Old 05-06-15, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I have a lot of experience with getting just 90 minutes of sleep, unfortunately. You really don't want to get less than that, and probably not much more. For example, 90 minutes is much better than 2 hours. My experience is that if I get a full sleep cycle in, I wake up in 90 minutes (or 180, or 270) with very good alertness and awareness of what is going on. The worst experience I have had was when I was woken up at 70 minutes to tell me that I really needed to leave in a half hour But I rode through that, and after a half hour of riding I was fine. I suspect that if the rest of that ride wasn't in daylight, it might not have gone well for me.
+1 on roughly-90 minute sleep cycles being best. But I also find that 15-minute catnaps have tremendous restorative power. And quite often I wake up in 45 minutes if I am taking a longer catnap, and am ready to go. The notion that REM sleep is something only experienced after you've been asleep for around an hour and a half is contradicted both by my own personal experience of vivid (and wacky) dreams during catnaps on long sleep-deprived bike rides, and by the wikipedia entry on REM sleep which says that "REM deprivation causes a significant increase in the number of attempts to go into REM stage while asleep. On recovery nights, an individual will most likely move to stage 3 and REM sleep more quickly and experience an REM rebound, which refers to a great increase in the time spent in REM stage over normal levels. These findings are consistent with the idea that REM sleep is biologically necessary."

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Old 05-06-15, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the continued input. I've posted a write-up about the ride here. Take Care!
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Old 05-06-15, 11:19 PM
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I'm in the low blood sugar camp. The tryptophan theory is probably also true, but is a corollary to the low blood sugar thing. Enough gels would be one every 20 minutes. So no, you probably haven't tried eating them frequently enough. I don't care for packaged gels at all. If I'm going to take along emergency gel, I use a Hammer flask. Shot Blocks work well, too. At least you get to eat 6 of them before you have to struggle with another packaging issue. I also use a mix of control (mini-mart) food and food powder in a water bottle, like Hammer Perpetuem for fuel. I never eat a meal, just keep the food coming in. I certainly wouldn't need to sleep on a 400, having gone without sleep for 3-4 days on occasion, though while working or motorcycling, not while bicycling. Main thing is to keep eating and hydrating but never too much at any one time.
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Old 05-07-15, 04:59 AM
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What has worked for me in the past ...

-- on the week leading up to the event, it helps me to get some extra sleep. So if I normally get 7 hours a night, I might aim for 8 hours a night.

-- if the event is on a Saturday, on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings, I like to get ready. Lay everything out, check the bicycle, pack, etc. so that everything is ready to go by Thursday evening. Then Friday evening, I can just relax.

-- if the event is on a Saturday, Friday evening I like to eat lots, relax, and then go to bed really early so that I get at least 9 hours of sleep.
** incidentally, Rowan and I were doing a CAM one year just recently, and I was getting maybe 7 hours of sleep the night before the century. I didn't figure it mattered all that much because the centuries weren't that long, but about 100 km into the 160 km, I struggled to stay awake. This happened 2 or 3 months in a row, and finally, I decided to go with my randonneuring pattern of going to bed early and getting at least 9 hours ... and the next century was so much better. That extra sleep helps a lot! **
-- focus on eating and drinking ... one 750 ml bottle of water every 1 to 1.5 hours, 200-300 calories per hour. I try to nibble those calories regularly while I ride to keep the blood sugar levels up.

-- and ... it could have just been psychological but ... I would cut back on my caffeine in the week or two leading up to the event, and then during the event, sweet coffee or sweet tea was on the menu quite regularly.

Note: if you are toying with the idea of caffeine tablets, try them on a training ride before you use them on an event. I had tried a tablet or two while studying (not exerting myself) and they seemed OK, then I tried them on a ride and became quite sick. Might have been something else, but the caffeine tablets were the only things I changed in my usual pattern. Perhaps they were too strong.
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Old 05-23-15, 01:56 PM
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I am not a randonneur, but did spend decades of 12hrs on and 12 hrs off work, with 3-4 in a row of these being nite shifts. It is difficult to
get a lot of sleep during the day and over 5 hours unusual, even after decades of experience. Catnaps were a frequent bridge over between
3 and 5am, when just laying down I could get to sleep in seconds and snap awake 10-15 minutes later wide awake. Frequently these short
naps were enough to get me through the rest of the shift. Typically there is very vivid dreaming during these short naps and arousal is
automatic. If you get up and start going you will be energized for several hours IME. You can't really store up sleep but 8-10 hours of
sleep on the nite before the ride is helpful, although rides that start at 6p to 12mn as one local 500 miler does are a challenge to anyones
sleeping habits.
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Old 05-23-15, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Capt Overpacker View Post
Hello,

I just completed my first 400-km ride. My first attempt was in 2013. Fatigue hit me really early, before 2pm, forcing me to bail (details here). A 300-km ride last year was painful, too. I had since discovered that keeping myself well-fed is very helpful. I went into Saturday's 400-km ACP with a lot of optimism. I'm usually left by the other riders within the first eight miles, sometimes earlier. As a result, I'm used to riding alone. However, the group was very tame with a cruising speed of about 16 mph. We left at 6am and were together for the first 45 miles. It was great! We split up as riders spent differing times at the control. We split up even more at the second control at the 70 mile mark. I wound up alone since I needed to make equipment adjustments.

