Monday 18 May 2009

Painstaking Preparation

Contemplating a 200 mile ride requires far more organisation than a quick jaunt around the hills with your mates. Even a 100k enduro can seem straightforward in comparison. Here are some of the things that I have been doing over the past few months whilst off the bike.

The Route
Before taking on the Double, I had ridden the SDW route from Winchester to Eastbourne about 3 times. Riding it the opposite way at night needed careful planning. I don’t have much confidence in GPS units in off road conditions so I decided to memorise the whole route.

Several training rides were spent on the South Downs where I photographed every junction. Creating and studying the detailed journey from Eastbourne to Winchester, I am able to visualise each section of the route. Therefore when riding I can anticipate each turn from memory. During the event I will probably have the GPS programmed up and a paper map in my pocket, but they will be secondary to my personal knowledge.

Familiarity with the route will enable me to set short term goals as I divide the route into 20-30 mile sections. I have not considered this as a 200 mile ride, instead it is a series of 20-30 mile rides linked together. Much easier to mentally digest.

When setting out for a morning’s ride, it is usually possible to stuff a few bits in the rucksack to get by. A 24 hour ride is quite different. I decided to travel light and depend on my support crew for supplies, I’m not ready for Alpine style (yet). Compiling a kit list and where each item will be located was quite a task. Here is a summary;

On the bike: GPS, food larder, small tools, spare tube, pump, walkie talkie, small rucksack
with hydration pack, ID card, very basic 1st Aid kit
Check Point box: Spare rucksack for swapping over, food and drinks, lights, additional clothing,
sun cream, lubes, wet wipes, 1st Aid kit
Turnaround Box: Complete change of clothes including helmet and shoes, breakfast

Support vehicle: Spare bike with wheels that can be swapped over, tool kit, spare batteries
Crew Box: Maps, Check Point locations & instructions, food and drinks, camera, walkie
talkie, mobile phone
Finish Bag: Wash things, change of clothes, recovery drinks, more food.

MaXx Exposure has kindly provided a set of lights, a Joystick and a Daddy. The fantastic illumination enables me to achieve near daylight speeds even on technical sections.

Check Points
During my training rides I formulated a stoppage strategy that works for me. It basically consists of a 2 minute stop each hour with a 10 minute stop every 3 hours. I have therefore set out a series of Check Points roughly every 30 miles interspersed with Pit Stops every 10 miles. Working with detailed notes from my previous SDW and training rides, I have estimated timings for each check point to attain a sub 24 hour Double.

As most of the main roads cross the SDW in the valleys, I wanted to have some stops on top of the hills so I was not immediately faced with a long climb when leaving the support vehicle. There are also probably better photo opportunities away from the main roads. The support crew are not familiar with the SDW so I am preparing detailed maps, Google Earth pictures and photos to pinpoint the exact meeting locations. It is important that they are in the right place at the right time.

To enable quick stops, I will have 2 rucksacks that will be swapped over at the Check Points. The spare one can then be refilled at leisure between stops. Likewise I will have 2 small boxes for food that fit in a pouch by the stem that will be swapped out.

Back in December I logged everything I ate onto a website along with details of any exercise. This enabled me to see how many calories I was consuming and burning during training. The mix of foods that I was eating in terms of proteins, carbohydrates and fats gave me an indication to the balance of my diet.

As a result I was able to loose a few excess pounds. This was really hard over Christmas, especially when we visited my parents with Mum’s home cooking! I adopted a rule of no seconds, it was tough but it worked. The calories in alcohol often took me over my daily target, so this had to be moderated. As I focused more on achieving the Double, my desire for a pint diminished. Sweet puddings also gave way to protein and carbohydrates. Apparently during training it is important to stock up well on protein, otherwise the body starts to cannibalise its own muscles, which defeats the objective.

One of the reasons for doing the Double is for a sense of personal achievement. Raising money for a worthy charity enables others to get involved to help a common cause. As the British Heart Foundation organise the SDW Randonnée that I have ridden in the past, they are the benefactor of my challenge.

If you are reading this and have not yet sponsored me, please do visit and donate what you can. I have set a tough target and with your help we should be able to reach it.

The physical training for such an event is a section in its own right. I covered some of this in the Blog on 1st May – From Fat to Fit.

This is just a summary of my preparation, if you are interested in any specific details please get in touch.

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