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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 12-13-06, 05:33 PM   #1
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When to take a break?

I just started training for my first century, which will be in March. How do you know when you should stop and take a short break during a ride? I want to train how I will ride. Do you have set increments where you stop or do you base it on how you feel?
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Old 12-13-06, 05:43 PM   #2
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Is your century going to be an organized century or self-supported? If it's an organized century, I would try to find out how far apart the SAG stops are and aim to take a nice break at each SAG stop. If it's self-supported, the planning is all up to you. Personally, I like to minimize breaks on solo rides. Therefore, breaks are dictated by the need to refill water and use the restroom.
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Old 12-13-06, 06:34 PM   #3
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My stops are usually about eating or using the restroom. Sometimes the restroom is a convenient tree.
So basically I stop when I feel like it, no big deal other than keeping the stops short and not too many for a 100 miles. Long rest stops make me feel sluggish when I restart. YMMV.
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Old 12-13-06, 07:01 PM   #4
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I'm the same way. If it's not supported, I stop whenever I feel I need a rest. Usually at about 25 mile intervals. If it's supported, I stop at all rest stops. I do make it a habit of not stopping for more than 10 minutes at a time. Like Waxbytes said, it's hard to get going again.
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Old 12-13-06, 08:22 PM   #5
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Food and fluids management are the most important part of learning to do century rides. Typical riders tend to run out of stored energy somewhere between 35 and 55mi so anticipating this by stopping to eat 100-300 cal easily digested snacks before the 40mi mark is important. There after you will need 100-200cal snacks every 10-20miles. There are a variety of fluid intake regimens, partly temperature dependent but a start for cold weather would be 0.5-1oz fluid per mile and as the temperatures rise 1-1.5oz per mile. You should anticipate stopping to empty the bladder at least twice in a century, ie hydrating enough to do this. A mix of water and other liquids is best: gatorade is a start but there are a lot of electrolyte + calorie drinks and whatever you prefer is best. All water is NOT the best option and stopping for bladder breaks only twice is a minimal aim. A perusal of the nutrition forum will show there are a large number of opinions on appropriate food and drink for endurance rides.
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Old 12-13-06, 10:15 PM   #6
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+1 on what sch said.

I'll generally ride a couple of hours or so. I stop when I need to top of my water bottles with accelerade or water, or when I need to get off the bike. I have ridden 4 hours without a real stop, but that's a rarity.

On the last century I did, we stopped about 4 times, but not more than 10 minutes for each. My experience is after any stop on a long ride, you're in for a bit of discomfort/pain until you get back into it. That period is roughly equivalent to how long your break is.

The biggest mistake I see people making on their first ride is to waiting too long to eat and then eating too much. 200-300 calories per hour isn't that much food.

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Old 12-14-06, 11:44 AM   #7
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It is an organized ride- Tour de Cure. They say there are rest stops every six miles. I know there is absolutely no way I need to stop that often. My current hydration plan includes water and homemade gatorade- lemonade mix, salt, and water. So far for food I have used generic fig newtons, b/c they are cheap and easy to get down. But the longest ride I have done is 30 miles, so I figure those things will need to change.
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Old 12-14-06, 11:55 AM   #8
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You'll know when you need to stop ... when you start getting restless on the bicycle and start thinking about stopping, at some point fairly soon after that, you'll stop. It might be just a 2 min break to stretch, use the ditch, or adjust something, or it might be a half hour lunch break. The thing is, you've got to go with what works for you.

As for eating, you can eat on the bicycle. The only time I stop to eat is if I'm getting a meal somewhere, and on a century, that's usually about the half-way point. If you use a Bento bag, you can keep going for quite a long time while snacking out of the Bento bag.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:14 PM   #9
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Here in the skin cancer capital of the universe, my very survival depends on applying sunscreen at regular intervals. Apart from that, my stops are usually taking pictures, meals or nature calls. Those are about as much as I need.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:33 PM   #10
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Agree with Machta. You will know when to take a break. I try to keep mine short- Enough time to swallow a coffee if its available and get an extra bit of food inside me. (I also snack on the ride). One thing I try NOT to do is stop within 5 minutes before riding the Long Climb- There is always at least one. I also try to Ride over the top of hills, and find a flat bit of the route to rest on.
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Old 12-21-06, 02:45 PM   #11
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On solo centuries in the Summer i stop when i need to replenish the water bottles. That is usually about two times.
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Old 12-21-06, 07:39 PM   #12
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I never stop on a century ride, it's too short for a stop. You can drink and eat while riding that's not difficult.

