Author Topic: Audaxability  (Read 3881 times)

Audaxability
« on: April 23, 2020, 11:47:31 am »
Sorry got carried away with the catchy title... feel free to moderate me away if not an appropriate discussion... or link me to elsewhere for similar things I've missed !

Since we're not riding much at the moment I've been musing on my general long distance philosophy and trying to break down different areas that might be seen as key skills for being a "good" successful audaxer, and how their importance changes as the distances increase.

So here's my starter for ten, what areas have I missed ? (sub categories & silly ones also accepted)
  • Fitness (Aerobic mostly, probably lump in strength/condition/anaerobic here too as the route demands)
  • Fit / Comfort
  • Fuelling / Hydration
  • Technical (might split into on the fly bike maintenance, clothing, equipment?)
  • Mental (attitude ? fortitude? problem solving?)
  • Sleep management
  • Pacing (but I feel like that could be grouped under something more general I haven't quite put my finger on yet)

But that's really the next stage of my musing, I might even put together a google form for that bit.
Thanks for any thoughts / constructive discussions / amusing diversions / ridicule / anecdotes of 100words or less... etc  ;D

jiberjaber

  • ... Fancy Pants \o/ ...
  • ACME S&M^2
Re: Audaxability
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2020, 01:17:48 pm »
Wow - this is a tricky one, could be a good candidate for a pair-wise comparison to groupthink it to a list....

I think there is something further in the 'mental' part but its such a broad catch-all..

planning, calculating and adapting in terms of time, route and activities (after all faff is the thing that makes it harder as it is a time tine and effects everything else, faff and not be very fit = more time pressure etc.. (other examples are available) )

Interesting!
Regards,

Joergen

S2L

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2020, 01:19:36 pm »
If fitness was a requirement, then the rate of DNF would be a lot higher...

That of course depends on the definition of fitness, but a BMI of 28 is not fitness in my books

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Audaxability
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2020, 01:22:49 pm »
I think it mostly comes down to having a body that will cooperate (which is of course as much about luck as anything else), having enough Copious Free Time™ to spend a lot of time riding, and the mental disposition to think that it's actually a good way to spend said time.  The rest can be learned/trained for.

Probably helps to have some kind of pedal cycle, too.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: Audaxability
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2020, 01:43:47 pm »
I'm not sure if this is a category in itself, or merely a facet of other categories (or potentially a sub-category of 'Mental') but Experience is a massive factor in being a successful audaxer.

For example, I've done enough 200s now that I can face pretty much any 200 with minimal preparation (or at least, I instinctively know what prep I need to do and what kit I need to carry without thinking about it too hard), but for 400s upwards, I still need to do a lot of planning.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • Chartered accountant in 5 different decades
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Audaxability
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2020, 03:26:19 pm »
Mental.  If I think of the events I haven't finished, it's been the head that has let me down in about half of them.  Others have been mechanical and injury. 

On technical I would put the clothing element into planning - knowing what to take with you - although some of that is short-term planning when the weather forecast turns from a nice day out with a tailwind home to its usual uurgh 24 hours before the event starts.  That might be because I'm alright with the clothing bit but not very good with the on the fly bike maintenance.

BMI and Fitness don't necessarily correlated.  There are plenty of people I work with who have a perfectly healthy BMI but would be shattered after riding 20 miles. 

Sleep?????
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 170 (metric) 520 (furlongs)  112 (nautical miles)

S2L

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2020, 03:47:40 pm »


BMI and Fitness don't necessarily correlated.  There are plenty of people I work with who have a perfectly healthy BMI but would be shattered after riding 20 miles. 


There are many ways to measure fitness... recently I read that according to a study if you can do 40 press ups the chances of having a heart attack are basically zero... whereas I have not seen anywhere than being able to cycle 200 km has the same effect, in fact I can recall quite a few long distance riders dropping dead whilst cycling over the years.

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2020, 04:40:08 pm »
I'm not sure if this is a category in itself, or merely a facet of other categories (or potentially a sub-category of 'Mental') but Experience is a massive factor in being a successful audaxer.

For example, I've done enough 200s now that I can face pretty much any 200 with minimal preparation (or at least, I instinctively know what prep I need to do and what kit I need to carry without thinking about it too hard), but for 400s upwards, I still need to do a lot of planning.

This is what I was going to post. Early on I went massively over the top with planning and preparation to get round various 200s. Rewriting routesheets in a preferred format for fear of getting lost, spare parts beyond belief (I did my first 200 with a crank puller as I'd just replaced the crank and was worried something would go wrong), and also made a huge number of mistakes (not eating enough, thinking I'll fill up the water bottles in the next shop rather than this one and then not seeing another shop for 50 blisteringly hot/hilly km).

