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 Roster 2018

Since the cancellation of the Indian Pacific wheel race, the roster has been a bit fluid. Many names have dropped off; we have some new names and of course, some might still doing the ride but just not tracking on Maprogress.

Below is a list of names I have gathered from the original roster and the names that are on the unofficial start list on Maprogess. https://indianpacificwheelrace2018.maprogress.com/

As a summary, it appears we will have;

  • 47 riders there on start day,
  • average age around 42.
  • Four of six teams are still starting
  • 31 of the original roster are still starting, with five new starters appearing on the list.

If you spot any errors, let me know.

 

Firstname Surname Country Gender First Time Still Racing Age Bike Comments
Lamri Adjis Netherlands M Y
Paul Ardill Australia M N
Mathew Augutis Australia M Y ? 34 Kinises Racelight Crossed off on Map Progress
Kerwyn Ballico Australia M N Y 57 Specialized Roubaix
Chris Barker Australia M N Y 56 Belgie Spirit
Andre Batista Portugal M Y Y 30 Polygon Helios
Haydn Bevan New Zealand M Y Y 43 Specialized Seqouia
Brad Bootsma Australia M Y Y 45 Curve Belgie Spirit
Karlo Bozic Australia M Y
Joshua Burt UK M Y
Paul Chartres Australia M Y Y 46 Focus Izalco Team SL
Vikram Cheema Australia M Y Y 44 Trek Domane 5.2 Starting Monday
Daniel Cooper UK M N
Mark Croonen Australia M Y Y 49 Ridley Noah
Narelle D’Arcy Australia F Y Y 55 Giant Liv Envie
Ryszard Deneka Poland M Y
Juan Diaz Thailand M N
Jessica Douglas Australia F Y
John Duggan UK M Y
Korpol Engtrakul Thailand M Y
Brad Ewings Australia M Y Y 44 Curve Grovel
Ryan Flinn Sth Africa M N Y 30 Curve Belgie Spirit
Tobias Forkel Germany M N Y 31 Giant Propel
Troy Fynmore Australia M Y
Damian Glover Australia M Y
Brett Goodsall Australia M Y
Rupert Guinness Australia M N Y 55 Curve Belgie Spirit
Ben Haines Australia M Y Y 47 Curve Belgie Spirit
Callum Henderson NZ M Y Y 35 Curve Belgie
Michael James Australia M N Y 63 Cervelo S3
Parrish James Australia M Y
Harley Johnstone Australia M N Y 40 Giant tcr
Bernardka Juric Slovenia F Y Y 44 Specialized Ruby Comp
Joseph Kendrick UK M Y Y 27 Dolan
Robert Leslie UK M Y Y 49 Canyon
Matthijs Ligt Netherlands M N
Purdie Long Australia F Y Y
Phil McCorriston Australia M Y Y 37 Canyon Endurace
David McCoy Australia M Y
Laurence Mead Australia M Y Y 50 Trek
Tess Mercer Australia F Y
Douglas Migden USA M N Y 60
Hugh Moore Australia M N
Rolf Moser Switzerland M Y
Naresh Nagabhushan India M Y
Stephane Ouaja France M Y Y 31 Specialized Venge
Su Pretto Australia F Y Y 56
Pawel Pulawski Poland M Y Y 34 Hultaj
David Robinson USA M Y
Sanne Rohe Denmark F Y Y 53 Curve Belgie Spirit
Heath Ryan Australia M N
Chris Savage Australia M Y
Vilas Silverton UK M Y Y 50
Jesse Stauffer USA M Y Y 30 Specialized Roubaix
Claire Stevens Australia F N Y 42 Baum Orbis
Dean Strike Australia M Y
Steven Sullivan Australia M Y
Damian van Loon Australia M Y Y 45 2018 Giant Defy Advanced Pro
Ryan Vecht Australia M Y Y 41 Walty Titanium
Michael Wacker Germany M Y
Daniel Welch UK M N Y 28 Enigma Echo
Simon Wile Australia M Y
Henry Yates Australia M Y Y 18
Andrej Zaman Slovenia M Y
Iban Zapata Australia M Y Y 45 Curve Belgie
Abdullah Zeinab Australia M Y Y 24 Trek
David Barstow USA M N Y 29 Fairdale Weekender New to the roster
Antony Lamb Australia M N Y 55 Trek Domane New to the roster
Tess Jetnikoff Australia F Y Y 26 Curve CXR New to the roster
Shane Beaumont Australia M Y Y 50 Trek Madone New to the roster
Mark Aldous Australia M Y Wheelie Crazies
Warren Nicholls Australia M Y Wheelie Crazies
Vanessa Aldous Australia F Y Wheelie Crazies
Luke Laffan Australia M Y Wheelie Crazies
Jules Noton Australia M Y Bike Nuts
Fernando De Andrade Brasil M Y Bike Nuts
John Dunlop Australia M Y Bike Nuts
Greg Berry Australia M Y Bike Nuts
Myfanwy Peebles Australia F Y 3G1B
Rohan Murray Australia M Y Y Fikas 3G1B
Lauren Benoit USA F Y 3G1B
Louise Soplaint Netherlands F Y 3G1B
Dominic Shepherd Australia M Y Y Double Century
Paul Moore Australia M Y Double Century
Jen Filby Australia F Y Double Century
Luke Jeffery Australia M Y Double Century
Mike Magetti Australia M Y Stranger Than Ficton
Justin Eagle Australia M Y Stranger Than Ficton
Jaye Fatchen Australia F Y Y Stranger Than Ficton
Shane Hayes Australia M Y Stranger Than Ficton
Dan Rankins Australia M Y Viking Overlanders
Michael Ryan Australia M Y Viking Overlanders
Sam Cuninghame Australia M Y Viking Overlanders
Dale Tan Australia M Y Y 44 Viking Overlanders
Elizabeth Long Australia F Y Y 40 Focus Mares Melburn Durt;Also riding Solo
Kate Fowler Australia F Y Melburn Durt
Elise Gould Australia F Y Melburn Durt
Stefania Capogreco Australia F Y Melburn Durt

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.