Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => Audax => Topic started by: Rupert on October 01, 2019, 02:36:32 pm

Title: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Rupert on October 01, 2019, 02:36:32 pm
Firstly I am not a sports psychologist but have often wondered how riders cope with the mental side of things.  If you have ridden a long event (or even a shorter one) and especially in tough conditions, you probably got to a point when, mentally, you have had enough and was glad to get to the end, but what if you had entered another long one the following week or even two weeks later.  Were you DNF? How did you cope mentally?

What I am really trying to find out is how people cope with riding long distances on a regular basis. If there are sufficient and interesting replies, I will try and colate the information and write an article for a future edition of Arrivee.

I am sure that many of those that rode PBP might be inclined to take a long rest afterwards and that their enthusiasm would be rather low having set out (and achieved) their goal of the year/lifetime! or am I completely wrong in this assumption?
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: marcusjb on October 01, 2019, 06:46:44 pm
I have found the first very tough event makes the second one shortly after much, much easier ("I got through that, I can get through this").

Best example I can give is finishing a very hard DIY from London to Montpellier to London during some of the worst flooding France had seen in many years - it was very mentally demanding, changed everything in my perspective.  Hardest ride I ever did.

Few weeks later - Mille Pennines - 1000km of hard riding in some really shitty weather.  Had quite a high DNF rate.  But whilst I did find it very hard, it was not as mentally demanding as being 1500m up on Mont Aigoual during an enormous storm (probably the most reckless thing I've ever done on a bike).  So I got on with it.

Recalibrating what is possible, in the most trying circumstances, makes everything in life seem much easier.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: halhorner on October 01, 2019, 08:23:42 pm
I find that I've had enough and am glad to get to the end at about 90% into a ride, whether it's 40km or 400.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Von Broad on October 01, 2019, 09:40:36 pm
Best example I can give is finishing a very hard DIY from London to Montpellier to London during some of the worst flooding France had seen in many years - it was very mentally demanding, changed everything in my perspective.  Hardest ride I ever did.

Thought you were more of a self-publicist Marcus :-)
You won't be forgetting that one in a hurry. Rock 'ard.
http://www.marcusjb.com/blog//finding-where-the-edges-are

What I am really trying to find out is how people cope with riding long distances on a regular basis.

Some riders are super hard core - long ride after long ride, while still holding it all together mentally.

I'm not in that camp. For me, I have to build myself up to the challenge before I ride. That's the key essential ingredient that has to be in place before I start - knowing I'm going to be out there for xyz km. I've made the decision and that's the deal. That helps me cope with whatever might come up in the process. And the finish is non-negotiable. That's the very welcome come-down after the preparation. Regardless of what the distance is - if somebody were to come up to me at the end of a ride and say, 'right, you've got to do another 100km now'. That kind of mental tampering could easily insinuate heads being bitten off in my book!!
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on October 01, 2019, 10:00:56 pm
It depends how invested I am in finishing each event.

For instance, 200s aren’t important to me most of the time, so I’ll often DNS if the weather is looking biblical or I am feeling off-colour. If I’ve planned a 1000(+)km or a series of them, then it’ll usually have to be pretty serious for me to ditch any of them. Some rides only come round every four years or are one-offs, so not finishing can have a big cost. I typically finish 15-20 audax and randonneur brevets a year but I've not done more than 3 x 1000(+) brevets in a season. A proper big-mileage type may look at things differently.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: markcjagar on October 02, 2019, 12:00:07 am
I did 2x 300s and 2x 400s in a 6 week period earlier this year, as below:

week 1 - 300
week 2 - 300
week 3 - rest
week 4 - 400
week 5 - rest
week 6 - 400

They were all rides I'd never done and I was excited about doing them all and managed to get round all of them in the time limits. I had entered 200s for the 2 weekends that ended up being rest but neither excited me enough to get out of bed on those Saturdays.

After the last 400 I didn't do anything over 100km for 5 weeks, I just needed a breather from it and without Audax rides to enter that looked exciting I couldn't motivate myself to do anything too challenging.

I guess it's similar to LWaB except I'm not riding quite as far, yet
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: DrMekon on October 02, 2019, 02:01:19 am
I'm not a sports psych, but Motivational General-Mastery Imagery is a common intervention sports psychs seem to use for resilience. It seems focus on what success looks like and visualising the successful performance of the goal directed behaviour. From https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02701367.2001.10608975?needAccess=true

"To be realistic and create imagery situations that "challenged" the performer, the imagery scripts also contained
advanced technical detail. Two national coaches helped
to provide this detail for the scripts. An example of a section from one imagery script is given below:
In the first few minutes of the first game you
find your opponent hard to stretch... Pause.
Imagine yourself staying focused during
any challenging situation... Pause. You begin to realize that your player has difficulty
doing straight smashes instead they play
them cross court. .. Pause. Imagine yourself
taking advantage of the cross court shot. ..
Pause. Imagine what your return shot would
be ... Pause. Imagine yourself being in control of the situation"

I know my audax equivalent feels more like coping planning - visualising myself riding up the brutal hills, slogging it out in grim wet weather on boring a-roads, imagining how shit I'll feel if I DNF.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Exit Stage Left on October 02, 2019, 07:24:49 am
At the finish I was glad that I'd not fallen off the bike during a micro-sleep, or been taken out by an inattentive driver. On a general level I was then relieved when the event went off without incident.

