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  1. #1
    How much further ???
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    Training for the Picket Post Punisher 50

    So this AES race has sparked some interst but I have never riden that far before. The farthest I have riden was on the BCT from Antelope Canyon to Rock Springs. I didnt feel too bad at the end of that but I was completely out of water at the parking lot and doubt I could have made another ten miles.

    So I have a few questions.

    1) Beside the obvious of riding more how do you train for this? Should I be adding a bunch of road miles or just stick to the dirt? Is one long ride a week (starting at 20 miles and building up to 40 miles) sufficent in preperation?

    2) I read on the AES page that in the spirit of AES to not stash water and to keep it self reliant. Is stashing water that bad of a thing? Honestly running out of water is my biggest concern. I can carry a 100 oz bladder + 1 bottle but Im not sure that will be enough for me on a 50 mile ride. I ran out after only 28 miles on BCT. I dont have any filtration equipment either. Is this something that will hash itself out during the longer training rides?
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  2. #2
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    Here is my take on doing endurance race. I don't have too many under belt, but I frequently do big miles.

    Road miles should be only used if you can't MTB.
    I would work my way up to a point just beyond 50 mi/ 8K elevation - this way you know how to plan out your water, food, gear and pace. This way you are comfortable doing big miles.

    There are water sources along the way that you don't have to filter - read the descriptions and discussion on the AES website. Personal stashing/support teams give you unfair advantage. This goes for all underground MTB races. What is available to you along the way should be available to everyone else. What you carry is up to you but you pay for it with extra weight. Kapish?

    You should be able to carry at least 2 more water bottles - even on a FS. Research it.

  3. #3
    Break it, Fix it, Ride it
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    I'd regularly carry 200 oz of water on many AES rides (two bladders), plus a bottle for making some special drink. I didn't train for the rides, but I did often do big rides every or every other weekend of AES caliber to get and stay in shape. Smaller rides through the week keep the legs fresh, then plan a 20-30 mile ride on the weekends. When that gets easy, bump up the mileage. You need to be consistent though. Big mile fitness can easily fade. Get out at least three times a week. Roady riding is good for cardio, but you need to include lots of climbing or the AES will eat you up. Practice pushing your bike up steep hills. There is great skill in not bashing your shin on the pedal. There is also great patience pushing your bike as the light fades and the 200oz of water evaporates and that slow leak in your tire just won't seal at hour 11. Harden your will, either by self flagellation or yelling insults at yourself in the mirror. Punch yourself in the face once or twice a day and then you'll be ready.
    Today's the day I eat bikes.

  4. #4
    parenting for gnarness
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    do the Hawes\PassMtn ride as training - you are familiar with it so will be a good simulation, albeit shorter. If you think this will take you say 8 hrs, be sure to get some 5-6rs in, like how marathoners do a couple 20s for prep.

    I think road biking is fine if you climb. Esp in summer in Phx, and saving yourself from extra time wrenching. I trained for the Crazy 88 each summer by doing Hawes Walgreen's to Tortilla Flat and back each weekend.

    stash water if you choose - its about having fun and challenging yourself at this level.

  5. #5
    Ahhh the pain....
    Reputation: Raybum's Avatar
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    I have to agree with all of what was said...all very sound advice. Let me perhaps put my spin on it having done the last two years of these.
    Endurance rides are really 5 pieces
    1) Physical Fitness (duh)
    2) Mental Fitness
    3) Logistics/Planning
    4) Mechanical prep/skills
    5) Navigation and route finding

    For #1, I'd say ride at least 3-4x a week and get a long ride in 1x per week that starts to push 6 hours. You need to know what your body feels like as it gets tired and become good at dealing with that kind of fatigue. Although I agree MTB miles are best, road riding 4 hours in phx summers is doable whereas 4 hours of MTB can be brutally hot... higher speeds, more convective cooling!
    For #2, I'm not sure how to train for it other than tell yourself to never panic. Slicing a sidewall in the dark 30 miles from the car, or some other mechanical coupled with fatigue, etc can make you break down.
    For #3, you need to understand your hydration and fueling needs for long rides. No other way to sort this out other than go do long rides. Trust me, leaving the truck for a 6 hour ride with 9 Cliff bars IS NOT A FUELING PLAN. After the fourth cliff bar, you'll gag on the next one worst than a .... (you get the picture). Also, not a bad idea to bring a light, a light jacket, and have a good first aide kit.
    For #4, be sure to have the necessary fix-it stuff and skills to fix torn sidewalls, broken chains, bent derailler hangers, etc. And be sure to do preventative maintenance on your bike beforehand. Don't be like some of the MBAA douchebags that show up to these with nothing but a few bars, a bottle, and no tools. Although most AES racers will not leave a guy or gal stranded, I will tell unprepared racer boys "sorry" when they ask me for an allen wrench or tire levers. It's an endurance race dammit, lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. (kind of a sore spot of mine)
    For #5, if you don't have a gps or do and not sure of how to follow a track on it, please figure it out. Getting lost sucks and hoping you can just follow someone else with one will get you in trouble...especially if you have to stop and they don't.

