IPWR Q&A

While I gather my thoughts on the IPWR, I thought I would share some interesting questions about my IPWR ride posed to me by a friend and avid dot watcher Justin B.

I am also planning three articles on my IPWR adventure and another one on my tips and tricks for the IPWR. So stay tuned, more to come.

Physical

What preparation/training did you wish you’d done more of? Equally, was there any area that you felt you wouldn’t focus on next time?
Overall I felt my physical preparation for the event was about right. Over and above my regular training which consists of approximately 270 – 300k a week, I conducted a couple 700 – 800k weekend training rides and a couple of Audax rides. These rides were completed with a full load so I could test what worked and didn’t work. The improvement to this would be to do a 3-day ride because by the third day your body starts adapting more to requirements of ultra-distance cycling. I would have also spent more time sleeping rough and getting used to how to handle it.

What surprised you most in terms of how your body felt/responded as the ride progressed?
I suppose it was the lack muscle soreness. After the first day my muscles were quite sore like you would get from a typical day’s riding but quickly your riding style adjusts, and the muscle soreness goes away. Of course, this was replaced with knee, tendon and Achilles soreness.

What issues/injuries/niggles did you encounter and how did you manage them? Did typical issues like Achilles and knee issues present themselves? Was there ever a point where you had concerns about doing some permanent damage as you pushed on?
Day 4 was a bad day for me. Up until then I had been travelling well and feeling good. I suffered a muscle spasm in my left quad which just about stopped me, it certainly slowed me down and hurt like hell, not even Panadiene forte would ease the pain. When it happened, I was forced to peddle 20k on much one leg to get to Cocklebiddy. The next day was slow going but it came good. For days after it was sensitive and I couldn’t put much pressure on it, but I was able to ride.

I don’t think I was ever concerned about doing permanent damage. Sure the body was in pain but the nothing that bad to cause me concern. Post ride, however, I am suffering Ulnar Palsy in my hands, it’s worse in the left hand which is still numb, and I have noticeable lack of fine motor skills and strength in both hands.

The oft-non-discussed saddle sores?
On this, Bepanthen is your friend, applied early and often, and saddle soreness was never an issue. I also used a “touring saddle” as opposed to a flat racing saddle which increased the comfort, in my case, it was a Brooks C13 Cambium saddle. That said, in the first few days there was some mild discomfort while the body adjusted but after that, it was never a concern.

Do you think that end-of-day leg compression helped with recovery and would you do anything different next time in terms of end-of-day recovery routine (such as stretching, timing of food intake etc.)?
I would tentatively say yes to this even if it was mainly psychological. I will say on the nights I slept rough I didn’t bother putting on compression leggings and still seemed to perform at the same level, so I guess the jury is out on whether they actually did anything but like I say, mentally it made me feel better.

The biggest thing for me at the end of the day was to get a least of a litre of milk into me post ride. Both for hydration and the proteins contained in milk to aid my recovery. Because time off the bike is limited, I wasn’t doing any stretches but then I’ve never been one for post ride stretching. Likewise, there was no specific timing for food. It sort of depended on where you were. For instance, in small country towns, you pretty much knew where you would sleep so you could eat then work out where you would sleep. In bigger places like Geelong or Port Augusta finding a safe location was the priority then you would eat.

Aside from the last 25 hours, what was the most challenging segment of the ride?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Day 16, the climb over the Snowy mountains. Since leaving Melbourne, there had been a lot of climbing, and I had a lousy start to day 16. By the time I reached Adaminaby I was smashed physically and mentally if I wasn’t so close to the finish, I may have pulled the pin. By the end of the day, I really hated the bike. I will say it was the spirit of competition that kept me going, which is a nice way of saying I wasn’t going to let Callum beat me 🙂

Do you think your body composition changed much from start to finish (overall weight and lean body mass)?
I was curious about this one myself, thanks to my Garmin smart scales I can report no real change in my overall weight and my body fat went from 14.2% to 13.8%.

How much sleep do you think you were averaging? Did this change much from start to finish?
On average I was getting 4-6 hours sleep a night, and this remained pretty constant throughout the event. After day 2, I stopped using my alarm, I figured I would just let my body wake up when it was ready, as it turned out, this was about 4-6 hours and at around 0230 -0300h in the morning. On some occasions when I had a bad night’s sleep, I would also have a 15 -30 minutes power nap mid-morning.