For PBP it was important to put the miles in, so that there would be enough in reserve to avoid 'the dozies'. That boiled down to putting in a good enough performance at the 24 to predict enough rest time. I'd view it as irresponsible not to put the training in, and that means doing a long ride fairly close to the main event. I'd tend to view that as one of the failings of the PBP qualification process, as the final qualifier is a couple of months before PBP itself, and high temperatures in many areas preclude long rides in July and August.

But residual risk remains no matter how well-trained you are, hence the sense of relief at completion.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: MikeFromLFE on October 02, 2019, 08:01:31 am
I find that I've had enough and am glad to get to the end at about 90% into a ride, whether it's 40km or 400.
It just goes to show how different we all are.
Admittedly it's a long while since I did any long distance riding, but I've always found the first 10% the hardest, with a serious dip on very long rides at about 2/3 the way through.
The last 10% for me - with the end in sight - has always (maybe I'm exaggerating a little) been the most fulfilling.

Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: fboab on October 02, 2019, 08:31:58 am
I've barely completed an audax since 2016. Mostly I just don't care enough to keep going when it gets tough, I have to be exceedingly motivated- and even then...


The other thing is, I've stopped feeling all that shit when I DNF. I've got (almost) all the boy scout badges. What is, in fact, the point of the points?

As Mr Smith & I both have found out- we just don't hate ourselves enough any more.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on October 02, 2019, 08:42:07 am
I’m just sorry I ‘broke’ your knee in Italy, boab. I should have done more prep for a tough ride and spent less time following the GPS track over gravel.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: fboab on October 02, 2019, 08:58:17 am
Ah, I don't blame you for that, I'd be up for more tandem adventures. Lots of it was lots of fun.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on October 02, 2019, 09:06:17 am
Good stuff. Let me know if you two want an understudy in the future.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: rob on October 02, 2019, 09:20:22 am
It's interesting in that, since I have been beating myself up in completely different ways the last few years, I have found audax to be some of my most enjoyable riding.

I am a planner by nature and tend to set off with a decent idea of where I am going to be and when, but also understanding that I may be ahead or behind of plan at any time.   There is still the point that problems you can readily deal with on day 1 may produce a meltdown on day 3/4 - mechanical/not finding food/not being able to find the control.   

At the finish of an event I tend to feel satisfaction in a job well done rather than any massive wave of emotion, although I was a little weepy at the end of PBP this year as I had well exceeded my personal expectations. 
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: alotronic on October 02, 2019, 11:04:33 am
It's a good topic and one I have thought about a lot.

A good few years ago I realised my mind was much weaker than my body - I would cave much sooner than I needed. This also applies to many things in my life not just riding ;-)

So.... for Audax at least I set about fixing it. I wanted the rides enough to put in (just enough) time to do the things you need to do. Some of those were physical, yes, but more about the pushing myself than the improvements to the body (intervals do both) and some of those were about rehearsing mental techniques and strategys that are known to work (pretty much as above). There are a couple of sections in my latest blog on PBP about this process and some of the tricks I used (search for Training section and No Alarms and No Surprises) https://audaxery.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/pbp-2019-ride-report/

Factors: Normalisation - seeing 600 as 'normal' for instance which occurs through meeting stretch targets. Modelling which helps you get to stretch targets. Experience - the tailwind of having done something a lot of times, which builds a base for normalisation. And of course, physical talent and preparation!
 

I think that my conscious decision to improve this part of my riding is something that most people just get to by doing a lot of rides... I needed to bootstrap myself somewhat.

Finally this is a piece of advice on modelling that a mate of mine gave me - straight to the point:

Remember, this is how you can create change:
1) Choose and visualise in detail the outcome you want
2) How would someone capable of making that change think, feel and behave? Write it down and then deliberately and consistently think, feel and behave in a way that aligns with the outcome you want.


Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: bludger on October 02, 2019, 11:16:22 am
A big factor for me in audax has been barriers to exit. On the rides I've been most strongly tempted to abandon, there hasn't been anywhere to go. Particularly in rural Belgium at 2am. after that experience I've found I've been able to grind through a lot more than I might have otherwise. In Belgium I was 100% ready to abandon in the small morning hours but there was literally nowhere to go. Once the sun was up, and the shops were open and I'd had a 90 minute snooze on a picnic table things were much better.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Redlight on October 02, 2019, 12:34:33 pm
A big factor for me in audax has been barriers to exit. On the rides I've been most strongly tempted to abandon, there hasn't been anywhere to go.

