Even veterans make mistakes! After 20 years of ultra racing and setting course records in the 508-mile Furnace Creek qualifier for the Race Across America, the 1200K Boston-Montreal-Boston, from Reno to Tucson and N-S across Oregon …
I participated in the Triple Bypass: 120 miles from Evergreen to Avon over Juniper Pass (11,140 ft.), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft.), and Vail Pass (10,560 ft.), with over 10,000 ft. of challenging elevation gain! There was a rest stop at the base of the Loveland ski area (10,400 ft.) before climbing Loveland pass. I was climbing well and didn’t want to climb the pass while also trying to digest food so I didn’t stop. I felt okay but not great at the top of the pass. By the time I got down to Keystone (9,280 ft.) I was bonking and still had 50 miles and 1900 ft. to go including Vail Pass. In a dazed state I wandered through mini-mart trying to figure out what to eat. I finally refueled and finished the ride.
From my 45 years of riding and 20 years of coaching here are 10 common mistakes to avoid:
1. Ramping up too fast.
You can safely increase your week-to-week volume by 10-20% and increase your weekly long ride by 10-20%. Your long ride shouldn’t be more than about 50% of your total weekly riding. Month-to-month you can increase your riding by 15-25%. Ramping up faster you risk injury, burnout and overtraining.
2. Training at the same intensity.
Effective training includes varying the intensity: endurance riding, some hard intensity rides and also easy recovery rides.
3. Training too hard.
On most rides including the weekly long ride you should ride at a conversational pace. Unless a ride is an intensity workout you should be able to talk the whole time.
My 65-page E-book covers how to avoid mistakes in training, nutrition, equipment, heat and cold, comfort on the bike, riding techniques, preventing injuries, mental toughness and safety.
4. Skipping breakfast.
Riding your energy comes from a mix of glucose (from glycogen) and fat. However, glycogen stores (from carbohydrates) are limited in your body. Before your weekend endurance ride eat a good breakfast of carbohydrates with a bit of protein and fat.
5. Not eating enough.
Depending on how big you are, you should eat at least 100 to 200 calories of carbs per hour and 200 to 300 per hour are better.
6. Not eating regularly.
If you eat at mini-mart or a rest stop, ride for several hours to the next stop and then eat again, your energy may fade in between rest stops like mine did on the Triple. You should eat every hour.
7. Improper hydration.
We were taught to drink before we are thirsty; however, on multi-hour rides drinking too much may dilute the blood sodium, resulting in hyponatremia, a potentially dangerous condition. Just drink to satisfy your thirst but not more.
Eat and Drink Like the Pros: How to Make Your Own Sports Food & Drink
My 15-page e-Book covers what the pros eat and drink for breakfast, during a race, after the race for recovery and at dinner. I include a dozen recipes for drinks, gels and solid food and what to get at a mini-mart.
8. Improper pacing.
Riders sometimes go out too fast and then fade and struggle by the second half. If you can’t ride with a group at a conversational pace then drop off. In an event the right group for you may be behind you! Ride your ride. Of course, riding with a faster group is okay if it’s your intensity workout.
9. Bike fit.
I often see riders on the road whose hips are rocking a lot (seat too high), one hip dropping (shorter leg) or knees jutting out to the side on every stroke (seat too low). Or I’ll see someone riding with the hands adjacent to the stem (handlebar too low and/or too long a stem). If your bike doesn’t fit you correctly then you can’t ride as efficiently and comfortably as possible.
In 2018 857 people on bikes were killed by drivers in the U.S., the deadliest year for cyclists and pedestrians on American roads since 1990. Cycling fatalities have been on the rise since 2010. Cycling defensively you can reduce your risk.
As we get older there’s less margin of error to avoid injury, burnout and overtraining. My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process covers how your body ages over time and how to train optimally for endurance, speed, strength, balance, flexibility and bone strength. It also includes chapters on recovery (especially important for older riders) and motivation. Anti-Aging features interviews with Elizabeth Wicks, Gabe Mirkin, Jim Langley, Andy Pruitt and eight other male and female roadies ages 55 to 83. Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process incorporates the latest research and most of it is new material not published in my previous eArticles on cycling past 50, 60 and beyond. It’s your comprehensive guide to continuing to ride well into your 80s and even your 90s. The 106-page eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is available for $14.99.
Healthy Nutrition Past 50
Healthy Nutrition Past 50 applies to all riders. I cover your needs for carbohydrate, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. I explain what to eat and drink on a ride. I explain what to eat to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John's full bio.