    Anyway, hope my thoughts help and don't seem too a-hole-ish. These races are great fun and the more people get involved, the better these things become!
    Your limits are both physical and mental. Suffering will help you find and overcome both.
    http://onegear-ray.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    How much further ???
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    Thanks everyone for the tips. For the record my question about stashing water is in no way to cheat. My concern is finishing alive and not in anyway to win or take positions away from others. If the rules are no stashing then no stashing it is. I need to figure it out. I guess I will need to make the decision if I feel I can make it or not when the time comes.

    200oz of water sounds brutally heavy on your back. Is it common for people to ride with that much? What packs are people using to carry that much? Do people use bike packing bags to offload some of the weight?

    And at Dag Nabbit no need for me to punch myself in the face. I bang my head on the table every morning when I sit down in front of my computer for work.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  7. #7
    Ahhh the pain....
    Reputation: Raybum's Avatar
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    Douger, for the 50 mile route, there is a circle k just a bit off route around mile 37 I think. Check out the AES site for details. Freeskier did a preride and scoped out all the possible resupply stops.
    Yeah, 200oz is about 12lbs...most I ever carry on a AES ride is 100oz on back, and 2-24 oz bottles in the frame. I would think you could ride 37 miles on 144oz as long as it's not summer in AZ...history has shown Nov 2nd to be anywhere from freezing to quite nice.
    Your limits are both physical and mental. Suffering will help you find and overcome both.
    http://onegear-ray.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
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    Not a-hole-ish at all. I prefer the brutal honesty. Lets face it if you don't come prepared there is a chance you might not make it back. And honestly I think that's part of what intrigues me.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  9. #9
    Give it a crank
    Reputation: Mtn-Rider's Avatar
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    One thing that helps a great deal is getting to know as much of the route as possible. Breaking down the long route into several smaller training rides lets you get to know the whole route, all the climbs, the bad sections, and everything else about the trail so you don't have to go exploring on the day of the big ride. It's a lot easier when you know the whole route, especially if things don't go as planned. Make that *when* things don't go as planned.

    That's my 2 cents for Ray's #3 & #5.

  10. #10
    Ahhh the pain....
    Reputation: Raybum's Avatar
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    I think it's fair to also point out that some of the AES routes aren't really backcountry stuff; ie, McDowell. You can take a few more risks regarding gear and such since a walk out usually isnt more than 5 miles or so. Picket Post however is damn remote...and if you decide to do the Gila100...you can be a LONG ways from civilization.
    I'm always thinking contingencies on those type of rides and carry things like matches/fire starter, light, puffy jacket, spot, etc. Just a good idea to give yourself options!
    Your limits are both physical and mental. Suffering will help you find and overcome both.
    http://onegear-ray.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
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    Speaking of contingencies, what's the preferred sidewall slice repair method. Ive seen pics of Krefs stitching but not sure what with. Assuming only other method is a piece of plastic for a boot?

  12. #12
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    there is also a lot to be said for doing less remote or even formal events, as you are trying to push your mental and mechanical ability. Fire on the Rim is coming up, and is a good event for low-overhead.

  13. #13
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    I've done some of the AES rides and I've been lucky enough to finish quite a few of them. Everyone has their own approach to tackling a big ride. Some folks are systematic and some folks go by feel. I take a very simple approach to a big ride; what I lack in fitness, I must make up in mental tenacity to grunt through the suffering incurred due to lack of fitness.

    I'm not a huge fan of pre-riding stuff because it sort of ruins the anticipation of the adventure for me. Pre-riding stuff familiarizes you with the route and gives you a sneak preview of what lies ahead. However, if pre-riding puts your mind at ease, by all means, do it.