What if anything would you change in your race plan? That is, would you start harder/easier next time, now that you know how your body will react over the totality of the ride.
Not much, my mantra was always not to over extend myself and stay in control. So while my start may have seemed a bit slow, it paid dividends in the second half of the race. While others were struggling, I was still feeling strong. 

Nutrition

What was the food plan?
We all start with lofty ideals of eating well, but the realities of roadhouse cuisine soon smash this. Even what I would consider basics, such as muesli bars and pre-package fruit can be hard to come by. From Merridan to Port Augusta it was a case of buying what ever food you can get your hands on that will keep you going, Pizza shapes and lollies such as snakes or frogs became a big staple in my diet. That said, some of the things I tried to stick by, as previously mentioned, I was big on milk post ride and in the mornings. Eventually, I developed a liking for about a litre of UpnGo and a tin of fruit as my first breakfast. I found this worked well because you could buy it the night before and carry it for as long you needed and this was enough to get me through to second breakfast.

Did you have any issues managing glucose/energy peaks and troughs?
Constantly and I was a bit of a slow leaner in this respect. It wasn’t until after Adelaide when I had awful morning I gained an appreciation of how much food I needed to be eating. It was always worse in the mornings until I started having the UpnGo and fruit in the morning.

How did the caffeine intake work out? How did you balance the need/timing to ingest caffeine with making sure you weren’t too wired when you needed to sleep?
I was relatively conscience of my caffeine intake; I pretty much stopped my caffeine intake around midday except for a couple of cokes in the afternoon. My primary source of caffeine was No-doz tablets, I just found it convenient, and it was easy to measure my intake. That said, I still found getting to sleep problematic, which you wouldn’t think would be the case after the early start and long miles each day.

How happy were you with your ability to carry enough food and especially water between the multiple 190km distances between services in the first half of the race?
Completely happy, that said,  given this was a primary concern of mine before the race I had put a lot of time testing my set-up. Besides the standard two frame mounted bidons I had two modified cages on the forks which were capable of carrying 1.5l bottles of water, plus I could carry up to 3 one litres bottles in my jersey or back-sack, so that gave me a total capacity of 8 litres.  As it turns out, that was more than enough. Likewise, the back-sack proved a good way of carrying extra food those long stints.

Did you ever reach a point expecting to find water/food only to find this was unavailable? How much emergency reserves did you carry?
No, but came close, sometimes you just need to be a little creative. Racing over the Easter break certainly made things harder as many shops had reduced trading hours. When I say creative, there was one instance when I arrived in Noojee to find all the shops closed and the pub didn’t start food service another hour. This would mean giving up an hour day light to wait for food when I still had another ~60k to ride for the day. Filling up on bar snacks like chips and ice cream wasn’t going to cut it given I was already hungry.  Then I noticed the kitchen hand preparing what I can only guess was to be rice puddings but at this stage was just tubs of rice. So after some surprised looks from the bar staff when I asked to buy some of the tubs, I managed to secure 3 tubs of rice for dinner. It was rather basic but did the job and was better than waiting around for service to start.

As for reserves, I did the start the race with some extra protein bars and zip-lock bags of oats and sugar, which did prove useful across the Nullarbor but after Port Augusta there was enough towns and shops, that with a bit of forward planning would ensure you didn’t run out of food.

Bike and Equipment more generally

What (if anything) would you change with your bike setup?
Not much, overall the set-up worked well. Naturally, there would be some tweaks to the set-up, but I’ll cover this in greater detail in a separate article on my set-up.

Was there any piece of equipment you wish you had/didn’t need and would consider leaving home next time?
No, about the only thing I didn’t use was a small travel towel and a spare tyre. I was always aiming to travel light, so I had put a lot of thought into what I needed. In regards to clothing, instead of carrying bulky warm weather gear I relied on the principle of layering a number of light layers to cover me from cool to cold conditions.

Would you take a bike lock next time, of could you get away without one?
I actually took a lock with me for this ride, and yes I would take it again. It’s like insurance, sure you might not need it, but it does offer peace of mind when you are in a populated area. Not to cast dispersions on Geelong, but for instance, when I went to the Woolworths in Geelong at 2100h, I was sure glad I could lock my bike up.

