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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

How did YOU prep for your first 24hr?

Old 11-23-21, 06:18 PM
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Tomm Willians
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How did YOU prep for your first 24hr?

The thought of doing a solo 24hr has been bouncing around in my head for quite some time and I think Iím going to begin seriously working towards doing one. Iíve done four centuries so Iím a bit familiar with distance riding but I know this will be much harder.
For those of you whoíve done a 24hr, how did you prepare? I was thinking that if I did a couple of 12hrs that I could probably do a 24. Unrealistic?
Not dreaming of doing any impressive mileage, just maintain 10-12mph or so and focus on just completing it.
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Old 11-23-21, 07:02 PM
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I wish I had brought a blanket. An hour nap on a park bench can work wonders, but it was cold even in the Virginia summer.

Planning out an exciting place to finish, with a nice bed waiting for you, is a great motivator. 24 hours is long enough that proper planning on the short-term, i.e. during the ride, is often more important than how you start.
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Old 11-23-21, 10:22 PM
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Do a non-solo 24 hr first? You could fit a 400km brevet into that timeframe and get some tips from other riders.
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Old 11-24-21, 07:55 AM
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Ride a number of 200km rides. Maybe 10. Then try a 300km ride. You won't feel ready for it, but it will be doable. Then you should be ready. You aren't listing a distance so I"m just guessing how far you want to go. I would aim for 400k because I'm not an overachiever. Riding all night is something you can't really practice for, but you can get used to it. Eastern PA randonneurs had an overnight 200k, which was fun even though I might have grumbled about it a little. But I didn't really think it was good for anything. OTOH, I have a lot of practice riding all night. Just a note on route design. A properly designed 1200k is one 100km stretch after another. That's a decent interval to ride without major stops. Shorter rides and rides designed by inexperienced route designers often have more frequent stops. But you can go a long way with planned stops every 100km. And recognize that a lot of stores close fairly early nowadays, so you have to plan accordingly.

I don't ever carry a blanket, but you have to carry clothes to match the weather conditions. It gets cold at night in most of the U.S., even in summer. It's worth figuring out how you are going to do this and take the clothing on shorter rides to make sure your plans are workable.
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Old 11-24-21, 08:11 AM
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One reason I recommended RUSA is to learn the tactical stuff like lights, clothing, eating, repairs, etc. that would be essential on a 24 hour effort. Getting cold or doing your gut wrong are probably bigger risks to successful completion. The distance covered is really irrelevant. You will learn the basic skills while doing brevets of varying distances and if you just ask randonneurs, you will get 10 different answers to try
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Old 11-24-21, 10:10 AM
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I was already "endurance fit" by the summer of the season that I did my solo 24hr ride in mid-Oct. I could ride a century at a moment's notice, and commuted to work pretty much every day, with a 40 mile ride after work several days a week. So in the 2-3 months prior to the solo 24hr (although at that point I had no plans at all to be doing a 24hr ride in Oct.), I started unknowingly prepping for the 24hr ride by attempting a sub-5hr century, (5:15 moving time), riding my first 200mi double century, with a group (14hrs moving time) that went well, 2 weeks later back-to-back solo 150mi rides with 17,500' total which was Boston to the Canada border thru Vermont (9.5hrs moving time each day, so I was comfortable with 19hrs of saddle time in 36 hrs.). It was at this point I told myself that if I can do 19 hours of saddle time in 36 hrs with 12 hrs in between the rides, and do that comfortably as far as no saddle sores, and having learned to dial in my proper fueling, then I might as well try to put those two 150mi rides together and just do it all in 24 hrs, and mark off a bucket list item), so then I just kept doing a century+ on most Saturdays after that, with a shorter 40-60mi ride the day after to keep my legs used to the volume, and I did that for the 5 weeks leading up to the 24hr event. And I see that I rode 250mi total in the week prior to the 24hr event, but nothing hard, and nothing longer than ~55 miles, just to let the knees have a full week of active recovery (if you can call 250 miles in a week "recovery"). And ultimately the 24hr ride was a complete success at 525km/325miles.

Completing my first 24hr ride was the mission, and nothing else mattered, so I decided to cut a bunch of variables out of the equation that might jeopardize it, such as night time navigation, being in the dark for 12 hours on the roads with cars when the bars close, water/fuel stops at 3am, etc... so I chose a route that was a 30 mile loop (that I did 13 times), was 100% on segregated bike paths, so I was able to park right next to the path, and get to my car every 30 miles, refill water bottles, grab food, and change into cold weather gear very easily. The hard part was the mental fortitude when getting back to the car each time, and not just giving in to the fatigue and just driving home with my tail between my legs, but I was on a mission, and that wasn't going to happen on my watch.

