At Evans Cycles, we love to ride. Live to ride, even. We’re proud of the rides our colleagues manage to complete, and we take great pleasure in sharing their stories.
Here’s one from staff trainer, Nick, who recently rode the *AHEM* <Rhymes with Biggle> Mountain Mayhem 24 Hour Solo, in preparation for the Leadville 100…
Even the title of this sounds mental. Riding my bike for 24 hours! A friend of mine always put it thus: “Just remember what you were doing this time yesterday, and imagine riding since then!”.
I have done a solo 24h mountain bike race before. It’s taken me 5 years to remotely think about doing it again. They are that hard, but mentally hard as well as physically hard. It’s normally your head that gives in first, as long as you don’t go out too hard that is.
A 24 hour race is hard not only are you staying up all night, but you are pushing your body way beyond what it knows and likes, way beyond…
What I did last time and a lot of other riders do is split it into 4x6hour races, which makes it seem a bit easier. Breaking it down and getting off the bike every 6 hours for some proper food is a real help.
This year was different. As some of you may know I’m training for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in Colorado in August, so I was using this race as a training race for the Leadville. My aim was race for 10/11hours on the Saturday, eat, sleep and then get up and continue on Sunday. Massively slack I hear you all say, but I didn’t want to write myself off for weeks after and be unable to train. My aim was to try and get 100 miles off road in on my bike.
The race begins with a 1 mile running start, but most of the solo riders opt to walk. Then it’s straight into the 11km lap. I’m used to XC racing which is sub 2 hour events, so I was constantly reminding myself to calm down and ride slower because I was doing the equivalent of 12 of those bad boys!
The first couple of laps were around the 40 minute mark, which was good. I felt like I could keep that pace so on I pushed. I was stopping each lap to get a new bottle and make sure I had food. It was scorching hot – fluid and food can make or break you in these conditions.
I have tried loads of different brands and flavours. I would always suggest people find one they like the taste of and when you mix it up, always make it slightly weaker for when you race, everything tastes sweeter when you are exercising. I was rocking the Torq Vanilla Pod drink. I love that it’s not acidic and slightly milky – not to everyone’s taste but I like it.
So what do you eat on a ride like this?
Well with nutrition there are a whole host of choices out there. I’m not claiming to be a nutrition expert, but one thing I do know is what I like, what agrees with me and what doesn’t.
One word of advice I’d recommend to anyone looking at nutrition for riding, sportives, races or long rides is to try out the products you want to use before the event. All the nutrition brands out there do a great job of packing these products full of everything you will need to keep going, all you need to do is find out what you like the taste of and that works with you.
For a 24h race, make sure you have a variety of different flavours. After 6+ hours of racing, that’s probably 6 bars and/or gels. Eating that many of your favourite flavour bar is enough to turn your opinion. Mix it up. Also for this length of race, normal food and savoury food is a God send, a dry cheese bagel at 11pm has never tasted so good.
My weapon of choice is the Mule bars and gels. In total I managed 14 gels and 6 bars. One of the good things about these are the natural ingredients, there’s nothing in there that’s going to disagree with my stomach, which believe me is not something you ever want especially when you are racing. The flavours are awesome too and even though I love Apple Strudel, Jimmy’s Chocolate Orange and Summer Pudding, I had all the other flavours to mix it up and make sure I didn’t put myself off the strudel.
The MuleBar gels are again all natural, easy to digest and don’t turn my stomach inside out, and man do they work fast. After feeling rough at 8 hours in I smashed down a lemon Zinger gel and felt the lift within a few minutes! The Cafe Cortado get they make is great, just because it’s not too sweet, however if you’re not a coffee fan it has quite a strong coffee flavour so make sure you try it before your race/event. (<Editor note: Take heed, I adore the Summer Pudding MuleBar Kicks Gels but the Cafe Cortado one does NOT agree with my taste buds, and I love coffee..)
Nearly 10 hours later…
So after 9 hours 20 minutes of riding, 1 stripped crank and a few stretching stops I called it an evening. I’d only managed 135km but with a whopping 3600m of climbing – so it was time for a cheeky BBQ and some sleep. I can only imagine the pain of carrying on solidly for 24hours!
On day two, after another BBQ (you can see a pattern appearing here) I jumped back on the bike at 9 and smashed out another 4 laps. In total I managed to race for 12 hours – 17 laps and just shy of 180km with 4800m of climbing. Even with a 7 hour sleep I came 45 place out of 200, which isn’t bad seeing as I didn’t go there to race solidly for 24 hours.
There’s a challenge for next year though…