Author Topic: Coping with the Dozies  (Read 3768 times)

Planet X Paul

  • The Green Machine
Coping with the Dozies
« on: June 04, 2019, 03:19:21 pm »
Having read Phil W's account of the Windsor Chester Windsor (which I also did), he mentioned 'Howard was battered and bruised, his face was was swollen and cut, he had properly crashed when he fell asleep on the bike, broken his helmet in four places, bloodied knees, his ribs hurt, ripped his jacket'.  This is a serious concern for me on long audax rides as I can say that it has nearly happened to me on several occasions.  I was OK on WCW as I had 2hr 45min sleep at the appropriate control and I didn't suffer with the dozies at all.

However, the London Wales London (400) was a different matter.  After the last manned control and predawn I suffered terribly and there were certainly 4 or 5 times when I suddenly thought 'I was asleep then', but somehow regained control before the inevitable crash.  Even though it was freezing cold (which you would think would keep you awake), listening to music and standing on the pedals, nothing would stop me drifting off. 

I know people say, 'just have a 15 minute power nap in a ditch', but when it is near zero degrees and everywhere is wet at the same temperature, it is not practical to simply lie down in a field and get some sleep.  So, what are other's recommendations for combating the dozies?  I have tried caffeine tablets and they do not seem to have any effect on me.


Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2019, 03:21:29 pm »
I've walked for a couple of miles before when it was too cold to sleep.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2019, 03:27:03 pm »
Having fallen asleep on the bike a couple of times (one resulting in a crash) my technique for cycling when sleepy is now much the same as for driving when sleepy: I try not to put myself in that position in the first place, but if it happens, I stop and do something else for a bit.  It just strikes me as a particularly stupid way to acquire a cycling injury, for little benefit.  Racing and off-roading are fun, sleep-deprivation isn't.

I accept that's likely to be an unpopular opinion in these parts...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2019, 03:27:38 pm »
I had this in my first 400 which I managed to start with an enormous sleep deficit. I was at the point of emptying out a bin bag in a Belgian train station to use as an emergency bivvy so I could sleep for an hour. It was scary. I DEFINITELY fell asleep on the bike at least twice.

Somehow I managed to suffer through until the sun came up whereupon it became warm enough to find a picnic table to crash out at for 90 mins. After this I was fine, but that 0300-0830 patch, brrrrr I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

For my next ride of its kind I will have a bivvy in the saddlebag so that I can sleep.
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
https://bit.ly/2Xg8pRD


Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2019, 03:27:43 pm »
The following has helped me:
- sleeping as much as I can the week leading up to the ride (8 hours a night at least) to prevent the dozies
- no caffeine for 10 days beforehand (so when you do get some on the ride it makes a difference & you'll sleep better leading up to the ride too)
- chew gum
- power nap if poss
- walk (as Deano says) if it's too cold

It won't solve it completely - only proper sleep will do that - but it'll help.


Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2019, 03:45:21 pm »
Agreed. There are times when it's so cold that sleeping isn't a good idea - and as I'm sure you know, thermal control is one of those things that goes towards the end of a long ride. The only solution is do to something that keeps you awake, walking makes sense, but my personal solution is to sing. Loudly. This isn't a solution which works when riding in company - with my singing I wouldn't be in company very long anyway - but if there was someone to talk to I'd be keeping myself awake talking to them.

This at least get you through to somewhere warmer, where you can get a proper sleep.

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2019, 03:50:27 pm »
I remember that I resorted to putting one haribo in my mouth at a time and trying to make it last as long as I could as a tactic to stave off on the bike slumbering. It did work but it is a last resort only!
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
https://bit.ly/2Xg8pRD


madamemugwump

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2019, 03:55:11 pm »
This will be my second 'don't do it then' kind of response. Second after the aforementioned dehydration/cycling in the heat. Coincidentally, I think I may have even had a conversation with PW about sleep deprivation (and its dangers) on a previous WCW. I've seen some riders on PBP in a pretty bad way with it and thought it foolishly dangerous. It's only a bike ride after all.

I reckon it's a balancing act, between sleep and speed. If you're slow and need sleep (like me) then you really do need to question whether a long brevet is something you really want to be doing. If you're quick enough and/or can get by on limited zeds then fine, start looking at time/sleep management etc. but otherwise...

FWIW, I'm just about OK on a 600 but I'm aware that I'm going into the danger zone on anything longer -  I probably won't be doing another 400+ brevet again, just not worth the risk. I'll still ride the distance but just not with the time constraints.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2019, 03:58:05 pm »
I remember that I resorted to putting one haribo in my mouth at a time and trying to make it last as long as I could as a tactic to stave off on the bike slumbering. It did work but it is a last resort only!

