Author Topic: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!  (Read 9405 times)

Credaholic

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Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« on: June 17, 2016, 10:22:11 AM »
I couldn't think of a better place than the MMM forums to ask some biking questions...

I've challenged myself to the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride this year. I'm not fast enough to do it one day, so I'll be a  two day rider. We're trying to do 125 miles Day 1 and 75 miles Day 2. It's coming up in a month, and I'm wondering if you have some advice for me.

What chamois would you recommend? I just ordered the ATD Women's Touring shorts and I'm hopeful that they'll be better than the Pearl Izumis I've been wearing. I seem to have weird anatomy where I put a lot of pressure on the lady bits rather than on my rear. I have a Diva saddle that I've tilted forward (at what the bike shop called a ridiculous angle, but anything less really pains me) and that's helped some, but around 20 miles I start getting really uncomfortable. I'm wondering if I should look into something softer like this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GEDGF5G/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER or a gel saddle? Any other ideas for staying a bit more comfortable?

Fuel - I've been drinking electrolytes and taking salt pills along the ride to help combat cramps, but I am very prone to cramping. I typically eat Clif Bars and have been thinking of getting Shot Bloks becuas I can't stand Goo. But I'm most nervous about starting the ride early in the morning (which I obviously have to!) because I ride most successfully 2-3 hours after a meal. Should I carbo load the night before? What should I eat the morning of? Any other cramp combating tips? Energy for along the ride?

And finally - how much distance do you think I need to get under my belt before actually attempting a century plus? With two little kids and a busy husband it's hard for me to carve out more than 4 hours of training at a time, and I'm not sure if that's enough to take on 10+ hours of riding a day. I've also heard you should not attempt to do a century the week before a century! So I'm thinking my longest distance ride should be a couple of weekends before?

Appreciate any advice, MMM bikers!

rothwem

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2016, 11:59:13 AM »
I raced bikes a lot in college and for a few years after, the road races were 50-75 miles and the crits were obviously much shorter.  My weekly "long rides" were 80-100 miles (oh to have that kind of free time again), so I know about riding for hours. 

A couple tips that will help you get started:

-You're on the right track with buying actual cycling apparel.  I like bibs instead of shorts, but I'm a guy and I don't have to take my jersey off to pee.  Convenience vs comfort here.

-Look at "Specialized" brand women's saddles.  My girlfriend loves hers.  The wider, cushy padded ones are better for more upright riding positions, the harder, narrower ones work better with lower bars. 

-Train yourself to eat real food.  Do this by eating on every ride over an hour.  Nutrition-wise, you don't need to eat on an hour long ride, but it'll help you to get used to unwrapping a powerbar or sandwich or bagel while and then having something in your stomach while you ride.

-Ride lots, but try to structure your training a bit. Don't do back to back long rides if you can help it, try to keep your weekly mileage/hours consistent and increase the training volume slowly.

-See if you can meet up with other people for rides.  Riding by yourself for 15-20 hours per week is boring, and it makes you weird.  If you meet a a really fast triathlete and you'll know what I mean. :D  Also, riding with other people helps with "pack skills".  You will learn to draft, bump elbows, hold your line, rotate in a paceline and most importantly, learn to not crash into other people!

It sounds like overall you're on the right track.  I'd kill to have 4 hours a day to train!

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2016, 12:08:30 PM »
Ugh, I wish it was 4 hours of training a day! Right now I have time for 2-3 rides per week, and on the weekend I can get up to 4 hours. I'm going to try to add 10 miles a weekend to my rides to get my distance up more by game time (right now I can do about 50 miles in 4 hours, but if I have to arrange more child care to add time, I'll do it because STP is only a month away!)

Interesting about training yourself to eat real foods. I know for STP there will be lots of refueling stations along the way. My BIL has warned me the newbies always try to stop for a few minutes and then end up stuck for half an hour because they eat too much and feel sick!

Luckily I usually have my sister to ride with, and she's doing STP with me. She's been camping a lot recently though, so I've been riding alone. It's interesting - sometimes riding solo challenges me to push myself instead of letting her push me along, and other times it's so helpful to ride with her challenging me!

So even though I'm doing STP in two days, you don't think I should do back to back long rides during training?

Thanks for all your tips, rothwem!!!

slugsworth

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2016, 12:34:19 PM »
My guess is that you don't have totally unique anatomy, but just have some geometry that isn't working for you. I would really suggest getting a professional bike fit. I don't have anyone I would personally recommend from experience, but some physical therapists can do them, and some bike shops have better equipment/training than others. I think R&E is one that does a lot of work on that front.

Good luck on STP, it is more of a butt endurance event and mental than muscle!


Edit to fix typo

RamonaQ

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2016, 12:42:55 PM »
Comfort tips - have you had a bike fitting?  My seat hurt like crazy when I had my saddle too high.  Even with a properly positioned saddle, I still feel it more in the lady bits than in the butt.  What has helped me most is using plenty of chamois butter/cream.  Different people like different brands.  Also, grooming in that area matters a lot for my comfort - a stray hair can pull or pinch in a way that isn't bad for 10 minutes but hurts like the dickens after hours.

I mainly do triathlons, not stand alone bike rides.  I get most of my nutrition from the drink mix Infinit.  You can customize it online for your particular nutritional needs (more salt, lower protein, low flavor, etc.)  I also have a bento box with cheez-its because after hours of something sweet I really want a salty break.  I also really like dill pickles as a post-ride snack.

acroy

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2016, 01:03:54 PM »
I did the STP in 2008 (?) on dual-suspension MTB bike. Not the best decision....

