Author Topic: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...  (Read 4485 times)

A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« on: September 07, 2018, 09:15:25 am »
There was an interesting article in Cycling Weekly a little while ago about creating your own performance profile based on what you want to achieve.  This performance profile is supposed to help you understand what abilities you need to achieve your goal and where your current level of performance is in relation to their relative importance, so that you can better decide where you need to spend your time and money. 

One of the examples given in CW was as follows: A rider who can race a 25m TT in 56.69...

Has an aerodynamic position on the bike
Follows a structured training plan
Spends enough time training and recovering
Is able to push through the pain barrier
etc, etc.

Each ability was given a level of importance out of 10. 

I'm planning to enter PBP next year but as I've never ridden more than a 200 I'd like to know what abilities you think are necessary to successfully finish PBP and enjoy it. 

Please give each ability a rating out of 10.  I've got some ideas of my own but I'm really interesting in learning from people who've actually done it.  Thanks.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2018, 09:31:32 am »
There was an interesting article in Cycling Weekly a little while ago about creating your own performance profile based on what you want to achieve.  This performance profile is supposed to help you understand what abilities you need to achieve your goal and where your current level of performance is in relation to their relative importance, so that you can better decide where you need to spend your time and money. 

One of the examples given in CW was as follows: A rider who can race a 25m TT in 56.69...

Has an aerodynamic position on the bike
Follows a structured training plan
Spends enough time training and recovering
Is able to push through the pain barrier
etc, etc.

Each ability was given a level of importance out of 10. 

I'm planning to enter PBP next year but as I've never ridden more than a 200 I'd like to know what abilities you think are necessary to successfully finish PBP and enjoy it. 

Please give each ability a rating out of 10.  I've got some ideas of my own but I'm really interesting in learning from people who've actually done it.  Thanks.

Although I haven't done PBP (yet), I've done my own small share of long distance rides and have my own view on whats required.

At the end of the day long distance riding is a very personal thing you will never know fully until you go out and do it for yourself; any results you get here will be full of vagueness and you'll be asking more questions of yourself and others and never truly get a definitive answer.

As all your abilities are "physical based" I think you will find Mental ability has its own place in all of this too; prominently so most would agree.

Nevertheless, these are my feelings:

Aero: 6/10
Structured Training: 7/10
Time on the Saddle and Recovery: 9/10
Physical Pain: 9/10
Mental strength: 9/10

There you go, I skew my stats towards... The More you Do, The Better you Get.  "Do" being the absolute keyword with a big dose of mental strength.
Frequent Audax and bike ride videos:

https://www.youtube.com/user/djrikki2008/videos

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2018, 09:47:41 am »
Mental abilities are absolutely in scope, as is support resources, tactics, logistics, mindset, nutrition, and equipment.

What do you mean by 'physical pain'?  Presumably the ability to cope with it?

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2018, 10:01:07 am »
You need the grit and determination to keep riding when everything hurts and youre not having fun anymore. Every audax over 200k in length tends to have at least one bad patch like that.

I did PBP when not very fit at all by most peoples standards. But I was determined to do it so just did what it took ... no scientific analysis was necessary. Ride your bike lots and find out what works for you.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2018, 10:42:13 am »
Experience: 1 PBP and 1 LEL plus probably only 20 audaxes over 200km.

Aero: 2/10 (sure it'll make it easier but if you rely on being aero to get around audaxes in time then there's something wrong, plus aerobars are banned on PBP)
Structured Training: 2/10 (there was no structure to my training, I commuted and did other audaxes, again, it'll certainly make it easier but it's far from necessary)
Time on the Saddle and Recovery: 9/10
Physical Pain: 2/10 (if you're in proper pain then something isn't right, but expect plenty of discomfort)
Mental strength: 9/10 (giving up is easy, as you'll possibly find out as you do rides > 200km, pushing through is harder)