I find eating sugar works to keep me awake for a few minutes longer.  Good for getting to the next junction so you can leave the motorway safely, not so useful on a long bike ride.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2019, 04:00:31 pm »
I'm lucky in that I get plenty of warning of impending sleepiness, culminating in micro-sleeps which are no more than a head-nod in duration.  The only problem then is if it's too cold or wet to find somewhere to sleep for 10 minutes.

A friend told me of his dream that he was travelling along a road with railings either side.  Then he woke up and found he was on his bike.

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2019, 04:03:50 pm »
- no caffeine for 10 days beforehand (so when you do get some on the ride it makes a difference & you'll sleep better leading up to the ride too)

I first tried the no caffeine rule leading up to long rides last year. My intention was to improve the effect of caffeine on the ride, but I observed the much better sleep I was getting and didn't really need caffeine on the rides as a result.

I tend to stop caffeine 4 - 5 days before the ride.

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2019, 04:56:45 pm »
I sometimes semi-"sleep" standing up. All you need to do is stop by a gate, rest your head on your folded arms and close your eyes. I (probably) don't actually fully sleep, but it's enough of a mind rest to not feel the urgent need to sleep any more.
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2019, 05:08:22 pm »
I know people say, 'just have a 15 minute power nap in a ditch', but when it is near zero degrees and everywhere is wet at the same temperature, it is not practical to simply lie down in a field and get some sleep.  So, what are other's recommendations for combating the dozies?  I have tried caffeine tablets and they do not seem to have any effect on me.

What I discovered on the Auld Alliance as I was woken from a snooze in a bus shelter in the pissing rain, was that I was still warm after 5 minutes sleep which was enough to kick me on for the rest of the ride.
Kazoo reckons it was 4c, bus shelter was south facing, made of concrete and had a wooden bench on top of concrete.

I carry a bivvy bag and foil blankets; which if you get wrapped up in and into before you cool down too much should keep you warm enough for a snooze somewhere sheltered.
I didn't use them on the AA though I was just sat there with my autumn kit on.

Diesel

  • or Richard
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2019, 05:37:08 pm »
I'd agree with many of the things already stated - lay off caffeine in the run up, don't start with a sleep deficit, etc

One thing I'd add is to try and find some company. On a calendar event you are probably not far from someone else and the chatting may help you stay awake or alert or if you are falling asleep they may be good at ensuring you stop and stay safe (or I guess be around if you crash  :facepalm:)

I also find that the dozies are unpredictable. Some nights I can ride through and some I struggle. And it may not just be overnight. On the Beast from the East some years ago I had to stop about 7 in the morning and slept on the verge for a short while.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2019, 05:41:21 pm »
And it may not just be overnight. On the Beast from the East some years ago I had to stop about 7 in the morning and slept on the verge for a short while.

Absolutely.  While I tend to *feel* tired at 4am, the actual dozies tend to happen during my natural lulls around 10am and 5pm.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2019, 05:56:14 pm »
For me the best cure to the Dozies where stopping isn't an option is to talk. If riding with someone else try to keep a conversation going, play a game of 20 questions for example.

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2019, 06:42:43 pm »
Sleep deprivation could well be one of the contributing factors toward my retirement from rides longer than 300km.

I famously turn into a pumpkin after 1am. We've had to walk the tandem for a few km at 2am, somewhere in Wales when I was too sleepy to be safe. Fboab has also had to try and keep me awake ("Oh look - a bird!") when we were on solos and I was falling asleep - on a fixed for god's sake, so I was still pedalling.

It's a stupid state to get into, and it's the potential to cause others to come to grief, or have to come to my rescue, that makes me think (this is MY opinion of course, other judgements are equally valid) it's actually a monumentally selfish thing to do; like riding in snowy or icy conditions without proper equipment, fully expecting others to put themselves at risk to rescue you, should you crash.

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2019, 06:57:58 pm »
If it's likely to be wet and / or maybe cold.

Take a large silver foil emergency blanket
Some gaffa or non rip sellotape. A few strands of bungy cord if tree bivvy looking likely.
Tea light candles
Matches or lighter

Find a suitable bus stop, shop entrance, dry stone wall, church lynch gate or porch or tree etc. You can affix the silver foil to make a fairly weather proof but not completely draft free shelter.  Get yourself inside your shelter. Light candles and place so no danger of being near silver foil. You will get warm and be able to sleep pretty quickly.  Make sure there's enough draft to prevent build up of fumes. Sitting up is warmer than lying down, if you have something to lean against.

If riding as a pair then bothy bags are perfect, if a little bulkier, (and much simpler to setup and get in) for anywhere.

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2019, 07:08:08 pm »
I suppose it's the kind of thing that drivers might discuss. At least lorry drivers have to use a tachograph. Although a GPS fulfils a similar service in recording activity. I have seen data from a GPS quoted in cases where cyclists have come to grief after losing control downhill.

https://www.velonews.com/2012/06/news/family-sues-strava-over-descending-death_224889

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2019, 07:56:50 pm »
If it's likely to be wet and / or maybe cold.

