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Riding Slower = Longer Distances?

Old 06-29-21, 11:55 AM
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Noonievut
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Riding Slower = Longer Distances?

I've been cycling for close to 20 years, mainly road, and in the last few years some gravel riding (mixed surface). I've also done some credit card style touring for multiple days (and still do).

When I was younger and had more time, I did many rides over 100k and a few over 150k. But usually I ride about 4x a week and my long ride is just under 100k on the weekend. My long ride is usually with a friend, who is reasonably fast and I do work a little harder to keep up (but feel fine afterwards, so all good).

I've always been intrigued by randonneuring, and thought this would be a good group to pose this question to (I could have posted this in the touring forum, but I'm less interested in multi-day).

My question is whether you can translate faster speed at a given distance (say 100k) to slower but longer rides?

For example if I avg 28k/hr on my fast ride (yes I know that isn't very fast!), so less than four hours, but I wanted to ride 125-150k and really take my time, going slower and stopping more, is it reasonable to say that I would feel the same during/after and could get through that distance pretty easily?

I've had my road bike for over a dozen years (custom, steel) and it still rides like a dream. I have a saddle I really like and usually am only a little sore in the sit bones areas after a long ride. My upper body also feels good generally, unless very windy or I'm working hard to keep up with a friend (using my upper body more).

I appreciate your viewpoints - thanks!
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Old 06-29-21, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
I've been cycling for close to 20 years, mainly road, and in the last few years some gravel riding (mixed surface). I've also done some credit card style touring for multiple days (and still do).

When I was younger and had more time, I did many rides over 100k and a few over 150k. But usually I ride about 4x a week and my long ride is just under 100k on the weekend. My long ride is usually with a friend, who is reasonably fast and I do work a little harder to keep up (but feel fine afterwards, so all good).

I've always been intrigued by randonneuring, and thought this would be a good group to pose this question to (I could have posted this in the touring forum, but I'm less interested in multi-day).

My question is whether you can translate faster speed at a given distance (say 100k) to slower but longer rides?

For example if I avg 28k/hr on my fast ride (yes I know that isn't very fast!), so less than four hours, but I wanted to ride 125-150k and really take my time, going slower and stopping more, is it reasonable to say that I would feel the same during/after and could get through that distance pretty easily?

I've had my road bike for over a dozen years (custom, steel) and it still rides like a dream. I have a saddle I really like and usually am only a little sore in the sit bones areas after a long ride. My upper body also feels good generally, unless very windy or I'm working hard to keep up with a friend (using my upper body more).

I appreciate your viewpoints - thanks!
If you can ride 4 hours at 28 k/hr, you can do 125-150k right now. If you are riding slower and stopping for tea and biscuits, you will probably feel similar at the end of 150k as you feel at the end of your 112km ride, assuming temperatures and hills are equal. Similar, not equal,

If you can do 150km, you should easily handle the 200km brevet. OTOH, jumping from 200k to 300K is a big one for randonneurs.
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Old 06-29-21, 03:48 PM
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Riding slower for longer rides means a long day in the saddle. Comfortable contact points will be crucial. Sore back, neck, butt, feet might be more of an issue than tired legs.

David
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Old 06-29-21, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by David in Maine View Post
Riding slower for longer rides means a long day in the saddle. Comfortable contact points will be crucial. Sore back, neck, butt, feet might be more of an issue than tired legs.

David
Yeah it’s those contact points I’m most concerned with. When I get off the bike I usually stretch my upper body, so that would be even more important. I have had issues with my neck and ‘down below’ years ago from poor posture and never stretching some muscles. I now routinely stretch and do yoga poses and all good, but nervous about “the long day”.
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Old 06-29-21, 05:09 PM
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If you have saddle issues at 4 hours, you must fix it.

If your saddle is good, bibs good, lube good, and fit is proper, you should have no discomfort.
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Old 06-29-21, 05:17 PM
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Yes stretching and flexibility training during training and stretching both while riding and during rest stops on the rides helps a lot! I have successfully completed both 200k and 300k brevets in decent times with training primarily consisting of faster, shorter rides. It is crucial to ride within yourself and not get swept along by quick groups in the beginning or go too hard on early climbs. Go for it!

David
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Old 06-29-21, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
If you have saddle issues at 4 hours, you must fix it.

