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Staying awake on 24 hour rides?

I'm doing a 250mile ride from Manchester to Brighton in June which is to be done in a 24hour period. I've got a lot of training in but I've never cycled that far before, 160 is my top to date.
The thing that worries me the most is the actual time awake and moving. I'm no pro rider so over this distance Ill only be averaging around 15mph, meaning that with food breaks and maybe an hour or so rest in the middle there will be no time to sleep.

Does anyone have any tips on food etc to stay awake and focused through the night stage? Caffine highs followed by lows dont sound good to me. There are only two of us and I'm starting to worry about falling asleep at the wheel which I've heard of people doing before :shock:

Will a good sleep prior, plenty of food and the adrenline of the ride be enough?

Its not an official event but Ive made a site for it ( if anyone is interested in checking it out / providing feedback.



  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    Does anyone have any tips on food etc to stay awake and focused through the night stage?
    • Although you can't "bank" extra sleep you can ensure before an event you have no sleep "debt". So get early nights in the days before the event
    • Caffeine and other stimulants work better if you lay off them before hand. About a week seems to be the minimal period. Caffeine is not an alternative to sleep. I use caffeine if it's two hours to the stop and I feel sleepy.
    • Other ways to stay awake include putting in an effort ( adrenalin wakes you up ) or listening to loud music on an mp3. And of course talking to other riders
    • If you feel really like you are about to fall asleep on the bike then a 10 minute nap will stop this dangerous occurrence. You can do this in almost any circumstances as after 10 minutes you don't cool down (much)
    • Some people have a "low" point for sleep in the afternoon. This would not normally affect you, but if you didn't have enough sleep the night before...the other low point is 12 hours later in the small hours of the morning
  • Ron StuartRon Stuart Posts: 1,242
    Sounds like an ideal environment for brain fade and an accident. I think this has been recognised with lorry drivers. :roll:
  • Thanks for the excellent reply vorsprung. I was clutching at straws with the 'sleep bank' question :)
    I have taken on board the caffeine tip, and I'm cutting back already. Due to the fact that my working day usually involves a lot of tea, coffee and coke I think reducing it now will really help if I need some last minute boosts during the ride.

    Ill be taking headphones too, anti social for a ride with only two people i know, but may be needed at times during the night. Some overly noisy dubstep type music might get the adrenaline up!

    I went out training on Saturday with little sleep and a hangover to test the fatigue. Although it was only 100 miles, I was nicely surprised to find that just chatting away and keeping my mind focused on things other than the monotonous movements kept me going more than I thought.

    We also have a support car now so rest stops will be move safe if we need a quick 20 min sleep so that is great. I'm also loading up on creatine too to help reduce lactic acid and cramps and improve endurance, whether its a placebo or not it seems to work well for me.

    Ron, I know what you mean and that's exactly whats been worrying me! We are leaving late in the day though, so I will sleep all day and be fresh through the night stage. With the right amount of food and drink plus the buz from the day itself, i'm hoping that the rising sun will keep me going. If not, Ill have to take a nap in the shade somewhere and refresh :(

    Thanks again for the help!
  • Philip WhitemanPhilip Whiteman Posts: 470
    edited May 2012
    Vorsprung's comments are spot on. He is typically modest in his reply he fails to mention that is an accomplished long distance audax rider and knows about these sort of things.

    The only thing, I can add regards the sleep issue. If exhausted, you may find that you sleep for a little more than 10 minutes which raises new dangers in terms of after-drop especially during cool night time conditions. The use of a space blanket will reduce the chance of your body temperature dropping to quickly whilst you sleep.
  • Thanks for the tip Philip! I will see if this is something that we can get our hands on as they are quite small and will fit in the back of a jersey nicely.
    I just realised that ive been getting a lot of informtaion off Vorsprungs' site ( so thanks very much for all the excellent informtation on there too Vorsprung - the flapjack recipe is awesome!
  • FatamorganaFatamorgana Posts: 257
    If you head over to the mtn bike site, there are lots of experienced 24hr riders who would gladly help with advice.
    YOu might want to metion Mountain Mayhem, Sleepless, the UK 24 solo's and Bonty 24 in the text or any searces.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Various tests have shown that sleep-deprivation only really kicks-in after 36 hours, so provided you are well-rested, and have a good nutrition plan you should be fine.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • FatamorganaFatamorgana Posts: 257
    Experience tells those of us who have raced for 24hrs that Monty's comments couldn't be more wrong!

