Another Advice Thread
So it seems maybe MTBR periodically cleans old threads out? I didn't see many older advice threads here in Endurance racing so I'm posting this one up to get ideas from the community.
About me: casual rider who enjoys pushing himself, has never raced, only has one bike that only has one gear, currently averaging 3 rides a week and about 6 hours on bike time (not including my 10 minute commute, or riding to the grocery store, or riding to the bar), enjoys all forms of rec so also spends about 2 days a week at yoga, 2 days a week SUPing (~2 hours), may try running again.
My goal: I'd really love to tackle a 50 miler, not so much for the race but for the event, the idea of having aid stations, other folks, seeing new trails, etc.
So MTBR folks, what do I need to do to ensure I could actually finish a 50 miler without a major bonk? My longest ride ever was 51 miles but that was a lot of road, rail trail, etc. I've spent 6 hours in the saddle on occasion but these were long group rides with lunch and pit stops.
I know I need to up my volume, its tough owning two bikes with two gears between them. The commuter is an old 70s era Schwinn. My current long rides are ~3 hours and 20-25 miles, which says to me a 50 mile race is going to take damn long. Looking at results winning SSers finish in ~4 hours, with guys still coming in at 9 hours.
Does cross training (paddling, running, etc.) provide anything? Or should I really focus on saddle time? Should my long rides get closer to 6-8 hours and 50 miles? I can only devote 2 days a week to these long rides. When I say 6-8 hours saddle time should I not be stopping to eat my PB&J on the mountaintop and really just be riding straight that whole time? Is taking the long route to work and home worthwhile even though its on an old crappy steel SS college concoction?
Any and all advice is welcome, I haven't signed up for any events, I just love punishing/pushing myself and seeing how far I can go (mentally and physically). I can't see myself enjoying XC racing a ton, endurance seems like something more up my alley (I just need to get there).
Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades.
I bet when I did my first 40 miler I only rode 6 hours a week leading up to it. My time wasn't great and I was dead at the end, but it was a good time. Better would be to do one long ride a week and keep commuting/excercising at your current schedlue. If your long ride can get into the 40 mile range 50 on race day would be no problem.
I would focus on riding. You need to get your back in shape, and find what parts of your bike are the worst after a few hours in the saddle, and consider changing them out.
No, enjoy your rides. Stop for a sandwich. Anything to ride more, and enjoy the ride more.
I dont single speed long distance anymore but I used too! Some cheap advice is to gear harder for training / fun rides and then back to normal 10 days out. Makes it seem easy!
Cross training doesn't do much unless its a core work-out. I wish I did more of that for SS endurance rides...
As posted above, just ride, Enjoy it and push longer
Totally my opinion, but one gear is too much on a light schedule of riding.
Do short, hard rides in a little bit bigger gear. Do one long ride a week building up to the distanc in a lower gear. Doing the weekday short rides in a bigger gear is essential.
Go for it!
If you can work up to a hard 4-hour training ride on terrain that is similar to the event you choose, you can finish and likely enjoy a 50 miler!
Whining is not a strategy.
I did my first 100k riding a little less than you, and my first 100 miler with not much more. I also ride SS. IMO, the biggest value in the long rides is less about fitness and more about learning how to fuel and deal with the discomfort of being in the saddle for long hours. The higher intensity short rides with a hard gear during the week and long rides with an easier gear on the weekends is a great approach and one I've used. Just be careful to not over-extend by not getting enough rest after you high intensity rides. This is a problem for me (mostly because I'm a block head idiot when it comes to listening to my body) so I've switched to getting my volume with low intensity work on the road, then hit my long rides on the weekend using my normal gear. My 100 miler is coming up in a couple of weeks, so we'll see how it worked out.
Good advice above! Do your speed/power work during the week, I have a short commute too (not quite as short as yours), I extend my ride home and do sprints and hill repeats, for about 45min. Do one long ride during the week, I try to ride 4hrs on Sunday mornings. I did a 2 man team 9to5 last Sunday and we did very well, -but we're both pretty experienced/fast xc racers.
If it's a multiple lap race you leave a bag with food/drinks near start/finish and make a super short pit stop every lap or two, eat and drink little bits the whole time (and yes, pickle juice keeps cramping away), a flat coke is really good for that last lap (Mexican coke has no high-fructose corn syrup). If it's a single lap, bring a lot of stuff with you and eat/drink little bits the whole time.
The pace of a long race is a lot more enjoyable than a short xc race, where it's kind of a panic-pace the whole time, -but I like that sort of thing.
Oh, and I was concerned about that much time in the saddle, I bought some Hibros chamois saddle cream, I was very comfortable all day, that is great for the long rides.
Thanks for the responses here. I am looking at doing my very first 50 mile ride at the end of October here at Santos (Florida). Just picking back up after years off and after being incredibly out of shape, I have managed to work my way up to 23 miles in 7 months of riding.
I am wondering if I can double that in 3? Trying to figure out if I should go ahead and pay my entry money and go for it?
If so, how do I go about getting my body ready in time?
Another quick tip: instead of stopping to eat a sandwich or whatever on your rides, practice riding without stopping for 5-6 hours. Eat while moving. If you have to HAB, don't stop and catch your breath; keep moving. This will help build your endurance more and simulate race day, and get your body used to working a bit more. And you'll learn pretty quickly which foods work, and which ones don't.
If your saddle time is limited imho you should concentrate on intervals. Long rides help but they are not absolutely necessary; I used to think that they were but this year I didn't do many rides that were more that 2.5 hours, I concentrated on varying length intervals during those rides and just completed the Breck Epic with no major problems. YMMV.
Cross training does help; get as many muscles in shape as possible (core workouts are particularly useful).
This is the absolutely best reason to race. Mountain bike races are (all the ones I've had the privilege of attending) really fun, light hearted, everyone-is-invited no matter how fast or slow you were or if you finished or not..just a cool vibe.
Originally Posted by iceboxsteve
Having aid stations and others to chat with inbetween labored breathing (misery loves company remember) is a huge mental boost. I love the races because it lets you ride remote trails (usually) with some level of support...you have food water at times, you have other riders that you aren't expecting to need to help you but you know they would if your bike broke or you got injured, so that lets you (and your significant other) relax a bit more.
As for the training...other have said great stuff, all good plans to follow. One thing is don't forget to train your mind, often times that is more important than a overly anal training regiment. You know it'll be tough, you will want to quit, you will doubt yourself, you may doubt everything. That's fine, embrace the challenge, the frustration, the grind. Training rides can be good for getting mentally tough but it's not guaranteed, sometimes training rides are too clean/easy/perfectly-structured. The real event may not be that clean or easy or anything like that...and you don't want to be so mentally weak that one small frustrating thing (a flat tire at the start, or a broken chain and having to walk for a bit, or just feeling like crap) derail your whole race. So I like to recite in my mind over and over something I heard, or saw on Facebook "The day may come when I am unable to do this, but that day is not today". Just stupid cheesy sayings like that help to make you grit your teeth and keep going..and then with that mindset the harder and more messy the event is actually is even better because you're more proud of your effort, even if you don't finish, you know how tough you have become, etc.
Kona HeiHei, heavy Mongoose fat bike & some cheap Fuji road bike...
This^^ and This^^
Originally Posted by mabrodis
Thanks for putting it so eloquently!
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