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Wahoo!
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Hi Folks,

Newbie to the endurance racing scene with a quick question. I was wondering if anyone had any lesser known tips or tricks regarding long distance racing? For example, a friend of mine told me that one thing he learned the hard way was his grip strength. After 50+ miles his forearms were giving out. So with that said, I’m working on relaxing my grip on the bike so I’m not wasting energy, as well as strengthening my forearm and grip.

Is there anything else any of you can suggest?
 

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Grip it and rip it.
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Very open question, but I would say to try and avoid putting in any unnecessary spikes of effort, for example if you put the hammer down to pass out a single rider when there is likely to be no real gains in doing so. Try to keep at your own race pace and not get carried away or tempted to try any heroics.
 

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Yeah!
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If you are riding correctly, you won't be putting enough pressure on your hands to wear them or your arms out. My biggest issue usually came close to 100 miles, my hands getting numb from always having the bar in the center of my palm, and not shifting them around enough.

I can't imaging someone riding at my current weight without the experience I gained when I was younger, I'd be tearing the living crap out of my hands and arms just trying to get to the store. Gotta give kudos to the big boys that stick with it to lose weight.

Spin, spin, spin. Practicing high speed spinning on rollers helped me develop better muscle memory than I could on the road. Overtime those other muscles got stronger, and I got smoother in the saddle. It's all coming back to me in my middle age, but it's hard to be smooth when your kneeing yoursel in the belly at 60rpm.
 

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Not sure if this is a long the lines of what you are asking but I think it's important to realize that a lot of long distance riding/racing is mental. It's not all just physical strength. You have to have the right mind set and mental state for it also. Boredom can be a factor as can just mental fatigue...or sort of talking yourself out of it as you get tired which might lead you to quit. Work on those aspects as well as the physical.
 

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As said earlier...spin, don't mash.

Rain-X windshield treatment on the inside, and outside of your sunglasses.
I use rainX for the outside and FogX for the inside of my glasses. I also tracked down and carry a mini MM candy container filled with E caps. I wrap a decent length of duct tape around my seat-post, and last but not least is a small tube of chain lube. It's small though it holds enough to lube a chain 2 or 3 times.
 

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I like to tape some info to my top tube that tells me at what cumulative distance the aid stations will be located at. It can be very useful to know how much further it is to the next aid station for various reasons such as conserving water. Obviously you need to also use some type of bike computer so you know how far you've ridden, I use a Garmin Edge 510.

Pack along zip ties, they are so useful with trailside repairs.
 

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I like to tape some info to my top tube that tells me at what cumulative distance the aid stations will be located at. It can be very useful to know how much further it is to the next aid station for various reasons such as conserving water. Obviously you need to also use some type of bike computer so you know how far you've ridden, I use a Garmin Edge 510.

Pack along zip ties, they are so useful with trailside repairs.
this this this. an elevation map of course to let you know where the climbs are and how much farther you have to get to the top, this will keep you will you from wanting to quit
 

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Every tip above is a good one. I love the top tube "cheat sheet". I just break mine into mileage blocks of "mostly climbing", "mostly descending" and "rolling". It's so nice to know about how long a climbing section is when you are just rolling into it.

I'll add that it's easy to forget about triceps. If the course includes a lot of long single track descending, you will use those muscles a lot! Doubly so if the descents are rough and fast. After my first 100, I just added some modest tricep work to my home-based dumbell/core/stretching routine, and haven't had a problem since.

Eating before long downhill sections is optimum. The HR goes down, and digestion commences!
 

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Do your research on the course. Course cheatsheets on the bars are really helpful, but my tip is based on a big error that I made at the Syllamo 50 two years ago.

I knew that the opening singletrack was tough, but I'm pretty confident in technical trails. I was aiming for top 30 overall and pushed my pace for the first section of 15miles. I was not ready for the technicality of the trail and was trying to use water bottles. Bad move as in order to push the pace, I couldn't drink easily. It also took longer for that short section than I expected (so I kept pushing harder). I ultimately dehydrated myself and bonked really hard before aid 2. I just limped into finish that year.