Doing it again next month on a proper road bike! :) see you there!

2 things:
-Bike fit is important! Get comfy!
-I highly recommend Morten Lite Salt and 'water enhancer' (like Mio) to 'roll your own' electrolyte drink. I chug this stuff all the time and cramps are a thing of the past.

My 'training' is 15mi r/t back and forth to work every day.... not much but has been sufficient for occasional long organized rides in the past. Eat small amount consistently through the ride. I did the last 100km ride in 4.5hrs on a commuter bike (mtb with slicks), no bonking.

elaine amj

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2016, 03:01:04 PM »
I haven't done anything quite as long as yours - but I used to do a 200km (120 miles) event that was broken up over 2 days (100km/day). It has since changed to a slightly-more-sane 100km one-day event.

The big thing I learned - do a few long training rides back-to-back. The first time I did the 200km, I ended the first day feeling awesome. About 30km into my 2nd day, everything hurt. I pretty much dragged myself in the last 50km. We had only done long training rides with break days in between. Plus, this caused me to mess up my right knee. Several years later, I still have problems with that knee :(

As for food, I need a bar or something every hour or so (I absolutely must eat or I fade - its weird that I can feel it). I used to use the gel packs, special drinks, etc etc. Now I just eat energy bars, bananas, maybe some other fruit/trail mix. The friend I train with eats very lightly and can go all day like that. So you have to figure out what works for you. 

MsPeacock

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2016, 03:10:58 PM »
If you can, find a bike shop that can let you try a bunch of different saddles on a bike trainer in the store. performance cycle in DC has a set up like this. I found my seat being slightly lower made more difference than tilting the front of the seat forward. Basically, you want your weight to move back in the saddle, not forward and down. I was fitted for the bike, but the saddle had to come down a little bit.  Not sure if fitting really takes into account lady parts.

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2016, 05:17:09 PM »
I knew this was the place to go for advice! Thanks all.

Hmm, I wonder if the pain is because my bike is too big. I have the saddle at the lowest possible setting because it is a big bike for me. It seems perfect for leg extension, but when I'm not in motion I have to hold it at a slight angle to have my feet flat on the ground. I might stop into Gregg's and see what they think...

I'm definitely going to try to get in some back to back rides. It's hard to get out there both Saturday and Sunday, but I can probably get hubby home by 4 on a Monday and get in a 4 hour ride - luckily our days are long in Seattle!

Also wondering if I should go clipless. Right now I use some regular athletic shoes and cage pedals because I also use this bike for towing the kids around town. But I'm wondering if a firmer bike shoe would help against foot cramps? And how much more power do you really gain from clipless vs. a cage pedal?

acroy, I'll give the Morten's mix a try! See you out there :)

shuffler

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2016, 09:13:34 PM »
 * Carbo-loading the night before isn't too important.  Eat a good-sized meal, and plan something for breakfast as well.  I like bagel & banana or something like that.  I definitely second the earlier suggestion of getting used to eating real food on rides.  You're going to get tired of whatever pseudo-food you're eating/drinking, and having some confidence in eating real food will open a wide variety of options to you. 

 * Riding your best 2-3 hours after a meal sounds to me like you're eating larger meals, and that you may be experiencing peaks/valleys of energy.  You'd really rather have a constant supply of calories, without stressing your digestion too much.  I like eating small, and eating often.  I set an alarm every half-hour or so to remind myself to consider eating a few bites.  I don't force myself if it's not right, but on average the reminder helps me to do the smaller/more-frequent thing.  I wouldn't say I really have "meals", just the constant low-level intake of calories.

 * I wouldn't recommend clipless for you.  You sound somewhat new to cycling (pardon me if I'm wrong), and I think that when you're on a crowded ride like STP you are going to want as much bike handling confidence as you can manage.  Clipless pedals tend to freak people out a bit and be less stable/predictable when moving at low speeds (stop lights, speed bumps, rest-stations, etc.).  You'll do fine with toe clips, as long as you're comfortable.  If you're not comfortable, then I'd sooner recommend you look at different shoes or cages, rather than a clipless system.

 * Electrolyte capsules are good, but you need to spend the time learning what your body needs lest you over/under use them.  Temperature/weather greatly affects the rate of electrolytes you may need.  I often open/close my hands several times to see if my fingers feel like they beginning to swell (I think of it as them feeling like sausages), in which case I slightly increase the rate of intake.

 * Bike handling skills in groups are really important.  If you're not comfortable riding in groups, you're not going to enjoy your trip.  The ride-related cascade training series is one option to find a group.  Learn how to be safe when riding in groups, how to keep up with a group, etc.  (I'm not saying you have to do pace-lines, but you should be familiar with the ebb-and-flow of a group moving through intersections and traffic and that sort of thing.)

 * Yes, back-to-back training is important.  Sure, it's for your endurance or muscles or whatever.  But really it's for your brain.  You're going to have been on your longest ride ever @ 125 miles, and then you're going to have to get up in the morning, get all your sore bits mounted back on that saddle, and do another long ride after that.  You need to be mentally prepared for it, in order to keep your enthusiasm up and enjoy the 2nd day too.  So do whatever your long training ride would be on Saturday, and then on Sunday get out for at least 10 miles or so.  Enough to loosen up your muscles and get back in the groove; and practice being happy about it and looking forward to it.

