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How can I last longer?

yost72yost72 Posts: 50
edited December 2013 in Road beginners
I know it sounds like I should be posting on a Men's Health forum, but I am of course referring to my bike rides. I used to have a hybrid, and the furthest I cycled was 40-50 miles on a few occasions, including a couple of organised sportives. I always struggled from about 30 miles on, having to stop fairly frequently. Basically, the power seemed to go from my legs. I tended to average around 15mph, usually a bit more to start with, then tailing off towards the end.
Earlier this month I got a Boardman Road Team Carbon bike expecting to suddenly find it a doddle, but when I went out for a 42 mile ride, I again struggled from about 30 miles. My average was a bit better, around 16.5mph, but again I was tailing off towards the end.
My hope is to do a 100 mile ride in 2014, but as things stand, I am not sure I would be able to make it.
The potential issues could be:
1/ Not eating/drinking enough. On a 40-50 mile ride, which would be around 3 hours, I would normally have a snack bar, couple of energy gels, energy drink and a bottle of water. From what I have read, I may need more than this - does this sound correct, as it would be quite a lot, and would it make a huge difference?
2/ Pedals - currently using cheap pedals and toe clips, but I am getting SPD pedals/shoes for Xmas - will this make a big difference?
3/ Skinny legs - I am generally skinny, and wondered whether I need to do some leg strengthening exercises to give me more power, or will this just make me go faster rather than give me better endurance?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
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  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    Your new bike will certainly make things easier but it's no substitute for fitness / experience, not saying that you lack either of these but the more / longer you ride, the easier things will become.

    On the things you list;

    1. Seems like a reasonable amount of food / drink for a 50 mile ride.
    2. Pedals / shoes will help make your riding more efficient / comfortable.
    3. Riding more will be the best thing for leg strengthening :wink:

    :)
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • How often do you cycle? How many miles per week?
    Expecting to be able to do 50+ miles if you do not cycle regularly is pushing it a bit. Do you do any other sports such as running?
    Building fitness levels up takes time, you can't expect to be able to suddenly do more miles just because you have a different bike. It is the engine that makes the difference - you.
    I am quite skinny (11st7 / 6ft), but as a regular marathon runner I had a pretty good core fitness before switching to cycling.
    Pedals may make a difference, but not drastically. SPD's are relatively new, plenty of people cycled hundreds of miles before SPD's
    For 40-50 miles I eat hardly anything, maybe a homemade energy bar or banana. Some people need to eat a lot more, we are all different.
  • yost72yost72 Posts: 50
    Thanks for the replies so far.
    Regarding food, I read last night someone who advised eating every 20 minutes, something like a Clif bar, which for a 3 hour ride would be 12 energy bars (could be replaced with a banana or something similar), and seemed way too much.
    During the summer, on my hybrid, I went out once in the evening, around 20 miles, and did a longer ride at the weekend - hard to do more with work and kids. I have always been naturally quite fit, although other than cycling, walking the dogs is my only exercise. I am now trying to ride to work a couple of times per week (20 miles round trip).
    From what you are saying, it sounds like 100 miles is going to be difficult for me?
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    You're right, an energy bar every 20 minutes would be waaaaaay over the top :shock:

    It depends when next year you want to do a 100 miler but once the spring comes (wishful thinking I know) try and do a bit more in the evenings mid week if you can, cycling to work will also help, it's just about trying to get out as much as you can and gradually increasing the distances :)
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Regarding food, clearly a whole clif bar every 20 minutes is excessive (and expensive!). Eating a bite or two of something every twenty minutes isn't daft though. But we are all different in our needs, so the most important thing is working out what you need. A bit of flapjack or something every 20 mins is a good start.

    If you have ridden 40-50 miles, you are going to be able to ride 100 miles in time - you just need to put the miles in over winter and then look to move up in distance in spring. It just takes time.

    That empty lack of strength feeling will become less of an issue as you gain strength and endurance.

    If you have the goal of riding 100 miles, at a steady pace, the most important thing now is just to ride.

    Twice a week to work (10 miles each way) is a good start, combined with 30-40 at the weekends.

    100 miles at steady pace is achievable by most people who are prepared to put a little effort in.
  • mlgtmlgt Posts: 366
    Im in the same boat, training for my first 100 mile ride. Im easily doing the 40-50 mile rides with little food. But once I hit the wall at 40/50 miles my motor will start to drop.