With experience I got a lot more blasé. I'd just turn up for a 200 having ridden 50km in the month before and a small saddlepack. Whatever I lacked in physical preparedness (i.e. miles in the legs or "training") I'd just have to make up for with mental fortitude and I generally knew that I could and would. It was also the fact that, early on, I really really wanted to complete every ride. After a 50 point season I just started to ride Audaxes for fun, if it was a horrible headwind and pissing with rain I'd be perfectly happy to bail to a train station and call it a day. I still finished most rides but it definitely makes it a nicer experience knowing that you could bail if you wanted to.

Sleep management is one that I've seen many people struggle with. I'm lucky in that I can get by on very little (I think I had ~10h max in total during both LEL'09 and PBP'11) and it doesn't really affect me. Sure I got the dozies on both rides, but I had enough time for a 45 minute power nap that got me through to the next 2h sleep. I've ridden a few 200s with a friend and we've tried a 300 but he bailed due to inexperience, but there's no chance he'd be able to push on to a 400, he just can't deal with the sleep dep problems and, like me at some points, just isn't fast enough to get a good nap anywhere.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2020, 05:07:50 pm »
I always sum up long-distance cycling like this. Anybody can ride long distances. You just have to be stupid enough to think it's a good idea and believe in yourself enough to see it through to the bitter end. For me, anything else is over-thinking it. We're none of us athletes, after all!

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • Chartered accountant in 5 different decades
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: Audaxability
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2020, 05:08:43 pm »
Another thought on mental - not so much positive mental attitude but being in the right headspace.  My first PBP (2007) was ridden in shocking weather.  It was twice the distance I'd ever ridden before.  My saddle broke at 4am 15km out of Brest and I had to ride the next 65km either in a BMX position or out of the saddle, before getting a new saddle with 600km to go.  Yet there was never a point where I thought I wasn't going to finish.

Second PBP 2011, way more experienced, wanting to do a fast time, stressful experience at registration where they decided they didn't like my bike.  Suffered and was miserable all the way to Brest and on the point of giving up, before reducing the level of giving up to.  "I'm stopping to sleep in Brest and to hell with the time."  After that, planned to tour back without a care in the world and rode an indecently fast 400 back to Villaines and ended up finishing less sleep deprived that an the start.

Third PBP 2015, way more sensible.  Set off with the objective of enjoying it, towed a group from Mortagne to Villaines for the sheer hell of it, and generally had a ball. 

I've been successful at Audax when I've managed not to worry about it. 
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 170 (metric) 520 (furlongs)  112 (nautical miles)

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2020, 05:59:11 pm »
Top two inches

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2020, 11:03:47 pm »
I've been successful at Audax when I've managed not to worry about it.

I think that you need to put that into context.
Relaxed on the event but committed in the preparation. For me they go hand in hand.



Re: Audaxability
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2020, 11:20:33 pm »
My first reaction was to endorse the "its all upstairs" line, though that is probably a little to simplistic.   

A minimum level of fitness, organisation and technical ability definitely helps but the biggest obstacles to the longest events are mainly mental (though I say that as somebody for whom sleep is easy and I know thats a big issue for some).

Ive DNFd a fair few audaxes, sometimes a mechanical or medical issue will knock you out (a failed York Arrow and PBP 2019 are my two unwelcome poster boys). 

The events Ive finished after having doubts were ones where I decided I was going to finish even if I was going to be out of time which I guess was a way of taking pressure off myself.

It might just be me but taking the (mainly self inflicted) pressure off myself is conducive to success.  When thoughts of how awful it all is and how easy a DNF would be Ive found that reminding myself how fantastically well Im doing on an event  is a big +.  Even when the guy at the Gainsborough Travelodge says that you dont actually exist at 2am when youre trying to check in. 

Do continue your research and bottle the elixir!

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2020, 11:53:30 pm »
I always sum up long-distance cycling like this. Anybody can ride long distances. You just have to be stupid enough to think it's a good idea and believe in yourself enough to see it through to the bitter end. For me, anything else is over-thinking it. We're none of us athletes, after all!
For some years I've been toying with the idea of writing a book titled along the the lines of "Anybody Can Ride Long Distances"...  Yes, the right mindset is all important, but you only have to look at the DNF percentage of say LEL 2017, to realise it is more than sheer determination that is required to be a successful long distance rider.  In comparison to the general population I would say that successful audaxers could be considered as athletes in the wider sense.
Most of the stuff I say is true because I saw it in a dream and I don't have the presence of mind to make up lies when I'm asleep.   Bryan Andreas

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Audaxability
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2020, 12:01:25 am »
Clothing selection for conditions is a big one for me. My most difficult ride ever had me really, REALLY cold and there was nowhere I could hide because I was in rural France/Belgium so no kind of salvation available. If you get cold, wet, or worse, both, even the hardiest and fittest will crumble.

The only reason I didn't DNF mine (or at least, find somewhere warm to sleep from 2am until about 8am and therefore probably finish late) was that there was no choice. The only feasible bail out would be to beg the organiser to give me a lift home in his minivan at the halfway mark and that would be to let the side down to an unforgivable degree.
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
https://bit.ly/2Xg8pRD



Ban cars.

