First 6hr solo. Any advice?
Clydesdale wanting to do a solo 6hr race in a couple of months. I've done a fair amount of XC and CX racing over the years, but never any endurance racing. I do *gasp* road ride also. Advice from endurance clydes greatly appreciated.
Without freedom of choice, there is no creativity. Without creativity, there is no life. The body dies.
NUTRITION! Plan it out and stick to it. Drink and eat when you need to, not when you want to. Also, do some heart rate training; find your lactate threshold and train/race with it appropriately.
I agree with Pitch. Nutrition is going to be the most important part. Make sure you have enough energy, and water, and you should be golden. This is assuming you have the proper gear to ride that far.....I recently got stranded 12 miles out. Switched packs, forgot my patches in the first pack, and had a dead phone. Two flats later, and I was walking. Doing a walk behind wheelie for 12 miles is no fun. I'm lucky I flatted out as early as I did.
I found eating solid foods for the first few hours good.
It gets harder to eat so I moved to gels and stuff later on.
Don't get caught up in the race. If you think you are pedalling about the right pace to last for six hours ease up a bit. You will thank yourself in the last hour.
I'm a long-time reader, and first time poster. I'm 51, 6 '3", and 210 lbs. Like alot of people I know, I own my own business, and don't have endless hours to ride bikes. I woke up in October of 2010 and saw 240 in the mirror, and decided to get back into shape. A goal I set was to finish the Leadville Trail 100 for my 50th birthday (2012). My first ride was about 1 mile, with maybe 1000 ft climbing...I thought I was gonna die. I hired a coach with Carmichael Training Systems, and went from there. My first "race" was the Silver Rush 50, the little brother to the LT100, in July 2011. I finished that, and then did 4 endurance races in 2012, ending with finishing the 2012 Leadville Trail 100 in under 12 hours.
I say these things not to brag, but to 1) show that it's possible, but requires a bit of work, and 2) to hopefully establish credibility...I don't know about you, but I often wonder who's behind the comments given in forum environments.
So...first, I would strongly recommend hiring a coach, and will tell you that mine, Jason Siegle, has been awesome. They'll keep you focused on training methods, zones, etc. When I was younger, training was on or off...go hard or go home. We didn't know about zones, their benefits, how to identify and stay within them, etc. You can find alot of the info online, or through books, but a coach has it all in one place at the other end of the phone line.
Second, training is key. Unless you're young and/or really fit to begin with, you will be hard pressed to be able to go from 1 hour rides once a week to successfully completing an endurance race and have any fun doing it. Build your endurance, and as mentioned above, work in aerobic and anaerobic phases of exertion based on lactate threshold, field test, coaches advice, etc. Before the race you should be able to ride 3/4ths of the expected race time, distance, and elevation gain on two consecutive days...ie for a 6-hour race you should be able to ride Sat and Sun for 4 hours each, at probably 75% race pace.
Third, ride like you'll race. Ride your training rides equipped just as you will be for the race. Drink the same fluids/electrolytes, eat the same foods, ride tubeless, with or without pump and/or CO2 cartridges, etc. as you'll use in the race. Familiarity goes a long way when unexpected things happen during a race.
Fourth, as for nutrition, drink/eat for calories and electrolytes, and again, train like you'll race. Changing from Hammer to GU or Powerbar products just for the race can lead to serious GI issues which are bothersome at the least, and can end your race early. Unless you'll have your own crew, find out what fluids and foods the race will be using in support, and switch your workout diet to match. In my limited experience, most racers stay away from solid foods during a race of 6 hours and less. Most in Leadville went the whole way without solid foods. Your body can only process/digest about 300 calories per hour. Consuming more than that just takes blood away from your heart and legs, and wastes it on the stomach. Without consuming anything, your body has enough glycogen to run hard for about 6 hours. If you consume your calories through liquid, you will be surprised, as I always am, that it just works. Sometimes, I've had a bite or two of solids (peanut M&Ms are my fix) just to get that quick chewing satisfaction, but my body doesn't need it, and it just helps my psyche. Alot of racers use gels, but make sure you drink enough water with it, not after it. They're like a gut bomb, specially if you don't drink water. As for electrolytes, I think the rule of thumb is about 500-1000 mg and 24-36 oz water per hour. Increases in temperature, rider weight, and elevation bump the numbers toward the higher end. I usually run 600 mg Sodium and 220 calories in 36 oz of fluid per hour at 6,000 ft and 70 degrees. At 10,000-12,000 ft and 80 degrees last year it was more like 1100 mg Sodium and 36-40 oz fluids per hour. Again, take your best guess, and train with it for longer rides.