The following year, I used a camelback to make it easier to drink on the first half of the race. That, combined with better pacing helped me to finish 18th overall. Same basic fitness level, just course knowledge and better planning making the difference.
 

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^^^ Yup, I have also learned the hard way that bottles on a rough single track course can equal dehydration. I hate to race with a pack, but sometimes it is faster for so many reasons!
 

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My worst dehydration bonk I actually blame on using a Camelbak. normally I prefer bottles because I can visually gauge how much I've drank. When I tried a long race with a Camelbak I didn't drink enough and bonked hard. Ironically when I ride normally with a Camelbak I drink too much too quickly.

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Good addition ewarner. Very easy to drink too much or not enough with a Camelback. Practice, practice, practice.

I've actually hyper hydrated and created a problem as well (hyponatremia?). On a really hot race, I drank so much that I pissed all of my natural electrolytes out. A really odd bonk ensued.

(at least that is my self diagnosis, it was a very unusual and odd sensation)
 

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This is not so much a lesser known trick, it is well known for experienced endurance athletes, but it came as an epiphany to me. Coming from a XC racing background, I learned to attack hills and burst through tough sections of trail, always pushing a hard low cadence. Riding this way on an endurance ride would burn me up in short order, and I'd be bonked by mile 40.

A friend told me that I needed to keep my cadence high and use low effort. He recommended pacing at 90rpm. At first I was bouncing all over from such a high speed it felt very unnatural. But I stayed with it and smoothed out my pedal stroke, and tried to maintain an average of 90rpm. At the same time I concentrated on my caloric intake, and maintained a pace of 1 24oz bottle of tailwind mix per hour. The difference was amazing. At the end of a 60 mile ride, I still felt great, and I felt like I could have easily gone another 40. Im now addicted to this training and am signed up for my first ever endurance race this year. Mohican 100 baby! Let do it!
 

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I like the talk about the bottles - I have learned to always use a camelback on an unknown course to ensure I can drink. If for some reason I can tell there will be good drinking spots and it's easy to grab more bottles (laps or whatever) I'll do it that way, otherwise I just run the camelback.

A good tip is "don't be a dick". If you're not in the top 5% really working for a win, try to enjoy it and not be pissed every time something bad happens. There will be other races to do better in.
 

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It's so true though. I saw a guy just about punch somebody during a race - we were stuck when a train was across the trail (moving). Eventually it stopped after 10min? As we were going around one guy bumped another, the guy who got bumped when NUTS. Really sticks in my mind - we were probably over 30min off winners times at that point anyway and stuck for 10min, who cares about a little bump at that point?
 

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... A good tip is "don't be a dick". If you're not in the top 5% really working for a win, try to enjoy it and not be pissed every time something bad happens. There will be other races to do better in.
I think most of the people being d!cks out there are just stressing. They have their goal or whatever and they can't really see the forest for the trees. Of course some of them are just d!cks...

Leadville in 2005 was my first dirt hundie that was timed with an official cut-off. I wanted a finish and I was in a big head cramp about it all day. Every picture of me racing shows a big stress grimace on my face. I finished in 11:25 and got my buckle and sweatshirt. I wasn't a dick to anybody, but I was riding alone. I might have been if the opportunity had presented.

Went back in 2006 and smiled all day. And it was a way worse day! Between pipeline aid and the fish hatchery on the return there was a full-on cloudburst. By the time I got to the powerline climb it was peanut butter. But I just smiled through the whole thing. 11:35 that year but it was a good experience.

My little trick is to become a tiny bit more buddhist monk than lycra Fred. Keep a thread of self-awareness going. Have a little guy in a chair in the back of your head watching whats going on in the front. That little guy notices that you are starting to bum out, he tells you to lighten up and maybe stop for a minute to eat something or just look around and get back in touch with your joy. If he sees you be a dick or think like a dick, he says "Quit being a dick and ride your bike. You aren't curing cancer here, you're pedaling a fuggin' bike"
 
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