    Head on over to the Lakeland 100 / 50 web site maybe too for more experience and not just tittle-tattle?
  • vorsprungvorsprung Posts: 1,953
    Thanks for the tip Philip! I will see if this is something that we can get our hands on as they are quite small and will fit in the back of a jersey nicely.
    I just realised that ive been getting a lot of informtaion off Vorsprungs' site ( so thanks very much for all the excellent informtation on there too Vorsprung - the flapjack recipe is awesome!

    Excellent, glad you like it!
  • Edward HEdward H Posts: 38
    There are some guys from LancasterCC riding coast to coast to coast (this weekend I think) 272miles in 24hours. They could be a good source of info for you. Your ride looks a long way on a map?! Good luck.
  • graham_ggraham_g Posts: 652
    half hour power nap normally sorts me out enough to keep going the full 24 hours if there's no proper sleep stop until beyond that.
  • We made it! Manchester to Brighton without sleep has been conquered :D

    As a quick update and reference to any other endurance newbies I thought I'd post an update now it's done and we successfully managed it.

    We set off on Friday night at 7pm from Manchester and made it to Brighton by 11pm on Saturday. It took four hours longer than we anticipated, 28hours in total including rest stops but considering the wonderful storms the UK experienced this weekend I'm pretty damn pleased! I'd never ridden in wind and rain like that encountered on Friday night, scary stuff.

    The sleep issue turned out to be not that much of a problem. Due to last minute stress the few days before (busy work week!) I only had 6 hours sleep on Thursday night but adrenaline saw me through until Saturday and then Pro Plus kept me upright to the end.

    Music was a saviour! The last 50 miles would not have been possible if I hadn't reserved my iPod until then and compiled every heart rate raising song I could think of into one beautiful playlist. I'm a metal head normally but the odd curve ball really picked up my mood.

    The biggest challenge was the temperature changes. Due to the rain I was in serious waterproofs; socks, trousers, the works! But because of this I was getting quite a sweat on and warming up quickly. As soon as we stopped though the sweat went cold and I started to shiver. Only way around it was food and plenty of brews.

    It was a very long 28 hours but we did it and Im feeling pretty good for it too! Thanks to everyone for the advice, especially Vorsprung- laying off the caffeine before hand was essential.

    There are quite a few pics on the site and the route if anyone else feels like a challenge!
  • rodgers73rodgers73 Posts: 2,626
    Well done on the ride!

    I'm doing a similar thing in August - any tips on what to carry with you? I'm taking a small rucksack (20 litres) so should be able to pack a couple of emergency items.
  • Cheers, my knees are still recovering :)

    To be honest I wouldn't take a rucksack as the stress on your back, especially if your riding on drop bars becomes quite painfull after several hours. But that's my opinion and I'm imagining a lot of people use them.
    I went for a saddle bag with full puncture kit in, spare tube, repairs, multi tool etc. Then I had a bag on my top tube called a tri bag or something. This had energy bars, gels, credit card and phone in. I also carried my waterproofs rolled up in the pockets of my jersey with one of them tube scarfs for night time. Then just two drinks bottles with orange juice / water mix.

    This trip we had a safety car which made it easier as that was full of food and had a change of clothes but for 100mile a day rides the above is my usual gear.

    I hope that helps!
  • Somewhere there's a website on power napping - Was it one of those round the world sailors who kind of brought it to the world's attention? I think they did like 3 months without a sleep longer than 20 mins!

    I think the gist was to not fight it, but give in, have that power nap and then you'll do much better in the longer term.

    Although if you're going to just have a nap at the side of the road I wonder if a little sign saying 'I ain't dead, just resting' or something would ensure you get an un-interrupted 20 mins? :D
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