Coach Hughes: Finishing Endurance Cycling Rides
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Intelligent Cycling Training

Finishing Endurance Bike Rides

Planning for, riding and finishing 100 km and longer bike rides.

Even with plenty of training, finishing an endurance bike ride depends on how you manage the ride itself:

  1. Your final planning and preparations.
  2. Dealing with on the bike issues.
This article explains you what you need to know to finish endurance bicycle events such as centuries and brevets.

by John Hughes
© John Hughes 2011, All Rights Reserved

John Hughes is the author of Distance Cycling and many articles on training, nutrition, psychology and medical issues for RoadBikeRider.com. He is a veteran of Paris-Brest-Paris ’79, ’87, ’91, ’95, ’99, Boston-Montreal-Boston ’92 (course record), Rocky Mountain 1200 ’04, Furnace Creek 508 ’89 (course record) and ’93 (first place) and the Race Across America ’96.

We each have different goals for rides—riding farther than we have before, setting a personal best, having as much fun as possible and still finishing, etc. Whatever your goals, this article will teach you:

Pre-event

  1. Planning: successful riders don’t just wing it, they create event plans that take into account all of the variables. Creating three event plans—great ride, expected ride and slow ride—will bracket the possible rides. The plans don’t have to be elaborate. Just estimating the range of estimated arrival times at different rest stops will give you a sense of pacing and what clothing and gear you might need.
  2. Mental Preparation: by doing practice rides with all your gear, shorter simulation rides imaging you are riding the full event and visualizations you can pre-ride an event and increase your confidence.
  3. Organizational Preparation: we’re all busy and lists can help keep your organized—lists such as pre-event bike checkup, equipment for ride, pre-event to do list, and packing list.
  4. Equipment Preparation: everything should be thoroughly tested before the event. The article includes a bike check-up list and suggested equipment lists for rides up to 200 miles and rides of 400 km and longer.
  5. Nutritional Preparation: on endurance rides for fuel we use a mix of glycogen (from carbs) and fat (either body fat or from meals). Even lean riders have plenty of fat; however, our glycogen stores are limited. For several days before an event you should significantly increase your consumption of carbs.

Event

  1. Navigation: even riding in a group, pay attention to the cue sheet and turns yourself.
  2. Group Riding: riding in a group is fun and saves energy, but be careful not to ride at the wrong pace or waste time in rest stops.
  3. Pacing Yourself: in events ride at your sustainable pace, which you can gauge from your training rides and using perceived exertion, heart rate or power.
  4. Event Pacing: in an endurance event the most efficient pace is relatively even energy output for the duration of the ride, not going to hard and then recovering.
  5. Maintain Your Momentum: managing your time at rest stops and learning to do more on the bike will help you meet your event goals.
  6. Nutrition: eating at least one-half the calories you are burning every hour on the bike, primarily carbs, will keep you strong and cheerful.
  7. Problem Solving: despite careful preparation and testing, occasionally stuff happens. When something unexpected happens, distinguish between what’s controllable and what isn’t. Learn to accept the uncontrollable, improvise a solution to other problems and pedal on.
  8. Mental Aspects: if you’re feeling down, eat! Your brain may have run out of glycogen. Then remember why you’re doing the ride and focus on short-term goals, like just riding to the next rest stop.

For more information get the 16 page eArticle Mastering the Long Ride for just $4.99 from RoadBikeRider.com.