Strategies for endurance riding (Everesting/Audax)

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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fruitfly
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by fruitfly

I am planning to attempt an Everesting. For me, it's a challenge, not a race. The elevation and distance provide all the challenge I need without adding speed on top! The recent discussion on improving average speed was interesting, but different from what I am looking for.

Some observations/guesses:

Lab studies show that experienced cyclists do a good job of choosing a cadence that is most efficient for them. Lab studies also show that the best cadence for energy conservation/efficiency is low, because most of the energy is applied to moving the bike rather than the legs (At 105rpm, more than half your energy is going to move your legs, not the bike). Spin to win is great for racing, but what is the best cadence for a ride that will likely take me 18 hours or so, mostly going uphill at very low speeds?

When I put my Garmin in my pocket, I find that my pacing in Everesting practice runs is remarkably consistent (+/- 2 minutes for a hill with 680m ascent, 11.1km long; +/- 4 min for a hill with 910m ascent, 12.5km). By extension from the studies showing that experienced cyclists pick the best cadence, do experienced cyclists pick the right combination of gear and cadence? Or should I be sticking to heart rate?

Studies show that more power is achieved when climbing seated vs standing. Sometimes I stand just to stretch my back/change position, but mostly I sit (I am a natural spinner left to my own devices).

Any advice for me?
Last edited by fruitfly on Thu May 21, 2020 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

by Weenie


patchsurfer
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by patchsurfer

I haven't done an everesting, yet...fair play to you. I'm plotting one as a fundraiser...getting the miles in now, dealing with a couple of niggling injuries that threaten to derail me. (There have been conversations in my house about old men and skateboards...)

On any kind of very long ride, I wouldn't ride to either cadence or heart rate: if you're anything like me, you can expect you're going to see a fair amount of cardiac drift after even a few hours at any given intensity. A slower cadence might be more efficient, but more stress on your knees. Long rides like this do funny things to your body, show up weaknesses and imbalances you never knew you had. I figure at some point in your ride, you're going to want to spin...and at some point, you'll probably want to spin but not be capable of it. I'm planning my gearing to try and ride my climb in the middle of the block for the first few hours, and giving myself some room to have a bad spell. Lots of core work, to try and stave off those sore backs and necks.

Honestly, I'm not looking into any metrics beyond PE, how much food I can cram down my gullet, and where the next coffee's going to some from. Just going to try to enjoy the day and remember the people I'm riding it for - enjoyment might be a bit of a stretch goal, but hey...

Best of luck! I look forward to seeing what else comes up... :beerchug:

AeroObsessive
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by AeroObsessive

Haven't coached anyone for an Everest, but have for plenty of 6/12/16/24hr events.

Some general tips.

*Don't start too hard.
*Don't start too hard.
*Don't start too hard.
*If you think you're going too easy, back it off a bit.
*Eat what you can manage.
*Crushed up Pringles are an excellent source of carbs and can break up the sweet overload that may occur.
*Plain water can be just the ticket at times, especially for any gastrointestinal issues. Just sip away until thing feels better.
*Chamois creme. Lots and lots. Add more when needed, change of bibs on hand a good idea. Same for any contact points, have different gloves on hand, helmet etc.
*Dose caffeine carefully, has a half life of about 4hrs, easy to overdo it. Save it for when you really need a lift.
*Having food/drinks as a "reward" can work real well - personal favourite is iced coffee. Can give your mood a real lift.
*Remember why you're doing the challenge, if it becomes too much, quit fast and hard, give it a go some other time, no point to grind away into injury or worse.
*Have fun.

mattebike
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:33 pm

by mattebike

Do you have some sources of these lab studies you mention in the original post to hand please? I'm very interested in this topic and learning more about it as I'm also a spinner. I tend to spin at 95rpm for a 200-220W constant effort on that flat (which keeps my HR ~145 - max 182) so I'm wondering if I'm 'wasting energy' turning my legs.

Article here (lab-based sources are not cited) seems to imply what you're saying, and I can see that at lower power outputs moving your legs would be the main energy cost ('glass cranks' spin out sessions come to mind). If we take the extreme case of ~0 resistance on the pedals (back wheel off the ground), then moving the legs would be an even higher percentage of the energy cost.

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/w ... ome-191779

Article here (citation from 1996, which is pretty old!) seems to imply that spinning faster increases oxygen uptake. I've also heard from a friend about how for the same power output, higher cadence (and therefore less torque) uses more fat-burning than carb-burning?

https://blog.wahoofitness.com/cycling-c ... ove-yours/

Does anyone have any later studies on this? Optimum cadence, etc?

