Lack of fuel or fitness?

CleeRider
CleeRider Posts: 304
edited June 2013 in Road beginners
I'm currently doing 32 miles, 1000ft climbs and push myself all the way round (17.5mph average). After about 26 miles I find it difficult to get out of the saddle for more than 10 seconds - the legs have gone.
This is normally around the 1hr 30mins mark during which I haven't taken on any food - having eaten well before the ride.

Would I see any benefit in eating something like a Clif energy bar at the hour mark or is it just fitness building that is required?

Comments

  • Sprool
    Sprool Posts: 1,022
    How long have you been doing your 32 mile rides? Are your times getting better?
    Why not try munching an energy bar 20 mins before you hit the wall?
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    I've been doing this route 3 times a week for nearly a month.
    My times are improving.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Doing the same route continually at the same intensity every time is a good recipe for stagnation. If you are fading after 90mins it's more likely to be fitness-related. Try mixing things up a bit. Longer slower rides with some shorter, faster rides. If you keep trying to hit PB every ride you will end up frustrated most of the time.
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    Should have said - it's actually 3 different routes of around 32 miles so there's some variety. Also there's no frustration involved - I'm not interested in a new PB every time, as long as I've pushed myself all the way round then I'm happy.
    I've done 50 miles on flat terrain and it hits me at about 40 miles, having eaten an energy bar at 25 miles.
    Must be a fitness building issue to do with the intensity. Think I'd get bored if I purposely went slower.
  • JayKosta
    JayKosta Posts: 635
    I don't think that food is needed for the ride you describe, but definitely some water at minimum.
    For a similar ride I eat a few hundred calories an hour befor the ride, and drink a 750ml bottle of regular Gartorade.

    Jay Kosta
    Endwell NY USA
  • stueys
    stueys Posts: 1,332
    Imposter wrote:
    Doing the same route continually at the same intensity every time is a good recipe for stagnation. If you are fading after 90mins it's more likely to be fitness-related. Try mixing things up a bit. Longer slower rides with some shorter, faster rides. If you keep trying to hit PB every ride you will end up frustrated most of the time.

    This. You need to build base fitness, a mix of low volume/high intensity and high volume/ low intensity.
  • team47b
    team47b Posts: 6,425
    Try to avoid straightening your legs when standing bend knees and pedal in circles not up and down, try to support your own weight more (change posture) lean forward more, getting fitter will help.

    Eat.

    Loose weight if you need to, you, not the bike? :D
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • VTech
    VTech Posts: 4,736
    I had the same thing although not as quick as you. I use tablets in my water, the ones I went for are the High5 electrolyte tabs and they seem to work, I couple this with a small cereal bar, I use the morrisons breakfast type bars (5 for £1) and that works out well.
    Living MY dream.
  • rich164h
    rich164h Posts: 433
    Fitness will be a large part of it but for me, I find that about 90-105 mins at a high intensity is about the limit of what I can do without needing fueling. Strength and energy certainly drops of rapidly beyond that without food. I've found that both on the bike and when running so I guess that's more or less the point where I've exhausted my glycogen stores.

    If riding at a lower intensity though then you should be able to go much longer without supplementary fuel (although it's probably a good idea to take something in regardless). You should still drink to keep hydrated though, possibly with electrolytes if it's hot.
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    Thanks for the tips everyone. Some more info: I can normally stay out of the saddle for a minute, I'm not carrying any extra weight (69kg) and I already use High5 tabs which are great! I agree, I must be hitting this limit because of the high intensity of my rides which I don't want to change. I'll try eating after the hour mark and see if it improves.
    My longest ride is 51 miles on flat terrain and agree - I feel I could do a low intensity century but wouldn't enjoy the pace etc.
  • Bozman
    Bozman Posts: 2,518
    Start doing 45 miles, then 32 miles won't be an issue.
    I used to have a set route over a similar distance and you seem to stagnate, I increased my mileage and took the hilly option and my fitness level has increased and that original route was a breeze.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    CleeRider wrote:
    I agree, I must be hitting this limit because of the high intensity of my rides which I don't want to change. I'll try eating after the hour mark and see if it improves.

    It's got nothing to do with eating as a few people have already pointed out. Why ask for advice, and then ignore it?
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    Imposter wrote:
    CleeRider wrote:
    I agree, I must be hitting this limit because of the high intensity of my rides which I don't want to change. I'll try eating after the hour mark and see if it improves.

    It's got nothing to do with eating as a few people have already pointed out. Why ask for advice, and then ignore it?

    Actually I've had conflicting advice so it's probably a bit of both.
    Now relax.
  • Sprool
    Sprool Posts: 1,022
    I never bother taking snacks on a route under 2 hrs. Actually thats not true - I always have an emergency energy gel but I've never had to use it yet. I like to mix up the rides a lot so one day will do a short but hard 10 miler up the biggest hills in the area, then the next I'll do a 3 hr cruise on flatter terrain without going for any PB's. I think this is a more balanced approach to improving overall strength and fitness, and it avoids getting bored hammering out the same routes all the time.
    I'm afraid conflicting advice goes with the territory of life, cycling and internet forums ;)
  • Jim C
    Jim C Posts: 333
    Mostly Unlikely to be fuel related

    U need to vary your training. Add in some variation. Intervals. 30 seconds full gas, 3 mins rest. Repeat x5. Longer intervals- 5mins at constant effort, 5mins rest. Repeat x4.

