Help needed for 200 mile ride

I’ve just signed up to take part in a 200 mile ride from the East to the West coast of the UK with 3200 meters of elevation. So not too much climbing over the 200 miles.

I’m currently on week 2 of SSB1 and planning on following it up with SSB2, Sustained Power Build, Century Specialty.

My concern is that the Century Specialty plan only builds up to 2 hours as the longest ride. I’m guessing that I need to add some long days in the saddle on TR or outside as the ride will take me at least 14 hours.

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If I were in your position I would add in some longer outdoor rides mainly to work out your nutrition and hydration for such a long effort.

Just watch you aren’t over cooking yourself and not completing the hard weekday workouts.

As @willball12 says, nutrition and hydration are key for a double century, as is pacing. Work out in advance what food works for you, and remember to eat and drink regularly - much easier to keep on top of things than try and catch up. Take climbs steadily and try not to go into the red too much - on long rides like this it can take a long time to recover from that kind of effort, you need to go at your own pace.

The Century plan will see you right in terms of fitness, but IMO it’s worth doing some longer outdoor rides in order to prepare yourself properly mentally for the distance and to make sure you are comfortable on the bike for longer periods.

You don’t say how much experience of long rides you have. If you haven’t done many centuries then I’d recommend getting a few under your belt before the event. I did a 210 mile ride a couple of years ago and in the year before I did a century each month, extending this to a 145 mile ride and a 190 mile ride in the two months before the event. The 190 mile was probably unnecessary but I wanted to do a near-distance ride at a slightly more relaxed pace to get an idea of how hard I could push.

I find it best to try and ignore the GPS as much as possible until very late in the ride - seeing that you’ve got 100 miles to go when you’ve already been on the bike for several hours can be very demotivating. I set the main screen of my GPS to only show time - this meant I could keep a check on when I should be eating and drinking, but wasn’t distracted by other things. You will almost certainly question yourself and want to quit at some point in the ride, but just keep pedalling and it will pass.

My fuelling strategy is generally to drink at least one bottle per hour, the first bottle containing SIS GO carb drink, the remaining containing electrolytes only. After the first hour I start with solid foods (usually SIS or High5 bars - one small bar or half a large bar every half hour), then move on to gels for the last part of the ride (again, SIS or High5 work for me - one gel every 20 minutes). I incorporate caffeine into my nutrition at key points in the ride, either via gels or electrolyte drink, but it is key to work out how you respond to caffeine in your preparatory rides.

You might also search the Internet for randonneur tips. Those guys go a lot further than 200 miles …
Here is one link I found with some tips;
http://www.greatlakesrando.org/cycling-links/brevet-tips-menu

@GeorgeAnderson 5 of us decided to do 200 a while back. IIRC we only had 1000 meters climbing so pretty flat. It was vitally important to not spike the power. We agreed that even starting off from stop signs or stop lights 250W was the max. That paid off late in the game.

Also one of the guys made rice cakes with bacon, egg and a touch of maple syrup. Sound gross but, I’m telling you late in the game eating food that wasn’t a bar or gel really helped with the fueling.

The only other thing I can think of is I developed such a bad hot spot in my right foot at about mile 175 I could barely push down. Turns out it was a tight calf (plantar Fasciitis). So I think some longer rides outside are important.

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Chad Nate and Jonathan have mentioned a bunch of times on the podcast that pros don’t train for marathons by running marathons. It’s pretty much the same for you. You’ll build up enough power + fitness to complete the ride so long as you throttle back appropriately.

But there’s something to be said about logging long hours to figure out how your body might break down while you’re out there – when I first started logging long hours I start to really fatigue around mile 80 (128km) and I didn’t recognize it until the pain started creeping in around mile 90 (144km).

e.g. 1 My glutes would get tired and my knee would start to wobble. (I’m sure this started before mile 80 but I didn’t know to notice it). Pain would start to build and then 30-40 min later I’d be off the bike. Twice I had to call for a ride b/c the pain just wouldn’t go away.

e.g. 2. I was totally fine on a narrow saddle (Flight Ti) for rides under 3 or 4 hours but as soon as my ride times went up I’d get pain and saddle sores. I’m guessing my legs would get tired and I’d put more weight on the saddle.

If I was giving advice to my younger self I would advocate building up to a ride time that’s 60-70% of what I’d expect to do the day of.

Last bit of info: I’ve had some rides where the last 15% felt more like 50%. My GF has described something similar with running marathons (“The last 5 miles were harder than the first 20.”). It’s important to recognize that unless you’re injured, that’s mostly in your mind. Logging longer hours on the bike will help with building your mental fortitude.