Interesting point. If I think about the (relatively few) times I have abandoned rides, with one exception I have not had to return to the start and so have been able to find a train station and get myself home. If I've left the car at the start then there's a much greater incentive to carry on because it would be just as much trouble to retrace the route. 
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: bludger on October 02, 2019, 12:37:29 pm
And in my case, the ride that I did abandon was because there was a warm express train service back to London with some helpful station cafe people who made me a big warm hot chocolate with the squirty cream.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: phil w on October 02, 2019, 01:06:30 pm
I'll start by saying I don't ride long distances on a regular basis.

Since 2013 my audax riding consists of a single SR series, plus one ride of 1000km or over in the summer.  I have completed a couple of RRTYs but I tend to do them, then take a break, and come back to them when I feel my fitness has slipped. I'm due to come back to RRTY in November. As soon as it feels like a treadmill I'll generally stop. In the early years completing every ride used to be important to me.  That is no longer the case, and I've never been that bothered about points chasing or awards beyond SR.    I'd like to complete 10 SR's, with the tally at 6 at present.  So that kind of leads me up to another PBP in 2023 and we'll see from there.

My DNF tally is highly correlated with whether I'm dehydrated enough or have stomach issues causing me to vomit or have a serious case of the trots.  I also have one case of Shermers Neck on the Wild Atlantic Way Audax starting at 1850km.  I was worried mentally about a repeat of that when I next started doing long events, but three SR series and a 1000km event later, and I'm more relaxed. I still worry about a repeat next year on WAWA 2020, but I have a cunning plan for that.

LEL in 2013 I had that post event dip in long distance cycling motivation.  It took three weeks before I went back on a 200km audax after I discovered RRTY.  I haven't really experienced that dip since, though physical ailments such as damaged nerves in the hands or Shermers have kept me off the bike a few weeks in some cases.

I do not like the PBP qualification process.  I'm actually better at finishing events when there are no knock on impacts of not finishing. My decision making is better when the decisions are purely based on that event, there and then.

Once I've had a DNF I tend to overcompensate for whatever caused the failure.  So I'll plan and execute in detail measures designed to prevent a repeat.  So going out and doing a long event soon after a DNF; I can often put in some of my best riding and times. I'm much better at recognising early symptoms these days, but still have occasional brain farts where I don't do anything about it, it will lead to a DNF if left unchecked.

I don't really suffer that last 10km of an event I wish I was finished stuff, as I usually don't have any distance showing on my GPS though you clearly have a rough idea if riding in areas you've been before.
 
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: zigzag on October 02, 2019, 01:09:37 pm
i generally enjoy riding my bike, so never struggled with motivation once i'm on a ride. i haven't dnf'ed an audax yet in my ten years of riding (and long may this continue). i have a reasonable number of long rides (audaxes) per year, which for me is around ten, then plenty of shorter ones (say 70-130km) which are not so time consuming.
it's natural and normal to be depleted after mega rides such like pbp, but once the body recovers it's all good again.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: scarlet on October 02, 2019, 07:49:07 pm
I haven't been riding audax long (about 12 months) and its been a steep learning curve, particularly the mental side. I am only partially of the way up the curve (or rather, I think I still have lots to learn!) but some of the issues I have faced are:

1) Pacing, lack of discipline = mental depletion
2) Unrealistic expectations that then unwind mind-ride
3) Thinking that the overall objective is "enough". By which I mean that although I really want to complete a 600km, once I am tired at 150km and I have 450km painful/cold/wet kilos to go, the imagined satisfaction of a finish isn't enough and I sink into "why the xxxx am I doing this?"

As per already stated, my answers aren't perfect, and mostly they are based on friendly advice I have been given:
a) I have got better at pacing by riding my own ride, and letting go of faster groups. Strava helps.
b) I am trying to learn a bit from my old job, and have upside and downside plans.
c) The advice from guys who are well ahead of me is to try to ride in the moment, enjoy (or at least be at peace with) what you are doing. There are different ways of saying this, I think (and I'm just learning) but it boils down to this: How good/bad do you really feel? Can you ride another 10 minutes? Keep turning the pedals, and you eventually crest the (mental) hill.

We have all chosen to ride our bikes - there is little sense in thinking "I'd rather be sitting in front of the telly" because when we were rational(~ish), we chose to enter the event instead of sitting in front of the telly.

