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  1. #1
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    Whiskey 50 tips for first 50 proof

    I turn 50 this year so I'm reaching out to see if anyone has tips for training for 50 proof ride. I did 30 proof last year in a little over 3 hours. Did OK but cramped up in legs about 3/4 of way thru the race. I did not partake in the whiskey or the pickle juice offered to me...maybe that's the secret?

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    Quote Originally Posted by greser View Post
    I turn 50 this year so I'm reaching out to see if anyone has tips for training for 50 proof ride. I did 30 proof last year in a little over 3 hours. Did OK but cramped up in legs about 3/4 of way thru the race. I did not partake in the whiskey or the pickle juice offered to me...maybe that's the secret?
    I think the mileage + the long climb out of Skull Valley is pretty good trigger for most people to cramp and it's the type of mileage where electrolyte mix and eating smart really pay off. On shorter races I can drink water and not cramp. You also don't want to blow yourself up before that climb, even though it seems like a gradual/spin grind, it's torturous for most people.

    When the mileage gets longer, like 100 miles, then I try some of those more exotic ideas, like last year I stashed 8oz cokes at both of the checkpoints in the 100+ mile race, that seemed to help stave off the cramps and I didn't cramp last year. I also made up some peanut butter+banana sandwiches. in addition to regular fuel.

    The top experts and pros are very efficient and can ride such a race on just a few water bottles, the more you train the closer you'll get to this, although it obviously won't be possible for everyone to achieve this in such a short time.

    I feel like the race is "made" when you get back to the top of Copper Basin Rd climbing up from Skull Valley to make the traverse over to the overlook.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    So you're saying that Coke is better than Whiskey? And that PB/banana is better than bacon on a stick? I like it! Last year I used coconut water and then added Snatch Labs packs at the aid station. I agree with you that it's probably combo of more saddle time and better energy sources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by greser View Post
    So you're saying that Coke is better than Whiskey? And that PB/banana is better than bacon on a stick? I like it! Last year I used coconut water and then added Snatch Labs packs at the aid station. I agree with you that it's probably combo of more saddle time and better energy sources.
    When I'm in race-mode, I can't be wasting time and effort trying to eat and drink things that my body cannot process. I figured what the hell and tried to take a chunk of bacon at the top of the overlook last year, but despite all my chewing, I could not swallow it. I just couldn't take down bacon while my body was operating at that level. If you are riding just to complete it, it may be different, but I was going as fast as I could and trying to keep my body performing at that top level. Don't be fooled by whiskey and those other things, if you are just having fun and don't care about your position, sure, but don't think those will improve performance. The coke I drank had a crapload of sugar in it, potassium and sodium, the carbonation wasn't exactly good for me, but pace in a 100 mile race is different than a 50 or 25. I also limited it to two 8oz ones over the 10ish hours of the race, so it wasn't like I was downing a whole bunch of coke relative to everything else. I also never drink caffeine, so it has a heightened effect when I have even a little. It was probably more about just having some liquid intake, somewhat like a gel. Don't think too far into these things is my advice. Take them all with a grain of salt (or just take the salt!) and concentrate on the stuff that is orientated towards race nutrition.

    My advice would be to have electrolyte mix with you, either in your camelback or in your water-bottles. Don't wait for the aid station, but use it to supplement if necessary. Some of the stuff that looks like it would be good to eat might be nice if you are done with the ride (rather than at the aid-station), but choose carefully at the aid station.

    Complex starches take a couple hours to digest (and a lot of blood). This time period is important usually prior to the race (as in don't eat right before and breakfast should be these instead of high fat stuff). These help to provide longer-term energy, but hard efforts can still make you bonk due to low-bloodsugar, which is the immediate issue and best served with sources that give you more immediate relief. In that mind, I find the best results from eating a little bit every 30-45 min. That's about how long it takes for your bloodsugar to start to drop off significantly, so you are trying to stay ahead of it. Some of the powergel/gel bites/bloc bites type stuff much easier to digest when going hard, but not as substantial for longer term energy like a cliff bar, so it's helpful to mix it up a little bit, especially the less efficient you are. On some races/rides I'll bring a "bail out" food like the sour/sweet gummy worms to cram in my face if things get dire, but that's going to mean a huge sugar-crash if I don't keep the intake flowing, so I gotta watch where I use that. It's also helpful in some of those situations where you need to help someone else out, like get them over a hill or back to the car.