Hi George,

Spending the better part of a day riding your bike can be great fun. It can also be a humbling experience if you are not properly prepared. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Bike fit. Pay particular attention to your contact points in hands, seat and feet. If anything is uncomfortable for two hours, it will be become excruciatingly uncomfortable over a longer period of time.

  2. Fueling, hydration and electrolytes. Your mission is to learn what works best for you and to test your system during your training. Adjust accordingly. Practice setting timers on your computer to remind you to eat and drink. The key point is going having tested your system and to have it adjusted to you.

  3. Pacing strategy. If you are simply riding to finish the event, then a consistent comfortable effort is smooth and smooth is fast.

  4. Gearing. Even without looking at the route profile, I recommend having a "bail out or “super easy gear.” 14 hours is a lot of pedaling.

  5. Training. I recommend some longer rides. Maybe a four hour ride six weeks prior to the event simply to build confidence. I refer to such a ride as a Completion Ride. The goal is simply to make it through the ride and to find any bugs in your event day strategy.

    -Three to six weeks before the event you can try something I use for 12 hour event preparation which consists of three four hour days in a row at about 60-65% intensity or whatever you can sustain and still feel rather comfortable. You can also tweak this formula by doing a hard two hours on Day 1 (Friday for example) and then follow this up with two four rides on Day 2 and Day 3. The goal is simply to complete the three days in a row completing a total of 10-12 hours of training. I can tell you from experience by the end of Day 3 there will be a unique level of fatigue in your leg muscles. The reason I recommend three to six weeks time frame is two fold: six weeks prior allows for a really solid physiological adaptation but more importantly allows you time to make adjustments and to test those adjustments prior to the event. At the three week point, you are simply more time crunched if you need to sort something out. The reason I like the four hour rides for three days in a row is pretty simple. These days allow for some recovery between rides and to evaluate your overall training. If you are knackered at the end of Day 2 then you can adjust Day 3 and your expectations for event day. TR is about training efficiently which it accomplishes quite well. However, for the longer events I believe you need to spend some longer days on the bike but not nearly as much as what would have been suggested in past training plans. In my opinion, the “Three Day Plan” is efficient and is a confidence builder once you complete it.

Have fun! In the end, riding a bike is about having fun, meeting new people and achieving big crazy goals which makes us better people.

Be Well and Ride On!

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bike fitness should be fine after doing a full ssb-sustained-century progression. Two reasons to do long rides outside:

  • work out nutrition and hydration strategy
  • build more endurance

Perfect advice from Gordon50, not much to add to this.

I did a 200 mile event earlier this year (https://velo29events.com/sportives/yorkshire-beast/). It was a long gruelling day but it was nowhere near as tough as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong a double century, especially a hilly one (15k ft elevation) such as the Beast is tough but it is very doable.

From my experience I would say don’t worry too much. I managed to get through the event in a good time, without any fitness issues and having only done Mid volume base and build. I didn’t have the time to complete the century speciality phase and last winter was my first season using Trainerroad. You’ll be more than fine if you stick to the plan…you might even enjoy it :smile:

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I’ve done two double centuries and several more rides of 175+, and you are getting a lot of good advice on this thread. At that distance, you definitely need a plan but you also definitely need the ability to improvise because one or more parts of your plan are going to go out the window. You might find the food you planned isn’t working for you or that you are feeling aches and pains in places you have never felt them before. It’s OK to just pound donuts and coca cola for the last 50 miles. I’ve done it. It works. All of this is normal, and being able to roll through and figure out how to stay moving is what gets you from century to double century.

But this isn’t a purely physical feat. Over the course of a day that long you are going to experience a wide range of emotions and subjective feelings about your ability to continue. At times you will feel strong and rhythmic and like you have total mastery of the situation – like you could go forever. At other times you’ll be hating every pedal stroke and cursing the moment you decided to do this. Everybody goes to the bad place. It passes. Somewhere in there – and you never know where it is going to be – you’re also going to experience joy at the simple fact that you get to do this. That you can. That you are. I often have that moment when pacelining after sundown on rural roads – where there is nothing but the sounds of breathing and rubber on pavement and the wind in your face. You are filled with confidence that there is nothing better in the world at this moment. That’s what underwrites the physical cost of the whole thing.