* Yes, your bike sounds too big.  You should be able to stand over it without having to lean it.  Either get that fixed soon, or commit to riding the big bike.  You probably don't want to switch bikes right before the ride.  One thing to consider with a larger bike, is whether it's making your reach too far forward to the handlebars?  Having to reach too far could put more strain on your back, and possibly also your neck if you have to hold your head up at a sharper angle.  These sorts of things can go unnoticed on shorter rides, but can cause real trouble on longer rides.

* I personally don't like spending too much time in rest-stops.  5-10 minutes tops.  Grab some food, get some water, get back out there and eat on the go.  I find that long stops just make it harder to get started again on sore muscles.  So I'd recommend you consider minimizing rest-stop time.

elaine amj

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2016, 09:27:01 PM »
Going clipless made a massive difference for me. At a month out, u do have time to train to get comfortable with them, but not a whole lot of time. I think I got mine about a month out - and I'm a nervous cyclist. Took me a looonggg time to learn to clip in and out and to this day (years later) I still hold my breath sometimes, especially early in the season. That said, if u are comfortable in your cages, better to stick to what u know than try fancy new things.

You got a lot of great advice on group riding. It sounds like this ride is a busy one - and I find that means it is pretty inevitable that at times, you will be together with a group. You can definitely go faster and longer with a pack - but I remember when I was learning...it takes a ton of mental energy to group ride when u are new to it. I do choose to group ride when possible simply because it makes the whole ride easier.

Sounds like a fun challenge - do make sure u update us after the ride!


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abiteveryday

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2016, 07:10:18 AM »
You have the right idea going much further the first day.  Does that work out to Winlock or Vader being your stop?    Anyway like the others said, is mostly a mental event.   Eat drink ride repeat.

jorjor

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2016, 07:51:25 AM »
Hmm, I wonder if the pain is because my bike is too big. I have the saddle at the lowest possible setting because it is a big bike for me. It seems perfect for leg extension, but when I'm not in motion I have to hold it at a slight angle to have my feet flat on the ground. I might stop into Gregg's and see what they think...

Then, yes. I would say it's a bike fit problem. If you have a big bike, the top tube (distance between your saddle and handlebars) is longer. To reach the handlebars, you'll have to "reach" further, which likely leads to rolling your hips a bit more forward, and leaning more weight forward. Less weight on the sit bones, more weight forward, causing problems like the one you're having.

As far as shorts. Bib shorts >>>>>>>>>>>> regular shorts. They are more expensive, but they don't have annoying elastic-like stuff that keeps the shorts in place (that's what the bib part is for). The result is the shorts are significantly more comfortable and don't move around as much, so fewer rash problems. I got them for the first time thinking they were silly and now I haven't worn "regular" bike shorts in 3 years. Disclaimer: Bib shorts are a bit worse for ladies because you have to essentially disrobe to pee since you can't get the shorts off without taking the jersey off (where as men have to just "snake" it out, so to speak). Is the ride supported enough where you aren't worried about not having a shelter to use the bathroom? If you aren't worried about that, I'd suggest bib shorts 100 times out of 100 for a long ride.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2016, 07:53:29 AM by jorjor »

kendallf

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2016, 08:10:14 AM »
 you've gotten good advice in general here.  I'd add, ride that first day at low intensity.  The first couple of hours, it'll be easy to get caught up with faster riders.  Don't.  Your pace the whole first day should feel ridiculously slow and easy.  Your second day self will thank you..

z6_esb

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2016, 08:20:37 AM »
If you don't have access to bike fit services, search Google for "steve hogg bike fit" lots of good info but lots to read.

Regarding pressure on parts of anatomy: concentrate on rolling your hips up to avoid lady bits/perineum pressure. If you are leaning forward, you MAY be too far back so try sliding your saddle forward on its rails. Make small adjustments.

Aim to have your knee over the spindle when right pedal is in 3 o clock position as a STARTING POINT. everyone is different. (for example,  I am comfortable with my knees in front of spindle which my bike fitter found odd)

Saddle height: starting rule of thumb: while seated in trainer, put heel on pedal and fully extend leg. Start there with height adjustments. If it's still not low enough, you're bike is probably too big.

Try adding spacers or flipping stem to  bring bars higher and closer. Do this after getting g saddle height and fore/aft dialed in.

Food: fewer ingredients are better in my experience. I like bonk breakers. They are oat based I think and don't have dairy or gluten. Dairy being an issue for me. Nuun tabs are good b/c you just drop them in water and it fizzes up to make electrolyte drink without sugar. The bubbles settle my stomach sometimes.

Water intake : I shoot for 16 to 20 ounces per HOUR... so about one bottle. More if hot. Drink often and early before it's too late

Have fun!


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elaine amj

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2016, 09:08:14 AM »
My friend bought bibs - she's never worn it because the thought of bathroom hassles was just too much for her. I've been happy with shorts :)


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The Happy Philosopher

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2016, 10:38:20 AM »
1. I would learn to ride clipless for a ride that distance, much more efficient.

2. Bike fit is critical. Minor bio mechanical problems add up over high miles like this. Amazing how minor tweaks can help.

3. If your saddle is tipped really fast forward you are compensating for something else that is wrong. I suspect you have the wrong size bike or just geometry that doesn't work for you.