And BTW, I didn't join a Rando club until after this event. All of the knowledge and wisdom I got for this event and all the long distance events prior, was via BikeForums.

Last edited by Riveting; 11-24-21 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 11-24-21, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Riveting View Post
I was already "endurance fit" by the summer of the season that I did my solo 24hr ride in mid-Oct. I could ride a century at a moment's notice, and commuted to work pretty much every day, with a 40 mile ride after work several days a week. So in the 2-3 months prior to the solo 24hr (although at that point I had no plans at all to be doing a 24hr ride in Oct.), I started unknowingly prepping for the 24hr ride by attempting a sub-5hr century, (5:15 moving time), riding my first 200mi double century, with a group (14hrs moving time) that went well, 2 weeks later back-to-back solo 150mi rides with 17,500' total which was Boston to the Canada border thru Vermont (9.5hrs moving time each day, so I was comfortable with 19hrs of saddle time in 36 hrs.). It was at this point I told myself that if I can do 19 hours of saddle time in 36 hrs with 12 hrs in between the rides, and do that comfortably as far as no saddle sores, and having learned to dial in my proper fueling, then I might as well try to put those two 150mi rides together and just do it all in 24 hrs, and mark off a bucket list item), so then I just kept doing a century+ on most Saturdays after that, with a shorter 40-60mi ride the day after to keep my legs used to the volume, and I did that for the 5 weeks leading up to the 24hr event. And I see that I rode 250mi total in the week prior to the 24hr event, but nothing hard, and nothing longer than ~55 miles, just to let the knees have a full week of active recovery (if you can call 250 miles in a week "recovery"). And ultimately the 24hr ride was a complete success at 525km/325miles.

Completing my first 24hr ride was the mission, and nothing else mattered, so I decided to cut a bunch of variables out of the equation that might jeopardize it, such as night time navigation, being in the dark for 12 hours on the roads with cars when the bars close, water/fuel stops at 3am, etc... so I chose a route that was a 30 mile loop (that I did 13 times), was 100% on segregated bike paths, so I was able to park right next to the path, and get to my car every 30 miles, refill water bottles, grab food, and change into cold weather gear very easily. The hard part was the mental fortitude when getting back to the car each time, and not just giving in to the fatigue and just driving home with my tail between my legs, but I was on a mission, and that wasn't going to happen on my watch.

And BTW, I didn't join a Rando club until after this event. All of the knowledge and wisdom I got for this event and all the long distance events prior, was via BikeForums.

I happen to know of a very similar route in the California Wine area that is virtually flat, 30 mile loop with a convenient place to park my truck for stops and resupply. Iíve done three centuries there so it likely will be my route.
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Old 11-24-21, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Tomm Willians View Post
I happen to know of a very similar route in the California Wine area that is virtually flat, 30 mile loop with a convenient place to park my truck for stops and resupply. I’ve done three centuries there so it likely will be my route.
Yup, I forgot to mention that mine was very flat too, fatigue from hills was also a variable I wanted to remove: Here's mine for reference: https://www.strava.com/activities/724484887

And in fact, mine wasn't a "loop" per se, it was out and back on a secluded 12.5 mile path one-way, done 26 times (x13 in each direction).

Last edited by Riveting; 11-24-21 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 11-24-21, 02:51 PM
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They say you can't bank sleep (I'm not sure) but I'm positive you can bank fatigue. Make sure to be well rested
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Old 11-24-21, 10:09 PM
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On sleep - I think it will be one of the biggest unknown variables that you don't know how you'll be able to handle it, until you experience it for yourself. Typically this will happen somewhere within the last 6 hours of those 24 hours - whether you can keep going, or find yourself nodding off and needing to make stops for naps. While you can't necessarily prepare for it, but being aware of the possibility that it may or may not be an issue will go a long way towards completing those 24 hours successfully.
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Old 11-25-21, 08:07 AM
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My first 24+ hour ride was a 600k that I decided to ride straight through several years ago. I didn't do any special training and wasn't in that great of shape, just decided to do it. I way underprepared for the weather and nearly froze to death in the last 200k. I wanted to take a nap, but I started shivering uncontrollably every time I stopped. It also didn't occur to me that everything would be closed in the middle of the night in southern Wisconsin so I ran out of food and water. When the sun came up I stopped at a grocery store for a few hours to eat, rest and warm up. Ended up finishing in 31h 22m which isn't that much faster than when I stop and sleep for the night. So there's an example of how not to do it. I've done a few since then with better results, but staying awake all night long is always hard for me. People who do it a lot tell me it gets easier with practice.