Obviously one of the huge strategies is going to be nutrition on the day and trying to stay in a more aerobic state to burn a higher percentage of fat as fuel, particularly early on. AeroObsessive's 3-point 'Don't start too hard' will be key I should think. I guess we can see whether higher/lower cadence is better for staying in 'fat burning' based on further reading of studies.

mattebike
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:33 pm

by mattebike

Another article with some citations:

https://road.cc/content/feature/cycling ... dal-256654

This is the study I was looking for with regards to using 'fat for fuel rather than carbs'. Does this then back up a 'higher cadence is better' approach for your event (long endurance)?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314601/

Beneke R, and Alkhatib A. (2015). Biology of Sport. “High cycling cadence reduces carbohydrate oxidation at given low intensity metabolic rate”.

I'm sure others will weigh in with suggestions and a more critical eye on the above studies etc.

fruitfly
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Location: Wet coast

by fruitfly

Thanks to all so far. I am on the road for sad family reasons, so won't be able to spend the time to dig up the studies for a few days.

AeroO, thanks for the very handy tips. I resemble those remarks! Especially going out too fast. I have been trying out different foods on my practice rides. Am loving rice cakes as easy to eat. So far have had no problems with hydration, but if anything I tend to overeat, so need to pull back a bit. Also agree about too much caffeine, and having to save it for when needed.

Patchsurfer, completele agree that my practice rides (5400m and 150km yesterday) reveal that it is my lower back, knees, and hands (I am 65) that are the big problems. All the braking on technical descents is especially obvious on my hnads. Tried my endurance bike yesterday-not so good descending, and heavier, but that 11-34 is looking better and better....

Mattebike, will look stuff up for you when I can. Thanks for your thoughts re spinning. I tried lower gears yesterday, and sure enough, my cadence went up, so I think I am subconsciously making the adaptations necessary for the gearing. Hadn't come across the increased oxygen uptake with spinning, but makes sense to me.

Enjoy the ride is the hardest for me-it is boring going up and down like a human yoyo.

Thanks to all for the support and thoughtful comments.

Hugh

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Conza
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by Conza

https://www.strava.com/activities/216743529

+ Read others efforts / research.
+ Start realllly early. Found it mesmerising at midnight start, all that riding in the dark. Had 4k in the bank bit after sunrise. Underestimated time, but goal was finishing before dark came back (and tiredness etc.)
+ Music playlist / podcasts. Slow classical etc. for mellow quiet start, don't go too hard etc... and EDM for last few laps etc.
+ Low aerobic HRM. I kept it low AF as much as possible.
+ Constant fuelling. I had calc' carbs etc, but think I'd be able to do again - fat adapted and having ZERO carbs. But yeah, LCHF/Keto/Carnivore now, so don't adopt unless you're months and months away, but burning fat is far more effective for endurance and becoming bonk proof (currently am).
+ Smaller targets, i.e. was 5 laps - then break.
+ Have a solid basecamp.
+ Month out, I did 4km vert to see how the legs would be fair. Basically a "base camp" ride. Then recovered / easy a week or two out.
+ Setup auto-lap, took out the need for your brain to keep track.
It's all about the adventure :o .

mattebike
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:33 pm

by mattebike

@Fruitfly

Sorry to hear that. Hope everything goes okay.

RE: The better fat oxidation at higher RPM - lower torque for a higher cadence seems to make sense intuitively with regards to less carbohydrate usage, but I'll try and find some other studies to back this up. My understanding from that paper is that, although higher RPM is less efficient (total energy use), where the energy comes from (fat vs carb oxidation) I guess is as important, if not more important. i.e. I'd rather be wasting more energy, so long as I'm using up less carbohydrates overall (fat stores are in the order of 100,000 calories in the body so we are unlikely to run out)

There's bound to be more studies out there on optimum cadence for carb vs fat usage - I'll do some digging.


@Conza

I'm interested in fat adaptation. I understand it is very good for ultra-endurance efforts and the reasoning behind this to some degree. Do you have a 'ceiling' of power outputs compared to previously when you used carbs? I.e. could you still put out just as good of a 5min, 20min, 1hr higher power effort using fat only as when you used carbs? Or is this when you would use carbs for e.g. a race and then switch back to LCHF in your day-to-day life?

Really intrigued by this (not for me personally, but just interested in the science behind it)

altuna98
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Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:52 pm

by altuna98

mattebike wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:54 am
Do you have some sources of these lab studies you mention in the original post to hand please? I'm very interested in this topic and learning more about it as I'm also a spinner. I tend to spin at 95rpm for a 200-220W constant effort on that flat (which keeps my HR ~145 - max 182) so I'm wondering if I'm 'wasting energy' turning my legs.

Article here (lab-based sources are not cited) seems to imply what you're saying, and I can see that at lower power outputs moving your legs would be the main energy cost ('glass cranks' spin out sessions come to mind). If we take the extreme case of ~0 resistance on the pedals (back wheel off the ground), then moving the legs would be an even higher percentage of the energy cost.