Navigation

Any issues with navigating the course? Did you have a hard-copy of the route with you in case your electronics failed?
No real issues, I did take a few wrong turns, but this was more due to me not paying enough attention to my nav system, rather than the system itself. I didn’t carry a hard-copy backup and must admit almost came unstuck because of it. Would I carry a hard-copy? Probably not, I would probably look at how I could carry a backup navigation device.

Any part of the course/towns that were more challenging in terms of food/water resupply?
The first half was challenging because of the obvious distances involved, but at least the supply was predicable. The second half was made challenging because of the unpredictable trading hours of the Easter break, which probably more challenging.

 

IPWR training ride

As part of my preparation for the IPWR, I conducted another ride over the Australia day weekend. Being a long weekend the plan was to complete the 820kms over three days over the same course I used the qualifying ride(but complete the loop this time), in the end, I cracked the 820kms in two days. It was a good hit out with some things breaking and some harsh conditions. Ironically I was happy it wasn’t all smooth sailing, it was good to have things break and fall off, to see what needed fixing for the real thing in March.

The significant change for this ride was the removal of the frame bag. In its place, I strapped just the tool case and tubes to the frame, with the rest going into a “day” pack attached to the seat bag. The big upside to this configuration was easy access to the water bottles.

A side on view showing the new configuration

The other was a change of wheels, after destroying the Pro-lite wheels on a decent from Mt Glorious the week before. The replacement wheels, a set of Vision Trimax T42 wheels and overall they performed very well. Combined with some 25cc tyres, they offered a comfortable ride, did not get affected by crosswinds and the aluminium rims provided much better braking than the full carbon Pro-lite wheels.

Day one – 415kms

The day got off to a bad start with one of the new 1 litre bidons ejecting itself before sunrise. I initially thought the bidon was broken, which would have severely hampered my ride. However, it had only come apart. So after scrounging around in the dark, I managed to find all the pieces, and after a quick water stop in Beerwah, I was on my way.

Next, the power meter started playing up. Not critical but for a data junkie like me it was annoying not to be capturing this data. Eventually, I gave up and completely disabled the power meter. After the ride, I discovered one of the Garmin vector two pods was damaged by the chain.

Somewhere near Pomona, about 180k into the ride, the day bag, which was attached to the seat bag fell off but stayed hanging on due to the attached safety strap. Ironically the strap almost caused the bag to swing into the drive chain, which could have been catastrophic.

Just before Kilkivan (266kms), it started to rain, the light rain was a welcome relief from the heat, and I managed to get into town and under cover before the heavy rain started. The heavy rain lasted for about 15 minutes and was a good excuse for a break. I was wet, but the shoes were dry so on balance, I was happy with that.

Coming into Goomeri, I copped a bee sting, a minor annoyance but resolved it was there to toughen me up.

Unlike the first ride, I made it to Kingaroy before dark; I was feeling good and determined to push on. I attribute this to the I was eating and my determination to take shorter breaks off the bike. Also, I believe it was easier because I was familiar with the route after riding it for the qualification ride.

Riding on the country roads at night was a new experience. While I was a little apprehensive, the reality is the roads are quiet, it’s cooler, and you have great awareness of approaching cars. I quickly settled into a rhythm and continued to ride.

I had planned to stop at MaidenWell, but it was only 2000h, and I was on 399kms. Yeah right! I was going to stop on 399kms! So I pushed on.

I arrived in Cooyar around 2030h, and with a storm on the horizon I figured this would be a good place to stop for the night. Being Australia Day, the Cooyar hotel was in full swing, but the publican was helpful and friendly, setting a room up for me and finding me a feed. While I waited for dinner, I enjoyed a couple of beers and did they go down well. All up I was showered, and everything sorted by 0930h and was in bed.

Day two – 412kms

The day started 0230h, I was feeling surprisingly good, the legs had recovered well, and I was on the road by 0300h. I made good early progress riding through the early morning hours. It’s quiet, cool and great time for some personal reflection. But after 2.5 hours I was really tired/sleepy. A short break, some caffeine tabs and I was right to go; it was amazing what a difference it made.