4. Saddle selection is a VERY personal thing. What works for one person will be sadistic torture for another. Many bike ships will have loaners that they will 'rent' to you and then you apply that rent to the purchase price when you decide on one that fits.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2016, 10:58:52 AM »
Without repeating what has already been said, my personal thoughts are:

1. Carbo-loading the day (or 2) prior to a big event makes a HUGE difference for me. Maximizing muscle glycogen can really shift energy balance.

2. Body-specific bike geometry is essential, clipless pedals will improve your efficiency

3.  I wouldn't try to do a 125 mile day in an event unless I had confidence I could do at least 95 miles comfortably. By comfortably, I mean without destroying myself. Remember, your body has to be in decent enough shape after day 1, to do the 75 miles on day 2. You may finish day 1, but find your body is screaming NO to what you expect to accomplish on day 2. I did a 165 mile ride in a day (with a lot of pre-ride training) and there was NO way I was getting on a bike the next day.

I've always wanted to ride Seattle to Portland, one day I hope to do it. Actually, I am more ambitious and hope to do a Vancouver-->Seattle-->Portland ride over a comfortable multi day duration.

Good luck and have fun!

Hotstreak

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2016, 07:48:38 PM »
Am I the only one who things she sounds hugely under prepared for this ride?  Going from a max of 50 miles per training ride with zero consecutive days, to 200 miles over 2 days, is asking for trouble.  I know there's a lot of biking enthusiasts here and we're a helpful bunch, so there's been a lot of great advice posted.  Problem is, clipless pedals and bib shorts aren't going to increase capability enough to safely complete the ride.

abiteveryday

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2016, 08:08:34 PM »
Am I the only one who things she sounds hugely under prepared for this ride?  Going from a max of 50 miles per training ride with zero consecutive days, to 200 miles over 2 days, is asking for trouble.  I know there's a lot of biking enthusiasts here and we're a helpful bunch, so there's been a lot of great advice posted.  Problem is, clipless pedals and bib shorts aren't going to increase capability enough to safely complete the ride.

I see where you are coming from, but I've done this one several times.   She will be nowhere near the least prepared finisher, I promise.    There is very little climbing and lots of support, it's just a mental thing to finish.

PAO

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2016, 08:32:04 AM »
I did the STP years ago, riding to Longview the first day on a mountain bike - my longest training ride was a loop around Lake Washington, I think about 60 miles.  In hindsight I would train more and incorporate more hills - I spent too much time training on the Burke Gilman trail which is essentially flat. Other thoughts:   

  - I agree on clipless pedals, but I fell over at least twice when I first switched so best to get some practice beforehand. 
  - I ate and drank at least a little bit every 30 minutes whether I felt like it or not, I think that helped prevent bonking.
  - I kept one water bottle for electrolyte mix and one for water. 
  - I rode with a friend and we alternated drafting behind one another - on a mountain bike that was very helpful. 

Rubic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2016, 11:42:28 AM »
Former ultracyclist here.  You've gotten some good advice above.  I'll try to add some thoughts given your original post and replies.

First, I'm really concerned that you are getting uncomfortable at 20 miles into your ride.  Unless you want this event to be a total suffer-fest, you need to get this issue addressed immediately, perhaps with a combination of a better bike fit and an improved/different saddle.  You're not currently putting in enough miles to strengthen your butt muscles and gel saddles typically increase the friction on long rides.

Aside from bike fit, it's somewhat late in the game to make many other changes.  Clip-less pedals would be more efficient, but what if they hurt your feet after 50 miles?  A new saddle might be an improvement, or it could make things worse.

Shorts: It should be fine to ride with your new shorts, but I try to avoid using the same style of short on consecutive days because I prefer to vary the contact points of the seams.  So consider riding with the ATD Women's Touring shorts on day one and the Pearl Izumis on the second day of riding.

Lube: Not for your chain, but for your contact points.  I'd recommend Chamois Butt'r. For longer distances, especially in wet conditions, Lantiseptic cream(*) works well.  I carry disposable latex/nitrile gloves so I can "field service" the contact points during my ride.

Nutrition / Hydration / Electrolytes: It's different for everyone, but I think people obsess overmuch on the topic.  If you don't want to carb load in the morning before you start your ride, no problem.  Keep your pace down and just eat when you feel you ought to.  In my last year of ultracycling, I completed five 200Km rides without consuming anything besides water and a coffee at the halfway mark.  I don't recommend this, but I was proving a point to some doubters who obsessed about ride nutrition.  On long distance rides, I've seen more problems caused by over-consumption, which led to bloat/nausea, than bonking.  Aside from your Cliff bars and gels, feel free to consume some real food.  The bars and gels get boring after a while and you'll get tired of anything that tastes sweet.  In France, I would typically pack some croissants with cheese in my jersey pockets.  Or PBJ sandwiches in the US.

Finally, as abiteveryday mentions above, it will be mostly a mental challenge (assuming you get your fit issues addressed), so you should come into the event mentally prepared to ride your best ride, knowing that you'll have obstacles along the route to overcome.

Bon route!


* Full disclosure: I was sponsored by Lantiseptic.

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2016, 01:02:09 PM »
I think I'm going to stick with shorts over bibs - I don't seem to have any short issues. I've thought about lubing things up down there, but to be honest I haven't had any chafing issues. My pain is really just from pressure. I'm going to see if adjusting the handlebars a bit helps because at this point I'm really not looking to invest in a new bike. I got a fantastic deal on a used but excellent condition bike, and went for it even though it was a bit big, and I feel really comfortable on it now, even if I'm not COMFY. I can technically stand over it without leaning - over the bar that is. I can stand over the seat on tip toe. As I said, leg extension is perfect, but I'm thinking you guys might be right that it might be just a touch long for me and causing me to lean forward too much, causing the pressure issue! So I'll see what I can do about that.

