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Frequency / Length of Breaks

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Frequency / Length of Breaks

Old 03-12-18, 05:21 AM
  #1  
Noonievut
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Frequency / Length of Breaks

Some background for context:
- cycling for 15 years
- have done half a dozen 3-4 day tours using panniers or a backpack (credit card style)
- in part due to a desk job, and cycling and poor posture, developed a cervical spine alignment issue (few years ago)
- spine issue is much better now; and when I ride (up to 3-4 hours) I stop every 45-60 minutes and stretch (and Iím fine the next day)
- currently riding 4 days a week

I would like to get back to some multi-day credit card tours, but Iím concerned with the affect on my neck and shoulders of riding multiple days.

My question - if I was to ride 4 days at 4-5 hours a day, do you think it would be better that I:
1) stop frequently and take long breaks...making for a long duration from the time I leave place A until I arrive at place B, or
2) take shorter breaks so that I get to the destination sooner and thus have longer time off the bike until the next day.

Something tells me the first option will be better for my neck and shoulders.
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Old 03-12-18, 05:52 AM
  #2  
DanBell
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Tough to say without knowing your specific issue, but I always find that my body takes some time to warm up again after long breaks like lunch. I prefer short breaks most of the time, but I usually just play it by ear depending on my feeling and what happens in the break.

If I were you I'd keep track of each day (mileage, climbing, traffic-related stress, frequency and length of breaks) then note how you feel at the end of each day and again in the morning of the following day. Then you'd be able to track the variables and figure out what works best for you.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:01 AM
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I find that most of the time short breaks work fine for me, but take longer ones when I feel the need or desire to. That said, being relaxed on the bike is far more important in my experience,

FWIW, I always found that a relaxed upper body was the major factor in how my neck and back handled long hours in the saddle. I see riders with locked elbows, a death grip in the bars, and generally poor body position. Be very sure you are not tensing and shrugging the shoulders. Drape your fingers loosely over the bars. Keep elbow bent and arms relaxed. For my back and neck problems all that was key.

I found that the temptation to sit more upright was something to resist. Riding more upright just let the road shocks go up the spine.

Another thing that I found was that it made sense to start off with fairly easy days for the first 10 days to 2 weeks of a long tour. Not sure how long you will be going for, but for shorter tours you may want to either be sure to put in a lot of miles before your tour or plan fairly easy days.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:26 AM
  #4  
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Only one way to know for sure: Experiment.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Only one way to know for sure: Experiment.
This.

For me personally, I find longer breaks make the riding "easier". If I am getting off the bike for anything but a quick restroom break, I want to lounge around for a bit.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:37 AM
  #6  
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I found my sweet spot after many thousands of miles of travel, and mine is surely different than anyone else's.

It's not just frequency and duration, but what you do during the breaks. (Most important for me is to eat!) I got some tips on stretches from a massage professional and a chiropractor.

You also need to consider your (and any companion's) style of travel and trip goals. Breaks are fun parts of the day, with picnics, museum visits, meeting locals in the cafe or at the farm fence, short hikes, or refreshing naps. (I suppose for some, they may be agonizing periods of not getting the miles in.)

The only time in my life I've had back and neck pain was during a ten year period when I could not cycle regularly, all year. The bike actually gathered dust for months at a time, and I was seeing a chiropractor. As soon as I made the necessary lifestyle changes to get back on the bike regularly, no more chiropractor. I hope you have similar results.
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Old 03-12-18, 08:38 AM
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riding regularly, even commuting, atunes you to bike fit and how small changes can help. Regular riding also gets you more used to riding, and while there is no right answer to how a bike should fit you properly, riding riding and gradually increasing ride length and duration will get you more used to the activity (and of course, allow you to experiment and figure out what works best for you at a given fitness level, and that will change the more you ride.)
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Old 03-12-18, 08:57 AM
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Sometimes I take a longer break and lie down in the sun on a cool day or stay in the AC on a hot day. Other than that, I usually take a 5 minute break each hour just to get off the bike for a few minutes.
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Old 03-12-18, 09:20 AM
  #9  
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I can't say about your specific back issues, those of us with back problems all seem to have slightly different issues. Perhaps you might want to start doing a regular series of back and abdominal exercises. I go to a health club two or three times a week, every time there I go through a series of abdominal and lower back exercises. Building up those muscles is a good way to reduce the chance of re-injury. And every morning I do a few minutes of lower back stretching exercises.

On breaks, I like frequent but very short breaks, usually less than five minutes. Only enough to eat a couple hundred calories, re-hydrate, get some blood flow back in my bum, etc. And I usually try to do that in a photogenic spot so I can take a few photos. Usually my breaks are every hour to hour and a half, but when doing steep long uphills I will take more frequent breaks. I try to keep the breaks short enough that my leg muscles do not start to get stiff.

I have toured with friends that like to have only one or two breaks, like a long lunch break and a long afternoon break. But I find these types of breaks really are bad for me, it can take me over an hour after a long lunch break to get back to a smooth ride.
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Old 03-12-18, 09:32 AM
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I look for roadside distractions .. my touring Ireland, I brought my pocket mandolin,

so stayed for a week because the village pub jam session was fun..
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Old 03-12-18, 09:34 AM
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My preference is a short stop, 5-10 minutes, every hour to hour and a half. Key is finding a good place to stop, with a nice view, or a shade tree, or shelter from the wind. Bathroom break if needed, get a snack out, munch on that, stretch, take a picture or two if it's worthwhile, hit the road again. My legs and bottom appreciate the break!
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Old 03-12-18, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
- currently riding 4 days a week
How many of these rides are 5 hours long as per your touring target?
Perhaps you would be able to answer your own question after you did a 5-hr ride on a Saturday, followed by another 5-hr one on Sunday.
Try this combination both ways.
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Old 03-12-18, 11:41 AM
  #13  
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As others have mentioned, each person will have to figure out what works for themselves (and any riding companions).