    I remember when most of our crew had finished the Whisky and were all sitting around and we realized that none of us had peed for more than 5 hours strait, that's the effect of having good water retention due to electrolytes. I can't stress it enough, not from the peeing point of view, but from the taking in water and using it to cool and sustain yourself. You don't realize how much you lose at that altitude (low pressure) in the sun and wind. You don't realize because it doesn't get very "wet", it evaporates quicker.

    There are other methods and surely other strategies. Again, the faster and lighter you are, the more efficient you are and the less you tend to need.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  5. #5
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    get in good shape... its not rocket science

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by greser View Post
    I turn 50 this year so I'm reaching out to see if anyone has tips for training for 50 proof ride. I did 30 proof last year in a little over 3 hours. Did OK but cramped up in legs about 3/4 of way thru the race. I did not partake in the whiskey or the pickle juice offered to me...maybe that's the secret?
    My first year doing 25 I cramped at cramp hill. My 2nd year I did the full 50 and did not cramp.

    So what does this mean? Nothing really other than just because you cramped at the shorter distance it does not mean you will at the longer one. Just train and prepare. Expect 6 hrs, but it may not take that long. The run down to skull valley is fast and the climb out is just long, very long. 2ish hours of climbing. Best advice is train to be able to 6hrs on the bike.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    greser, your question is a bit of a hard one to answer because depending on where you are starting from because, "getting faster" can have so many different answers.

    The easiest answer is "get in better shape" but I would argue that even that is a bit of rocket science. Some would say, "just ride a lot" but there is plenty of science and data out there that shows that is not only time inefficient, but won't produce peak fitness. Some might say, "do a lot of climbing"...well OK, but racking up a bunch of climbing in Z2 or Z3 again is not going to produce peak fitness. So without going into a bunch of detail, I'd just tell you to go do some homework here (https://forums.mtbr.com/endurance-xc-racing/) or use the Google. Bottom line, gotta mix in high intensity stuff with low intensity...and interestingly enough, high intensity intervals will actually improve your endurance too! (and is super time efficient if you are limited to 4-6 hours a week on the bike).

    Secondly, you need to work out YOUR fueling strategy...seems what works for some won't for other, so plan some 4 hour rides where you try stuff and see how your stomach responds.

    Thirdly, work on your bike skills...A lot. So much "free" speed to be gained here that people never realize. Sure, bike skills ain't gonna do you much good climbing out of Skull Valley, but the time you gain there can easily be lost on inefficient singletrack riding. So many people work on building a big fitness engine and completely miss the fact that it's like putting a supercharged V-8 in a Volkswagon Beetle if they don't work on skills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    ... So much "free" speed to be gained here that people never realize. ..
    I always think of Ray's "Free speed" idea when I am in the turns. Good smooth lines in turns mean free speed. Every bit you don't slow down means you don't have to accelerate back to speed. That means a small change in overall speed, but leaves you more fresh to apply power when you need to. Same applies for technical stuff. The smoother and more relaxed you can ride through at an elevated speed means you have more energy for climbing. Over the last 5 year my power output has not changed that much, but my skills have improved such that I waste less energy in turns and the rocks than I used to. That leaves more gas in the tank when you need it most. That gas in the tank means more speed overall.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    My first year doing 25 I cramped at cramp hill. My 2nd year I did the full 50 and did not cramp.

    So what does this mean? Nothing really other than just because you cramped at the shorter distance it does not mean you will at the longer one. Just train and prepare. Expect 6 hrs, but it may not take that long. The run down to skull valley is fast and the climb out is just long, very long. 2ish hours of climbing. Best advice is train to be able to 6hrs on the bike.
    Joe - I remember you passing me while I was dealing with some stomach issues as I came out of skull valley. Good times!
    Less f*cks to give every passing day, use them well. - geraldooka

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    A lil OT. But where do you guys in he north valley do your training? Specifically o get your climbing in. I’m at 303 and Happy Valley area. Sonoran preserve is close. McDowell’s is a bit of a trek.

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    Not a trail, but you could head out to Carefree and ride Humboldt Mountain? It's rolling road & gravel until you get to the turnoff to Humboldt but then it's consistent & steep climbing. 30 - 45 minutes depending on how fast you are. A little under 4 miles up with ~1600 feet.

    Or head up to Black Canyon City and the Black Canyon Trailhead (just north of Rock Springs Cafe) If you head across the river to go south there's a decent climb. There's one I'm thinking of right after the river crossing that's 2 miles and ~700 ft. 18 - 30 minutes there perhaps. If you head north on BCT there's plenty too, I just always end up taking that southern route.