Glad to hear carbo loading the night before works for you Laserjet3051! I definitely think that seems to be what my body wants to do, and then eat small snacks frequently as I ride. I can take along Clif Bars and Shot Bloks, and there will be plenty of support stations along this ride too (hopefully bananas and peanut butter!)

RobbyJ I'm sure you're right that I'm underprepared, but everyone I've spoken to personally who has done this ride agrees - it's as much mental as anything. I have been training all year for this, I just hadn't taken into consideration how much time a long training ride eats up. It's one thing to carve out a few hours, but it's another thing to ask my husband to be in charge of the kids all day every weekend when he's incredibly busy as it is. Add in trying to train multiple days a week, and for a working mom it really gets a bit ridiculous! I will have a support vehicle for this ride, so I've decided I'm just going to go for it. I have been trying to ride hills to make up for shorter distances.

PAO we're riding to Longview too! My favorite ride is Lake Sammamish (on the roads) because it's more up and down than just riding the trails. On the BG I feel like if I had the time,  I could keep going forever! I know STP isn't supposed to be particularly hilly, but it's obviously not like riding the BG trail. But I'm grateful to hear you at least survived with Lake WA as your training.

Thanks for all the tips and encouragement everyone, it really helps me feel more prepared and like I'm covering all my bases for this challenge. One more question - caffeine? I see a lot of the electrolyte replacements also have varying levels of caffeine in them. Do you guys find caffeine helpful on long distances like this?

Jim2001

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2016, 01:49:38 PM »
Following - curious to read how it goes.  Good luck!

Rubic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2016, 04:13:00 PM »
One more question - caffeine? I see a lot of the electrolyte replacements also have varying levels of caffeine in them. Do you guys find caffeine helpful on long distances like this?

I don't think it will hurt and might possibly give you a boost, especially after the halfway point in your day.  I'd recommend just taking the caffeine directly via tablets, gels, or gum. Avoid coffee or cokes due to the acidity. Once you start caffeine, you'll want to maintain intake until you finish your day.  Though it varies by individual, you can estimate the effect will last ~3 hours.  So over a 6 hour time span, you'd want to space out your shots.  Also consider the possibility that consuming caffeine in the afternoon might keep you up at night prior to your second day's ride -- though you're likely to be tired enough that you'll have no problem getting to sleep.

I used to take caffeinated gum after midnight.  Not as a performance enhancement, but to keep me awake until dawn.  For this to work, I had to give up all caffeinated beverages in January until my big event for the year.

Rubic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2016, 04:21:31 PM »
I've thought about lubing things up down there, but to be honest I haven't had any chafing issues.

Yes, but you've also never rode this distance before.  At the very least, consider having your support vehicle carry some butt lube and latex gloves.  It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

I recall the year that pro-racer Tinker Juarez decided he didn't need "stupid gross lubrication" for Race Across America.  He changed his mind after the first day.

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2016, 04:51:10 PM »
I've thought about lubing things up down there, but to be honest I haven't had any chafing issues.

Yes, but you've also never rode this distance before.  At the very least, consider having your support vehicle carry some butt lube and latex gloves.  It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

I recall the year that pro-racer Tinker Juarez decided he didn't need "stupid gross lubrication" for Race Across America.  He changed his mind after the first day.

Good to know!

grundomatic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2016, 11:34:14 AM »
Echo: Bike fit is critical--hard to get the right saddle for an ill-fit bike

If you do go clipless, which I would and think is safer than athletic shoes with toe clips, I recommend Speedplay Frogs. Even though they are technically mountain bike pedals, I don't care. You turn your foot and you are out. No spring tension--even the smallest of riders have no trouble disconnecting. Also, when you wear mountain bike shoes, you can get off your bike and walk around normal--no waddling around awkwardly.

Don't forget to have fun on your ride.

slugsworth

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2016, 04:42:48 PM »
Someone mention 'support vehicle' . . . having done STP, RSVP, etc. . . . the personal support vehicles are obnoxious (and not particularly mustachian). Cascade (the group putting on the ride) discourages them and they are really not necessary as there are food/mechanical stops along the way and you can have bags (even panniers) shuttled to the end of each day. 

I did STP on a mid-80's 2 speed without any chamois cream and without much training. . .and no major saddle issues. Get the bike fit right.

Oh. . .and DO bring sunblock (don't forget your legs/knees).

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2016, 05:39:31 PM »
Someone mention 'support vehicle' . . . having done STP, RSVP, etc. . . . the personal support vehicles are obnoxious (and not particularly mustachian). Cascade (the group putting on the ride) discourages them and they are really not necessary as there are food/mechanical stops along the way and you can have bags (even panniers) shuttled to the end of each day. 

I did STP on a mid-80's 2 speed without any chamois cream and without much training. . .and no major saddle issues. Get the bike fit right.

Oh. . .and DO bring sunblock (don't forget your legs/knees).

By support vehicle I mean that my husband and kids are also traveling (via Prius) to Portland with us. They'll be shacking up with us in Longview mid ride and meeting us at the finish line in Portland and then we're headed to Astoria for a few days after STP. So if I hit a wall and can't complete the ride, I won't be SOL. Someone mentioned that I sound unprepared for a ride like this, and I just mentioned this as the reason I have decided to just go for it and do my best even though I too wish I'd had more time for longer training rides.