    To prep for my first go at an AES gig, I sought out a few of the bigger known routes fairly close to home that were unfamiliar to me. I did one big ride a weekend and commuted to work by bicycle here and there. Prescott would definitely be a good place to get a few big rides in this time of year. Sedona would also be a good option come October. Another nice thing about riding unfamiliar routes is that they encourage you to use and become familiarized with a GPS unit.

    Don't over think it dude. Start racking up some big rides, become more familiarized with the art of suffering, and most importantly, have fun doing so.

  14. #14
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    To add to what everyone has been saying. I pre-rode the northern part of the 50 with John back in June and I carried 152 oz of water with me (a 100oz bladder and two 26oz bottles). We didn't think we were going to be out there too long considering the entire main climb of the course was on a very well graded forest road. However, it took us longer than we expected and I just about ran out of water a few miles from the car. We had to bail out off the AZT back to the forest road because it was brutally hot and the low water situation didn't help. Reavis Canyon was a damn oven and we hit temps of at least 106-108 with full on sun and radiant heat from the canyon walls.

    That being said, I have NO worries about doing this trail with the same amount of water in November. The weather will be perfect and it might even be pretty cold at the top of Montana Mountain (~5,800 feet!). Once you do the loop north of the 60 (about 36 miles or so), you will be right in Superior and you can refill your water before doing the lower half so there shouldn't be any worry.

    As for training, I can't comment on that at all. John always tells me saddle time is the best way to train. I'm usually a weekend warrior kind of mountain biker because I don't have time otherwise. This will be my first attempt at an AES ride and it will blow my longest single-day ride to date away (~35 mile during the ToWM). I know a lot of it will be mental!! You just have to focus and put your head down and just spin. When I did the AZT Jamboree last year, the cold and the mental part eventually wore me down and I bailed out because that voice in your head just gets louder and louder until you quit. Just get those thoughts out of your head immediately and keep chugging. You'd be surprised what your body can achieve when your mind lets it happen.

  15. #15
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    There is some terrific advice here from AES vets. But, I'd like to highlight a couple of things.

    80 VERSUS 50
    If you are not experienced with long rides in the back country, I don't recommend starting with the 80 miler (which I am calling the Pulverizer). It is too tough and too remote for someone who isn't familiar with this sort of ride. In my opinion, you will be much better off starting off with something less intense so that you can gauge your abilities.

    WATER
    For the folks doing 50 - you should be OK with a water bladder and a couple of bottles - given the refill options near Superior. For those doing 80 - I highly recommend bringing a filter. As far as we know, the only water from Superior to the end is the Gila. And that's a really long, tough stretch.

    PREPAREDNESS
    There has been some good advice on nutrition. Make sure you have the tools, and know how to use them to: fix a flat, fix a slash in a tire, fix a broken chain. And, for the gearies, purchase an extra derailleur hanger and bring the wrenches needed to replace it. Costs little, weighs nothing, easy to replace, and can save your ride. These are the minimum skills/tools you need - cause they will all eventually be needed.

    GPS
    Ray said it, I'll repeat it. Bring a GPS and know how to use it. The part of this course that goes along the Legends of Superior trail is really easy to get lost on. Pay attention to your track. And, really, your cell phone is not a great replacement for a GPS. I've seen this attempted and I've seen it fail miserably.

    MENTAL ATTITUDE
    Mental attitude is key to endurance riding. Try to keep a positive, can do attitude and focus on finishing - not quitting. Yeah, you are going to suffer. But that will make finishing feel much sweeter. And crazy stuff that happens on the trail makes great stories for later. Endurance riding is hard - but that is what makes it so rewarding. You may find the feeling to be addictive.

    LOOK AROUND
    You will be riding through some amazingly scenic country. Don't forget to look around once in a while to marvel at this place that you are lucky enough to get to ride through.


    Look forward to seeing some new faces out there.

    P.S.
    If anyone wants AES stickers, bring a dollar. I'm planning on bringing a bunch of stickers and they are two for a buck. Can't beat it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by floxy View Post
    Speaking of contingencies, what's the preferred sidewall slice repair method. Ive seen pics of Krefs stitching but not sure what with. Assuming only other method is a piece of plastic for a boot?
    A tube and some sort of boot is simplest. I used a Park boot with a slice that was nearly 2 inches long and did like 30 miles on it - despite the bulging. If you don't want to spring a couple of bucks for the Park boot - a piece of milk bottle or some other similar plastic should work.