How many miles are you targeting? 50 miles a day?

I like to force myself to stop, somewhere between every 20 to 50 miles. Eat a bit, and take off again. Sometimes I'll lay down for a second, but I'm often finding myself trying to maximize my time on the road for some pretty long rides. The "morning after" rides are still tough.

In your case, I'd do some back-to-back longer rides around the neighborhood. Head out for a 50 or so miles in an afternoon around home. Come back home for the night, and do an other 50 miles the next day. See what works for you.

I'd presume your tour would also dictate the activities a bit. In some cases, you may enjoy stopping and taking lots of photos along the road. Perhaps some short side-trips. Mini tours of the "sights".

In other cases, it may be about the destination. Head to the destination. Then spend the rest of the afternoon touring and having fun at the destination.
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Old 03-12-18, 01:06 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I look for roadside distractions .. my touring Ireland, I brought my pocket mandolin,

so stayed for a week because the village pub jam session was fun..
I envy you for having some musical talent. It must be fun to just go anywhere and jam with someone. I've tried off and on for 50+ years to learn various instruments to no avail. Its just not in the cards for me I guess.

As far as the thread topic: When I take my breaks, I like to wade - if possible - even swim a little. It irons out the kinks and cools me down. I don't lounge around for hours. Fifteen or twenty minutes does the trick. I wear Patagonia and OR boxer briefs, and typically, they are dry by the time I dress and get back in the saddle.

Also concerning your questions about riding with long or short breaks: I try to stay flexible. If my end-of-day destination is someplace I know to be fun and relaxing or plenty to do, I'll just hump it out and get there early without too many leisurely breaks along the way. If its just someplace to spend the night, I'll usually play around during the ride and then just set up camp (or room) and crash.

Be flexible and play around.
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Old 03-12-18, 01:19 PM
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What works for one person may not work for another person.

Experiment with back to back rides and see how you feel and then expand to a three day weekend ride and see how it goes.

I tend to find longer break are harder to come back from unless I'm hopping from supper to campsite location. I generally keep my breaks to 10-15 minutes and that is figuring a break other than just a bathroom/water bottle refill break(aka, grab lunch/snack). Generally bathroom breaks are just that, short, under 5 minute breaks. Anything longer than 15 minutes and I start to stiffen up and the heart starts to beat slower and I have to basically start the day all over again. I try to keep the momentum moving until I'm done for the day
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Old 03-12-18, 01:57 PM
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as I made my way across the southern coast of Norway , between ferry ports,
I was pleased to find small lakes left from the glacial retreat with cool fresh water in them,
at the top of a few hills, for a cool swim.
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Old 03-12-18, 05:44 PM
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Lots of good advice, thanks.

There were some questions and assumptions so I thought I would clear those up:
- I have a chiropractor and massage therapist, and Iíve had a personal trainer to work in core work and stretches
- I see my first couple tours to be only 4-5 days, around 80-100km per day
- when I asked about short vs. Long breaks...my short breaks today in a 3-4 hr ride are 5 minutes long (every 45-60 minutes) with a 15 minute break 1/2 way
- I was wondering if I should lengthen the short breaks to 10-30 minutes (photos, food, stretch), and the long ones up to an hour (lunch, check out sites, etc). Iíve never taken breaks like this in a 4-5hr ride. But this is what Iím thinking of trying.
- love the idea of back-to-back 5hr rides to see what works...though it may take a few times to determine this, and by then Iíll probably want one of these 4-day tours in the bag...do trial by fire I guess!
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Old 03-12-18, 05:53 PM
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get out there on your own and figure out what works, listen to your own body and try diff things.
You can get ideas here, but in the end, its for you and what feels best for you on a given day, as diff days will have you feeling differently break wise, not even getting into the topic of how one gets stronger the more one rides.
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Old 03-12-18, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
I tend to find longer break are harder to come back from unless I'm hopping from supper to campsite location. I generally keep my breaks to 10-15 minutes and that is figuring a break other than just a bathroom/water bottle refill break(aka, grab lunch/snack). Generally bathroom breaks are just that, short, under 5 minute breaks. Anything longer than 15 minutes and I start to stiffen up and the heart starts to beat slower and I have to basically start the day all over again. I try to keep the momentum moving until I'm done for the day
Oh, I can relate to that. At least on longer rides... getting back on the bike after say a 20 minute break can be hard. Not long enough to fully rest, but enough to stiffen up a bit.

At the same time, I've found that it can be very handy to get off the bike for a bit, and get some calories into oneself. Otherwise, it can be just sitting there turning the pedals.

I do wonder if maybe 2 or 3 hours off would at least help with actual recovery. So, in the OP's case, maybe 20 to 30 miles, then have fun off the bike for an hour or two, then head on down the road.

I do a lot of bike commute shopping. So, 10 or 15 miles or so... then shop for a bit, then back on for 5 to 10 miles, then shop some more... then maybe 15 miles back home. It really isn't that bad, although the last leg back home can drag a bit with the extra cargo.
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Old 03-13-18, 10:17 AM
  #20  
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I go with longer breaks, an Hr on the bike an Hr off the bike... Seems to work just right for me.
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Old 03-14-18, 06:13 AM
  #21  
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I have to stop for my dog every hour for a leak, so I do that as well. I am in no hurry unless a storm is bearing down on me, then I hoof it, But I also stop for photo ops, to stretch my and my dogs legs. I also have an injured back and need frequent stops. After 3 - 4 days I have a rest day.
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