I'll add:-

Self-sufficiency: 7/10 (being able to fix things out in the sticks, including being inventive [I recently fixed a lost mudguard screw with some long grass from the roadside as nothing else would fit]. Being happy with this gives me confidence and stops me wasting time worrying about what could go wrong.)
Experience in different conditions: 8/10 (it's not all sunshine and daylight as it may be on 200kms, finishing one day at 2am drenched and getting a few hours sleep in a cot bed in a sports hall with 300 other snoring/farting riders, getting up and setting off again in the pouring rain, etc)
Suitable kit: 5/10 (far less important than physical fitness but having adaptable clothing [i.e. layers, etc] helps greatly)

The more time on the bike you have in the run up to the event (i.e. what you could call training) the better prepared you'll be, both physically and mentally. You'll suffer less discomfort (hopefully) and have more experience of night riding, riding solo for long periods, how your body reacts to heat/cold/wet/tiredness/fatigue/etc, how to feed yourself (what works and what your body really doesn't want at 2am).

One last thing, I gave up about 180km into a 600km ride, found a B&B and then got the train home the next day. Looking back it was probably the correct thing to do, but only because the weather the next day was horrendous and I probably wasn't experienced enough for it. But giving up that once means I *NEVER* want to give up again on a ride unless I absolutely have to. The shit patch(es) will pass, if you feel like giving up then get to the next control, eat something and then reassess. 99% of the time you'll feel fine to carry on.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2018, 11:02:50 am »
I rode and completed the Marmotte twice and was in the shape of my life. However, on both
occasions I was afflicted by something that spoilt the ride. In 2009 it was my ashtma (took
Ibuprofen for back problems together with my puffer). The result was that whenever my heart
rate went above 135 bpm, it felt like a heavy person was sat on my chest.


In 2011 it was cramp. I sweat a lot (even from doing the smallest amount of exercise) but
ensured I was adequately hydrated; but on the descent of the first major climb cramp set in
on both legs (towards groin area). I couldn't ride at my normal cadence and virtually had to
soft-pedal around the route.


On both occasions I missed the podium by several hours  :-D  but managed to finish the route.
I'm glad I had the mental fortitude to carry on and finish, but did not enjoy them.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2018, 11:18:17 am »
Here’s my thoughts after completing 2 PBP, one in 2015 , and the other 2007. I have added my thoughts using similar structure but tailored to the requirements of PBP

1/ Position – Key to make sure your bike is comfortable – it doesn’t need to be anything special ( you should see the variery of bikes that finish PBP ) , but it will help enormously if your bike fits you and your position is  comfortable 10/10

2/ Structure – I have always found that the qualifiers themselves are the basis of my structure for the year – as you progress through each qualifier your body and mind gets used to the longer distance / time – just ensure there is an even gap between each qualifier to allow you to recover 8/10

3/ Training – If you wish you can supplement with additional training – I found that a basic strength / flexibility session each week would help – PBP prompted me to take up yoga – happy to offer more detail on my sessions if you would like . If you want to add any speed work , then the use of rollers , or spirited shorter 50k rides each week will help in building in plenty of buffer for your longer qualifying rides  5/10

4/ Pain barrier – Definitely re-phrase this to mental strength and preparedness . The main objective is always to finish PBP , no matter what happens. I love the phrase used by the organisers that the main reason why people don’t finish – ill prepared  ! . In 2007 I was lucky – I had an extra soft shell layer I took with me as a last minute decision just in case  – it rained for a large proportion of the ride and I wore it nearly all the time ! . Also assume things will happen that you have to adapt to  - In 2015 I had  food poisoning for the first 200k couple and also  my handlebar bag broke , so I had to ride with a newly purchased back pack and a very much slower pace interspersed with more regular stops ! . Be prepared to have to dig deep mentally, but with correct preparation you should aim for as little pain as possible ! , and an amazing experience 9/10

Stay healthy over the winter and good luck

 

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2018, 12:18:34 pm »
The other aspect to focus on in your build-up and qualifying rides is food and nutrition.  Work out what works best for you and make sure that you have some emergency supplies of whatever you find gets you through the dips.  I carry a selection of nuts, dried fruit and jelly babies in a bag on the top tube for on-the-move boosts.