Finally, there are times when we can all predict when we will feel miserable. For me, its rain and the long-term affect of pedalling too hard. For others, maybe its a certain number of kilos done, or kilos to go. Have a plan for this too - take a little pack of Haribo or a Crunchie for just such an occasion, and smile inwardly as your rational, thinking self kicks your inner chimp in the danglies!
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: SR Steve on October 03, 2019, 12:19:30 am
Riding long distances regularly increases fitness and this makes the rides easier, quicker and hence less likely to cause mental depletion. The majority of my rides are 200km and I rarely have any mental issues dealing with them except in extreme weather conditions including ice, snow, wind, rain, heat etc. RRTY sometimes causes me stress as I’m trying to keep three going at the same time and often struggle to find the time as I work full time and have a family. Dodging bad weather can become impossible, especially in winter, forcing me out in risky conditions such as in December 2017 when I came off on black ice on two of my 200s, landing heavily on my right side both times. I know that no one is making me do three a month, but it’s just a challenge I set myself and it keeps me reasonably fit without doing any other cycling or training of any kind.
Stepping up to 300km and above in the early spring can be a physical and mental challenge as for me these will be calendar events on a particular day regardless of weather and the extra distance is challenge enough on it’s own. I very rarely DNF though and have usually recovered by the following weekend for my next ride.
In late spring and summer 400km and 600km rides bring sleep deprivation into the mix and this is where mental depletion can build up if you do too many of them in a short time like I did this year. I dealt with it by using up some carry over leave that I had built up to take several Fridays and Mondays off to help me prepare and recover. In many previous years I haven’t been so sensible.
I usually ride within my limits but sometimes push them hard. For example on the 2017 LEL when I wasn’t particularly fit but went as fast as I could with the fitness I had in difficult conditions and with minimal sleep to achieve my personal target time. I just succeeded but was severely mentally depleted afterwards; so much so that I had to postpone plans to go to the Dolomites for a super randonnee until 2018. It was a major effort to ride the DIY 400km that I needed in September for my SR that year but it ended up being great fun, riding to the tip of Spurn Head and back in a day.
I rode myself into the ground on the latest PBP leaving me very fatigued, but my family came out to join me for a relaxing week in a wood cabin at Huttopia, Rambouillet after the ride so I soon recovered.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Wycombewheeler on October 03, 2019, 08:36:41 am
Generally the first half of a ride is all fun, but going into the second half or last third I move into just wanting to finish mode, until the last 10% when the end is on sight.

After completing my big goal ride for the year my motivation to ride just disappears and I find it hard to go out, even though once I'm riding it still feels great. Rrty helps with this but even then it can end up bring one 200 a month with nothing else over 50km.

Adversity on rides has really helped subsequent tides, I had a lot of really windy brevet this year, so when pbp headwinds came it was nothing new and much easier to push on through.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: HK on October 06, 2019, 10:40:03 pm
With vasculitis a serious illness

Last 2 weeks

Weekend 1 - 2 x 200km
Weekend 2 - Texas Hound Dog 1200
Weekend 3 - 2 x 200km

Also completed PBP
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: SR Steve on October 07, 2019, 12:02:27 am
With vasculitis a serious illness

Last 2 weeks

Weekend 1 - 2 x 200km
Weekend 2 - Texas Hound Dog 1200
Weekend 3 - 2 x 200km

Also completed PBP

Well done HK! That would have been a tough enough schedule for anyone who was 100% fit.

Hopefully you’ll take a well earned rest now and give yourself chance to recover, but I’ve a feeling that you won’t rest for long enough.

Take care of yourself and I hope that you get better soon.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: HK on October 07, 2019, 12:56:49 pm
Still have a project on hand that rides through to the end of the calendar year.

But after getting very sick with vasculitis and sinusitis after PBP, the new med - methotrexate is working brilliantly. Recovery restored, back to doing sleep deprivation.  Still awaiting sever a anaemia to be fixed. If we can stop one troublesome med, prednisone I’looks be as good as new. Big thanks to my brilliant bike riding renal consultant Prof Levy
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Rupert on October 07, 2019, 03:04:23 pm
Thank you to everyone for your posts, please keep sending them in.

All I need to do now is to try and put it all together for an article in Arrivee.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Nebulous on October 07, 2019, 05:13:44 pm
In addition to computing miles / kilometres I dwell a lot on fractions.  At 5km on a 200 that's 1/40th, at 10km 1/20th and so on. As a result 1/2 way is very significant.

We have a saying "Ah've broken i back o't." (I've broken the back of it.) meaning the hard(est) bit is past. I say that to myself when I reach the halfway point and generally feel much more positive from there on. I often find my pace picking up in the last section of an event, at a point when many other people are flagging.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: zigzag on October 07, 2019, 05:24:38 pm
^^ i have a very similar strategy/habit. i'd acknowledge myself when completing 1/3, half, 2/3 of the ride by tapping three times on my left shoulder. same when i come across a tough interval when training indoors. it gives a small but much needed boost.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: dave d on October 07, 2019, 06:28:45 pm
A good topic and interesting to see the replies.

I rode PBP for the first time this year and the first two days went relatively smoothly very close to plan.  However I was coming to the conclusion that in four years time I might like to volunteer rather than ride it again.  Unfortunately I didn't get as much as sleep as I wanted at the end of the second day and not long after leaving Loudeac I was very surprised to receive a phone call at about 1:30am.  My elderly father had pressed his emergency alarm button.  After a few phone calls then and at the next control I eventually established it was a false alarm.  Sorting this out probably only cost about 30 minutes in lost time, but I am sure it cost me a lot more in terms of mental energy as I found it difficult to concentrate on the riding task in hand during the four hours between the first and last phone call.