If your saddle is good, bibs good, lube good, and fit is proper, you should have no discomfort.
I’m good now and can ride 4 hours with just slight discomfort. A long day in the saddle (relatively speaking for anyone based on their own longest rides) will always be uncomfortable towards the end but no issues afterwards.
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Old 06-29-21, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by David in Maine View Post
Yes stretching and flexibility training during training and stretching both while riding and during rest stops on the rides helps a lot! I have successfully completed both 200k and 300k brevets in decent times with training primarily consisting of faster, shorter rides. It is crucial to ride within yourself and not get swept along by quick groups in the beginning or go too hard on early climbs. Go for it!

David
Thanks David in Maine. I have a week to myself in August while the family is on a girls only trip and I’m thinking of trying a long ride day in that week. I prefer cooler weather so I’ll see what Mother Nature brings!
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Old 06-29-21, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
I’m good now and can ride 4 hours with just slight discomfort. A long day in the saddle (relatively speaking for anyone based on their own longest rides) will always be uncomfortable towards the end but no issues afterwards.
Ok. I don't agree that uncomfortable is necessarily expected or unavoidable. I can say for sure that I bought a lot of saddles, shorts, and experimented with different lubes. And, I could ride pretty much days nonstop with no bottom soreness. Some of that is training for sure. If you have problems with your butt, don't give up. It can be addressed. GL.
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Old 06-29-21, 06:21 PM
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25 km/h is roughly what I shoot for on brevets.
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Old 06-29-21, 07:20 PM
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In my experience (which is not that extensive at long distances), longer distances ridden slowly are hard in different ways than shorter distances ridden (relatively) quickly, but not necessarily harder.

The big problem I find is that there are some biomechanical problems that only appear above a certain threshold, for example, I only start getting hotfoot after about 115 km. So I need to train beyond these thresholds and figure out how to avoid these problems (for hotfoot: take a break at 100 km or ride with shoes looser). But I've also found that if I'm taking it really easy on a really long ride, a lot of the muscle soreness that I expect after a shorter ride just isn't there.
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Old 06-29-21, 07:55 PM
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I'm slow, and can plod along forever. Certainly there would be something with not burning oneself out too quickly.

A riding buddy can help with motivation.

On the other hand, with the longer rides, one can run into a crunch of losing daylight, or not enough hours in the day.

So, say one rides 10 MPH for 200 miles, that ends up being a 20 hour day... and a very long day in the saddle. Bump it up to 12 MPH, and one is down to 16.7 hours. At 15 MPH, one is down to 13.3 hours.
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Old 06-29-21, 08:49 PM
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Also bear in mind the shift in weight distribution when riding slower. Less pedal pressure means more weight on the saddle. If you're already starting to feel some discomfort in 4 hours on a fast ride, onset to discomfort on slower rides may set in sooner.

But eh, should still probably be fine for a 200km brevet. I'd still look at trying to improve on fit and comfort for 300km and longer though.
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Old 06-29-21, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I'm slow, and can plod along forever. Certainly there would be something with not burning oneself out too quickly.

A riding buddy can help with motivation.

On the other hand, with the longer rides, one can run into a crunch of losing daylight, or not enough hours in the day.

So, say one rides 10 MPH for 200 miles, that ends up being a 20 hour day... and a very long day in the saddle. Bump it up to 12 MPH, and one is down to 16.7 hours. At 15 MPH, one is down to 13.3 hours.
600k at 25 kph : 24 hours

600k at 30kph : 20 hours!

I did a 600k at 29kph average a few months back, it's nice to be able to go a bit faster on long distances
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Old 06-29-21, 10:56 PM
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Speed is a good tool to have in your toolchest.

So is the ability to have short quick stops, fix a flat quickly, sleep anywhere, navigate, clear your mind, and self assess your mental state. The more aware you are of your body, the more you're able to push it close to its limits without getting into trouble.

There comes a point when you have to stop thinking about it, obsessing over the numbers, and just do it. Honestly, you don't know how your body or (more importantly IMO) your mind is going to handle the realities of long distance. Don't overthink it.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
600k at 25 kph : 24 hours

600k at 30kph : 20 hours!

