It’s been a very long time since I have gone out and done a proper all day ride. In fact I think the last time I did this particular all day ride was when I shot the Kinver and back video in March last year. After going for a ride Friday I wanted to find out something about myself in terms of riding day after day so I decided to go for it in terms of a proper long one.
I did a slight variation on the Barnt Green to Kinver out and back but started in Kings Heath. I felt very good for the whole of this ride. Even at the 6 hour mark I was throwing in Weather Oak Hill and Washill just for the hell of it.
So where did it right? Well I felt there were a number of things that I got right that lead me to feel good for so long.
- Having not done a ride over the 3 hour-ish mark for a long time I think that I had plenty in the tank. The last time I was doing this route regularly was when I was going out every weekend and doing 60miles. I think the built up fatigue back then was actually doing me more harm than good. I’m aiming this week to be quite easy and the next few weekends to not go out for too long. It’s really important to remember that its not the training that gets you to a higher place in terms of performance but the rest afterwards.
- I think my effort levels were suitable for the length of time I knew I would be peddling for. For the majority of the ride (roughly 83% of the time) I was in Zone 1 and 2, with pretty much all the rest of the time being in Zone 3. I only strayed into Zone 4 for about 4mins and never got to Zone 5. This meant that I was predominately relying on aerobic metabolism which can be sustained for far longer than predominately relying on anaerobic metabolism. Obviously over time there is still some anaerobic contribution which I believe I probably exhausted as well hence my aching legs the next day. I was happy I was able to be disciplined enough to control my effort in the early stages so not too burn out too quick.
- Refueling during riding for this sort of time period is clearly important. There is no way you are going to be able to feel comfortable with no extra energy consumed along the way. When I say refueling I’m talking about food for energy and water for hydration. In terms of food I had a couple of ways of getting a mixture of carbs and sugar.
Firstly I mixed up 3 liters of carbs/electrolyte drink for the bladder. I’m currently using GNC’s own brand ISO Energy drink. I mixed it at 50% strength to what they recommend in an effort to help the hydration aspect of drinking the liquid. Mix it to strong and your stomach will actually suck water from the rest of your body to deal with the carbs and so have the opposite effect.
Secondly I also wanted some real food. One to fill my belly a bit so I didn’t feel hungry and 2 because eating something always gives me a mental boost on long days in the saddle. I had a pack of small flapjack pieces, of which I eat 5 pieces about once an hour in the middle portion of the ride, a couple of bananas 1 at about 1 quarter of the distance in and the other at about 3 quarters in and a chicken, bacon and mayo sandwich about half way through.
OK so that’s what I got right but every day is a school day so what improvements could I make in future?
- I think I could have probably gone a little harder than I did so next time I would want my higher average zones to be a bit higher. I think if I could drop most of the zone 1 and swap it for zone 3 then that would have increased my speed but still left me at an effort level I could sustain. It’s a very line though and one to watch very carefully.
- Was 50% strength of the ISO drink right? Well in terms of energy I think it wasn’t wrong, I never felt that I was really getting tired. On the other hand though I did have a pretty intense bout of cramp in my left hamstring about 2 hours after finishing the ride. Cramp is not normally a problem for me even on long rides. The occasional twinge in my left calf after a long climb but nothing like this. I suspect that electrolytes were fine and the potassium levels should have been OK after 2 bananas which leaves me to think that this was probably dehydration that was to blame.
I wonder for the future if I should try it at 30% strength or if I should have drunk a bottle of water as soon as I got home.
On the whole I learnt a lot this weekend about my endurance fitness and about the liquid carbs which I haven’t used for long. I think that I can be fairly comfortable with my long distances now and taper down to the rough ride. In the mean time I will be concentrating on getting in 2 interval sessions a week to get my leg speed, threshold and VO2 Max up to increase my overall speed.