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness/w ... ome-191779

Article here (citation from 1996, which is pretty old!) seems to imply that spinning faster increases oxygen uptake. I've also heard from a friend about how for the same power output, higher cadence (and therefore less torque) uses more fat-burning than carb-burning?

https://blog.wahoofitness.com/cycling-c ... ove-yours/

Does anyone have any later studies on this? Optimum cadence, etc?

Obviously one of the huge strategies is going to be nutrition on the day and trying to stay in a more aerobic state to burn a higher percentage of fat as fuel, particularly early on. AeroObsessive's 3-point 'Don't start too hard' will be key I should think. I guess we can see whether higher/lower cadence is better for staying in 'fat burning' based on further reading of studies.

You won't burn more fat than carbs at higher cadences for a given power. The study you link can be misleading. The higher relative carb oxidation is at the same lactate level, not at the same power. At 100rpm blood lactate was a lot higher, for the same given power carbohydrate oxidation was higher. However, your force will be higher at low cadences. It depends on what power you are producing too. We usually pick the best compromise between force production and aerobic contribution when selecting cadence, so, as you say, what feels best for you may be the best. However, for very long days picking a slightly higher cadence can help (it will decrease the load on the joints, decrease the force production but come at a higher metabolic cost).

At a higher cadence you will burn more energy, more carbohydrates, and more or less fat depending on where your fatmax is.

I have coached people doing several everestings, and have done a virtual one myself.

As others have said, go easy, really easy! As a very general guideline, don't spend much time above 82% of your maximum HR.

Eat constantly. However, that doesn't mean to eat anything. Crisps have been suggested, and people often eat pizza and other things while doing everestings. If you are looking for the most optimal food physiologically, you should stick to carbohydrates and 90g per hour combining fructose and glucose sources (glucose, maltodextrin...). However, having mental rewards is also important, so at times you can do compromises and eat other things. But I would avoid fats and stay low in protein.

Pick a steep hill if your gearing allows you to climb at your preferred cadence. The steeper the hill, the more elevation gain you will get at the same intensity.

Feel free to ask if you have any specific question. Enjoy the day, it will be long, there will be lows, but it's a good experience!

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Conza
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by Conza

fruitfly wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:33 am
By extension from the studies showing that experienced cyclists pick the best cadence, do experienced cyclists pick the right combination of gear and cadence? Or should I be sticking to heart rate? Studies show that more power is achieved when climbing seated vs standing. Sometimes I stand just to stretch my back/change position, but mostly I sit (I am a natural spinner left to my own devices). Any advice for me?
Go by heart rate. Find out what your max aerobic threshold is, and aim to stick below that. Sitting up or down, being comfortable - shifting and using different muscle groups is what'll come naturally, and work. I would be seated most of the time, with good gearing to allow for standard 75-95 etc. Anything else is kind of other thinking it IMO. Should know what you naturally sit at for lots of climbing, in pre-rides.
mattebike wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 9:21 am
@Conza

I'm interested in fat adaptation. I understand it is very good for ultra-endurance efforts and the reasoning behind this to some degree. Do you have a 'ceiling' of power outputs compared to previously when you used carbs? I.e. could you still put out just as good of a 5min, 20min, 1hr higher power effort using fat only as when you used carbs? Or is this when you would use carbs for e.g. a race and then switch back to LCHF in your day-to-day life?

Really intrigued by this (not for me personally, but just interested in the science behind it)
No ceiling. Adapation phase can be quite long, and its not just that but also fitness. Both combined though is when comparatively speaking the magic happens.

Like you could be fat adapted, but not fit - and so going for a run, you're going to go anaerobic pretty quick and start burning more glycogen etc. However, being fit enough as well as fat adapted - e.g. one of the Brownlee brothers, they're running at 3km/hour pace and still aerobic (below their max aerobic threshold - fit AF)... and what it allows is you to when they finally want to go ANAEROBIC they've got a full tank of glycogen ready to burn.

If you're interested - best of collection I have regarding Health & Performance:

youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtapBQ2QQpKn ... DUnzVLcdSi

And definitely this quick section in particular to illustrate the point above: 17m 44 seconds... https://youtu.be/Id47XOjtcM4?list=PLtap ... dSi&t=1060

I did Cairns Ironman basically fat adapted (more paleo) though after I started on this journey. When I did use carbs on the run (diluted coke / caffeine) the KICK was just so much bigger etc... than when you use it regularly and have insulin resistance.

So I can see some benefits there just on race day, but I do think it has consequences i.e. no longer ketones as fuel source, worse recovery etc. etc. but 'drugs' are like that right, bigger high now - worse feeling later? And caffeine etc, and sugar - basically addictive (drugs) in that sense.

