trials and tribulations of an amateur long-distance cyclist

Category: General

Well, that’s going well

8 months down the line and the whole thing has gone out of the window.

RATN didn’t happen because Covid. I’ve moved house and, due to a new business + frankly mental commute, I no longer have time for anything.

But RRTY starts September. Fingers crossed for some improvements. On the plus side, the new local hills are something else…

A virtual #Festive500

So as anyone who’s even heard of cycling media knows, the surprisingly outsized PR behemoth that is Rapha are running their annual Festive 500 challenge again this year, with the Covid necessitated addition of allowing virtual kilometres. Long story short, the aim is to do 500km in the period between Christmas Eve and the end of New Year’s Eve. (0001 24/12 – 2359 31/12). Fairly simple, log the miles on Strava and in preceding years Rapha give you a roundel to sew onto something (this year, it’s a prize draw). Extra points if you filled in a manual brevet card. A successful Audax calendar event has even been developed – the Full Fat Festive 500 – which sounds lovely until you consider that it’s 500km in 34hrs. From Bristol.

Anyway. This year, I intended to tap out a 100km a day for five days with a break for Christmas Day. Track and trace, however, put paid to that as I was literally rolling the bike out of the door only to see the dreaded “you must self-isolate” notification on the phone.

Well, shit.

Plan B it is, then. Having done the sums and realising that to do a virtual 500km on Sufferfest exercises would be something in the region of 16x 9 Hammers (this is quite a long way from being ideal, don’t even contemplate it), I resurrected the Zwift membership.

There is nothing great about spending time on the trainer, even with the engagement of Zwift, so the plan was 100km, 60km, 120km, 100km, 100km. (Actually it was meant to be 100 x5 skipping Christmas Day, but I got carried away). Flat routes all round to get it out of the way but it did give me a good way to experiment with various bits and pieces (and with an eye on the RaTN, flat is specific training…) and so a few lessons learnt.

  • The new Pace Partners are really annoying. Annoying to find, annoying to hang on to, the only good thing is that you’re effectively in a group so the speed is kept significantly higher but you do end up working hard.
  • Running ERG mode using something like the Endurance + no vid from Sufferfest is a good way to train but it is also really quite hard. As always, far too easy to overcook it on the way out.
  • Using Zwift to control resistance gives you a more realistic ride in terms of micro-breaks, but also gives you the opportunity to try to smash sprints & KOMs, which with 100km in the legs is not the ideal.

Biggest lesson was nutrition. The first 3 100km days were fuelled with High5 in the bidon and variety of bars. Not great, not terrible. The 120km day was bad and I can see the advice of drinking your water and eating your calories. Today’s final ride, however, was an opportunity to try out the Expedition Food strategy I alluded to in previous posts. Rather than a 400cal breakfast and constant liquid fuelling, I took a 1000cal breakfast with water and the option of bars to top up. This was night and day. Strong all the way through, with hills, sprints, KOM efforts and 40 odd minutes on the cat ‘c’ Pace Partner. No top up fuelling, just plenty of water. No GI issues, nothing untoward. I suspect the granola & raspberry one will be fine with cold water, just need to make sure the pack is well shaken up. As such, they’re going in the pack for RATN. Not cheap, but 4000cal in under a kilo is going to go some way to dealing with fuelling problems (especially looking at the food desert that is 550-700km). Will have to have a look at the recipe to see how to make my own for pre-events, because I’m not sure the budget can stretch to one of these packs every time I leave the house! Also, you will need a Lhfoon.

I am conscious that the trainer isn’t entirely realistic, but I’m confident that the effort is higher to make up for the difference between the indoors and out and that this represents a reasonable comparison. I am also conscious that as I’ve not come off with the normal 1000+ calorie deficit, I can’t sit and graze the fridge with impunity…

If you’re more social media’y than me, Expedition Foods are sponsoring endurance athletes. I doubt there’s much interest in a born-again mamil with three followers on instagram, but if you’re all over the instas it might be worth an email!

More inspiration

The Jo Burt write-up of a 600km perm


Escape is easy. If you can ride 10 miles you can ride 20 miles. If you can ride 20 miles you can ride 50. If you can ride 50 miles you can ride a hundred and if you can ride a hundred miles then you can ride round the world. It’s really that simple.

An actual update

As alluded to earlier on this page, updates have kind of fallen away.

I’d like to say that there’s a good reason for this, but there isn’t, although the ‘rona is an excellent excuse.

So my big ticket (or ‘Mt Sufferlandria’) for 2020 was going to be the RaTN, as recommended by the Bike Whisperer. This has, obviously, been postponed to the August bank holiday which regular followers will know that I will never get off as Notting Hill Carnival. Although that has been cancelled this year, wiser heads than I know it’s going to be a tricky old weekend even if it’s not formally permitted.

So I am down for the 2021 event. The insurance has carried over, I have plenty of time to reschedule the Chunnel, the bike is fine (new tyres – conti GP5000 which are pretty swift and I’ll regale you with my tyre revelation another time) so it’s just a case of maintaining fitness.

Updates? Who needs updates…

The astute amongst you will note a considerable time period between this post and the last one. I’m going to blame the ‘rona, as that’s why I wasn’t doing the Race across the Netherlands in May.

Not a great deal has changed, to be honest. Training has switched to the Sufferfest, which is ace. Bike is still the same, post fit, although I have a carbon fibre sporty number for local jaunts. Second hand Apidura has changed the layout slightly, going for bottles rather than bladder, but haven’t had the opportunity to test this.

More, as the CAD says, to follow.

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