I did a 600k at 29kph average a few months back, it's nice to be able to go a bit faster on long distances
In between brevets, I did a few 24 hour races. I found those to be a completely different mental challenge. There's something about the clock; no matter how fast you go, it's still 24 hours. You have to find motivation somewhere else, not finish time or finishing earlier. It's kinda weird.
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Old 06-30-21, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
600k at 25 kph : 24 hours

600k at 30kph : 20 hours!

I did a 600k at 29kph average a few months back, it's nice to be able to go a bit faster on long distances
Congrats. 20:45 for 600K brevet is record time in the USA, unless you are in a velomobile. I did one in 23:XX completely solo with a mechanical. I had researched times and IIRC, around 22:15 was the fastest I found for upright riders working together. If you did that 29 k/hr 600K brevet solo, you would very easily be able to finish with Les Premieres at PBP for instance. In other words, few randos are as fast as you but you probably know that.

There is no question speed is nice, makes it easy to have options. What some fail to recognize is there is nothing slower than being stopped. There are many ways to reduce time, few have the luxury of going so fast.

Do you ride with aero bars? What kind of kit? Any details on your bike?

I used go ride a Felt AR1 with Zipp 404 wheels, Assos T Centos, Assos S7 jersey, Assos warmers, and my reflective Gillet is from Gore. The Gilet breaths pretty well but more importantly is much more aerodynamic than the standard ones (and yes, I measure the CdA effects)
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Old 06-30-21, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Congrats. 20:45 for 600K brevet is record time in the USA, unless you are in a velomobile. I did one in 23:XX completely solo with a mechanical. I had researched times and IIRC, around 22:15 was the fastest I found for upright riders working together. If you did that 29 k/hr 600K brevet solo, you would very easily be able to finish with Les Premieres at PBP for instance. In other words, few randos are as fast as you but you probably know that.

There is no question speed is nice, makes it easy to have options. What some fail to recognize is there is nothing slower than being stopped. There are many ways to reduce time, few have the luxury of going so fast.

Do you ride with aero bars? What kind of kit? Any details on your bike?

I used go ride a Felt AR1 with Zipp 404 wheels, Assos T Centos, Assos S7 jersey, Assos warmers, and my reflective Gillet is from Gore. The Gilet breaths pretty well but more importantly is much more aerodynamic than the standard ones (and yes, I measure the CdA effects)
29k moving average I still don't have my bike fit dialed enough to allow for continuous riding. Between an enjoyable 6 hour sleep, lots of yummy snacks along the way, and luxurious rest stops with lengthy chats and discussions, I came in at about 34 hours for the 600k. That was my first ever audax ride so I was making the most of it.

I'm impressed by your times! That is some solid riding. IIRC the world record 24 hour outdoor ride at the moment stands just a little over 900km.

I'm riding a Specialized Roubaix with aerobars and some custom 55/65 carbon wheels with a dynamo in the front.
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Old 06-30-21, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
29k moving average I still don't have my bike fit dialed enough to allow for continuous riding. Between an enjoyable 6 hour sleep, lots of yummy snacks along the way, and luxurious rest stops with lengthy chats and discussions, I came in at about 34 hours for the 600k. That was my first ever audax ride so I was making the most of it.

I'm impressed by your times! That is some solid riding. IIRC the world record 24 hour outdoor ride at the moment stands just a little over 900km.

I'm riding a Specialized Roubaix with aerobars and some custom 55/65 carbon wheels with a dynamo in the front.
brev
Very nice.

I don't think I have a picture of mine. I used a small handlebar bag, a revelate gas tank bag just behind the stem, two water bottles on down and seat tubes, and two bottles behind the rear seat where I would also keep tubes and repair stuff, it is a triathelon type attachment with small storage area. i Four bottles gets me thru 220k. Food and quick access small stuff into the gas tank bag. Rain jacket, arm/leg warmers, neck gaitor, brevet card, extra fuel, etc. into the handlebar bag. More than sufficient in warm conditions but a little tight in colder climates like Brittany, which is why using the Loudiac drop point makes sense, especially on the return when you body is weak and probably needs a nice merino wool LS jersey. I recently bought a YAK "wool" cycling jersey that I can't wait to try in cold weather. In longer and colder climates, I swapped the smaller Ortlieb for a Revelate Versacia seat bag (monster big).
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Old 06-30-21, 11:49 AM
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone.

