This year I did my first, and definitely not my last, Seattle to Portland ride with the amazing people over at Cascade bike club.
The ride was in one word EPIC! Perfect weather, great vibe and 8,000 + enthusiastic riders all with one mission. Portland or bust.
And now I’d like to share some of hard, and not so lessons learned in hopes that you can have a great experience in undertaking this somewhat daunting, in theory, 207 mile ride. It’s not really that hard…
Fueling. Most important. Start carb loading a few days, even a week, before the big day. You body will naturally store glycogen and be used as you deplete your energy sources during the ride.
I unfortunately did not follow this paid for it around mile 50. The result, I struggled to get on pace with eating and was behind most of the day – meaning that my body was depleted of reserves and I was burning what I ate right way. Your stomach can only handle so much solids while riding. My fix was to load up on gel packets, aminos, caffeine and electrolytes, which helped however was I really needed was some solid complex carbs to get me back on track.
A few lessons learned HARD on day 1:
Eat before you are hungry
Drink before you are thirsty
Supplement before you think you need to
Do some deep stretching when you can
Caffeine is good in small doses
Keep your sugar intake low – I had a regular clif bar with some yogurt they were handing out along with some gummy bears early on day 1 and was flying high on a wild sugar rush which I put into the pedals and spun out 23 mph for an hour or so, hammering with all I had until… The sugar crash and then, well. I crashed. HARD!!!!
Supplements. My go to on the bike was nuun electrolyte tablets, sport legs, GU Roctane, Clif BLOKS Energy Chews, Clif builder bars and good ol’ fashion H2O. There are water refilling stations every 30-50 miles however if the temp gets up there and you only have 1 bottle, that may not cut it. I rode with a 1.5L camelbak and didn’t regret it for a second. Sure you’ve got a pack on your back but they make them so small and lightweight these days that you don’t even know you have it one. And the camelbak bags have all kinds of nice pockets to store your goodies.
On the last day of the ride, I went thru 2 gallons of water using my water bladder and bottle. The recommend amount for consumption while on a ride is 1 16-ounce bottle per hour in cool weather, up to as many as four bottles per hour in extremely hot weather.
Cadence. The goal on a long ride is to, well, last to the finish line and not be carried over by your pals or driven by the support team. Simply put, stay in the threshold of your fast twitch muscles and resist the urge to “grind” using up your slow twitch power.
Here is a great breakdown of the comparison of fast vs. slow twitch muscles. The way you do this is by using your cadence as something of a “holy guide.” The faster you pedal, the faster your cadence and the more you use your fast twitch muscles, which are designed to keep you moving all day without tiring. During the ride I set my mark to stay above 90. This is totally doable and durning your training leading up to the race, train in that above 90 range to get the hang of it. It might feel like you are spinning like a freak of nature so practice in those high ranges until you get comfortable.
During stretches on your ride when you feel fatigue setting in, crank up your rate to the high 9’s until you get out of it. My rule while out there was if I’m say at 90 and rocking a pace of 19mph but feeling like I have a hair more, drop down 1 gear, push up the cadence a few notches and see how my speed reacts. Typically on the flats, I could get 1-2+ mph with a cadence of 95 and feel like I could stay there all day.
Tires/Tube. I saw over 100 blow outs on the road and am really glad I upgraded to some anti-flat tubes and picked up some new gator skins prior to setting off. I didn’t have experience with these thorn until I stared doing some research and found that guys have road these tubes until the rubber of their tire wears out, still without a flat. Started with 140 psi in the tire and ended with the same air.
Shoes. I heard many a people say that their feet were going numb during the ride. A term Hot Foot is typically used. This happens when you compress you nerves are squeezed between the heads of each foot’s five long metatarsal bones.