I stopped in Dalby for breakfast; it was still only 0600h so nothing was only except for McDonalds, so a Maccas breakfast it was. Two breakfast burgers, two hash browns and a large coffee. That hit the spot, and with no shops open to resupply, I pushed on.

From Dalby to Cecil Plains was all good riding, cool and a slight tailwind made it easy going. It was a quick resup in Cecil Plains and back on the road. By this time it was warming up and turning east back to Brisbane, it was going to be headwinds for the rest of the day. All up another 250kms of heat and headwinds. The one upside of the headwind, it provided more airflow, I felt cooler for it. So despite the heat, I was feeling pretty good, but it was slow going.

The back roads to Pittsworth were quiet and in a rather poor condition and this is where I broke the left armrest on my aero bars. Another good lesson for the big ride and something that will need to be reinforced to support my weight.

I stopped in Pittsworth and Clifton for food and water and kept going, still feeling pretty good. While the headwind was a pain I had a good tempo going and kept the bike rolling, all the time trying to keep the break time to a minimum.

The last major stop was in Gatton. I was starting to feel it, but with only 100kms to go I was determined to push on and finish. At this point, I had a change in course, initially the plan was to ride home via Lowood but it was getting dark, being unsure of the route and with a low battery on my phone and no map I figured it was not a good course of action. So I ended up riding home via Laidley to Ipswich, a route I have travelled many times before.

So what is the deal with Ipswich? I ride 750kms without being hassled once. Riding through Ipswich in the space of an hour, hassled three times. Anyway, after escaping Ipswich, I was feeling drained or maybe I just slowed down to enjoy the night ride. Either way, it was good to get home.

So what worked?
After experiencing considerable foot pain on the qualification ride, I purchased some new shoes, half a size bigger and softer than my Sidi shoes. They don’t have the support the Sidi have, and it feels like you are riding in slippers, but for the long rides, they worked well and no sore feet.

Brooks C13 saddle, for this ride I changed to the wider 158mm Brooks C13 saddle, and it was simply awesome. After 820k in 2 days, not a hint of saddle soreness, enough said.

For this ride, I dropped the Frame bag, and I have to say it was a good move. I still made use of this space by strapping my tool case and tubes to the top tube. I didn’t need the storage in the frame bag, and it made getting the water bottles easier. However, the day bag idea needs to be refined and easier to access.

IGA and Foodworks. You can get all your supplies at a reasonable price, and most them have hot takeaway food as well. Which helped make for a quick stop.

What didn’t work?
Solar power bank. I discovered too late that if any part of the solar panel is covered the unit won’t charge and even then it seemed to charge so slowly that I am not sure how useful it would be. I ended up losing the power bank because it was poorly attached in an effort to get it to charge. As an alternative, I’ve opted for a power bank with fast charging. The idea being it should charge in 3 to 4 hours while I sleep and not having to worry about it on top so it can charge means the unit can be firmly stored away, so I don’t lose it.

My big takeaway from this ride is not to overextend myself. In part, this was confirmed by reading several blogs about the IPWR and clearly where people get into trouble is pushing on when they should have rested. For the race, I will aim to average 350k a day. I won’t consider riding through the night as I believe a good night’s rest is essential for fatigue management and to allow a proper recovery so you can keep going.

Post Activity Report – IPWR qualifying ride

As part of my entry application for Indian Pacific Wheel Race I was required to complete a qualifying ride, I guess to demonstrate my ability to complete the race. Over two days I managed to ride 715 kilometres, here are my thoughts on the ride, what worked and didn’t work.

Day one Strava link
Day two Strava link

Bike Setup
Some notable points about my bike setup, I borrowed the Di2 shifters from my time trial bike for the aero bar extensions, and I rate this as a must-have. I spent a lot of time in the aero position so being able to change gears without moving my hands was definite advantage. Also being in the aero position meant I was taking the weight off the saddle and balanced my weight across more contact points.

People make too much of tyres. My primary criterion is the rubber is fresh, as this seems to be the biggest factor in puncture prevention. For the record, I ran a 23c Vittoria Rubino Pro on the front and a 25c Continental GP4000s II on the back. Why, because that is what I had lying around at the time.

