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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

Longer Distance Question

Old 09-13-22, 08:29 AM
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datlas 
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Longer Distance Question

I am an avid road cyclist and typically do rides of 80-100 miles with no significant problems.

My sense is that the main difference between a "short" ride of 30-50 miles and a "longer" ride of 80-100 miles is simply pacing a little slower, plus of course better nutrition and hydration.

The question is, how well does that extrapolate to an even longer ride?? My friends and I are looking at doing the Mallorca 312 next April, and it's 187 miles.

My hope is that if I can do 100 miles, I would be able to do 187 as long as I pace it appropriately and eat/drink properly.

Is that overly optimistic?? I am not going to be able to do any rides >100 miles in advance of this event. My goal is not to kill it, but to drop the pace, enjoy the ride, and finish it with a big smile.

Suggestions from experienced long-distance riders are welcomed.
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Old 09-13-22, 09:29 AM
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I always remember getting to 200km on my first 300k. I was pretty happy, because I felt good and I knew I could ride 100km, no problem. Plus, I was about to have a really good hamburger.

It's all about eating. Don't get behind on eating and you won't have any problems. You can go as fast as you want as long as you can keep up with nutrition. I have never worried about pacing.
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Old 09-13-22, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I always remember getting to 200km on my first 300k. I was pretty happy, because I felt good and I knew I could ride 100km, no problem. Plus, I was about to have a really good hamburger.

It's all about eating. Don't get behind on eating and you won't have any problems. You can go as fast as you want as long as you can keep up with nutrition. I have never worried about pacing.
Thanks. I pretty much figured this. But one of my cycling friends, who is a "nervous Nellie" before EVERY ride is already saying he does not know if he can follow the training plan to do this longer ride. This guy can DO a century at 150W average power but still worries too much. If he keeps it up, we are going to dis-invite him from the event.
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Old 09-13-22, 12:43 PM
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When touring I can manage 15 mph with ease and so the distance I can travel depends on the amount of daylight as riding at dusk is a good way to become road kill. Going 140 miles in a day was not a problem during the summer months but it was not possible to do safely during the winter months.

Something I learned first hand is the affect of the heat waves coming off the pavement by mid day and the risk of heatstroke. Temperatures that did no phase me when out running cross country in the desert were deadly when out on the road with my bike. Hydration helps but our bodies are still limited in terms of how much heat they can dissipate with perspiration. The relative humidity affects our ability to perspire and maintain our core temperature at a safe level and when I lived in Dallas it was very much a limitation. A local marathon runner in the olympic trials that took place in the area died from heatstroke during the race.

Snacks like raisins help to keep up the blood sugar levels for the muscles and are easy to eat while riding. Bananas are another good food for fuel and electrolytes.
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Old 09-13-22, 03:01 PM
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Agree with unterhausen on staying fueled.

Per Calsun's point, I don't know about Mallorca weather (any time of the year but particularly in April). It's been said that "hot" is 10 degrees warmer than what you're used to; Mallorca may well be hot coming from Penna. that time of the year. What about climbing and water availability? You'll want to make sure to stay hydrated as well as fueled; the times I've run out of fluids, it usually takes me a couple hours of very slow riding to recover -- if the heat and climbing make recovery possible at all.

I assume you've got lights sorted out? It'd be wise to start planning on some time riding in the dark, just in case hills, heat, and time off the bike push you out of daylight.
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Old 09-13-22, 03:11 PM
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What struck me always cycling in France whether slithering up Cols in the Alps as a tourist or trying my best in Paris Brest Paris, is the ubiquitous "Courage" which means to have Coeur or heart.

You and your friend can do it or not, depending on how you think and THAT, I am sure.

Bon Courage!
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Old 09-13-22, 03:52 PM
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I always tell people that anyone can ride a 400km brevet, having proved it myself one year when I had a persistent sinus infection and didn't train. Just did brevets.
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Old 09-13-22, 04:15 PM
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Bring good lights for every rider if you manage to go longer than daylight. And enough power to keep the lights running for several hours.

If you can do 50% and still walk afterwards, then you likely can do the whole ride.

The difficulty of the ride of course also depends on the terrain.

I don't know what your group dynamics are, but I'd hope that you don't drop anybody unless you choose a town or something as a convenient bail out point.
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Old 09-13-22, 06:34 PM
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Main thing IME is leg fitness. Can you do a ride of say 60 miles, 3000', where you do every climb in your sweet spot, all the way to the end? Can you do long steep climbs, say 10-12% one after another? Some of these climbs are simply one steep ascending roller after another, no downhill between. Those are leg killers. The average slope is not a problem, just the the rollers being maybe twice as steep as the average. Bring low gears. It's the ability to repeat. 85'/mile can be no big deal as long as the climbs are a steady 6%-7%. Steep rollers taught me the meaning of Jens' "shut up legs" motto. I learned to suffer on my first 300k, though it was only 10,000'. The steep rollers got to me.
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Old 09-14-22, 11:12 AM
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Stick to the pace you can handle taking in account the terrain. Don't get caught up in a group or an another rider that seem to being going only slightly faster than your set pace according to the terrain. A few times I have fallen into that trap and suffered later. Once you get over-tired it takes a while to recover, and you will have lost what you tried to gain. Finishing a brevet, no matter how long, is about properly pacing yourself.
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Old 09-15-22, 08:53 PM
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Carbonfibreboy has already mentioned the climbing factor. I have no idea what Mallorca is like, but his advice about have a lower gearing set-up is a good one. And be aware that there are likely to be faster, younger riders than you who love to chat as they up their pace, and while you try to keep up with them, you eventually have to drop off... and that can have significant issues later in the ride. yannigs made an excellent point about how corrosive that extra pacing can be.