I agree with the suggestion of riding a 400k in 24h. It's so much easier to ride all night long with other people than solo.
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Old 11-25-21, 08:37 AM
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I rode a 600k brevet without sleeping. I am positive I would have done better if I slept, and I wasted enough time at the overnight waiting for people to ride with that I had the time.
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Old 11-25-21, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Tomm Willians View Post
Iíve done four centuries so Iím a bit familiar with distance riding but I know this will be much harder.
... That wasn't really appropriate ... After my double I didn't even look at my bike for a week and I love cycling. The last 15 minutes felt as long as the previous 13 hours.

The longest I've done so far is a double century, and it felt so different compared to my many other centuries. However Mark Beaumont believes shorter, harder rides provide better training for long distances.

I've found that if I want to ready myself for a goal the distance or time isn't as important as re-creating the fatigue or issues I might encounter. Knowing how your body responds and how well you mentally react.

I'll set my alarm very early once and awhile to start riding at 2am or 3am. Helps me understand how I do when foggy and cranky. Sunlight is a very powerful signal for your body to wake up - without it you're kind of still sleeping. When I've done these early rides I've completely spaced out for a few miles or missed a turn. I'll ride a common route I've done many times, and one morning I stopped and had to check my phone, because I missed my turn and nothing looked familiar - and even though I had gone five minutes past my turn it didn't register. I just suddenly realized I had no idea where I was - that's a scary feeling because what else didn't I notice?

Riding 50 miles hard without food to get that 130 mile bonk feel. I almost wrecked once at 100 miles because my blood pressure suddenly dropped and I almost (almost!!) passed out. Just saved it in time.

Props to you guys doing short loops. 30 mile loops wouldn't be awful but seeing the same thing every 45 minutes would not be fun. No way I could do a 12 mile out and back 12 times.

Last edited by GrainBrain; 11-25-21 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 11-25-21, 07:02 PM
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My first 24h ride was my first 400k, I ended up solo for ~390km of it. The only prep I'd done was to ride a couple of 200k, a 300k, and DNF'd my first 400k about 300k into it. My favourite 24 ride I've done was a flŤche, we only did ~380km but it's a great way to do a 24h ride and you're guaranteed company unless you quit. I'd read up on riding a flŤche, the route planning stuff might be helpful if you decide to do your own ride instead of joining an organized brevet. Planning my own ride I'd make sure to have a bunch of food/water stops and all that jazz. I've taken power naps in whatever I happened to be wearing... this summer I slept on a sidewalk on top of a dam, didn't even take my helmet off... but it was warm... I've run into my share of cold summer nights, around here it's not unheard of to get close to freezing for a couple hours on a cool night. If I were doing my own ride I'd consider a 3am start, definitely wouldn't start any later than 4am.
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Old 11-26-21, 08:00 AM
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Riding a long distance for 24 hours is 80% mental. The other 50% is physical.

Lots of online blogs say that it is not necessary to ride long distances to prepare for a 24 hour event. I say hogwash. You need the confidence of riding a pretty long distance to overcome some challenges and to develop the confidence and mental toughness. It is true that experienced long distance riders do not need much more than 6 or maybe 10 hour training rides to be able to do a solid effort on a 24 hour ride but only because they know how to handle the suck.
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Old 11-26-21, 03:38 PM
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Do people really say that you don't need to ride long distances in order to ride 24 hours? I think it depends on the context. For me it's just a waste of a good night's sleep, but I think a newbie should try some long rides that go into the night before they try to ride all night.

The one failure I see the most is not making sure their lights work all night. You don't even have to ride with them a long time at night, just turn them on and go ride a long ride in daylight.
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Old 11-26-21, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The one failure I see the most is not making sure their lights work all night. You don't even have to ride with them a long time at night, just turn them on and go ride a long ride in daylight.
To be fair, you don't even need to leave the comfort of your house for that test.
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Old 11-26-21, 08:57 PM
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Some lights need cooling. Not taillights though, and that is the problem I see the most.
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Old 11-27-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Do people really say that you don't need to ride long distances in order to ride 24 hours? I think it depends on the context. For me it's just a waste of a good night's sleep, but I think a newbie should try some long rides that go into the night before they try to ride all night.

The one failure I see the most is not making sure their lights work all night. You don't even have to ride with them a long time at night, just turn them on and go ride a long ride in daylight.
yes. Some coaches say that. Nothing more than 6 hour training rides. No very long training rides. I have heard it directly and have read it.

Back before RUSA, it was pretty common to have night starts with 400 and 600K. The good thing is you are learning about night riding when relatively fresh since it is the beginning and not the end of the ride.
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Old 11-27-21, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
yes. Some coaches say that. Nothing more than 6 hour training rides. No very long training rides. I have heard it directly and have read it.