A couple of days before the ride I fitted a Brooks Cambium C13 Saddle. Before leaving I had one ride on the saddle, and that was all it took. Brooks has always had a good reputation as a touring saddle, but it comes with the hassle of breaking them in. With the Cambium, they are ready to go. Coupled with a recommendation to use Bepanthan early and often, I couldn’t have been happier in that department.

For me, the jury is still out wheel selection. For this ride, I used a set of 45mm Pro-lite Gavia. The wheels performed well, but I can’t help wonder if they are the best solution for the race. The problem is the IPWR has two distinct sections. The 45mm wheels will be great for the Perth to Adelaide section which is long and flat, but for the Melbourne to Canberra stage, I suspect a lighter climbing wheel will be better.

Another notable change I am considering is ditching the 53/39 crankset and using a compact 50/34. The logic being I cannot see there will be many situations I would want to push a 53/11 but having a 34/28 would be handy when it comes to crossing the Great Divide.

Electronics
As is the case these days, we have too many devices which require power, gone are the good ole day of just man and machine. Now it is man, mobile phone, lights, Garmin, Di2 and machine. Here is my biggest tip of the article. Turn off all the services on your phone before you leave, it will extend the battery life massively; you don’t need Wi-fi, Bluetooth or mobile data. You don’t need to check your Facebook messages while you are riding. You can of course always enable these services when you stop to post updates.

The two things I used my phone for are music and maps. For music, I downloaded my Spotify playlist. For maps, I use an Android app called Locus maps which has offline maps, so it doesn’t require a data connection. As for Bluetooth headphones, go old school and get some wired ones, the last thing you need is hassle of trying to keep them charged as well.

A sustain for me was the use of the Garmin Varia rear radar. On the quieter country highways with limited shoulders this is an essential piece of kit. It is better than a mirror as it provides an audible alert as a car approaches from about 150 metres out, this gives you enough time to assess the situation and get off the road if you had to. The downside, it’s another device that needs charging. On a good day you’ll get about 7 hours from one charge. Because I had other lights, I only used it when I needed, to extend the battery.

So how did I keep the lights on? By turning off the services on my phone, that survived the day nicely. For my Garmin Edge 520 and the Varia radar I used two separate “power-banks”. For the Edge I used a 2200mAh unit, and the Varia had a 5200mAh unit, total weight 184 grams. For the IPWR I intend to a single 10400mAh device with inbuilt solar panel to assist in recharging, in total 240 grams. Importantly only having one power-bank will make it easier to charge the devices at night. I also enforced “power discipline”, that is, turn off all your devices when you stop. On an average day you’ll be taking about 2 hours of breaks, that’s 2 hours of battery life you can use while riding instead.

Packing
Here is my full pack list. It is more than I needed for a two-day trip but I wanted a full load to test my loading for the race.

Tools Personal care Electronics Clothing
Altum Multi-tool Sunscreen Phone 2 x Jerseys
Patches Lip balm headphones Knicks
Cable ties Anti-inflammatory AAA batteries 2 x Socks
Quick link Pain relief USB cables Arm warmers
Various Spare bolts Caffeine tablets 2 x power-bank Rain jacket
Tyre levers Toothpaste Ay up  front light Cycling shoes
Replacement spokes Toothbrush Garmin varia radar Cap
Chain lube Travel towel Ay Up front spare cycling mitts
Cleaning brush Bivvy bag 2 x topeak rear light Gloves
Wipe/rag Chewing gum Spot tracker Leg Compression
Valve core remover Anti-rash (Bepathan) 2 x USB wall charger Shorts
Emergency boot First aid kit Ay Up charger T shirt
Pump Razor Garmin edge 520 Reflective ankle straps
Tape Hi-vis Sam Brown belt
2 x tubes 2 x credit cards Gillet
Presta valve converter Backsack

Broadly I divided my load into three sections

  • Stuff needed while riding  went in the Topeak TopLoader, this was mainly snacks, Electrolyte tabs. Powerbank Sunscreen etc.
  • Stuff needed while I stopped on the roadside went in the frame bag. Tools, some food, spares, batteries.
  • Stuffed needed for end of the day went in the Revelate Terrapin. Clothes, Bivvy Bag, chargers, emergency rations.