All the other advance about intaking energy is very sound. Having a powder that dissolves in water is a good start, along with various energy bars, and making sure you intake as planned along the ride -- every 15 or 20 miles of the ride, for example. And adequate fluid intake is vital.

And as you are aware, datlas, I have trouble doing over 70km these days, but I do have a strong memory of doing many 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 and 1200 events in previous years. Not up with the front-runners, but still within the specified time limits despite the prevailing weather and roads.
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Old 09-15-22, 09:09 PM
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I think you can do 100 miles on an ill-fitting bike without things going too far south. That becomes less true quickly as the distance increases. I think dealing with comfort on the bike is as important as any other aspect of preparation.

Good advice on nutrition. I'll just add, it's easy to get caught up in other things and fall behind on hydration and nutrition. Saddle or hand discomfort, socializing with others, chasing people, pacelineing, dealing with crappy weather, navigating; these things and others can take your mind off of nutrition. Even for a veteran. Things go very bad very quickly. I have to remember: if my attitude starts getting bad, that's an early sign I need to eat. The problem is, with a bad attitude it's hard to spot a bad attitude.
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Old 09-16-22, 06:40 AM
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Do not forget electrolytes. A year or two ago, on an exercise ride I was doing of about 70 miles, on the last 20 miles I had no energy. I had ridden that ride several other times in similar weather with similar food and water, but this time I just had no energy after about 50 miles. Later I decided that I probably was short on electrolytes, now I always keep some salty snacks in my handlebar bag on longer rides.
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Old 09-17-22, 05:18 AM
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The hardest thing for new riders can be going slow enough to finish comfortably. A heart rate monitor can be quite useful.
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Old 09-17-22, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by znomit View Post
The hardest thing for new riders can be going slow enough to finish comfortably. A heart rate monitor can be quite useful.
YEP. I thought I was in Racing Shape when I did my first 200. Tried to follow the leaders. "I can surely keep up with a bunch of Randonneurs." Big mistake. I finished but it was hard.
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Old 09-17-22, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
YEP. I thought I was in Racing Shape when I did my first 200. Tried to follow the leaders. "I can surely keep up with a bunch of Randonneurs." Big mistake. I finished but it was hard.
Some of my earliest rando rides were in Kentucky. I thought, "why are these guys going so stupidly slow up hills?" A hundred miles later I found out why, when i was the lantern rouge. Somewhere in a ditch in Kentucky lie the remains of my ego.
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Old 09-18-22, 05:06 AM
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I don't know any randos that go stupidly slow up hills. A lot of them ride along at a reasonable pace until they hit a hill and then it's 500 watts to the top. Never quite understood it, I generally just let them go and then catch up to the people that don't eat enough to ride like that.
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Old 09-21-22, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Q1. My sense is that the main difference between a "short" ride of 30-50 miles and a "longer" ride of 80-100 miles is simply pacing a little slower, plus of course better nutrition and hydration. How well does that extrapolate to a longer ride like 190 miles?
Q2. My training rides will not exceed 100 miles. Is a 187 mile event still doable?
A1. There are probably three main differences between Saturday morning rides that last up to 50 miles and the longer rides that last 200k (125 miles) and 300k (187 miles). First difference is that a somewhat "trained" athlete can complete the Saturday morning rides on an empty stomach and not be required to eat at all and still finish the ride in the company of his buddies. A rider's glycogen stores will usually last until the 50 mile mark. Whereas any ride longer than 50 miles the rider has to figure out how to replenish depleted glycogen stores if the glycogen stores are going to be tapped for fuel. If you are fat adapted, then you can go further than 50 miles without fuel, but probably not all the way to 300k unless the ride is real low intensity and you are seriously fat adapted. Second difference is riding cadence. It doesn't make much difference for the Saturday morning rides whether you are a gear pusher or a spinner. But gear pushers that want to skimp on their training miles for a long event often have lots of problems trying to jump up to the long distances on event day. Riders who ride using a higher cadence tend to have little problem doing less miles in training for a long endurance event. The problem spinners tend to have jumping up to a long ride is not have their tail end (butt) broken in so it won't prematurely wear out before they reach the end of the 300k ride. And the third difference is kind of related to the second difference. Sore tail end. Riding 150k (93 mile) training if not done super regularly might not harden your rump up so the 300k ride will be a joy.

A2. Keeping your training rides to 150k for a 300k event is certainly doable. In fact, if you treat your 300k event as two 150k rides you plan to do back-to-back, then you should be telling yourself during your 300k event at the 150k mark that you just have another 150k to go and you know you can do that since you do it in training all the time. Of course, the real issue is how many of those 150k rides are you doing? Are you doing just one a week? Or are you doing three a week. Training volume matters when you are aiming for an endurance event. Three 150k rides in a week goes a long way compared to one 300k ride a week when training for a 300k event. Somehow you will want to train your tail end to put up with punishment. And ideally you will want yourself to be fat adapted. I personally have done fat 300k rides at an average pace of 14 mph without having eaten 12 hours prior to the start and not eating anything during the ride. That's fat adapted.
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