    So before rides I ensure I had a decent breakfast or light lunch. Drink enough fluids, but not over do it so I need a pit stop. I bring a snack bar along or sometimes a banana if I need.

    What I find with the endurance thing is that it becomes easier, but if you slack off (i had a bike accident) for a few weeks then your fitness level drops quite alot.

    I think what I have learnt this year is to pace myself and not over exert yourself. Condition your rides by coasting when possible and selecting the right gear. A bit like driving really. Being more efficient and gaining more mpg :)

    Have you thought about upping your session speeds or climbing hills and then have a rest period of easy cycling and then up the session again? Like HIT training.
    N2 - SW1

    Canyon Endurace 9.0
  • 100 miles will not be impossible for you, but it will not be easy.
    Don't try to push it too far too soon. Adding an extra 20 mile ride like you have will soon add benefits. With the longer ride, try not to increase by more than 10% each time. I tend to increase by about 10% each week for 3 weeks, then ease back on the 4th week.
    Are you pushing it too hard on the start of your ride? Try not to go too quickly - I know it's hard not to :-) - slow down, enjoy the ride and you may find that not wasting energy at the start will help you feel better later in the ride. Don't worry about what speed other people do, there will always be someone that is faster, goes further etc. It is about building your endurance up gradually.

    Regarding the food, eating an energy bar every 20 mins is crazy. If you are riding for about 3 hours, then most of the energy should already be stored in your body. Are you eating properly in the hours before the ride? Plenty of pasta etc the evening before a morning ride? Energy gels provide a quick burst of energy that only lasts for about 20 mins - hence the 20 min rule from a manufacturer of gels. You need complex carbohydrates in your body several hours before your ride that are slowly released over the duration of your ride.
  • meursaultmeursault Posts: 1,476
    I think of Rowan Atkinson.
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

    Voltaire
  • I often used to have the same problem as you, but running out of steam after 20 miles, then suffering the next 10 miles, then my legs started working again and I could go onto 60 miles without fuss. These days I can do it without the drop off but that's just from practice in doing more long rides.

    It helps to have rest stops, in a sportive these will likely be built in, but I find even a 3 minute stop helps a lot.
  • meursault wrote:
    I think of Rowan Atkinson.

    :D
  • As others have said, I think it is just down to cycling more.

    In January I was struggling at the end of a 20 mile ride but come July I was up to 60 - 70 mile rides.

    The more you cycle the stronger you will get - a new bike should make it easy for you to get out :D
  • diamonddogdiamonddog Posts: 3,368
    arran77 wrote:
    Your new bike will certainly make things easier but it's no substitute for fitness / experience, not saying that you lack either of these but the more / longer you ride, the easier things will become.

    On the things you list;

    1. Seems like a reasonable amount of food / drink for a 50 mile ride.
    2. Pedals / shoes will help make your riding more efficient / comfortable.
    3. Riding more will be the best thing for leg strengthening :wink::)
    ^^This one
  • KajjalKajjal Posts: 3,404
    Try cycling a bit slower as you may find it easier to reach higher distances. Cycling longer distances is partly fitness and nutrition but also a fair amount is physiological as well. Once you can do the distance then build up the speed afterwards by doing it more frequently.

    Listen to your body, it will let you know if you need food / water, go faster / slower. Too often people initially get carried away with trying to sustain a pace they are not yet ready for. I did this myself and you end up beating yourself up over it for no reason.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 3,261
    Do intervals as part of your training as these are the fastest way to build endurance capability.

    I ran a 69 mile Ultra in the summer having previously run 20 miles 4 times, 26 once and everything else being either intervals or runs below 13 miles. No, running isn't exactly the same as cycling but intervals for endurance are a tried, tested and proven method.

    It is a massive leap of faith being at the start line of an event having only ever covered around 40% of the distance previously in one go but intervals do work.

    Also worth experimenting with lower intensity rides without fuel to condition your body to burning fat rather than just carbs. If you're totally dependent on carbs then there is a clear requirement to keep shovelling them in at the front end.
  • Consider looking at how you ride, do you make any hard efforts from the start? If so, try and start off steadily or you can burn up too many carbs too quickly.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Pacing.

    16.5 is a decent pace - slow it down a tad and you'll be able to ride longer. And Supermurph is right - any hard efforts will take it out of you.
  • Is that really how much you would expect to eat on a 50 mile ride?

