Top 10 Around The Bay Tips

20 10 2008

Yesterday was the annual Around the Bay in a Day ride in Melbourne.  It’s a spectacular thing to see over 30,000 cyclists take part in a ride that goes either 210km or 250km. There are few places in the world with this much enthusiasm and participation in cycling.

An event like this inevitably brings out all the “weekend warriors” and “once a yearers”.  The day provided heaps of cycling tips to share but here are the top 10 Around the Bay tips from yesterday’s ride.

10. The Fan – one cyclist pulled up to us while we had an echelon going and told us we should be riding one directly behind the other in a cross-headwind, to do “the fan”.  I have no idea what he was talking about and I don’t think he did either.  This is when we get our once a year ego boost and put the pace up to 50km/hr showing him our version of “the fan”.

9. To the above point, when riding in an echelon pull off into the wind!  People get this wrong more often than not.

8. Shoulder check before blindly swerving into the middle of the road. Unbelievable how many potential accidents were caused by lack of shoulder checking.

7. Don’t get too excited and pull too hard through your turns.  This really ruins a good pace line. Again, see Echelon in the Crosswinds.

6. Don’t come to a dead stop in the middle of the road for a rest. Yes, people actually do this!

5. When passing slower riders, don’t dodge them like it’s a slalom ski event (especially when there’s a group of 200 on your wheel!)

Not only punters make mistakes. Here are some of  the rookie mistakes that myself and my fellow riders made yesterday:

4. Only one bottle of water in 150km.  Bad idea….especially the first 150km.

3. Not checking the weather forecast and not bringing extra clothing.  Weather conditions are generally pretty mild here in Melbourne but 13 degrees and rain gets cold no matter where you are. If in any doubt, always bring arm warmers and a vest.

2. Don’t eat food that crumbs easily (rice cakes, potatoes, banana bread, etc). The crumbs and bits get stuck in the throat easily, making it difficult to eat.  The more uncomfortable it is to eat, the less you will eat.  I’ll write more about this one later…

1. 250km is a long way.  No need to have your heart up at 180bpm in the first 20km.  A wise coach once told me, “start a ride slow, finish fast”. I have yet to learn this…

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The Long Ride

8 09 2008

Yesterday was Crowie’s Inverloch 280 ride. It went from Melbourne to Inverloch and back on some of the most sensational roads I’ve ever seen. Just when you think you’ve seen all the good rides in the area it pays to go out with an old pro like Crowie to show you a thing or two that you’ve been missing.

Its not all fun and games though.  A 280km ride at approximately 33km/hr (which is a reasonable average speed) will be about 8hrs.  This amount of riding will be very demanding on the fuel reserves in your body.   To keep topped up you will need a nutrition plan. If I burn 700 calories per hour (being a moderate pace), that works out to 5600 calories that’ll need to be replaced during that ride (1000 calories per hr if it’s race pace). Seeing as the body can only really absorb about 500 calories per hour,  this should be your target for the duration of the ride.

Every hour I drank a 750ml bottle of energy drink (about 200 calories), and some sort of easily digestible food (I like using 1/2can of creamed rice – 250 calories) along with a jell or some snakes. Energy bars have about 300 calories, so that’s another good option if you have the patience to eat them. That gives a solid 500 calories per hour to keep me topped up. Usually when you least want to eat is a good sign that you really need to eat. About 30km into our ride home it started pouring cats and dogs on us and became very miserable out. When we get cold and wet is usually the time when we don’t feel like we need to eat and it’s very inconvenient to mess around with food. It doesn’t take much to go without food or water for an hour when it’s raining and cold out, so this is the time to be very cognizant of this.

By the end of the ride 8hrs later I was still full of energy. This has everything to do with the nutrition throughout the ride and not nearly as much as the fitness level. Without the nutrition you can’t use your fitness for these longer rides – I don’t care who you are, you won’t overcome a few thousand calorie deficit!

In summary:

5600 calories required for this ride

every hour eat and drink:

  • 750ml of energy drink (200 calories)
  • something easy to eat (i.e. powerbar (300cal) + gel (100cal))

This gives you 500-600 calories per hour for a total of 4500 calories.  Adding the 1500 calories that you have stored from glycogen in your muscles, you will have enough calories to fuel your body for 8 hours in the saddle.  It’s not complicated and I wish that I had taken the time to learn a bit about nutrition in my younger days. It’s no different than a gas tank in a car. You won’t go anywhere if it’s not kept topped up.