I love hearing stories of other riders who have completed STP with little training, it bolsters my confidence! And thanks for the sunscreen reminder - I get so dehydrated if I sunburn, definitely essential.

Just got my ATD touring chamois and I'm disappointed in what seems like thin padding compared to the Pearl Izumis. Any recommendations?

abiteveryday

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #30 on: June 20, 2016, 05:49:52 PM »
Before my first time, my longest training ride was about a flat 60 miles, and I was easily 50 pounds overweight.   I still finished, and while I didn't enjoy it as much as later better prepared much fitter years, I still had fun.  You've got this!   

Rubic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #31 on: June 20, 2016, 07:07:34 PM »
Just got my ATD touring chamois and I'm disappointed in what seems like thin padding compared to the Pearl Izumis. Any recommendations?

Don't sweat it -- you're overthinking it!

Seriously.  Consider the butt lube I recommended earlier and ride your ride.  You've got this.


olivia

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2016, 10:45:00 AM »
Writing to third/fourth/fifth the advice to try different saddles and to get a professional bike fitting. For nutrition while riding I prefer liquids, but if you've done long rides while eating solids and it works for you, I wouldn't change it.  Okay too many words below:

SADDLES
The most comfortable saddles for me by far are ISM saddles. The design of these take the pressure off of your soft tissue (important lady parts) and puts it onto your sit bones.  It does take a bit of getting used to (feels like when you first start riding and your sit bones feel a little tender) but the transition was quick, at least for me.  The Performance Narrow saddles are for road/triathlon bikes but ISM makes saddles for all types of bikes and setups.  I have the PN 1.0 on my newest bike, and my other bike has the PN 1.1, which is more padded.  I've ridden 60+ miles on both saddles with little to no discomfort and could have kept going.  http://www.ismseat.com/performance-narrow/  You can search for dealers who have demo seats, where you can borrow a certain seat with a deposit and test it before buying one yourself. I kept my recent demo seat for a good 3 weeks to make sure I liked it before dropping the cash.

BIKE FIT
Regarding fit, are you riding a women's specific bike or is it a "unisex," AKA men's, bike?  Women's specific bikes are great because the geometry is set up for female physiology (in general, women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men).  Not sure if you're in the market but Liv is the women's specific brand made by Giant and I'm a huge fan.  I have a Liv triathlon bike and words cannot describe how much I love it. Never thought the bike itself made that much of a difference, but boy was I wrong!  (That said, my previous bike was a men's bike and it was great once I was fitted professionally.  I'm on the tall side for a women (~5'9") so can do both, but I prefer to support companies who spend the time and $ to create products specifically for women.)

NUTRITION
I use Infinit https://www.infinitnutrition.us/shop-infinit/preset-formulations/go-far.html?___SID=U, I have a custom blend with more sodium and electrolytes (I'm a very salty sweater) but if you don't have any specific issues the preset formulas are awesome too. I have 1 serving per hour on the bike and it's great-no gross full stomach feeling but I also don't get shaky.

Good luck-this sounds like an awesome ride!

rothwem

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2016, 12:26:13 PM »
(in general, women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men). 

I agree on the bike fit comment, but the statement above is not true.  On average, women have roughly the same leg/torso ratio as men.  However, women's torsos have a higher center of mass than a men's torso, and women have proportionally smaller shoulder and torso/core muscles when compared to men.  That means that a more stretched out position is tougher for women than men.  The solution is to shorten the top tube and raise the head tube.

I'm not flaming, but simply sharing something interesting that I read.  Hell, when I worked at a bike shop, I said the same thing to hundreds of women in an attempt to sell them a pink or purple bike. Here's the link, written by Georgina Terry, the founder of Terry Bikes. 
http://www.womenscycling.ca/blog/georgena-terry/womens-body-proportions-different-mens/

olivia

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #34 on: June 21, 2016, 06:24:40 PM »
(in general, women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men). 

I agree on the bike fit comment, but the statement above is not true.  On average, women have roughly the same leg/torso ratio as men.  However, women's torsos have a higher center of mass than a men's torso, and women have proportionally smaller shoulder and torso/core muscles when compared to men.  That means that a more stretched out position is tougher for women than men.  The solution is to shorten the top tube and raise the head tube.

I'm not flaming, but simply sharing something interesting that I read.  Hell, when I worked at a bike shop, I said the same thing to hundreds of women in an attempt to sell them a pink or purple bike. Here's the link, written by Georgina Terry, the founder of Terry Bikes. 
http://www.womenscycling.ca/blog/georgena-terry/womens-body-proportions-different-mens/

Interesting! I assumed it was true since I've heard it so many times and I have long legs and a shorter torso, but that just goes to show yet again that anecdote =/= data.

That's the point of the chair experiment, where men can't pick up a chair that's right against the wall, but women can, due to their centers of gravity. http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/education/activities/pdf/Fun_Gravity.pdf

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #35 on: June 23, 2016, 12:59:01 AM »
Adjusted my handle bars today and it definitely made a difference in my discomfort level. Not perfect, but better, and I was in my new shorts with less padding than the Izumis.

I also tightened my cages (I've admittedly been riding with them a little loose so I could get in and out easier) and wow, what a difference it made! Now I'm thinking clipless might be the way to go because I think they're probably easier to get in and out of than my tight cages. We'll see if I get around to making the switch this weekend, but either way I'm pretty happy with my eficiency now and also not as nervous to try clipless.