Aim to do Cairns IM again fully adapted, no carbs. Most people get caught with nutrition issues - not a problem here. :lol:
It's all about the adventure :o .

fruitfly
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:40 pm
Location: Wet coast

by fruitfly

Thanks to all for most interesting contributions and links. Collectively they helped me update my knowledge, and change how Ithink about things. To briefly touch on some of the issues raised:

Patchsurfer: Your point about stress on the knees is a good one. This point comes up in several articles, and certainly applies to me.

Mattebike: Thanks for you links (and the links therein). My summary of the conclusions (all error are mine) are that there are tradeoffs between absolute efficiency of power generated vs muscle damage, stress to joints, and faster carbohydrate depletion at lower rpm (~60rpm). This is because fast-twitch muscles are more engaged at higher power, and they use carbohydrates for fuel, so there is less carbohydrate in the tank for when you need it.

Conversely, while efficiency goes down at higher rpm (85-95), there is less damage, less stress on joints, and as your friend suggests, more use of fat as fuel, even though there is a metabolic cost (higher oxygen use).

https://www.active.com/cycling/articles ... s-cyclists...

This is because more slow-twitch fibres engage at higher rpm, and they use fat more efficiently. The study I found that quantified this indirectly compared cyclists in zone 1,2 vs 3. Cyclists in zone 1/2 obtain 1/4-1/2 their energy from fat (because they mostly use slow-twitch fibres), whereas cyclists in zone 3 obtain 1/8 to 1/4 of their energy from fat (because they engage more fast-twitch fibres).

I conclude that it is time to look for a larger cassette for my racing bike for this event....

Altuna: Your advice fits with the current information, so thanks for that!

Conza" Great to hear from someone with experience! Much appreciated! Especially like the early start emphasis. I haven't read your links yet, but look forward to it, so many thanks!

Hugh

AeroObsessive
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by AeroObsessive

I know the no-carb thing has some potential, but to date I have not seen any compelling evidence that it is an effective strategy for competitive performance. There is a stark difference to completing a race, and competing a race.

"Getting it done" it seems to work just fine however, especially in a mono-pace environment, so maybe it could work for this sort of thing.

Fat-adapted always strikes me a a misnomer, however. Endurance athletes, by their very nature are quite adept at burning fat at all but the highest intensities.

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Conza
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by Conza

AeroObsessive wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:24 pm
Fat-adapted always strikes me a a misnomer, however. Endurance athletes, by their very nature are quite adept at burning fat at all but the highest intensities.
17m 44 seconds...+ for a few minutes https://youtu.be/Id47XOjtcM4?list=PLtap ... dSi&t=1060. And feel free to zoom back a bit for more context.

TL;DR significant and substantial differences between LCHF / adapted vs. HCLF / carb adapted.
It's all about the adventure :o .

AeroObsessive
Posts: 113
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:42 am

by AeroObsessive

Conza wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:12 am
AeroObsessive wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:24 pm
Fat-adapted always strikes me a a misnomer, however. Endurance athletes, by their very nature are quite adept at burning fat at all but the highest intensities.
17m 44 seconds...+ for a few minutes https://youtu.be/Id47XOjtcM4?list=PLtap ... dSi&t=1060. And feel free to zoom back a bit for more context.

TL;DR significant and substantial differences between LCHF / adapted vs. HCLF / carb adapted.
Yes, you can definitely up the relative percentages of fat utilisation, no questions. However this comes at a cost. Namely that the ability to utilise carbs effectively is down regulated.

Again, in mono-pace/iso-effort this can be effectively managed. Anything that requires that higher levels of effort (demands of terrain, race or other) means that the required energy cannot be effectively drawn upon.

I vaguely recall some keto athletes actually winning some ultra distance/time events, but for just about any other cycling event - carb the *f##k* up.

by Weenie


altuna98
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Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:52 pm

by altuna98

As aeroobsessive said, you increase relative fat oxidation but not performance.

Study after study shows decreased performance with a low fat diet. The main reasons are:

First, you lose the ability to oxidize carbohydrates at the same rate as prior to getting fat adapted; thus lowering your oxidtaion capacity.

Second, oxidizing fat is less efficient than carbohydrates. Per molecule of oxygen you produce less ATP or energy when oxidizing fat compared to carbohydrates. As an example, for tye breaking 2 project in running, they ensured the athletes wete eating a high carbohydrate diet every day so they were burning the highest percentage possible of carbohydrates. To run that fast, they needed the highest possible efficiency, and that can only be achieved by oxidizing as much carbohydrates as possible.

Finally, even if glycogen stores are limited compared to fat stores, we now know we can take up to 120g of carbohydrates per hour. That makes emptying glycogen stores more difficult. Most of the high carb people say that we can only have 60g per hour maximum, that's not the case at all.

On top of that, if you want to worsen your health and longevity, go for a low carb diet. If not, avoid a low carb diet

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