 The controls on PBP are evenly spaced but the quality and variety of food varies so you may find yourself seeking out cafes or shops along or just off the route.  When you are very tired, low blood sugar may mean that it is helpful to eat your meal in reverse, i.e. start with something sugary to raise the blood sugar which then makes it easier to digest the more complex carbs that will fuel your legs.  Works for me anyway!

Also, a fair number of riders suffer from stomach problems of one sort or another along the way.  Again, try to learn how your digestive system copes on the longer rides and, if you have any problems, what helps.  Personally, I always carry a packet of Rennie and a few pots of Actimel, which seem to settle most problems. 
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2018, 12:24:48 pm »
One thing that is helpful for a sub-57min 25miler, AND finishing PBP without too much effort/trauma:

The right parents!

(or in other words, good genetics)

n.b. internet peoples; I did NOT say its the most important thing, or the only thing.
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2018, 12:27:01 pm »
I rode PBP last time, I won't do it again for various reasons, but none of those is because I thought it was difficult. I found it easy, but dull.

I had the benefit of several +1000k rides beforehand and rode 1700km 3 weeks before PBP to deliver my bike to London, so that I could ride down to Paris with friends.

I also had the benefit of doing a lot of miles and some hard rides like The Pendle, The 6A and HBKH.

My PBP was structured and I knew where I was going to sleep each night, I made sure my personal hygiene was good, ate proper food and had a shower each night before sleeping. I also did my laundry each night and had a clean set of clothes every day of the ride.

Preparation and discipline will get you round, buggering yourself and pissing time away at controls won't.



Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2018, 08:23:17 pm »
8/10:  Not over-thinking it.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2018, 10:55:55 pm »
Know the course, know the controls and know where usually the extra refreshment stops are 7/10

Experience with night time descending 7/10

Experience with nightriding (for 90 hour starters) 8/10

preparing your bike for *your* ideal setup  9/10

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2018, 08:45:45 pm »
9/10  Training - being able to ride swiftly enough to have time off the bike to sleep properly and not worry about time limits.  My weakness in the years before my first PBP were riding consistently on the flat, so I entered and raced a couple of 100 mile time trials between qualifying and the event.
8/10  Mental - getting through the tough bits.  All my qualifying rides in 2007 were wet and windy and so when it was wet and windy in the real thing I got through it. 
7/10 Building alliances on the road.  In the rain I formed alliances with a group of Danes, a large Italian group, and on the way back a group of local French riders, simply from being a good group rider, taking long steady turns on the front, and that gave me the company that helped pass the kilometres. 
6/10 Night Riding - not the descending or the bike handling so much as the mental bit of getting used to the fact that I ride 5 kph (3mph) slower between 11pm and 4am.  On events up to 600km I usually avoid riding at this time if I can.  On PBP you have to ride these hours on the first night at least.
7/10 Feeding.  Not knowing where your food stops are as much as knowing what your stomach will take when you are knackered and don't feel like eating. 

The one time I didn't enjoy PBP was when I had a target time (in 2011).  It became fun as soon as I abandoned my target time and started riding.