Although I was still ahead of time towards the end of day 3, I was feeling dozy and half hour stops were just not solving the problem.  The sort of stop needed would mean not making it back in 90 hours.  Resuming the ride after my rest I had to cope with the disappointment of knowing I would fail to finish in time and also the absence of my riding partner (I insisted she went on so she could make the 90 hours).  However it was also an opportunity to just ride with the time pressure absent and I enjoyed more time chatting to others and also taking more advantage of the local roadside hospitality.  Once I reached Dreux however, knowing I was nearly there my mindset suddenly switched back into race mode for the final stage.

At the finish and afterwards I very much had a mixture of 2 feelings about my ride.  I had definitely enjoyed a fantastic week in France and I really loved the international flavour and local support of the event.  On the other hand I didn't quite achieve the aim of finishing under 90 hours.  Over the weeks since PBP the latter mood of disappointment has nearly faded from view and the former positive memory has taken hold.  Having said that it does mean that unlike others who completed in time, I still have a goal.  I don't know why, but this somehow made me very keen to do another audax at the first opportunity (just a local 100km).  I am now even more determined, if at all possible, to have a go at LEL in a couple of years and also to finish in under 90 hours at PBP 2023.  Perhaps sometimes it's better not to actually achieve all your goals?
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: madcow on October 07, 2019, 09:34:24 pm
I have had my best ever year for points and events ridden. I am a hyper randonneur and have enjoyed nearly all of the  events that I have ridden this year. Even when riding solo for 400ks I knew that I had a goal (qualifying for PBP) which kept me going through a very cold and dark  night.
But for now,I am having a rest, partly to let my body recover .

 I have stopped myself from getting involved with RRTY by not riding anything in September.
 I just don't want to be controlled by audax and also  Mrs. M was getting a bit hacked off with me riding my bike  almost all the time.
PBP and LEL take up a chunk of my annual leave allocation (only 22 days) which then means that Mrs. M and I miss out on quality time together.

 When it was just PBP , the four year interval was manageable but add in LEL and it becomes a 2 year cycle of obsession.
I will aim for an SR next year , doing local-ish events.
I admire the points chasers for their determination but I enjoy other things as well and life's too short to devote it purely to audax.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Ian H on October 07, 2019, 10:46:59 pm
In the past I've done the back-to-back 300s, ridden a solo permanent 600 in appalling weather (including wading thigh-deep through flood-water), managed over 100 points, gone hyper, and completed a couple of RRTYs.  Amongst other things. 

But I packed on PBP this year, after a broken ankle 5 weeks before, and I packed on my second LEL, way back in 2001, with hand and wrist problems.  I have ridden some events with more grim determination than pleasure, while others have seemed effortless.

These days I tend towards social cycling.  I try to combine anything out-of-area with a visit to and/or a ride with friends.  I'll still clock up an SR, but probably nothing too strenuous.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Exit Stage Left on October 08, 2019, 09:43:24 am
I can remember a lot of detail from my first 600. It was 'Bernies Long Flat One' in 1998. I set out a bit late, and picked up Ian H, who was on fixed. We then caught the main group into a headwind that was channeled by the banks of the Trent from Goole to Gainsborough. We turned at Trent Bridge, I remember Dave Yates being in the group. I was working to a heart-rate monitor, and sustained the same output with a following wind, so I rode off the front, and got lost.

I found the group again at Caneby Corner, as they emerged from the Little Chef. I set off with them, but 'bonked'. I revived myself with some Fish and Chips, and made off towards Hatfield Woodhouse. Mick Potts was leading a group which picked me up. I recovered, and started riding off the front. Mick reprimanded me soundly, and insisted I rode Tempo.

I was a bit more disciplined on the second leg to Great Gonerby, where I experienced sleeping in a service station for the first time. A Scot cased Jamie broke his seat pin to saddle bolt on the only hill of note on the way back, he died young. There was a rider with one of those early LED position front lights with no beam overnight, and he was held captive behind us on the return to Hatfield.

The third leg was up to York, and I rode that in company with a bloke who had kidney problems. The whole ride seems like a dream now. But aspects of it have been filed away and given a distinct value. The ride into the wind from Goole to Gainsborough rated about 8 for headwind misery, and made me decide never to ride fixed. Doing that would be a waste of my locomotive ability.

Riding off the front and getting lost was about 6, and was an important lesson. Not stopping to eat because a group was leaving when I was arriving, also rated 6 in terms of learning when to eat.

Being torn off a strip by Mick Potts was annoying at the time, but was of long-term value. I saw him at the car park at the end of that leg, and he was searching for Ibuprofen. His achilles was playing up, as he'd probably been leading the group I was disrupting for a long time. I now know the value of trying to keep hold of someone big, strong and willing, into the wind.