    I tend to use 2 (to 3 - filling one at a convenient opportunity/stop) water bottles, perhaps one energy bar, and something like a banana on a 50 mile ride lasting 3 hours. Never feel like I am hitting the wall or seriously flagging.

    I know everyone is different, but sometimes I think people tend to eat way more than is necessary?
  • Depends on how fit you are? The fitter you are the less calories you're going to need, coupled with the fact that you can only absorb carbs so fast, so less fit riders will bonk no matter how much they've eaten.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 3,948
    Use the winter months to improve your base fitness by reducing your speed and aim to lightly spin the pedals and slowly increase your mileage and duration.

    Its a bit like sex. Pump pump squirt has its place but its much more fun going a little slower and lasting longer......
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,028
    If strava did sex...
  • arran77arran77 Posts: 9,260
    Mikey23 wrote:
    If strava did sex...

    I'd hope that it would only be me on my 'ride' :wink:
    "Arran, you are like the Tony Benn of smut. You have never diluted your depravity and always stand by your beliefs. You have my respect sir and your wife my pity" :lol:

    seanoconn
  • It would pose the question, "how long is your segment?
  • Not sure if others find this, but I tend to eat more and drink less in the winter months. On summer I tend to drink a lot and eat little. Did an 80km ride last Saturday that I did in June. Foolishly I packed on 2 bars and flagged near the end of the ride. In June I did it on a gel and energy drink alone. I need to eat more to keep warm.
  • Peddle Up!Peddle Up! Posts: 2,040
    How old are you? Are you in the "getting better with training" segment, or the "working hard to hang on to what I've got segment"? :)
    Purveyor of "up" :)
  • meursaultmeursault Posts: 1,476
    Nairnster wrote:
    It would pose the question, "how long is your segment?

    I have never had any complaints...

    sidjames_3_396x222.jpg
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

    Voltaire
  • elderoneelderone Posts: 1,410
    cougie wrote:
    Pacing.

    16.5 is a decent pace - slow it down a tad and you'll be able to ride longer. And Supermurph is right - any hard efforts will take it out of you.
    This ^^^^^^^
    I think you are going off to quick and using all your energy up,as 16.5 is a good pace. Try going slower for longer and build the distance/endurance up. Base miles are the important miles especially if you want to do 100miler,you need a good foundation.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • I bet if you went at 14mph you could double the distance and be no more knackered.
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    I bet if you went at 14mph you could double the distance and be no more knackered.

    This. Try it and see how you get on.

    Food is rightly discarded as an issue since basically you need to ride your bike at a pace you can sustain (for instance, I ride at a different pace when setting off on a 250k ride compared to a 35k midweek stomp).

    Your glycogen (energy) levels (if you are eating a balanced diet) should last for 90mins to 2 hours, at which point you need to start topping up (little and often works for me).
  • yost72yost72 Posts: 50
    Thanks all. Very useful comments and all make sense to me. Based on feedback:

    Food/drink - this seems to vary from person to person so I will need to establish which level and frequency of intake works for me
    Pacing - I am conscious that on every ride I do not maintain the speed I start off with. I will try to pace myself better next time - not always easy, especially as I mainly cycle alone and my instinct is to go as fast as I can!
    Practice - many of you stated that the more I ride, the more my endurance will increase. Pretty logical, although I guess I hoped that having already done half a dozen 35-40+ milers, I'd be at the point of coping better by now, especially when I got the road bike
    Intervals - I had considered this, maybe doing some shorter rides, but pushing harder to build up the strength. Does anyone have any suggestions for effective interval training?

    I am 41, believe I am fairly fit, and got into cycling earlier this year. Therefore, I know it is still early days for me, and I am probably just being impatient!
  • HawmawHawmaw Posts: 124
    yost72 wrote:
    Food/drink - this seems to vary from person to person

    Exactly . Everyday I read about how you should be able to cycle X amount of miles or for Y amount of time on stored energy and plain water. The truth is everyone is different and there is no blanket answer . I wish people would stop assuming that if they can exist on fresh air and water everyone else can too ...

    I have a very fast metabolic rate , I burn energy quickly even sitting on my censored doing nothing. I've been checked by the doc and there's no issues. I just need to eat and drink often or my energy levels plummet. So when I'm out riding with friends on a 30-50 mile ride I carry 2 bottles and several bars of flapjack or similar plus a gel for emergencies.
    If I'm going further than 50-60 I need to plan ahead and make sure I can stock up or I'll be screwed.

    So , Yost72 , as you say , you'll need to work out whats best for you
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