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I’ve done 10 double centuries but way before trainer road was around. I trained with club mates and we would do a progressively longer ride leading up to the event. Three weeks out was back to back centuries on Saturday and Sunday. Two weeks out was one ride of 160 miles. Then we would taper. It was a formula that worked well for us. Also I’d like to point out that even though we trained together we recognized that our pacing would be different during the event so although we may have started together there was no expections that we would stick it out as a group. I was lucky that my time goals matched up well with one of my mates so we agreed to stay together. Otherwise don’t get sucked into riding another group’s pace. That could burn you out quickly although it’s very tempting to jump into a pace line as they pass. It’s great to have someone else to ride with but difficult to find someone you can be with the whole time.

I’ve only done one double, and three weeks out was a century (4700’), with another century one week out (3500’). Along with other training, that drove my CTL up into high 80s before tapering the last week. The double had 9500’ / 2900m of climbing, so roughly the same as the Chase the Sun double.

Lot’s of good advice above, I’d just be very careful trying anything new nutrition wise on race day. I realize it may have been fine for @Bthoffma, but he may have an iron gut. The last thing your want is gut distress that you have to deal with for hours on the bike. Stick with what you know works for you, just have plenty of options in case you get “flavor saturation”. Meaning for instance that if certain gels work great on your 3, 4 and even 5 hour rides, they may completely become unpalatable at hour 7, 8 or 9.

Personally for my MTB 100 ride with 10,000 feet of climbing on 90% singletrack, I stuck with Hammer Nutrition products. I used liquid fuel mainly (Perpetuem) along with electrolyte mix and caffeine gels.

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Totally agree. The sugar thing isn’t going to work for everyone. By 150 miles my stomach is basically Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future. It’ll burn anything.

I would however recommend pickle juice to stave off cramping. Great little trick.

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The SSB I & II > Sustained Power Build > Century Specialty progression builds the fitness needed to successfully complete a 200 mile ride. In the weekly descriptions, Coach Chad provides a longer and slower alternative to the final SS workout. They range from 2-3 hours and are at endurance pace. Riding these “approved” options helps build confidence that you can go the distance and are great opportunities to fine tune bike fit and experiment with nutrition strategies.

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I have to say I did a 200km in the summer on the back of an 8 week block riding indoors (due to bust ribs), and notwithstanding potential mistakes in pacing (I don’t feel i went too hard), I felt I missed my regular 100km+/ 4 hour+ outdoor rides, which I had done before my previous 200km events.

I’m planning an early season 300km and Liege Sportive at 274km in April. My n=1 is that while I don’t feel the need to near the distance, it’s hard for me to replicate the adaptations from outdoor riding, so I’ll be hoping to get back into the Saturday outdoor swing in the spring.

Sage advice from Bthoffma. Sage advise. I didn’t touch on the mental aspect in my reply, but those comments are excellent. The dark moments stink, but in the end they are the reason I like the longer stuff. David Goggins will tell you that when your brain tells you are finished, you are really only at 40% of what your body is capable of completing.

“You’re also going to experience joy at the simple fact that you get to do this.”

Self awareness is awesome. Ya, I believe it is about the journey because you’re not the same person when you finish the event.

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@Bthoffma, fantastic post.

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Why do we go out there and beat out our bodies and brains? The value in it is what you learn about yourself. It is only in these instances that all kinds of qualities come out, things that you may not have seen in yourself before.

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The thing I have learned from riding long distance is that I hate myself. I often say that if I am on a long ride and don’t have at least a moment where I hate myself for being there, I’m going to quit randonneuring.

I had a lot of experience riding centuries from when I was a teenager, and I found that experience never goes away. The organized centuries that I did back then had rest stops every 25 miles or so with food. There is a learning curve to feeding yourself. I think it’s natural not to eat enough. One thing I learned from repeated shorter randonneuring events was that I would fail to feed myself early and then 50-100 miles was always tough. Nowadays, I’m a lot better about that. That experience was valuable because I learned that everything comes down to eating. If your legs hurt, you definitely need to eat.

I have always thought that 60 miles was the perfect training distance. I have noted a training effect up to 300km, but 400km always seems to wear me down at least a little. I have trouble maintaining focus for an hour on a trainer, I can’t see going past 2 hours. And by that, I mean for me it simply wouldn’t happen, I would get off the trainer. I have a number of routes I like that are about 100km, and I like to do those instead.

I think I rode 300km or longer 11 times in 2018. 400km is a distance I know I can ride. Riding the next day is where I have had problems. I’m still adjusting, but I am pretty sure those problems all had to do with getting on the over-hydrated side of my electrolyte balance. I find that compensating for that is really difficult. Working on riding in a fat-adapted state is really useful. I have ridden 100km without eating, for example. 150 miles into a ride and not being able to keep any food down because of an electrolyte balance problem, it’s a good thing to be able to keep riding anyway.

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