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2020, 09:04:38 am »
Wow - this is a tricky one, could be a good candidate for a pair-wise comparison to groupthink it to a list....

I think there is something further in the 'mental' part but its such a broad catch-all..

planning, calculating and adapting in terms of time, route and activities (after all faff is the thing that makes it harder as it is a time tine and effects everything else, faff and not be very fit = more time pressure etc.. (other examples are available) )

Interesting!

Cheer yes I think I've added Planning/Preparation to the list.

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2020, 09:08:24 am »
I'm not sure if this is a category in itself, or merely a facet of other categories (or potentially a sub-category of 'Mental') but Experience is a massive factor in being a successful audaxer.

For example, I've done enough 200s now that I can face pretty much any 200 with minimal preparation (or at least, I instinctively know what prep I need to do and what kit I need to carry without thinking about it too hard), but for 400s upwards, I still need to do a lot of planning.

Yeah I'm trying to avoid "experience" as something slightly nebulous, plenty of people in endurance sports in general jump in at the deep end and do well enough without much experience, maybe they learn it in training or for the first time in their big event but for sure that gives them a lot of extra unknowns & risk in effect.
Also if I was rating by distance experience wouldn't factor so much until 300km+.

I am perhaps thinking of a more general "Execution" which covers pacing and experience certainly plays into the ability to execute a plan or a ride successfully.

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2020, 09:15:06 am »
My first reaction was to endorse the "its all upstairs" line, though that is probably a little to simplistic.   

A minimum level of fitness, organisation and technical ability definitely helps but the biggest obstacles to the longest events are mainly mental (though I say that as somebody for whom sleep is easy and I know thats a big issue for some).
%u2026
Do continue your research and bottle the elixir!

Cheers yes and to some extent those replies are little predictable, I'm quite sure as an experienced Audaxer there are a lot of aspects of preparation and self management we have developed & take for granted.
And mental fortitude well.. how big a factor is that in 100km or 200km compared to 600 ?...

If as newcomer planning their first 400km say asked for advice and all we told them was "it's all in the mind" I think we'd be selling them short somewhat (and somewhat dangerously too!).

[Back story.. if anything as an endurance athlete & coach in various sports over 20 or so years I've come to realise that we take a lot of our skill/ability for granted, only if we recognise what it is that we do (and make no doubt that what we do is remarkable) and how we do it can we be useful to passing on that to others]

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2020, 09:16:15 am »
If fitness was a requirement, then the rate of DNF would be a lot higher...

That of course depends on the definition of fitness, but a BMI of 28 is not fitness in my books
BMI is a very poor metric.  When we have our annual health check at work all my numbers come back in the green (blood pressure, heart rate, body fat, cholesterol) except BMI if I had smaller leg muscles it probably would but I'm not sure how that would make me fitter.

I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year. Lockdown has it down to 26 hoping to get it below 25 for the first time in many years this summer.

Of course this will make my trousers loose and a smaller size won't go over my thighs.

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Speed becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.
   Eddington  87 miles

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2020, 10:32:52 am »
For my definition of  fitness I'm gonna take the GCSE PE definition...

"Fitness is the ability to meet the demands of the environment"

Don't care how you want to try and measure it  ;D (BMI absolutely isn't it) but for me its the physical ability to cope with the environment we're about to put it in.

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2020, 10:44:18 am »

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Soured becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.


Not leaving your bottles at home on the kitchen table ?   :)

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2020, 10:49:05 am »
I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year.

Snap-26.9 to be exact and by my standards, I was flying.

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2020, 10:50:48 am »

I think the ability to complete audax is mostly mental,  determination,  willpower and planning.  Soured becomes more crucial as the distances go up as riding faster reduces the need to ensure sleep deprivation.


Not leaving your bottles at home on the kitchen table ?   :)

Or your front wheel leaning against the garage door when you put your bike in the car ?..
(Oh that was a triathlon and not me :P)

S2L

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2020, 01:19:40 pm »


I think my BMI was 27 when I completed PBP last year. Lockdown has it down to 26 hoping to get it below 25 for the first time in many years this summer.


Fine, but your 27 BMI was not your peak of fitness, otherwise you wouldn't try to reduce it...

To put it in another way, you completed PBP despite your BMI of 27, which proves my point that fitness is not a requirement for Audax.

I have yet to see a piece of evidence linking long distance cycling with any health benefit in addition to say, doing your 90-150 minutes of weekly exercise or whatever the Government bangs on about

Re: Audaxability
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2020, 01:43:16 pm »
During normal times the NHS recommend minimum is 150 mins per week of moderate or 75 minutes of intense. It also states this is a minimum and it is best if you do more.

Personally I am trying to do as much in the sunshine as possible. Partly because it is good for mental health and partly because I expect a link between vitamin D deficiency and poor covid outcomes might soon be established.


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