Right now I'm less interested in training to complete an event, like a Brevet, and more interested in riding longer in a day simply because I love riding my bike. My routine has been to get an early start and then get home by such and such a time because of a family commitment or whatever. I'm now having more opportunities for longer days on the bike without the time constraint. I believe the key, for me, will be many short breaks (with some light stretching on each break, in addition to checking out sights and having a snack or whatever). It's managing the older issues I've had with my body, not solely caused by cycling, that worry me the most. I'm not concerned that my legs or lungs can't handle the distances, it's the contact points. I'm also not concerned with speed and as I think it through with input above, it's not about riding slower per say, but riding at whatever pace feels right and stopping more frequently and perhaps for a little longer than my usual micro-breaks. I'm hoping that will allow me to add in rides where I go from say 4hr riding time to 5 or 6 or a little longer, and still feel close to how I do after 4 hours (which is pretty good).

And for those Canadian's out there, like moi, Happy Canada Day for tomorrow!
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Old 06-30-21, 11:37 PM
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^ That sounds like Lon Haldeman. I figure he's successful at long-distance rides because he simply loves getting on his bike and riding as far as he can. There's some great stuff on his Pac Tour blog about his first attempts at really long rides: Lon's PACTOUR Blog: March 2007
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Old 07-01-21, 04:35 AM
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I love how Lon's climbing bike on the double Transcontinental had a 42x21 low gear and that the flashlight fell off the bike leaving Harlem on I suppose the racing bike with a 13-18 corncob that he rode an 8 hour and change double century a few weeks earlier.

Good lights were almost impossible to get back then. I had a custom set. Ugly, ugly. 12V tractor light powered by a big expensive nicad battery (maybe 6V, I forget). I had four different bulbs IIRC. 25 W, 15W, 10W, and 5W. I had to use the 5W on brevets in the later 80's to get enough hours out of the battery. I commuted using the 15W bulb and it was really good for the day. In the 90's I fashioned a lithium battery pack using 4 D cells to a night rider halogen lamp. Cats meow. The batteries were not rechargeable and were wicked expensive. How things have changed. Cars now run on batteries. I run my battery powered headlamp every time I ride and only need to recharge it every week or two.
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Old 07-03-21, 09:16 AM
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In addition to comfort, it's also worth thinking about fueling. On shorter rides you don't need to eat much and you can run a calorie deficit, but that doesn't work on a much longer ride. Especially if you're not good at burning fat reserves, you'll want to keep a steady intake of carbs. Figure out what foods you can digest easily in the saddle and eat pre-emptively (ie before you feel hungry) on your first few long rides. If you want to do really long rides, you might want to do some specific training to improve fat utilization so you don't have to take in carbs at such a high rate, but initially that's your best strategy to avoid bonking.
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Old 07-03-21, 09:47 AM
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200km is not that much longer than 100km as far as pacing goes. Once you start going much further than that you might want to cut back on the power some. As always, YMMV
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Old 07-19-21, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
Yeah it’s those contact points I’m most concerned with. When I get off the bike I usually stretch my upper body, so that would be even more important. I have had issues with my neck and ‘down below’ years ago from poor posture and never stretching some muscles. I now routinely stretch and do yoga poses and all good, but nervous about “the long day”.
A few (10?) years ago I planned for a 300 mile sagged tour, 60 or so miles each day. 2 days on, one day off, 3 days on, one pretty hilly at least for Michigan. So I set four training goals originally: develop my saddle position adjustment to achieve a comfortable 40 miler, then continue to achieve 60, then achieve 60-0-60, then tackle 60-60. I started with a Selle Anatomica saddle so sitbones pain was initially zero; not so for perineal abrasion! By edging the saddle lower (1 mm at a time) while focusing on spin I was able to kill that source. I never had unmanageable leg discomfort even when I reached 60-0-0-60. Additional small adjustments were discovered for setback, tilt, bar tilt, brake lever position, and saddle rotation. Whenever I upped the distance a little I discovered new adjustments were needed, including Selle Anatomica slot widths.

Seems to me the real intellectual property or critical skill set here is to know what gentle change is needed to remedy the latest new discomfort. And my feeling is that one can’t go on past the comfort level without the skill to resolve the problems, for example to actually train up to a ready-for-200 level.

I didn’t get to finish the 5 day tour due to a surprise phone call with a job offer, and resulting 10 years as an engineer in an entirely new discipline. Just now starting to build back better!
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