Overall it worked well, but I felt the frame bag was slightly inefficient. I only have about 3kg of gear which is well within the weight limit for the Terrapin so I may look to ditch the frame bag and load more into the Terrapin. I can strap some items under the top tube and get rid of the frame bag will reduce the weight and make it easier to access the bidons.

Another sustain for me was taking a drawstring backsack. Super light and came in very useful as temporary storage for a bottle of water or food.

Food

Listen to your body, every person is different, but this is what worked for me. I quickly became intolerant to sweet high carb things, which you usually associate with high energy requirements. By the first afternoon I could not stomach anything sweet like banana bread. In the heat of the day salted crisps and coke worked for me, it is amazing how far you can ride on coke and chips. On day two I discovered fruit, it was easy to consume whether it was fresh or prepackaged. Other things that worked, milk at night as part of my recovery, it is cheap and high in protein. Just don’t try milk in the middle of day, I can’t sure, but I think the ice coffee I had with lunch led to nasty stomach cramps. Almonds are also a good ride snack and another good source of protein.

On hydration, you can’t get enough of it and remember, when touring never leave town without two full bidons. It can get hot very quickly, and you can suddenly find yourself consuming a lot of water. Be safe, carry water at all times.

Roads
The roads were in good condition for most of the ride. The width of the road shoulder varied from extreme to non-existent as you would expect. Surprisingly I thought the Bruce and the old Bruce Highway were some of the safer sections; both had a generous road shoulder the road surface was of high quality. While the road shoulder on the roads north of Gympie was limited, as you would expect, the traffic was also reasonably light so on balance I felt quite safe there. For me the worst sections where closer to Brisbane, Beerburrum Road and Steve Irwin Road, limited shoulders and high volume of traffic made it less than pleasant.

One good tip came from the local police in Goomeri. As it turns out, they have sealed the rail trail from Murgon through to Kingaroy. The quality of the hot-mix is probably a little below par but still beats riding on the road.

In total the trail is around 43 kilometres long, and after a long day on the bike it was nice to be off the road and able to relax.

Environment
As it happened the date, I chose for my qualifying ride turned out to be on the warmer side of pleasant, with temperatures reaching 35 plus degrees Celsius inland. It was tough on the first day with a lot of climbing and a tailwind which was only strong enough to neutralise any cooling effect from the air you would normally get from air passing over you while riding.

Day two saw a stronger tailwind coming home down the coast, and it would have been a good day except for the evening thunderstorm which had me completing the last two hours on dark, wet Brisbane roads, what could possibly go wrong!

Sun-care
In addition to the standard skin cancer risks which come with getting burnt, it is worth keeping in mind through dehydration and sweat your skin is going to be feeling pretty “tight”, the last thing you need is to compound this feeling with sunburn. You might want to consider the use of sun sleeves, but in the past I’ve found if it is hot, they become too uncomfortable..

Heat stress
The heat was a significant factor, and I see the reasoning why ultra-endurance cyclists ride through the night or in the early hours of the morning. My experience of riding in the afternoon heat was it was physically taxing and challenging to keep the food intake up. It wasn’t just that fatigue setting in, it was noticeable, as soon as the sunset I felt stronger again and was able to continue riding comfortably. There is merit in the idea of starting early, stopping for an afternoon siesta and then ride on into the night.

Other riding notes
The ride was good for me to assess my abilities. In the short term, I demonstrated I could ride 350k back to back. Which is rather cool but I can’t see myself sustaining that pace for the entire race.

The smell!! To keep the weight down, I am looking to do the ride with one set of lycra. Even with rinsing the jersey out overnight it was still pretty ripe by the end of the second day. Image what it is going to be like after 5500k’s. Actually, at times I felt pretty close to hobo status.

2016 My year in review

Overall I would rate 2016 as a pretty good year for my cycling. Once again achieving my annual goal 15,000kms, which included one 300km ride to Toowoomba and three 200k rides to various parts of Brisbane.

The Toowoomba ride was particularly satisfying as it was my first 300k ride in three years and it was good to know I could still do it.