I finished the first 200-km in 9.5 hours, a match for my fastest 200k time, which I considered good since this route had more hills than our usual courses. I met another randonneur along the way. We pushed kind of hard for a bit and finished 300-km in 15 hours, my fastest 300k. I was feeling good. It was about an hour after sunset at that point. We could see a 3am finishing time, very pleasing to me since it was far ahead of the 24-hour time I expected.

Then I hit a wall of sorts. I cannot recall exactly when, but we were on a 39-mile stint on country roads with absolutely no civilization. I was suddenly overcome with an urgent need to sleep. It was bizarre and perhaps a little frightening. I had the leg power to keep going, but my brain just couldn't process what I was seeing. I could hardly keep my eyes open and (I think) I was having micro-blackouts. The temps were dropping and, because I had slowed down, I was starting to get cold. I couldn't imagine stopping to nap in the cold, especially with no apparent places to stop.

It was VERY tempting to call it quits. But my new riding companion was very encouraging and wanted me to get this 400k under my belt. Besides, there was no place to abandon the ride. My only choice was to keep riding. HAHA! I'm trying for a SR. We finally hobbled into the last control stop, about 25 miles from the end. Our hope was to catch about 30-minutes of shut-eye. But the management wouldn't let us (and they were put off by our 14 riders asking for initials all day). My eyes were closed for about 10 seconds. I think I was in the store for about 20-30 minutes, hoping that the lights would jumpstart my brain. It seemed to work.

We continued to the finish at about 15 mph. I was starting to feel tired again about five miles from the end. But I was too close to my bed to let that stop me. We finished at 3:55 am, which is still better than I had hoped.

Now that I've shared my long story, what could I have done to prevent my fatigue? I feel like I ate plenty all day, including a large breakfast, a footlong sub at 70 miles, ice cream at 98 miles, another footlong at 126 miles, and a breakfast wrap at 188 miles (just two hours before I started having problems). There were some stretches where I pushed too hard earlier in the day. Could that have done it? Perhaps more sleep in the days leading up to the event? The 600-km brevet is June 13 and takes place on many of the same roads as the 400 (perhaps warm enough to nap next to a tree). The format is 388k, hotel, 212k. So, I need to make it through to about 3-4 am, sleep until 7am(?) and then ride mostly in daylight for the rest. I'd like to avoid a repeat of last night's unpleasant events. I appreciate any advice you can offer.

Thanks!

Scott
Getting tired after nearly 18 hours on the bike is totally understandable. Over and above the obvious just mentioned, I suspect the bonk was due to the fact that your brain lacked adequate sugar. Were you supplementing with gels and adding salt-mix into your water every hour so?
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Old 05-23-15, 03:29 PM
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I had gels, but wasn't using them as much as I should have. I'm going to try a flask since I can use it on the roll. I do not use salts. I figured I could get enough salt when I chug Gatorade at my control stops.
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Old 05-23-15, 06:40 PM
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Sounds like you need A LOT more calories. The scientific consensus is that the human body can absorb 2-300 calories per hour when exercising fairly vigorously (as in long-distance cycling). So that's what you should aim to take in while you're riding. Just refueling at controls won't do it.

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Old 05-27-15, 09:05 AM
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I've found that on a long ride, lots of things can manifest as sleepiness when they're really something else. Most notably, you probably need to keep munching while riding, even after a big meal at a control. That's challenging sometimes, but it's important.
I don't try to de-acclimatize myself to caffeine before rides, but caffeine still helps me. I like to carry a couple of those little Starbucks DoubleShot cans (a little can of espresso, cream, and sugar) for my low points. I hate the way they taste because I prefer my coffee unsweetened, but they really pick me up. Besides the caffeine, they also have a good amount of calories from fat as well as sugar for just a little can.

And don't forget fluids - some people are actually more likely to get dehydrated if it ISN'T hot or especially if it's rainy, because they just don't feel thirsty and aren't sweating as noticeably. So just something to keep in mind.

Also, cold can make me sleepy. Sometimes I'll start to feel sleepy even before I start to feel chilly, but if I put on another layer of clothing (I keep my stuff so I can do that while riding, much of the time) I perk up when I get a little warmer.

I do find that it's helpful to go into the ride well rested. It's much more important to get plenty of sleep every night the previous week than to get a lot of sleep just the night before... especially since so many long rides start at some unholy hour of the barely-even-morning. There's just no way I can get a full night's sleep when my alarm goes off at 2AM for a 4AM start.

But generally, if I'm really getting the sleepies after less than 24 hours, it's probably caused by something else primarily. If nothing else, snacking can help keep you awake the same as chewing gum, except you actually get calories from it.
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Old 05-27-15, 01:56 PM
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+1 to eating more calories. It was almost silly how I chowed down at nearly every control at this last weekend's 400k (and drank enough fluid that I also needed to pee while there ), munched dried apricots and cashews continuously while riding, and still weighed 2 lbs light the next day. Energy and spirits were high the whole ride, so I guess my advice would be to identify food that agrees with you, and err on the side of eating more than you think you need.
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