I learned more on that apparently tedious, flat 600 than on any other ride, and it set me up for PBP and LEL.
Mental depletion comes from banging your head against a brick wall when you don't have to. PBP and LEL suited me, as I could be useful to others, and deploy group-riding skills. I can see that if you're a natural climber, you might spend a lot of time staring at some big bloke's back wheel, and that might get wearing. But I'd suggest that they look for rides that aren't aimed at rouleurs. That way we might not get continuous climbing inflation, and ever-rising DNF figures.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: vorsprung on October 08, 2019, 11:17:13 am
So there are a number of points here

1) What is the point of doing a ride?  Why do we do it?  U.N.Dulates once said to me "It's like fun only different".  I know what he means here.   It's enjoyable but difficult I guess.  I did a blog about explaining my motives here https://audaxing.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/how-to-find-yourself-on-a-bike/

2) Is there some kind of method for preparing yourself mentally?   Maybe visualizing arriving at the half way point feeling good?

3) Alternatively, is this a condition or addiction that can be cured?  I know that my anticipations for a long ride are somewhat like the twitching anticipations of an addict.  And afterwards, for a short time, I feel sated.  I "like" riding the bike and the combination of mild exercise and a sense of travel reduces my feelings of stress.  This is true for short rides.  On longer rides the same thing is true

4) Do repeated rides have some kind of cumulating mental cost?  Or do repeated rides lead to greater mental resilience?  Or is there a sort of peaking graph?  One ride tough, two rides easy, four rides tough?

5) How do the physical and emotional/mental/motivational side match up?  Obviously, if you have a saddle sore, it's 3 am and you have run out of gummy bears  - these physical factors will cloud your decision making

6) Are some rides or routes or events mentally tougher than others?  This does seem to be the case but it's difficult to relate the reasons for the difficulty back to motivational/mental/emotional factors.  For example, (names of the events changed to protect the guilty) the Mamble 200 has the worst routesheet the world has ever seen and the final 20km is an ultra-complex maze of slow, muddy lanes.  Example 2, the Bard Oiled 300 makes bizarre choices on its route that no sane person would pick.   The second event there is a "favourite" with other people but for me it's terrible

7) the company on rides must be a factor.  I can remember meeting some - well basically - cunts on a few rides.  After this, I skipped a couple of ones I'd already entered because when I imagined the worse that could happen it involved other riders.  As John Paul Sartre said, "Hell is other people".  Other times I've met lovely people, made friends, it's been beautiful

Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: bludger on October 08, 2019, 11:34:24 am
On shorter brevets like a flattish 200 I find that I can grind out distance just by thinking that 'the fun is in the having done' and reflecting that I have less than 100 km to go (usually the case if I'm starting to feel a bit maudlin). But this doesn't really work once the distance and hillage gets bigger than that. There was a good long read about the guy who broke the round the world record, or something else very silly, that it's important to learn to enjoy the moment as much as to just fantasise about end of ride bevvies.

For me I've tried reflecting that 'at least I'm not at work' and counting out what is going well (usually 'I've got enough food, got enough water, I'm not cold' etc); trying to recall times where I've really wanted to go on a bike ride and thinking 'well I'm doing it now' has also helped. Maybe I need to work harder on this for the eventualities when it gets a bit grim. I also try to reflect that the bike I'm riding is a chunk more comfortable and better geared than what the poor old buggers were riding decades ago.

Fortunately I've never had to do an audax with someone I didn't like. I've met some odd customers (pretty much exclusively as a supporter/volunteer) but no one who actually made me annoyed or uncomfortable.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Nuncio on October 08, 2019, 02:29:49 pm
Since this seems to have moved on from cumulative long distance events over a short period – which I never did - I’ll join in with some words on my mental battles, such as they’ve been, in my (currently moribund) Audax life. So feel free to ignore Rupert.

In almost every event, from 200s upwards, I experience spells when I wonder what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I don’t think these are ever caused by physical problems, just a general cycling ennui, which might last a couple of minutes but might last longer sometimes. The period tends to last as long as it takes for my mind to wander onto something, anything, else, or for a conversation to start, or a control to be reached. If it lasts longer I’ll try and talk myself out of it with a stern word – what I’m doing isn’t hard by comparison to what other people have to endure* and for a long while I had a personal non-DNF record to protect and extend.  *A slight digression – I was the first to be born in a pair of what was know, by some, at the time, as ‘undiagnosed’ twins. My mum once told me that after I was born and she realized she was still in labour, she had to urge herself as long as was needed, even if there were ‘another 20 up there’. By comparison, what I do is a ride in the park.

The reasons for not DNF'ing are probably for another thread, but mostly for me include
- deliberately not finding out how to travel by train with a bike,
- knowing that to get home or to my car would be easiest on a bike
- being lucky in not getting mechanicals (until I got unlucky).
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: stefan on October 08, 2019, 04:24:11 pm
So there are a number of points here

1) What is the point of doing a ride?  Why do we do it?  U.N.Dulates once said to me "It's like fun only different".  I know what he means here.   It's enjoyable but difficult I guess.  I did a blog about explaining my motives here https://audaxing.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/how-to-find-yourself-on-a-bike/


That's a very good article - puts into words quite a lot of stuff that resonates with me. Thanks.