Back before RUSA, it was pretty common to have night starts with 400 and 600K. The good thing is you are learning about night riding when relatively fresh since it is the beginning and not the end of the ride.
A source I trust says it's true that training longer than 6 hours is a bad idea from a purely physiological point of view, but that experiential learning is also very important. Once one has a lot of experience on ultras, the downsides of training long distance may outweigh the upsides.
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Old 11-27-21, 09:48 AM
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Before I switched to audax riding* I used to love riding the longer distance time-trials that we have in the UK and after doing a couple of 100's and 12-hour TT's I decided to do the final distance of a 24-hour TT. I would have liked to have done a 12-hour earlier in the season but the 24-hour was earlier in the season than our local 12-hour so I just went out and did long day rides at a touristy kind of pace and I also rode every 25-mile and 50-mile TT that i could - usually riding home from the event to get more mileage in. I've never been one for training but targeted the only event on the UK TT calendar (the famous Mersey Roads 24-hour event) and somehow managed to lose about 30lbs in the early Summer and felt in good shape for the event in July. There was never any thoughts of using a TT bike so I used my road bike (lugged 631 tubing) and whilst I had hoped to do 360 miles I finished on a slightly disappointing 345 miles (in context, the winner did 480 miles).

* I actually only rode one season of audax. That was in 2007 so as to qualify for PBP.
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Old 11-27-21, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
A source I trust says it's true that training longer than 6 hours is a bad idea from a purely physiological point of view, but that experiential learning is also very important. Once one has a lot of experience on ultras, the downsides of training long distance may outweigh the upsides.
I think this quote from Jim is key. I had a pretty crappy (literally and figuratively) PBP in 2019 but I knew whatever I ate would eventually pass. I stopped a lot and slept a lot. The return from Brest was great. My training wasn't ideal due to some health issues but with enough experience, you know how hard you can push and how to recover. That only comes with doing enough distance events. But from a training perspective, I am not sure 6 hours or 10-12 hours is a better cutoff. It really depends if you can recover in about 2 days because at 3 days plasma and therefore stroke volume begin to decline. At two weeks off, there are all kinds of declines in mitochondrial enzymes. But once the training load cumulatively is high enough, long rides for training purposes mean little and of course, Jim is correct. He was one of three coaches that I had in mind who do not advocate massive miles in training.

Perhaps the most important experiential attribute you will gain from practicing ultra events is the confidence you will gain once you develop the skill and knowledge to get the most out your body. That confidence will be in both your physical and mental capabilities. Do not underestimate this. Once you have this confidence, you can go into an event not only well trained physically, but knowing that you have done this before, and knowing how you did it. You can go into an event focused on how hard and how steady you can go, not worrying whether or not you can complete it.
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Old 11-27-21, 12:52 PM
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Physical training is managed by a professional coach, but it is not as extraordinary as some believe. Overly long rides or training sessions at night are not included in my plan – that would only worsen regeneration......................

In the six months before RAAM, this means in practice: a total of 780 training hours, including many 6–7-hour endurance units in the lower range as well as shorter ‘brutal units’ with a few 4-, 8- or 16-minute ‘all-out intervals’. The aim is to raise my FTP threshold over 5 watts/kg, which is really not easy to do over long periods of time. However, the training continues even after the RAAM. In summer, I also took part in the Race Around Austria and in September I have some time trials in store before, after a brief off-season, preparation begins for the next year.
Some racers like Christoph Strasser and Marko Baloh put their riding on Strava or Training Peaks or at least they used to. It is possible to glean some information there. I do remember seeing a Christoph Strasser sweetspot session......8 x 20 minutes at the 390 watts. Gulp.

https://www.datasport.com/en/essenti...toph-strasser/
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Old 11-27-21, 02:39 PM
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I suppose my preparation was three years of rando including three SR series and PBP. Once i decided to do a 24 hour event, I did some spin classes to step up my fitness. That seemed effective.

All that experience taught me enough to be able to ride for 24 hours, and deal with what came up. What it didn't do was teach me how fuel adequately to keep my power output constant for 24 hours. That took a few iterations.
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Old 11-28-21, 07:49 AM
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Tomm Willians
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WowÖ.. lots of good info and opinions here, thank you ! The one aspect of this endeavor that Iím not too rattled by is staying awake for 24hrs. Not saying it will be easy but it doesnít scare me. Iíve done other 24hr endurance events in the past that prove I can do it, just need to optimize everything else involved.

I drove out what I believe will be an ideal route not far from my home. Itís a 62 mile loop with 24hr grocery stores at both ends, perfectly flat and mostly on remote roads that see little traffic and are arrow straight with great visibility for any drivers coming at me.

My wife insists on crewing for me as she hates the idea of me doing this solo and being a nurse doesnít hurt either. Due to the less than perfect surface conditions, Iím going to ride my Orbea Terra gravel bike with 32c GP5000ís, a shock stem and a Selle Anatomica saddle. This bike has proven itself very comfortable to me and while not as quick as some of my other bikes, I think the comfort will prove more important long term.
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