A painful endurance training lesson!

I think I may have finished dead last in the Pais to Ancaster 60km race this year (other than those who did not finish)

While training a few times over 2 hours, I always had the 175’s on the coker, but I was planning on riding with the 110’s (which I did)

I figured saddle and leg time was saddle and leg time.

not true

My 110mm legs were not ready at all (I had already ridden with 110’s last year, but not in 6 months or something, I figured initailly learning them was the thing not to do on a long race or ride)

My quads completely locked up about 45 km’s in where it hurt too much to ride, dismount, walk, stretch, or anything for 5, sometimes 10 mins.

Where walking for a bit after a 10 min break (sitting would be neautral, but would not allow for any recovery as my legs were still bend in ‘unicycle pose’) I could hop on the uni, and ride it on the flat, but as soon as it inclined any, my quads would lock up and I soon discovered that dismounting hurt even more.

So, at about 55km, I decided I would just walk the rest (a very pathetic, crippled looking walk). 15 mins later at about 56km, I discovered that walking downhill at all casued my legs to spasm, not allowing me to support my own weight, and having to sit down (or slump down quickly) and sit down for a few minutes. It turns out that and leg extension beyond unicycle riding extension was frowned upon, moreso than the thought of applying pressure to the pedals

I had to ride the reaminder of the downhills because it was less excrutiating than walking. (picture how much breaking power I had on those downhills! :frowning: )


Train with the setup you are going to use!

(Glad the story in the paper was from last year!)

Doesn’t the military have a saying, “Train Like you Fight?” I always take that to mean either train on the equipment you’ll use, or train on harder equipment then you’ll use :wink:

I rode 1.5 miles a couple weeks ago downhill, on a 20" trials uni… It was hell compared to my 24" muni… My legs were sore for days…

Either way, you’re the man for doing a 60K!

Ouch. Sounds unpleasant. My memories of our silly names ride with 125’s involves some interesting thoughts/feelings in the legs on about the 50 mile mark when reaching some ‘mild undulations’ that seemed less mild than they had been when I rode them 30 miles ago.

Just to be awkward, does anyone have any experience of this the other way around? I’ve got 125’s on the coker, but plan on using 170’s for a 24hr race soon (SSMM, big hills, apparantly).

I’ll do a bit of training to get used to the cranks, but my hope is that adjustment to longer cranks means less power needed. The question is wether the bigger leg movements might cause problems. But then my bikes have 170’s, and they work. But they have gears.


Generally, I would recommend a month of training on the cycle you’re planning to use, with at least half of that being with the exact setup you’re planning to use, and at least one significant ride with all the exact gear you’re planning to use (shorts, shoes, hydration, etc.)

Good job finishing anyway!

Man, I so know what that feels like. Reid had to witness it first hand a couple of weeks ago after our 23 mile ride. My legs locked up and I rolled around doing everything I could to stretch them out.

Do you think potassium would have helped?

Yes, I have and it was an embarressing lesson in makeing sure you ALWAYS test your unicycle out before the start of the race.

I was running late and had swapped 170s on to my coker as I was about to do the first lap of a 24 hour race (starting at 10pm).

Unfortunately in the rush to get to the start line on time I had not had a chance to mount my unicycle and test ride it. Big mistake! When the starter gun went I hopped on and discovered I had completely forgotten to lower my seat height to account for the longer cranks. Due to the crowding of cyclists I could not stop and adjust my seat until after the first few very uncomfortable “on tip toe” km.

The lesson has since been learnt and now before going on any large ride or starting a race I always take my unicycle for a short test spin to ensure everything is tight and the seat height is correct for the terrain I will be riding.

that kinda sucks, sorry to hear about it. still very impressive doing 60k.
if you’re ever in that position again, try walking down the hills backwards. it helps a LOT, a whole lot.

Well done Brian for completing the ride one way or another, but i’m suprised a guy of your experience would make such a boo-boo. Hell of a ride though.

Realistically, I have always been one to switch wheels and crank sizes around, so due to my extensive past experience, it has simply been ‘saddle and leg time is saddle and leg time’

the thought of different leg muscles being used and therefore untrained (and it actually making such a difference) never crossed my mind, because it never was an issue.

this is the first endurance race i have done though, since I turned 30 [gulp]

Hopefully I can redeem myself in the solo 24 in may

I’ve been training for Mt Washington on a 29er with 102mm cranks. Using tiny cranks and sprinting is the only way I can make the hills near my house difficult.

It sounds like I may want to switch to more realistic cranks in the near future. Someone asked this earlier in the thread, but does anybody have experience switching from short cranks to long? Any reason to suspect the transition would be easier than long to short? I also have personal experience switching from long to short cranks right before a race, and it isn’t a good idea.

Like you, I had the bad experience of switching to short cranks before a race. The race (10k) was short, but it had a serious hill at the end, and I had no steam at the end to hold back on that hill. As a result, I basically had to take an alternate route at the end that was flatter but longer. I came in 4th instead of 2nd as a result.

As for the other way around, I’ve done it a few times and always found it an easy adjustment (assuming you remember to adjust seat height, as noted!). It does seem to hurt our old knees a bit (longer strokes = more knee wear), but that might not faze you, depending on your knobby ones. The transition will slow you a bit, natch, but if you’re riding any hilly areas, then you’ll be going up faster, which may offset the loss. I have found my rides home still take 25 mins/5 miles, regardless of 110 or 125 mm cranks.