    U do need a base to build on, it doesn't have to be at full has intensity. A varied route with a few hills would be fine.

    Out of the saddle- no reason that you couldn't do 20 minutes or more out of the saddle once cycling fit, whether tired or not. Its easier on a hill, as it gives some resistance. U need time in the saddle for bike specific fitness, core stability, etc
    jc
  • hatch87
    hatch87 Posts: 352
    I struggle to go more than 90mins at a hard pace. Anything more than that and I need to go out easy and warm into it but don't really need to start thinking about food until 3 hourish rides.

    Normally I find I go faster on my mid week 90 min rides following a slow but long ride at the weekend.
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/686217
    Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a bitch! Blow! It's time for a showdown! You and me! I'm right here! Come and get me!
  • Guanajuato
    Guanajuato Posts: 399
    When you say " eaten well before the ride" do you mean you had a good meal before the ride, or do you mean you ate a fair amount of time before the ride?
    I've had jelly leg episodes twice. One on a shorter ride (~25 miles) when I'd only had a quick snack and done 10 miles at lunchtime then gone straight out for another 20-odd mile ride before my tea, with only water in my bottle. So on that I was definitely underfuelled.
    The second was after about 40 miles into my first 50 miler. I'd only got an energy drink with me.
    In both cases, I suddenly started feeling woosey and was beginning to lose my sense of balance, so stopped for a bit. After that, my legs just weren't really capable of doing any hills.
    Probably a combination of fitness and lack of fuelling.
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    Ah yes I can see how that could have 2 different meanings. I meant I'm fully fuelled before a ride.
    I don't experience jelly legs - it's more like burning quads when I stand up.
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    I wouldn't have thought that food would be an issue in a 90 minute ride...
  • CleeRider wrote:
    Thanks for the tips everyone. Some more info: I can normally stay out of the saddle for a minute, I'm not carrying any extra weight (69kg) and I already use High5 tabs which are great! I agree, I must be hitting this limit because of the high intensity of my rides which I don't want to change. I'll try eating after the hour mark and see if it improves.
    My longest ride is 51 miles on flat terrain and agree - I feel I could do a low intensity century but wouldn't enjoy the pace etc.

    My longest ride is almost exactly the same but at moderate intensity, although do I max myself out on the occasional downhill. On 50 milers I have to stop for a burger or something. Never even attempted it without food. The longest ride I have done is just over 35 miles without food and I did bonk out, was hilly tho.
  • gazhilla
    gazhilla Posts: 48
    For the first 6 months I was the same, needed a gel or a snack round about the 1hr 20 mark, now I can do 2 and a half hours without. Try a snack about the one hour 10 mark, something reasonably fast acting will see you through.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,553
    It won't be food unless you started off fasted (which you say you haven't). For someone relatively new to cycling that's quite a high average speed over the distance, you are probably just pushing yourself harder than your body is ready for. You are coping with longer, steadier distances so again it would appear to be a fitness issue when riding hard.
  • Guanajuato
    Guanajuato Posts: 399
    CleeRider wrote:
    Ah yes I can see how that could have 2 different meanings. I meant I'm fully fuelled before a ride.
    I don't experience jelly legs - it's more like burning quads when I stand up.
    In that case, I'd say its a strength thing.
    I have exactly the same when the road heads upwards at anything significant. Below about 8-10% I'm (almost) comfortable. But as soon as speed drops and cadence gets down, I need to stand but can't do it for long, especially towards the end of a ride. But as I do it more, the time I can stand for has got longer.
    I also find it really hard to stand in lower gears. My natural standing cadence seems to be 60-70 rpm. But I don't want to change up to higher gears because then I get to the point where I haven't got the strength to turn the pedals, can't unclip and do a comedy topple.:oops: But if I do that and change to lower gears, I get the awkward cadence issue.
    I guess the answer is to ride more hills! :mrgreen:
  • CleeRider
    CleeRider Posts: 304
    An update... I''ve just done 50 miles at an average speed of 18mph (viewtopic.php?f=40013&t=12926764). I've only done this distance twice before and both times have run into the tough times after about 38 miles. On both previous rides I ate an energy bar at the half way stage.

    Today, I kept the energy bar in my jersey back pocket and took a bite every 5 miles, starting at around 30miles. The result was that I didn't hit the problems of burning quads when standing for more than 10s.
    It's not conclusive however because I am probably a little fitter than 6 weeks ago when I last did this route; and the conditions were different... a tough head wind going out and tail wind coming home. It was the other way around last time.

    So it's likely to be a fitness AND eating issue which hopefully I've now sorted. Thanks for all the input and tips.