It was a great ride via the back roads of the Lockyer Valley so the traffic was minimal. A couple of good climbs (Mt Glorious and the Toowoomba Range) as well, both are in the first half of the ride so the legs are still relatively fresh when you hit them.  The downside was head wind coming home, the Laidley to Rosewood leg wasn’t much fun when you already have 200kms in your legs. By the time I arrived at Rosewood I was really struggling so I stopped at the local shop to take on some more snacks. While sitting there, working my way through a packet of salty corn chips, the band at the pub across the road started playing “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me”, summed it up nicely I thought. I don’t know if was the song or the corn chips but after stopping at Rosewood I gained my second wind and the ride home from there was pretty strong.

The 200k rides were

  • A ride to Kilcoy for a pie with Adam. I’ve done this ride a couple of times, nice ride but the climb up the reverse side of Mt Mee after 140k is tough, on a hot day, it’s brutal
  • HWCC Century ride, This is the Hamilton Wheelers annual century (100 mile) club ride. I always add a little extra to it make it an easy 200k and the stop at the Landborough bakery is always welcome.
  • The Brisbane to Gold Coast ride with the added extra of riding back to Brisbane. While it is flat route it turned out to be a tough ride. Even though this is not a race, it certainly travels along at race pace, completing the 100k ride in 2.5 hours.

On the race front it was definitely a good year, with some of my best results in years.

  • 1st Tour de Valley ITT 40-49 age group (4rd fastest overall) –
  • 1st QLD TTT Championships M4/5 (2nd fastest team overall)
  • 3rd QLD ITT Championships M4 (6th fastest overall)
  • 1st HWCC Road Championships
  • 2nd HWCC ITT Championships
  • 1st Interclub Challenge B grade
  • 1st Mooloolaba Triathlon Mixed team (Fastest team overall, 2nd fastest bike leg)

2016 saw the rise of Zwift as a serious training tool for me, racking up over 3000kms on the indoor trainer so the year.  What I particularly liked and found useful was the ability to import my training workouts from Today’s Plan. This made doing the workouts super easy and doing specific intervals on the trainer allows you to them with a high level of precision. No hills, descents, stop signs or turns to interfere with your interval, allowing you to tap out a perfect 3 x 20 minute intervals at 300 watts. Later in the year I discovered virtual  racing on Zwift, It’s really kinda cool being able to race people around the world from your own garage but make no mistake, virtual racing can be as tough as the real thing.

Finally on the club front, it was another year as the Vice President of the Hamilton Wheelers. Probably my most pleasing contribution to the club for 2016 was the proposal for new Time Trial course out at Pinkenba. As it turns out, the course was well received by the riders, so much so that it will now be used as the preferred TT course for the club in 2017. Always nice to give something back to the sport.

Preparing for Fitz’s Challenge (or any other big ride)

This article mainly focuses on what to carry for a long day in the saddle. We’ll assume you’ve done your training, your bike is ready and you’ve done suitable carbo loading the night before.

Firstly I’ll say there are plenty of ways to prepare but this is just from my experience having done the 165km, the 207km event and this year I’ll be doing the 250km.

For starters, don’t over dress, it might be cold in the morning but the last thing you want is to be carrying an extra long sleeve jersey for a hundred kilometres. Better to go with a gillet and arm warmers. Arm warmers can be tucked away in a pocket and you can leave the gillet on, unzipped.

So what will I be carrying?

TOOLS:

  • Sunscreen – Obvious I know, but it is amazing how many people forget it and on a sunny day, 8 to 10 hours in the sun is a long time and it won’t be your muscles that are the only sore thing at the end of the day if you forget it. Also from past experience it doubles as a chain lube in an emergency.
  • CO2 Cartridges – This is a bit of an optional extra but if you are stickler for riding at the correct pressure, this is going to be the easiest way to get your tyres back up to pressure after a puncture without carrying a floor pump.

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  • Pump – Should be a standard item but I have seen people, especially on the shorter rides leave without one.

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  • Or new for 2012, you can combine the two, Topeak have a released a pump called a called a two timer, which combines a CO2 dispenser and a pump.

  • Two Tubes – Never hurts to have an extra spare, just make sure you get the right valve type and valve length. If you are using deep rim wheels it might pay to carry a valve extender, just in case you need to borrow a tube from a fellow rider.