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    I do hills at Sonoran Preserve but also the climb at Pima/Dynamite that goes up the backside of Brown's Mtn is pretty good.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I always think of Ray's "Free speed" idea when I am in the turns. Good smooth lines in turns mean free speed. Every bit you don't slow down means you don't have to accelerate back to speed. That means a small change in overall speed, but leaves you more fresh to apply power when you need to. Same applies for technical stuff. The smoother and more relaxed you can ride through at an elevated speed means you have more energy for climbing. Over the last 5 year my power output has not changed that much, but my skills have improved such that I waste less energy in turns and the rocks than I used to. That leaves more gas in the tank when you need it most. That gas in the tank means more speed overall.
    I like to think I'm doing something by getting a little ahead on that descent...but the reality is if I'm 0.0000001mph faster on the climb, I more than make up for it...
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

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    Thanks guys. I had thought about doing the BCT climb across the river from RS

    I don’t care for Deems but just noticed the Circumference trail has about 950 feet of climbing. Might be a good place for both mileage and elevation by doing multiple laps

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    some climb thoughts...
    1) Humboldt (as mentioned above)...good solid 30+ minute climb with a little grade reversal in the middle for a break. Other than that, pretty much in your face the whole way.
    2) Maricopa Trail from Browns Ranch to Bartlett Lake Rd...a nice gradual climb that is straight enough to enable you to keep power on the pedals, but not boring.
    3) North Sonoran 7 summits route. Solid 7 pack of climbs. https://www.strava.com/segments/11898290?filter=overall
    4) Old BCT AES 50 miler route; 19 mile dirt road climb from Rock springs to top of Antelope, then singletrack fun all the way back. Solid and Fun.
    5) Bartlett Lake Rd (i know, roadie stuff, but done out and back from Cave Creek, it'll get you around 5kft.)
    6) Shaw Butte; reps on that will make you cry but also very fit.

    Like I said above, gotta do those climbs with intensity; especially the 4-6 minute ones...spinning up them in zone 2 isn't going to do you much good for fitness. If you want zone 2 base miles, may as well combine some bike skills/handling with it and go ride a buttload of miles at Browns Ranch.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    some climb thoughts...
    .
    Have not rode this, but Four Peaks (35 miles/5K feet up and back) looks like a good training ride.

    https://www.strava.com/segments/2617734?filter=overall

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    Quote Originally Posted by tjkm View Post
    Joe - I remember you passing me while I was dealing with some stomach issues as I came out of skull valley. Good times!
    Yeah then I cramped later...
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Five0 View Post
    A lil OT. But where do you guys in he north valley do your training? Specifically o get your climbing in. I’m at 303 and Happy Valley area. Sonoran preserve is close. McDowell’s is a bit of a trek.
    I live in Anthem. Easy to get 4000 ft of climbing in sonoran North. It is not quite the same since they are a number of short climbs vs long one like Whiskey. There also is ray's hill on BCT. This from the river to the top near Black Canyon city. BCT Little Pan is 23 miles and 3200 feet of climbing.

    Deem Hill is good for really steep techy climbs. Really you can ride anywhere just work hard. Even road training helps.

    one of my training rides for my first whiskey was BCT from Emery Henderson to the river crossing near Rock Springs - BCC trailhead. 46 miles and lots of hard climbing. That ride was tougher than the actual whiskey. Of course part of that could have been that I was trying to keep up with Ray.


    Really you need time in the saddle and good hard miles. 5hrs of Zone 2 efforts are not going to do much. But 6 hrs at Zone 3,4 with some 5 tossed in helps.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Beware of the Redneck Armada on 4 Peaks. Start early and run lights from start to finish. Once they get the ATV's unloaded and the Coors Light flowing, they are full throttle and kick up a metric ton of dust, so your lights will help you be seen. Consider a bandanna to cover your mouth and nose.

    I only encountered conditions like I describe above during the last few miles when I did the two summers ago. Not sure what it would be like right now, but probably similar.
    Less f*cks to give every passing day, use them well. - geraldooka

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    I’m thinking of starting at Deems and linking up to Sonoran Preserve north and south and maybe even up to Cave Creek Park to get in a long distance day.

    I haven’t ridden Sonoran South in a while. Is there still no water available? I guess I could grab water at one of the gas stations near 7th and Carefree

  21. #21
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    There is water at Desert Vista trailhead at sonoran south. No water at Sonoran north
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    Awesome! Thank you

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