If the ride is supported you will have water bottles handed to you without stopping to get it; if it's unsupported you can carry at least 2 bottles on your bike with an optional third by using Minoura brackets; and you can use a CamelBack with either 70 or 100oz, but don't go over 100 or the weight could make your back hurt after awhile.

On long rides I carry 3 24 ounce bottles and a 70 ounce Camelback and haven't had to stop to refill even in the summer heat of the Mojave Desert in Southern California where I use to live. Only on longer rides where I've gone over 150 miles did I stop about half way in some town to get more water and food. If you do have to stop, stop for very short times of no more then 10 minutes; anything longer then that and you legs will feel heavy or tired for about 20 minutes after you start riding again.

Gatorade is a very good dring to take on Centuries BUT you need to dilute it at least 50% from recommended useage. I don't eat one meal half way through, I'm eating small amounts of food during the whole ride. I've found that eating a larger meal instead of many smaller ones made me feel like I had less energy; and according to a sport coach I spoke to (many years ago), a larger meal makes you feel tired because it loads your stomach with food which it then has to exert energy to digest it taking energy from your riding to do it thus lowering your performance...but that was old science maybe they discovered that's not true now, but I know I was more tired after eating larger meals.
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Old 12-22-06, 06:38 AM   #13
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On organized rides I usually stop at all of the stops, but some times only for 1-2 minutes and almost always 10 minutes or less. Rides around here that uaually means every 20-25 miles.

On solo rides I usually carry all my food and only stop when I need to refill bottles.
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Old 12-23-06, 12:25 PM   #14
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Support every 6 miles sure gives you a lot of options. I'd go into a ride like that just taking the aid stations one at a time. About 18 or 24 miles into the ride, start asking yourself as you come upon a station, "Should I stop here, or soldier on to the next one?" Even if you make a bad decision -- not stopping when you should have -- you won't have far to go until the next opportunity is on the horizon.

On my first century I stopped 4 times and kept the stops short. Nowadays, sometimes I'll stop once and have a sit-down meal and talk to the locals, sometimes I'll stop a few times but never for more than seconds at a time, sometimes I'll stop several times for extended periods. On organized centuries with support, I tend to stop at all the stops and linker around -- these for me are social events and I enjoy catching up with folks I don't otherwise see, or get to ride with, if I'm out doing my own thing. It all depends on what I'm in the mood for.

Good advices above to avoid stopping immediately before a section of the route that's especially difficult (usually a hill). Also good on you for testing out what you like, and what you don't like, to eat and drink well in advance. That'll help avoid some very avoidable problems. Good luck!
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Old 12-24-06, 03:31 PM   #15
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Being that it is your first century I think you would consider training for your breaks. Typically I recommend first time century riders to plan on stopping every 20 miles.

If you are a seasoned rider that has done a lot of 40 mile rides oe metrics (62.5 miles) then I'd recommend that you consider your first stop to be at 40 miles and then stopping every 20 miles after that.

Once you are a seasoned century rider then it becomes easier to know when you want to stop. Like some of the others it is a combination of when your body tells you that you need to stop or when you need to get supplies. I just finished a 115 mile solo ride yestaerday where I did both. I stopped 3 times... 1 to quickly change my GPS batteries with the backups because I was stupid not to cehck them before I left and it was the only way I could navigate being that I'm on vacation in an area I don't know very well... Second was at 55 miles when I figured I'd better stop and top off the tanks... That was a bit longer becuase I downed a soda and a snickers bar... The third stop was when I was at 102 miles and stopped at a red light and then the lactic acid in my legs built up to the point that I started sreaming. I pulled into a gas station and took a break until they felt better.
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Old 12-28-06, 12:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by froze
If the ride is supported you will have water bottles handed to you without stopping to get it
But for the OP, don't count on this. Of the couple dozen supported rides I've done, none of them has had someone handing out water bottles at every rest stop; only two of them have had hand-out bottles at one rest stop.
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