PS - the other bit that helped was doing weights during the winter for leg-back connective strength and core strength. 
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 168 (metric) 518 (furlongs)  111 (nautical miles)

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2018, 09:02:56 pm »
being able to survive on sandwiches that all have ham in them or stale bagettes 9/10
small talk in french about tyre compounds 2/10
knowing when to sleep 5/10
doing qualifiers in the awlful weather in blighty 9/10
Audaxing Blog follow @vorsprungbike on

Phil W

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2018, 09:39:00 pm »
Understands what they enjoy the most about long distance riding, brevet style; makes adaptations to ensure the things they enjoy happen often enough to offset any negatives that arise.
When negatives arise works out the cause, works out how to mitigate, and learns to recognise the symptoms earlier. Tackling issues early often keeps the ride fun.
Is open to the people and situations they find themselves in.
Knows when they need to ride, when they need to rest, when they need to eat.
Manages their time well when off the bike and keeps a buffer ahead of the time limit that they are comfortable with.
Knows their dozy periods (mine is between 4am to 6am apart from first nights when I am usually fine) when it is better to sleep.
Knows what their minimum sleep cycle is per 24 hours.
Takes in all that PBP is, including dancing with locals in the most surreal of curcumstances.
Does not put undue external or internal pressures on themselves.
Develops sufficient fitness and speed that lack of either is rarely the cause of issues during a 4 day ride.
Maintains their own bike and has confidence it will not be the bike that lets them down. Knows how to fix the usual suspects and doesn't worry about it.
Focuses on the here and now and does not worry about what they cannot control or places hundreds of km away.

As for rating out of 10. Well this is personal to you.

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2018, 02:33:44 pm »
the requirements would be very different for different people. the word "enjoy" can also mean many things. pbp isn't a hard ride (all roads are paved, no steep hills, no extreme weather), just need to decide what you want out of it.

whosatthewheel

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2018, 02:53:30 pm »


n.b. internet peoples; I did NOT say its the most important thing, or the only thing.

But you are right, it is. VO2 max, which is by far the most important physiological parameter in endurance cycling (anything over a minute or two is endurance cycling) is largely down to genetics.
You can be born with a 40 ml/min kg , train like a mad man all your life and end up with 55 at best, but if someone is born with 70...

For the OP... just ride your bike without too much stress. To do PBP you need to qualify and the qualifiers will tell you if you can do it or not and whether you are going to enjoy it or hate it.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2018, 03:58:40 pm »
It will be interesting to see how different PBP is from last time. An interesting feature has always been that the P bits and the B bits are very different from the rest of it, other than some of the heavily-trafficked areas around Fougeres.

I always liked the roll-out from St Quentin, but that's only fun for the first 25 or so in each group. Around Brest is a bit of a nightmare at the wrong parts of the day. It was worst in 2011, as the control approaches were through the docks, then a busy part of town.

The return into St Quentin was bearable between dawn and 7.30am, but busy otherwise. The velodrome finish was quiet, but an anti-climax.

So I don't think that it's possible to finish PBP enjoyably. What happens on the way is the important bit, although treating it as a TT might give rise to some pleasure at the finish, in a banging your head against a brick wall way.

For a rouleur, there are some very nice interludes, where you'll be team-time-trialling with riders of similar ability for long stretches. Climbers seem to find less of interest, but they can practice their wheel-sucking.

The demographic has changed rapidly over the last two editions, with many more younger riders from Asia. They can be a bit freaked-out by the temperature and the headwinds, so you can make a lot of friends by being the one who can bang into a rainstorm for mile after mile, which is where Brits excel. I emphasised the core skill of catching trains for LEL, and I was thanked for the advice by a number of finishers.

The film uses a lot of PBP footage.




Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2018, 12:06:21 pm »
Thanks for all the comments.  There's some really good advice here.  I'm definitely going to make sure I do some night riding so that I become more comfortable with it.  I've already started learning some French using an app, although strangely tyre compounds aren't listed as a topic!  Lastly, I'll make sure I do a deep dive into how not to over-think things.  I'm not sure I understand this well enough.   ;)

Phil W

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2018, 12:15:48 pm »
Thanks for all the comments.  There's some really good advice here.  I'm definitely going to make sure I do some night riding so that I become more comfortable with it.  I've already started learning some French using an app, although strangely tyre compounds aren't listed as a topic!  Lastly, I'll make sure I do a deep dive into how not to over-think things.  I'm not sure I understand this well enough.   ;)

Shallow dive, you don't want to be overthinking the overthinking....