22 days until game day! And just 3 weekends left for long training rides. I'd like to get a min of 75 miles before taking on the century, and have also read not to push it the week before the race. Thoughts? I think I have my husband on board for getting home a bit early and letting me ride in the early evening on weekdays. Ideally, how often should I be long distance riding in preparation? I did an easy 25 miles tonight, but if he gets home early I should have time to do 50. Not sure if I should be riding that much every day or every other day or less often or what?

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2016, 10:43:01 AM »
Well I hit my 75 mile goal yesterday! Will try to squeeze in at least a short ride today to prove I can get back on the bike after all that :)

My biggest issue now is a pinched nerve in my left hand that's taken all the strength out of it. Having difficulty typing even. Last weekend I rode back to back 45/40 mile rides and when coming home up my big hill where I usually have to downshift on the left, I found I couldn't physically click it over. Strength came back to 90% over the next few days, but almost instantly went out again when I rode again yesterday and seems worse now (didn't have trouble typing last week.) I only shift on the left on extreme hills, so generally not an issue, but I have a 3 mile hill followed by a short but very steep 4 blocks to get home, so I literally had to reach over with my right hand yesterday in order to downshift and make it up the hill.

That and the ladybits don't feel great ;) I think these will be my biggest 2nd day issues! Overall my muscles feel okay. 2 more weeks!

dilinger

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #37 on: July 03, 2016, 11:44:32 AM »
This is a good read regarding womens vs mens bikes and fitting:

https://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2016/06/in-dark-on-womens-bike-fit-why-gendered.html

My wife does the saddle-at-a-ridiculous-angle thing.  She's done it that way across numerous bikes over the decade that I've known her.  Even when she was pregnant and switched to an upright folding bike, that's how she liked her saddle.  She's put some serious mileage on her bike(s).  It just works for her.

I wish I could give saddle recommendations, but honestly that's the hardest thing to get right.  Everyone's different.  When I first started biking, I tried various saddles. I even bought some fancy $100 racing saddle, and I own several fancy Brooks saddles.  My favorite saddle?  Some cheap thing that came stock from a $300 BikesDirect fixie.  It is hard, has a channel, and has been the most comfortable saddle that I've ever used.  Every time I get a new bike, I end up switching it over.  It doesn't even have a brand name.  It's probably a $5 component.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 11:48:47 AM by dilinger »

GuitarStv

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2016, 12:49:31 PM »
I just did two 75 mile solo rides, one on Friday and one on Saturday.  It's important to remember that you go faster and the ride is easier when you're with a group than when you're out on your own.

I found that switching to clipless pedals made long distance cycling an awful lot easier.  You just seem to go farther with less effort.  I'm a big proponent of flat pedals (especially studded flats), but clipless is really the way to go for those distances.

Personally, I'm good with any kind of bike short that doesn't ride up into my crotch (it's when the material rides up that I get chafing).  Your ass will learn to deal with distance over as you build up to it.  Chamois cream also makes a world of difference . . . it is antibacterial and a lube.  The lube part prevents little scrapes and irritation, the antibacterial part reduces irritation and the chance of infection in that sweaty moist undercarriage.

I've tried five different saddles before finding one that I like . . . but it's totally different from one person to the next, so this one you'll have to figure out on your own.

shuffler

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #39 on: July 03, 2016, 06:52:34 PM »
My biggest issue now is a pinched nerve in my left hand that's taken all the strength out of it.
How do you position your hands when you ride?
Fatigue like this can be caused by utilizing a single hand position for too long, without relief.  Also possibly in combination with putting too much weight on your hands (rather than better distribution across your hands/saddle/feet; the three points of contact for a cyclist).

On typical drop bars there are at least 4 decent hand positions.
In the drops, but probably that's the least comfortable for the rest of our body, so you probably won't spend as much time there.
On the brake hoods, where it's most easy to brake and shift.
Palms on the bend/corner of the bars.
Palms on the flats of the bars.  (You can also sit up a bit and rest your fingers on the flats, rather than the meatier part of your palms.)

The latter two are perhaps the most restful for your hands, since you're sitting up the most and thereby putting less weight on your hands. But you also have less ready access to your brakes & gears, so you they're best used on longer/straighter sections (less need to turn) with the same grade (less need to switch gears) and without too much of a crowd (less need for brakes).  There should be plenty of that on STP, depending on how crowded you are at the moment.

Also, don't forget one-handed riding and shaking out your hands.  Leave one hand in a normal position (perhaps on the hood, with access to brakes), while taking the other hand off the bar and letting your arm hang down from the shoulder.  Shake out your hand/arm, rotate your wrist, and wriggle your fingers.  Get the blood flowing again.  Can also do windmills with your arm, if that feels good.

shuffler

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #40 on: July 03, 2016, 07:05:10 PM »
Oh, vibration from the road can also be a factor.  Maybe try cushier bar-tape and/or gloves.

GuitarStv

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #41 on: July 03, 2016, 07:25:01 PM »
If you're not comfortable in the drops you either don't have your bike set up properly, or need to work on your flexibility.  While it's good practice to remember to change hand positions regularly you should be able to comfortably ride for long periods of time in the drops, on the tops, and on the hoods.

