Training for the Peterborough 100

Usually I ride circuits, trying to avoid riding on the same piece of road twice in the same ride.  Don’t know why, it’s just what I’ve done.  Lately I’ve started doing out-and-back rides, where you ride somewhere, then retrace your steps to get home.  It’s good to use as an indicator of your endurance levels, if you can ride back in the same time you rode out.  Also, there’s no escape route – if you ride away from your house, there’s no alternative but to ride back, you can’t really find a shortcut.  Today I went for a 4 hour ride, hoping to cover 65-70 miles.  There was a pretty vicious westerly wind, so I tried to ride as close to due north as I could, to keep the wind at the side and minimise headwinds.  A 15-20 mph headwind is not a lot of fun.

Recently I’ve only been going on 2 hour rides, so it’s quite a step up to double it.  I’m of the view that if you’re riding for up to 2 hours, so long as you feed yourself properly in advance, you don’t need any food or energy drink during the ride, since the body can contain enough glycogen to fuel you for that time.  So lately I’ve only been taking water (avoiding eating on the ride is also good for weight loss, to create a calorie defecit).  4 hours is different though.  I use around 600 kcal per hour riding at a reasonable, but not punishing lick (according to any of the iPhone apps I use for tracking rides – Wahoo fitness, Strava or Cyclemeter).  So a 4 hour ride is going to burn around 2400 calories.  Clearly some feeding is required for that.  I decided that I’d take 2 full bottles of energy drink (I use torq energy), and ride for almost 2 hours before eating any actual food.  I took 2 torq chewy bars, 2 nakd fruit bars and a gel with me.  About 1000 kcal in total, including the drink (I did not use the gel, in the end).

The GPS trace and data for the ride is on strava, here.  Incidentally, if you ride and don’t use strava, you really, really should.  It’s brilliant.  Share your rides, and compete on segments with all other strava users who ride the same routes.  You don’t need a phone, you can upload from any GPS cycling computer.  Unfortunately my iPhone battery died just short of 58 miles, so I don’t have the full trace.  Disappointing.  I have been thinking about buying a dedicated GPS lately, this has tipped me over the edge:  the iPhone is simply not suitable for long rides (unless you have one of those auxiliary batteries).

I was starting to get tired by the time I turned at 2 hours, having covered a tiny bit more than 35 miles.  So it was going to be a 70 mile ride, no matter how long it took.  If you look at the trace on strava, you can see it’s quite lumpy either side of the halfway point.  I got through this section ok, but it started to go a bit pear shaped south of Bourne.  I was eating a bar every 30 mins, but at 3 hours I was dying.  Still 18 miles from home.  Then it got worse, there’s a section south of Helpston that runs roughly SW, so I had a reeasonably fierce headwind component.  On the inner ring, low gear.  Soul destroying.  Once I got to Wansford I was within 8 miles of home and out of the wind, I perked up.  The last 3 miles home from Elton are largely downhill, but even so, if the GPS had been on I think it might have recorded my fastest time for this section.  Even though I had been near death 45 minutes before, the wind was at my back and it felt like a motor.

I want to be able to prove to myself that I can ride 80 miles, before I try 100+.  In a sportive, you can ride with others and take turns in the wind, so in theory it should be quite a bit easier than riding solo.  Based on today, I think it should be ok, if I do a few more long rides.  I also think I need to eat more, and start earlier.  My mate Mark, who has done a few 100 mile rides, reckons that if you can ride for a couple of hours, you can ride for 100 miles, so long as you feed properly.


Posted on February 3, 2013, in Training. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Carl,
    Loving the blog! I’m very interested in the whole trade off between length of ride and what fuel to take, consume and of course, when to eat it. I suffered similarly on a 4hr mtb ride recently. Even although the bursts of pedalling were far less sustained than a road ride, i hit a cliff…..I mean like a total loss of power in my legs. I’d eaten 2 torq bars about an hour in then a homemade flapjack an hour later.

    • Hi mate, thanks! I think next time I will start to eat earlier, and eat more. But I don’t think feeding is the only thing – our actual endurance level must be the main factor. I’ve not ridden anything like that distance for 4-5 months, so I shouldn’t expect to be able to go and do it with no problem, unless the intensity was a bit lower.

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