Finally, come race day, go to the bathroom as close to the start time as you can, if you do the hydration right, your body will absorb the fluids, and you won't have to pee during the race. I'll have one gel with caffeine 30 minutes prior to the race. My coaches finally trained me to ride without a Camelback, so I'll plan bottles for the ride based on time between aid stations, using the formula above. I have 2 on the bike, and/or one in my jersey. (That reminds me of another point...if you have a bottle cage on the bottom side of your bottom tube, make sure it's solid...bottles fell out of mine in the first two races before I got wise to this...it stinks to skid to a stop and hike back to retrieve a bottle.) Bak to the race, just make sure you drink small sips regularly. I set my Garmin to set off an alarm every 10 minutes, because I get caught up in adrenalin, racing, etc., and forget to drink. Some racers use one gel per hour, I don't because my stomach doesn't do well. If you run into stomach problems, drink plain water, and it'll usually clear up in 15-20 minutes. If your stomach seems to be sloshing, you're probably not getting enough salt to help the body absorb the water.
Other than that, have fun, look around, work with other riders (stratification just happens), and realize how lucky you are to be riding a bike in such a beautiful place. Most people are really nice. Thank the volunteers, and keep your cadence up...6 hours is a long time, and no one's gonna win with a sprint until the very end.
Sorry to be so long-winded...hope this helps, and good luck!
Great informative post , Tom. And congrats on accomplishing the goals you set for yourself
Just have on question on the Camelback. Why didn't your coach want you using one during a race? Was it because they were harder to refill.....harder to keep track of your intake......or some other reason?
Originally Posted by tpattee
Have never done an actual race, but I have "went the distance", well, at least I went for the time.. probably 3 miles in 6 hours, but still...
I've found that drinking sips of water often is better than guzzling water not so often. Also trail mix (non-salted peanuts, m&m's, sun-flower seeds) provides a good calorie boost when you start feeling drained. A chocolate bar after the first 2-3 hours is pretty helpful as well.
For the last hour or two of my endurance runs, I'll suck on a peice of beef jerky until it softens up alot, then eat it. I'm not sure if it is more psychological or physiological, but it gives me a, "LETS GET IT DONE HOOORAH" effect.
For a 12 - 24 hour endurance race, I would also recommend "dipping" a small pack of instant coffee once you start feeling tired. It's disgusting, but it will definetely give you a picker-upper (learned this "ranger-trick" in Basic).
I just completed an 8h solo myself.
A lot of nutrition and other things are covered above but another is pace.
I know what my Z3 heart rate is, so what I did was set my Garmin to the following information and never switched.
3 Info Windows
Large Window - BPM
Small Window - Time of Day
Small Window - Calories
You may have something else. Though if you don't, I highly suggest finding a mechanical device to track your heart rate, and make sure to set it at a sustainable pace.
I didn't need to know distance as each lap was 10km so I didn't care about distances, I set a goal of 10 laps and was able to do it. Calories I just used to quickly judge what I SHOULD be eating. Though each pit for me was a mix of sometimes wanting Gatorade, sometimes Perpetuem, sometimes just solid food. I also took a few minutes each lap at my pit to prepare myself for the monster climb they neatly hid right after the solo pit area but I didn't linger for longer then 4-5 min tops.
Apart from that, listen to your body, have food available to you, eat / drink what looks good to you at the time, and keep yourself paced for your goal and you should be fine.
Also, there is absolutely 0 and i mean ZERO, reason to burn matches on hills as a solo. If you have to push up a hill, then get off your bike and push. Most of the guys ripping by you are on teams, and those solo's that are flying up the hills on lap 8 or 9 are pros. Ride your own race and don't get discouraged.
AMF. (Always, Move, Forward)
There were several reasons for it, including those you mention. In a nutshell, bottles weigh less, and are easier to measure/pace your intake. Camelback weight is not insignificant, ppl tend to overload them with unecessary stuff, they impede cooling, and yes, it is hard to swap bladders or refill during a race. Also, if you run into GI problems, bottles allow you to have separate drinks in each. If you need to add more electrolytes, a GU tablet in a bottle is easy to add, and is consumed within an hour. Finally, at a training camp, Chris Carmichael suggested we ride the same hill with and then without the Camelback. I don't remember the time difference, but it was significant for me. There may have been more reasons, but that seems like most of them.
BTW, nice P-51...we had 4 flying cover for a B-17 during the USAFA graduation this week, in place of the sequestrated/missing Thunderbirds. 1st time I ever saw Mustangs in person...hope to make it to Reno someday....
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