    I've never tried the sewing thing, but I do have a needle and dental floss in my kit. Need to add some glue as well.

  17. #17
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    Im not too concerned with the remoteness. Ive riden a fair way out on Picket Post south and have riden BCT on a few occations. My largest concern was with water but it sounds like it shouldnt be a problem. Couple that with my plan to train a fair amount and my concerns are diminishing.

    I do plan to pre-ride the route. I tend to have a very good memory when it comes to landmarks and Id like to not have to worry about route finding as much. I will look into a GPS on Craigslist. Any recommendations?

    When I rode from Antelope to Rock Springs I did the poor mans equivalant of a GPS and mapped out the entire route in Google Earth and printed out every intersection along with route queues. Never had an issue.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post

    For #2, I'm not sure how to train for it other than tell yourself to never panic. Slicing a sidewall in the dark 30 miles from the car, or some other mechanical coupled with fatigue, etc can make you break down.
    I think the key to this one is knowing you have the stuff/skill to fix problems when they occur. Then there is no need to panic. If you feel like you don't have that, work on in before the race, at home. That practice can be the difference between handling a situation and mentally breaking down.

  19. #19
    parenting for gnarness
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtownmtb View Post
    A tube and some sort of boot is simplest. I used a Park boot with a slice that was nearly 2 inches long and did like 30 miles on it - despite the bulging. If you don't want to spring a couple of bucks for the Park boot - a piece of milk bottle or some other similar plastic should work.

    I've never tried the sewing thing, but I do have a needle and dental floss in my kit. Need to add some glue as well.
    what types of needle, and where to buy? Do you have a thimble or something to push the needle through the rubber? the extent of my sewing experience is fixing a button.


    @Douger - get a gps, there is no substitute. A good one will be between $200-$500. My wife got us a Garmin Edge 800, and at first i balked at the price esp. since we had a working etrex Vista (which I might be willing to sell for under $200 hcx, let me think on it). The Edge's touchscreen is great even with gloves, its fast, and we bought mounts so it goes on 6 different bikes - being able to use it amongst 2 people and as a cadence meter took a lot of sting off the price.

  20. #20
    Give it a crank
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    I will look into a GPS on Craigslist. Any recommendations?
    I have a hard time going for devices on CL, I'd recommend looking on ebay for gps receivers. For long rides, you'll need to be able to swap the batteries when they run out. I think most serious bikepackers prefer devices powered by AA cells for that.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    I do plan to pre-ride the route. I tend to have a very good memory when it comes to landmarks and Id like to not have to worry about route finding as much. I will look into a GPS on Craigslist. Any recommendations?
    .
    Lots of E-trexs on AES rides. I've been happy with my 60csx. A few guys will use the cycling-specific Garmins with mapping capabilities. All are good options.

  22. #22
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    I've acually looked at the Etrex 20 before just never pulled the trigger. AA batteries, WAAS, GLONASS, color screen, $200. Seemed tough to beat but what do I know.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  23. #23
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    One thing that has helped me increase my distances of rides is weight training. I have a whole cycle of certain workouts I do during the week and it has helped me a ton. A few years back, I could ride every day and night, as I hadn't reproduced yet. With our opposite job schedules and lack of baby sitter, riding gets tough. But my job has a full gym and I take advantage of it. The few times I ride now, I can do much faster and further than ever before, and I ride a ton less unfortunately.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
-Grant Petersen

  24. #24
    parenting for gnarness
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    I've acually looked at the Etrex 20 before just never pulled the trigger. AA batteries, WAAS, GLONASS, color screen, $200. Seemed tough to beat but what do I know.
    lots of better info in the GPS forum, but there is a noticeable difference in tracking for me between the etrex and the edge. The etrex also sometimes shuts off since its mount\battery case doesnt seem to absorb vibrations. I think it might be due to less-fresh batteries, but still...pita. Its is definitely useful, but also old technology on several levels.

  25. #25
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    back to the training piece

    Hit the endurance or XC training forums too, I'm sure lots of people have asked about gearing up for 50 mile races there. Like Ray mentioned, learn to fuel.

    As you're increasing saddle time you can find some local 30-40mi loops that will test you along the way. The Hawes-Pass Mtn that CB mentioned is a good one. 4 peaks might be worth the effort in terms of climbing. The now defunct AES BCT ride is 50 miles and would be a good one to do along the way.

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