For hand problems check that your saddle is level (a slight forward slope puts a lot of weight on your hands because you slowly slide forward and have to keep pushing back over a ride) and try raising your bars slightly.  Saddle fore-aft position can help reduce weight on your hands too . . . moving your saddle back will help with this.  (Try bending over into a riding position while standing.  You notice how your butt has to go really far back to keep you from tipping forward?  Same idea.  Ideally you want to be gripping the bars more than leaning on them.)

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #42 on: July 04, 2016, 12:35:46 PM »
Rode this morning with my brother in law who is riding his 20th STP this year. He pointed out my handlebars point practically straight down - I can't go into the drops. They don't curve like his, very weird. So I may have to consider a new setup there but not doing that until after the ride. He did not think my bike looks too big for me, and says I'm quite upright which would make sense since I tilted the handle bars back a bit to avoid so much front pressure - but also might be why I'm having carpal tunnel issues? I'm back to thinking my lady bit pain is an anatomy issue for me, especially after reading this article: http://www.cobbcycling.com/innie-or-outie/

In the interest of my wallet, I'm going to try this out: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006K0HAV6/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AA7VCN2Y62MGE

And if that still causes a lot of pain I'll try one of the Cobb saddles mentioned in the article.

GuitarStv

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #43 on: July 04, 2016, 12:59:09 PM »
Rode this morning with my brother in law who is riding his 20th STP this year. He pointed out my handlebars point practically straight down - I can't go into the drops. They don't curve like his, very weird. So I may have to consider a new setup there but not doing that until after the ride. He did not think my bike looks too big for me, and says I'm quite upright which would make sense since I tilted the handle bars back a bit to avoid so much front pressure - but also might be why I'm having carpal tunnel issues?

Can you post a pic of the front of your bike?  I suspect there's something funny going on with your handlebars from your description.  It might be too late to make any big changes right now, but people might be able to offer some suggestions for the future.

For most people, your drops tend to be most comfortable when your bar ends are somewhere between pointing straight back (with the flat part of the drops level with the ground) and pointing at the rear axle.  It sounds like your bars/levers are tilted waaaay up . . . this is something that people often do to shorten reach (better to swap in a shorter stem) or to raise the bar position (better to add more spacers under the stem).  It could very well be the source of your hand problems . . . and if you can't use the drops on your bars that means you can't move your hands around as much as you should be able to.

There's a decent website here: http://ruedatropical.com/2009/03/road-drop-bar-geometry/ that goes over different styles of bars, lever positioning, and how the choices you make will have particular impacts to your bike fit.  Little things can make a really big difference when you're on a bike for hours.

Don't dick with it too dramatically before your ride, but afterwards it would be worth playing around with stem height, length, and maybe trying some new bars to get your reach and positioning perfect.  Road bars are designed so that you are comfy in all positions . . . if you don't use your drops, you might as well be riding pursuit bars, or flat bars with bar ends.  :P

dilinger

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #44 on: July 04, 2016, 02:30:02 PM »

In the interest of my wallet, I'm going to try this out: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006K0HAV6/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=AA7VCN2Y62MGE

And if that still causes a lot of pain I'll try one of the Cobb saddles mentioned in the article.

I'd love to hear how the saddle works out for you.  I hadn't seen the nose drop before (we do own a nose-less saddle, and it's annoying).  If it works out, I'll suggest it to my wife; maybe we can get people to finally stop commenting on the angle of her saddle.

shuffler

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #45 on: July 18, 2016, 01:14:58 PM »
So how'd it go for you?  :^)

elaine amj

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #46 on: July 18, 2016, 02:38:14 PM »
I was thinking about you this morning - hope the ride went well!

Credaholic

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #47 on: July 23, 2016, 11:32:55 AM »
We went camping post ride so I'm finally getting online to check in! STP went great! We rode 120 miles the first day and it was fairly easy. There's so much great energy on the ride, and as someone said above such great support - lots of stops to refuel and keep the riders going. It wasn't until the last 20 miles that I really started to feel fatigued. Of course the next day I was pretty sore and tired and dreading a long day on the bike. But the rest stops seemed more frequent and I was able to mentally tell myself okay just 25 miles here, 20 miles there, etc. and all it added up fairly quickly to knock the last 85 miles out. I did hit a wall with 17 miles to go. At that point I knew I'd be finishing whether I had to stop every single mile, but after pulling over to finish a rice crispie treat I remembered I'd stashed in a pocket I was able to pull it together and come through the finish line strong at 4:30 with my family cheering! It was so much fun.

I am a BIG fan of the new saddle I bought and would highly recommend it. For the first time ever, my sit bones were bruised instead of the fleshy bits being compressed and mangled - bruised butt might not seem like a good thing but it was a huge improvement.

My only issue is I developed pretty serious "handlebar palsy" (ulnar tunnel syndrome) in BOTH hands. I'd been having some symptoms on my left hand, and STP did them both in. I'm finally gaining a little strength back in my right hand and I think they'll both slowly recover with time. I think that tilting my handlebars back caused too much pressure on my wrists, and now that I've found a saddle that works for me I think I can correct this so I won't have this issue going forward. It's incredibly frustrating and scary losing (even some) control of your hands!

Thanks for all the tips and support, everyone! This was a really rewarding experience for me, by far my biggest athletic achievement to date!

abiteveryday

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #48 on: July 24, 2016, 07:15:26 AM »
Very glad to hear of your success!

elaine amj

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Re: Long Distance Road Bikers - I need your tips!
« Reply #49 on: July 24, 2016, 10:39:53 PM »
Congratulations!!!!! So very thrilled for u :)


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