Congrats on doing a 60 Km race. I feel humble and only aspire to your skills, but through another sport (marathon kayaking), the slighest change ie seat or paddle length can F%$#$^%& a race.

If you have time and event is nearing, I find that “bombing” oneself when peaking with training “around the envelope” is actually better than being overly specific. Do as much as u can with a variance.

As a side note, I started unicycling as a cross training for kayaking. Gets what has happened?

Sounds like you might also have been depleted of some vitamins or minerals or something. Were you sufficiently well hydrated? Did you eat some bananas or anything?

In any case, thanks for the lesson. It will prove useful, I’m sure.

Next time you rule!

Vitamin C is good for putting off lactic acid, I had some OJ before hand, and some oranges at the halfway point (I can stomache bananas, even at 30km, unfortunately, they seem like the magic fruit)

I was well hydrated, other than I spent the day beforehand drinking beer and eating hamburgers :frowning: (although that’s typically how I spend my muni wekends and 24hr races!)

Good new though, I only came in 3rd last! Yeah!

This “alternate route” also had not been described as being much longer than the regular route. But David is otherwise assuming he would have passed Ryan Woessner, fresh back from the Tour of Norway, who sprinted like a banshee from the bottom of said hill. He also assumes the guy he was riding neck and neck with would have let him by at that point. That part we’ll never know.

We should have locked arms to get down the hill, then sprinted from there. :slight_smile: Neither one of us was going to pass Ryan (or the guy who won, who was probably already done when we got to that hill)

I ride my Coker to work with 125s. But I’ve also ridden it with 170s on some trails. On the hills, even the 170s seem too short. But on my commute the 125s work well. I know some people who would use shorter cranks, but as long as I’m around cars, pedestrians, dogs, etc. I’ll want at least a little extra leverage.

With shorter cranks I can feel my feet having to push harder on the pedals. Not allowing your legs the same range of motion they’re used to, it’s not hard to imagine they would not hold out indefinitely. Based on billions of bike riders around the world, I’d imagine a much longer crank gets the best energy output from your legs. Too bad we don’t have the luxury of gears.

Your description also seems to indicate a lack of fuel. Sounds like you depleted the fuel in your legs as well, but it’s hard to tell with the exercise they were unused to.

Re: A painful endurance training lesson!

“Brian MacKenzie” <Brian.MacKenzie@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> writes:

> Vitamin C is good for putting off lactic acid, I had some OJ before
> hand, and some oranges at the halfway point

Actually, lactic acid is your friend

As for the OJ, I’ve read that citrate helps replenish glycogen
following exercise

By the way, I experienced total muscle failure once on my bicycle. I
went on a hilly 50 mile ride after resting for about 6 months due to
an injury. Around the 45 mile point I was very weak and eventually
fell off the bike when my leg refused to move going up a very slight
grade. It took a couple of minutes before I could even stand up. A
can of soda got me moving again, albeit slowly, and thankfully I was
past the big hills.


Ken Cline has described “Bonking.” I had a less severe case of this last summer, when Ryan Atkins came out to visit. I went riding with Ryan, Zack Baldwin and Jess Riegel in Auburn. Those guys totally wore me out. It got to the point where I couldn’t even ride downhill without stopping and taking breaks!

This happens when you run your body out of fuel.

Yes, and also when your body has decades more “experience” than the whippersnappers you’re riding with. :smiley:

Re: Re: A painful endurance training lesson!

great read, Ken, thanks for that!

My big worry when changing crank lengths is tendon, ligament and muscle problems due to the different range of pedaling motion. When you change crank lengths you knee ends up bending and moving through a different range of motion. Your muscles are also powering through and moving through a different range of motion. It takes time for them to get used to that new range of motion. If you push it too soon and too hard you can get extra sore or even extremely painful tendinitis type pain.

Just changing your seat height by a few mm on a bike can be enough to cause that type of soreness or pain. Changing your crank length by 10’s of mm is a bigger change than just a few mm of seat height on a bike. And on the unicycle there is also the issue of getting your seat height correct again after the crank length change.

I also run into this problem when I go for rides on my MTB. The riding position is different on a bike. The legs move in a different range of motion and the forces that you pedal with are different. If I take my MTB out for a 40 mile ride I will feel it during and after the ride. My knees will be aching a bit and my quads will be sore in places that they don’t get sore in from unicycling. That 40 mile MTB ride wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had cause I was sore afterwards. So sore that I didn’t even want to go unicycling the next day. I can do 40 miles on my Coker and feel fine (but tired). Those 40 miles on dirt roads on my MTB left my legs and knees sore and aching.

Small changes in crank length or seat height can have a big effect when you spin the pedals over and over and over again for many hours. That’s repetitive motion moving through the same range of motion over and over and over. Gotta be mindful of that and work in to changes gradually so the muscles and tendons all get used to the new range of motion.

When my muscles loose all power or get all tight during a ride I have found that it’s usually due to a lack of electrolytes rather than a lack of fuel. I sweat out a lot of electrolytes when I ride so I run out of electrolytes before I run out of fuel. I now take salt tablets with me when I ride so I can keep the electrolytes up throughout the ride and I end up finishing longer rides feeling much better.