T42

  • Tea tank
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2018, 01:42:28 pm »
...uses lights that actually enable him to see where he's going.

The battery lights I used in 2007 were so narrow of beam that when I looked to the side I started wobbling all over.  My current dynamo lights throw a good spread: much safer.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2018, 07:35:29 pm »
Exit Stage Left makes a good point about temperatures.  Brittany is only 100 miles south of Cornwall and has about the same weather.  Last time, it was definitely in single figure temperatures on one of the nights on the way back, and in 2007 after the first night the temperature clawed its way to the heady heights of 13C.  That doesn't mean it won't be warm and sunny for parts of the ride, but being prepared for cold and wet is essential.  I've always carried bib tights, a base layer, and a good rain jacket and I've used them each time.

Not getting utterly cold is a recipe for improved spirits.  Of course, it is possible that I'm a bit of a rain god, and as I'm not riding PBP this time it will be a heatwave.
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 168 (metric) 518 (furlongs)  111 (nautical miles)

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2018, 08:08:32 pm »
...uses lights that actually enable him to see where he's going.

The battery lights I used in 2007 were so narrow of beam that when I looked to the side I started wobbling all over.  My current dynamo lights throw a good spread: much safer.

Riding with a friend: she was using a B&M halogen light of the kind that was cutting-edge in 99, I had an Edelux II.  The difference was astonishing.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2018, 03:29:42 am »
Having finished PBP twice (once was hors delai) and 6 other 1000k+ rides I would say the most important factor is the ability to ride through the low points when you are tired and in pain and can't remember why this whole thing sounded like a good idea. I have never done structured training and I'm not particularly aero on the bike but I have finished and enjoyed rides where many faster riders have quit.  It's not really mental toughness as much as the ability to focus on things other than the reasons you want to quit.

Re: A rider who successfully finishes PBP and enjoys it...
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2018, 11:26:34 am »
Exit Stage Left makes a good point about temperatures.  Brittany is only 100 miles south of Cornwall and has about the same weather. 

We live in a bit of a frost hollow, near a river that has its source in hills that rise to 1400 feet. That makes us liable to 'katabatic flow'. https://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/wxfacts/Katabatic-winds.htm
So the temperature is usually 2 to 3 degrees cooler than the nearby town under those conditions.

During an inversion https://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/wxfacts/Inversions.htm  that effect is magnified. The result on PBP is that temperatures at 6am in frost hollows between Loudeac and Sizun can be around 5 degrees, but 30 degrees during the day, as inversions occur during anti-cyclones, which means hot weather.

Doing the qualifiers will UK acquaint riders with such conditions, and they should evolve systems to cope, carrying spare clothes mainly.

I didn't do much research for my first PBP in 1999, as resources were limited. It's now possible to access a staggering amount of material. The BC Randonneurs PBP site is the largest single portal. http://www.randonneurs.bc.ca/pbp/main.html

Chrisheg's 2011 account was very good on the geology of the Armorican Massif, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armorican_Massif   but the link to that article is broken.

I also get insight into rider's experience from my partner Heather Swift's interviews. She rode in 1999 (DNF) and finished in 2003, she filmed in 2007, 2011 and 2015. She's even managed to get footage on the start podium, as here when she films the Taiwanese Ambassador, and her assistant, then an interview with a Taiwanese rider at St Martin des Pres, in the Armorican Massif. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQekVifTKUc

Another short film illustrates why the announcements in English from the podium evolve.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78wr8UAJmpE

I've done quite a bit of training in practical skills, and it's difficult to acquire practical skills through reading, you have to perform the activity. So it's interesting to see how people cope with the experience, and sometimes deliberately blind themselves to available detail, even in retrospect. As in this special YACF edition of 'Tales from Randonesia'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md4w1Li1zRY&t=9s