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  • Adhesive tube repair patches – These are a great backup to carry if you are having a really bad day with punctures. They can also to used to patch a tyre, in case you are unfortunate enough to slash a tyre.
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  • Multi-tool with chain breaker– I carry a Park Tool IB-3, I carried it for three years without ever using it, but the day I snapped my chain 50km from home I was pretty happy I had it. Also make sure it has 4 and 5 mm Hex (Allen) key, as these are the most common bolts on your bike.
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  • Spare chain pin or a Missing link – While the prospect of breaking a chain is remote, if you do it is a bit of a game stopper. Spare chain pins or a missing link take up very little space so it doesn’t hurt to carry them.
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  • Tyre levers – Another obvious one, but just covering all bases here.

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  • M4 & M5 Hex (Allen) bolts – These are the most common bolts on your bike and can be really useful if you lose a bolt on your water bottle cage during the ride. Once again, they are very light and small so it doesn’t hurt to have a couple stashed away for emergencies.

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  • Small bottle of chain lube – Just in case you get caught in the rain for an extended period of time and the lube gets washed away. Being soaked through is bad enough without having to listen to your chain squeaking or grinding away. Finish Line make a great small 2oz bottle, which can be easily stowed away without taking up to much space.

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  • Mussette & Saddle Bag – My personal preference is to carry my food in a mussette, spares and tools go in the saddle bag. A medium size saddle bag will easily take all the kit listed above. I like using a mussette because it is light,  as the day wears on and you have eaten your food you can just tuck the mussette in your back pocket. Backpacks weigh more and tend to leave you sweaty. With the mussette I’ve made slight modification which ensures the it will stay firmly on your back without swinging around to the front. Simply get a length of old bike tube and pin it to the corner of mussette. Then the other end ties around the front to keep it secure.
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  • MP3 Player – I know there are safety issues using these on a bike but 8 to 10 hours on the bike can be boring and some motivational tunes might help you get through the day.

FOOD:

While most supported rides such as Fitz’s Challenge supply food, don’t count on it. Firstly you might not like it, I’ve never been a fan of fruit cake and if you are a slower rider, chances are they might have run out by the time you get to the checkpoint. Better to keep your destiny in your own hands and carry some food. As to what to carry, well that is a bit of a personal choice but just make sure it is easy to eat and high in energy.

    • Lollies – I know some people are a fan of lollies like snakes, personally I find they give you a bit of sugar rush and then you crash from the high.
    • Power Bars  I know they are favourite but I find them expensive and not really satisfying. Around lunchtime you are going to want something substantial and energy bars are not going to cut it.
    • Sandwiches – I have a preference for simple sandwiches made with low GI bread and chocolate spread. This gives me short term energy from the chocolate spread and sustained energy from the bread. I carry a bag of sandwiches cut in half, easy to access and eat while riding.
    • Fruit – Dried figs are an excellent source of sugars and potassium, good for stopping cramps. Bananas also have good levels of potassium but they are bulky and bruise easily, there is nothing worse than  a squashed banana during the ride.
      • Electrolyte tablets – These are the best way to carry additional electrolytes for when you refill your drink bottles. Just being able to pop a tablet or two into your water bottle is so much easier than trying to measure out powder from a bag. One tube makes up 15 litres. A tip I would suggest is to buy caffeinated and regular ones so you can carry a mixture on the day. Caffeinated ones are good to give you a lift, but too much can give you the jitters and excessive caffeine consumption (more than 500 –600 milligrams) can have diuretic effect leading to dehydration.  So carry a combination and alternate your intake.

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  • Gels – I’m a big fan of gels for electrolytes and sugars, easy to carry and consume on the bike. One tip for gels is to get a couple of small water bottles like the one below and tip your gels into these. Easier to consume, less rubbish and no leaking gel wrappers in your pockets later.
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And for Fitz’s my secret tip is a meat pie and coke from the Tharwa General store. Sure it breaks all the rules but in terms of comfort food, it hits the spot when you’ve done about 120km.

 

Other stuff:

  • Snap lock bags – Useful if it rains for keeping stuff dry, like your mobile phone, checkpoint card or route map. Also handy for keeping stuff organised
  • Money – Never forget, if all else fails carry bit of cash. For food, water, coffee or for any other emergency that might arise. I’ve even been known to use a $5 note in an emergency to repair a slashed tyre.

 

Anyway that is what I’ll be carrying, if you have any other useful tips please leave a comment.