I think there is also something about the relationships formed in the context of shared, sometimes quite difficult, experiences, which brings people back for more.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Rainbow Dash on October 10, 2019, 02:15:44 pm
Interesting article. My longest successful ride is 400km so my insight into true log distance cycling is limited by my observations are below for what they are worth.

The "No option but to carry on" scenario mentioned by Bludger is one I can relate to - if there had been a hotel I could hide in after 300km of Brevet Cymru I would have been in there like a shot. On some other rides not knowing how to cut short a ride has kept me going.

The rides that have been most mentally draining have been those where I have had mechanical worries - the constant thought of "What do I do if ???? happens at this time of night in this area" is can stress me out. I (hopefully) have had less of these recently as I try to be diligent about making sure brakes, gears etc. are working properly.

I did give up on a 600 earlier this season after bout 170km. My preparation had been rubbish - little sleep due to other life things, not cleaning my bidons properly and discovering black mould in them at the first control. I then made a daft decision to have a fry up which I know I struggle to digest. After struggling along feeling crap I convinced myself I would not reach the night control in enough time to get any rest. That, combined with the poor forecast for the following day, convinced me to quit. Making my way back to the start was draining - I had a rough idea of the best route but found myself on some busy roads and when I got to a pub where I hoped to stop for a meal it was packed to the rafters and meant that I carried on with no water which was daft. It was far harder riding knowing I'd quit than it would have been to carry on on the route for the equivalent distance.

At the time I was very disappointed but looking back was right to quit. The mental and physical leap from 400 to 600 was just too big.

Completing a 600 is my main goal for next season but (hopefully) I will be fitter and lighter than when I failed this year.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: rob on October 10, 2019, 03:08:32 pm
The sleep/rest thing is really interesting.   The truth is that you can manage on very little sleep but you really need to put yourself through it to prove the theory.

In the run up to this year's 24hr TT champs I didn't sleep properly for 2 weeks running up to the event.   Partly this was due to the fact that it had been pretty muggy but I was a complete ball of stress.   Despite being in my best physical shape ever I convinced myself that if I wasn't well rested at the start I would balls it up and it all then became self fulfilling.   I was convinced that I couldn't start but was persuaded to get changed and go to the start line.   Once I got rolling all was fine and I hit my goals.

Would I have done better being a bit more rested ?  possibly but I didn't feel sleepy once during the event even around dawn when there's usually a lull.   

It's not the first time that this has happened to me but it's one of the reasons that I have decided to take a step back from racing for a while.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Jem on October 10, 2019, 04:10:00 pm


In the run up to this year's 24hr TT champs I didn't sleep properly for 2 weeks running up to the event.  I was a complete ball of stress. 

It's not the first time that this has happened to me but it's one of the reasons that I have decided to take a step back from racing for a while.

This is true for me too.
It was never the sleep deprivation during an event that bothered me. I could ride or run for for a good 40+ hours without needing any.

What really affected me horribly was the sleep deprivation as a result of sickening stress for days and even weeks before a big race/ride. Before the End to End and especially before the women's tandem trike 24hr I was almost paralysed by fear and was in a dreadful state emotionally,  purely through stress and resulting lack of sleep. Once I started pedalling, that vanished.

The fact that that awful period almost always meant a good ride eventually stopped being enough compensation and I also stopped racing and even stopped distance cycling for a while as the same thing would happen prior to an audax.

A knackered knee has put paid to any long stuff and has taken the decision from my hands and in some ways, that is a huge relief and cycling is starting to be fun again.

Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: rob on October 10, 2019, 08:17:57 pm
Thanks, Jem.  Should have spent longer chatting last Saturday.

I find it quite interesting that there are lots of articles about how cycling and sport in general help your mental health but far less on how to deal with sport effecting your mental health.  I feel like I have given in a little but a change of direction may be what is needed.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Kim on October 11, 2019, 11:34:32 am
The rides that have been most mentally draining have been those where I have had mechanical worries - the constant thought of "What do I do if ???? happens at this time of night in this area" is can stress me out. I (hopefully) have had less of these recently as I try to be diligent about making sure brakes, gears etc. are working properly.

My long-distance experience is insignificant, but this applies to me to.  There's always the niggling worry about what happens if the bike breaks (my ability to walk if it does is often limited).  I manage that by carrying a decent selection of tools and having become sufficiently familiar with maintenance that I have a reasonable expectation that it will keep working, and confidence in my ability to fix most of the usual problems at the roadside if it doesn't.

No idea if it's made me a better cyclist, but it's certainly made me a better mechanic.

Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: hippy on October 15, 2019, 04:43:53 pm
I tend to look at it along the lines of: If you enter it, finish it, unless doing so is going to do lasting harm or impact a more important event.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: mattc on October 15, 2019, 07:59:35 pm

7) the company on rides must be a factor.  I can remember meeting some - well basically - cunts on a few rides.  After this, I skipped a couple of ones I'd already entered because when I imagined the worse that could happen it involved other riders.  As John Paul Sartre said, "Hell is other people".  Other times I've met lovely people, made friends, it's been beautiful
You have a wonderful turn of phrase Jamie  ;D (possibly as good as that Sartre fellow)

I'm surprised company hasn't been mentioned more. I have also met a few c***s - but they have been very very few amongst hundreds of people that I have ridden more than a few miles with. Also a few who were harmless, but basically massive morale sinks. The sort who are happy to ride with you but have NOTHING positive to say, and usually ride just a few feet behind you. Or possibly worse; just behind level with you, so that you can't easily chat but have to listen to their whingeing and throat-clearing, and don't get any benefit from their front light.

Contrast with some of the positive souls I have met during dark hard sections, who have transformed the experience into something joyful.
(You know who you are, I won't embarrass anyone  :-* )
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: redfalo on October 27, 2019, 04:12:34 pm
My biggest mental breakdown happened half a year after my first PBP, halfway through my 2nd RRtY. In March 2016, I rode the Dean 300 not having fully recovered from a cold.

I found the ride super hard, was really slow, and missed the last train back to London. I stayed in the Travelodge, having ruined half of Sunday, and really asked myself "What am I doing here?" With a heavy heart, and a lot of deliberation,  decided to ditch my RRtY and decided to DNS on a couple of other rides I had signed on for in the coming months. As it happened, on the last weekend of the subsequent month, I happened to do a DIY, and almost accidentally kept the RRtY alive - but mentally, it was an important step to do the ride because I ***wanted*** to do it, rather than because I ***had*** do it.

The only time I DNF'ed on an Audax - apart from my very first one, where I had lost the brevet card before the first control  :facepalm: - was last December, when I was riding in sub-zero temperatures and had not having fully recovered from a cold. I very much prefer DNS to DNF.

These days, I try to do a 200 per month but not doing any formal RRtY anymore.  if it doesn't work out like in September (2 weeks of cycle touring, planned by a long-scheduled routine surgery and the subsequent recovery) it's not the end of the world.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Von Broad on October 27, 2019, 04:44:22 pm
You have a wonderful turn of phrase Jamie  ;D (possibly as good as that Sartre fellow)

Anybody who bestows titles such as 'Nausea' & 'Being and Nothingness', knew a thing or two about what it can feel like to ride Audax. Sometimes.  :)

Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Salvatore on October 27, 2019, 04:50:59 pm
You have a wonderful turn of phrase Jamie  ;D (possibly as good as that Sartre fellow)

Anybody who bestows titles such as 'Nausea' & 'Being and Nothingness', knew a thing or two about what it can feel like to ride Audax. Sometimes.

FACT: He wrote 'Les Mains Sales' after his chain came off on a 200.
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Von Broad on October 27, 2019, 05:38:47 pm
You have a wonderful turn of phrase Jamie  ;D (possibly as good as that Sartre fellow)

Anybody who bestows titles such as 'Nausea' & 'Being and Nothingness', knew a thing or two about what it can feel like to ride Audax. Sometimes.

FACT: He wrote 'Les Mains Sales' after his chain came off on a 200.

Is that so? It's a pleasure to be following the very learned and right honorable gentleman for Fleet. He exhibits his depth of knowledge on these matters with great aplomb  :)

I tried to read some Sartre in my early twenties [goodness knows why]. I read Nausea, then a mate of mine suggested Being and Nothingness. Well.....complete brick wall....didn't understand a bleeding word of it! And still don't. Many more brain cells needed. This may account for the fact that I spent the rest of my life working with my hands, building recumbents and spent most of my life drinking in pubs!

But the OP, Rupert, if he were to write a piece for Arrive, could easily quote a bit of 'Being in Nothingness' as existential reflection and pause for thought in an article relating to cycling and the mind. About time Arrive had a bit of philosophy.

"To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride."
Jean-Paul Sartre, On Being and Nothingness (1943)

That bit I can comprehend, but he soon loses me out of sight with the rest of it  :facepalm:  :D !!

https://www.cityprojectca.org/blog/archives/14497

Somehow the whole notion of mental depletion, long rides and Sartre and rather compatible bed fellows one feels :-)
Title: Re: Mental depletion article for Arrivee
Post by: Ian H on October 27, 2019, 05:49:55 pm


Anybody who bestows titles such as 'Nausea' & 'Being and Nothingness', knew a thing or two about what it can feel like to ride Audax. Sometimes.

FACT: He wrote 'Les Mains Sales' after his chain came off on a 200.

(http://www.foldingcyclist.com/Sarte-Le-Petit-Bi.jpg)