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Tough but educational

Discodan's picture

By Discodan - Posted on 16 November 2010

Re: This ride meeting: 
2010 Highland Fling
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Position (Category): 

Well that was an interesting way to learn what this MTB racing stuff is really about. I'm pretty happy with my result but what I found most interesting was how the body works (or doesn't) under these kind of conditions and how nutrition/hydration effects things. This was also my first ride on a bike I'd borrowed for the event but which I now think I will buy after it did such a good job.

The first leg to Wingello was pretty straight forward, after starting in the middle of the pack I went reasonably hard and was passing lots of people through to the transition area where I stopped for a bun, banana, piss and lube. I was surprised a lot of people rode straight through which meant a lot more hard work getting past them coming up

Lesson 1: don't stop at transition and don't have other food instead of the planned gel

About 10k out of Wingello I started to flag a little but I pressed on and at the 40k mark my body just stopped doing what it was told and wouldn't go up hills. In a couple of the semi-technical parts I just didn't have the energy to really control it and was just along for the ride. In retrospect I think this was a combo of not gelling up at the 1.5 hr mark (i.e. not sticking to the plan) and from pushing too hard too early. I'd been working on keeping my HR in the 160-170 range with the odd rest down to 150, maybe I'll try 155-165 next time. Somewhere in there I also had a pretty big crash, OTB at speed, which scuffed me up but not that much damage.

Lesson 2: pay attention to the signals of impending collapse and then do something about it immediately

A brief cramp on the long climb after that wide but shallow ridable creek crossing saw me off the bike briefly but was my only cramp for the day. Maybe a few days of Magnesium tablets worked. At 45k I had to stop and watch everyone come past whilst I jammed a gel and realised I'd run out of fluids (started with about 2L of powerade/glucoden mix) which wasn't great.

Lesson 3: pack more fluid!

After 5 mins I had enough energy to move again but it was touch and go. I went into survival mode and just kept moving, hooking up behind a master who was also in a world of pain. I was eyeing off his two full bidons with envy but resisted throwing a stick in his spokes and grabbing them. Slowly the body came back online and I was able to get some speed up but still pretty feeble, walking up hills was quite acceptable in my mind at that point (1 x 9 gearing of 36f 32r didn't help here, will get a 11-34t rear cluster next time). Then it was just a case of getting home, I'm sure they placed the 10k and 5k to go signs further out just to give people false hope.

Once over the line I had all the classic symptoms of dehydration but came good pretty quicky. I was pretty happy with a 3:15 despite the collapse in the middle. Amazingly the results said I only lost 7 places in the second leg so I think a lot of people were suffering as well. Mr Garmin reported I'd spent 11 minutes stopped which is less than it felt but something to work on next time. I'm sure I saw a lot of the Nobmobbers out there but who knows, maybe we need to wear our names on our jerseys Smiling

Rob's picture

Nice report - good to see a few people sharing their stories this year.

Am not sure if this is what happened to you, and everyone is different, but I found that trying to race for over a couple of hours on just gels is not a good move. They are OK within 30 minutes, maybe an hour at a push, of the finish to get you home, but seem to give you spikes of energy rather than something more sustained.

I'm not surprised you were dehydrated either - 3 hours of racing on a warm day requires much more than 2l you started with.

All good lessons though as you say. Thanks for sharing Smiling

Discodan's picture

I forgot to mention I was using soft museli bars as my second source of carbs/energy but maybe I still needed something of more substance. Now that I'm a man of leisure I'll try a few more combos on longer rides to see what works

Lesson 4: Don't buy the museli bars with the squiggle of chocolate on top if you plan to drop a half-eaten one inside the front of your jersey as you approach a technical bit

philberesford's picture

Good on ya. Now go buy that bike!!!! What did you ride?

PS Muesli is for rabbits, NOT endurance athletes. There are far better sources to get energy from.

Logan's picture

I am all about Muesli tbh, think its a great way of making sure you have a slow release of carbs!

hawkeye's picture

I can't get muesli bars down at anything more than recovery pace - they just sit there like ground-up carboard. Sticking out tongue

I found 1xEndura gel and 1x750ml bottle of Endura Rehydration mixed at the recommended strength per hour worked for my 50km last month and a couple of training rides in the lead-up to the event.

A fresh white bread and berry jam sanga worked better when I felt lke something more substantial than a gel at a 2-minute mid-ride stop. Have yet to try that while pedalling.

Logan's picture

But beforehand Muesli is great.

For my race I utilised Infinit Nutrition which has everything you need in it, carbs, protein, electrolytes, amino acids, sodium etc so you dont need to eat and it worked well for me. I took on a few additional bananas and had 3 gels during the course of the whole race but that was it.

philberesford's picture

Don't get me wrong I love Muesli and have it for breakfast most mornings.

I just don't believe it's a good nutrition choice during a race/ride.

Discodan's picture

In bar format they are pretty hard to get down, too gluggy and that was one of the 'soft' ones. I thought they'd be right because they have the right nutritional content, are light and compact and can be opened with one hand on the bike. Maybe I'll try the banana taped to the frame trick I saw someone using Smiling

Phil, The bike is nothing too flash; it's an old XTC Team frame running X0 in 1 x 9 and SID Race forks. It's a pretty harsh ride but is an honest 10kg and climbs like the best of cliches. The frame is marginaly too small for me so I'm contemplating either picking up a cheap carbon ebay frame or a second hand dually frame, either way it's very ridable for now so no need for me to rush and do something

philberesford's picture

Yup, I saw him too.

(I also have an old XTC 3x9 that I use for commuting)

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