Take a large silver foil emergency blanket
Some gaffa or non rip sellotape. A few strands of bungy cord if tree bivvy looking likely.
Tea light candles
Matches or lighter

Find a suitable bus stop, shop entrance, dry stone wall, church lynch gate or porch or tree etc. You can affix the silver foil to make a fairly weather proof but not completely draft free shelter.  Get yourself inside your shelter. Light candles and place so no danger of being near silver foil. You will get warm and be able to sleep pretty quickly.  Make sure there's enough draft to prevent build up of fumes. Sitting up is warmer than lying down, if you have something to lean against.

If riding as a pair then bothy bags are perfect, if a little bulkier, (and much simpler to setup and get in) for anywhere.

Sounds very similar to my Staying Alive Cold kit. I carry it in winter, just in case.

I carry a space blanket the rest of the year too (Thermartex blanket).

For the OP's question.

Never underestimate the power of a short power nap. On RatN, I had a major issue on the final day, struggling to stay awake. I found a cafe that was open (amazingly), and shut my eyes for about 10 minutes, I was woken by the waiter bringing my food, tho I had set an alarm. That kept me going for another 8ish hours of cycling, and I finally got to be about 15 hours later.

Even if you just wrap yourself in a space blanket and lean against a tree for ten mins, it can make all the difference. It helps tho to start looking for a spot to stop before you're at the falling off stage. Just remember the first law of bivviing. There's always a better place to bivvi just down the road, you'll only find this place after you've already stopped...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2019, 09:47:38 pm »
Not an easy one.  Abstinence from caffeine for one week before (which creates an opposite problem of dozies at work, but at least struggling to keep eyes awake in a meeting is less catastrophic than falling asleep on the bike), as mentioned by various above.  I try to avoid being on the road between 1am and 3am - although that can be difficult with rides that start in the evening like PBP (and the Auld Alliance).

Company is good, but talking is much better.  However, if I'm really tired I can struggle to follow a wheel.  I've also been known to sing, which can drive company away or at least make them rather disconcerted.  Then, if all else fails, I stop and put my head down.  I've never been able to sleep properly but 10 or 15 minutes with my eyes closed can usually get me going again.  I might have to repeat this once or twice if I have to ride right through the night like on a Cambrian Series. 

On the (fortunately rare occasions) I've had an overnight ride in the rain I've not suffered from the dozies.  I suspect that the extra concentration required to navigate wet/slippery roads and rain on the face helps to keep me awake.

Twice I've abandoned, where I've just not felt safe/right to continue.  Both times I was struggling in any case, the dozies were the last straw.
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 168 (metric) 518 (furlongs)  111 (nautical miles)

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2019, 11:31:03 pm »
I sometimes semi-"sleep" standing up. All you need to do is stop by a gate, rest your head on your folded arms and close your eyes. I (probably) don't actually fully sleep, but it's enough of a mind rest to not feel the urgent need to sleep any more.
This is exactly what I’ve done several times over the years when it’s not been possible to lie down to rest for whatever reason. Good thing is that there are plenty of gates around and it doesn’t matter how cold or wet it is, as you’re only stopping for a short while. It is often enough to help you momentarily switch off and reset your brain which can enable you continue safely a lot further. In the absence of gates I’ve also slept standing up, leaning on trees.
Always avoiding caffeine in normal life when not cycling through the night helps me too, as it then works when I need it. Just one coffee can keep me awake all night, but I always carry a few caffeine gels just in case. The sugar boost helps as much as the caffeine. Sleeping well between bike rides is also helped by avoiding caffeine and that in turn means you are better rested for your next bike ride.


Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2019, 11:37:10 pm »
Sleeping well before a big event, especially one with an audax o'clock start, is a skill I've yet to master.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2019, 09:13:42 am »
Not an easy one.  Abstinence from caffeine for one week before (which creates an opposite problem of dozies at work, but at least struggling to keep eyes awake in a meeting is less catastrophic than falling asleep on the bike), as mentioned by various above.  I try to avoid being on the road between 1am and 3am - although that can be difficult with rides that start in the evening like PBP (and the Auld Alliance).

Company is good, but talking is much better.  However, if I'm really tired I can struggle to follow a wheel.  I've also been known to sing, which can drive company away

What can also work the brain a little harder is if you try singing 'I'm sorry I haven't a clue' style - i.e. one song to the tune of another ;D
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Re: Coping with the Dozies
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2019, 05:41:58 pm »
On my last 400 I filled my bidon with a litre of something called Blue Bear I purchased at a petrol station. Every time I felt remotely sleepy I took a big glug. Doesn't taste great but boy does it keep you awake.