How did you know you were ready for your first ultra?

Many ultra racers don’t seem to come from traditional racing backgrounds. They’re a bit of a different breed of racer to my understanding. How did they/you know when to go for it. Gradually working up or just a moment of madness that led somewhere?

Even before I started cycling I was most interested in ultra endurance racing both cycling and trail running. Still can’t shake of that feeling of excitement when I think about actually committing to submitting an entry to one. I have a million excuses though. Not fit enough, too overweight, life not stable enough, need to move home again soon, training endurance too much would bore me, don’t like bugs and spiders, etc etc

Also sort of worries that I’ll miss loads of brilliant adventures if I don’t start doing what I want more… I’ve become too reserved and cautious, the opposite of what I was like when younger.

How did you know you were the right person for this sort of thing? My biggest ride is like 130miles… a far cry from any ultra event I’ve looked at.

After registering for a double century, most of my friends said something like “after I finish a century, the last thing that comes to mind is ‘that was so great I’ll go do another century’”

The double century? It was awesome! In the future (job dependent) I’m hoping to do the California Triple Crown and get into the 1000 mile club.

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1000 miles! Jesus that’s mind blowing, go for it :hot_face:

You’re different to your friends though, the odd one out in some way would you say?

The cool thing is, bikepacking/ultra riding is for everyone! It’s living on the bike. To get started to just to get going! Ride somewhere tomorrow night, stay at a pub, sleep on a bus bench, dirt, or service station, and ride back next morning.

There is no ‘recipe’ or magic trick to doing ultra distance riding. Don’t dwell on the internet about it or worry if you’re not fit enough. It’s a totally different ball game to any road racing or social rides.

You’ve probably read this everywhere on ultras things, but my key points

  1. Ride easy & ride lots!
  2. Time in the saddle > distance covered
  3. Keep gear to bare essentials
  4. Go slow… like recovery/endurance. Its almost effortless and it’ll really annoy you at first haha. You’ll go all day long at this pace.
  5. Accept things will get sore, and in places that never have before! This is SO important. Become familiar with these feelings. Some will come and go, some stay. Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
  6. Smelly and sweaty worn kit is perfectly FINE. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise haha! At the end of the day, you’re exhausted, proud and tired you don’t care haha.
  7. 10 minute power naps are POWERFUL. Seriously, so refreshing.
  8. Learn to love all foods. Nothing more disappointing than service station not stocking your favourite snacks. Just get calories in!
  9. Good chance you’ll experience hallucinations :unicorn:
  10. Embrace saddle sores.

Simply put, RIDE THE WAVES. These rides are rewarding and don’t always go according to plan. Your body and mood will go through all sorts of states, but its fascinating and entertaining in its own way.

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Loving that list, makes me want to get out and just do it haha :joy:

Hahaha that’s the aim :metal: Be sure to share when you do! :grinning: and have you watched Francis Cades series on TCR? Got hooked when I started, and it’s a nice insight
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMZ241fyVfiv0GTom2avP35fg5Qq2ZWlL

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To be clear it’s 5 doubles in one year :mountain_biking_man:t2:‍♂

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Haven’t done an ultra so I don’t have much to add lol

:crossed_fingers:t3: Will be biking across America over the summer for 6 weeks for a charity. Will have support and place to stay.

I have done a sub 10hr double cent at IF .57
Kinda was a personal event that I “trained” for.
On top of regular training, weekends was doing 6-7 hour rides at IF above .75 for the few weeks leading up. The double cent itself was a lower TSS than most of my training rides go figure.
Previously attempted the same route 9 months earlier but was beyond dead at mile 191. Definitely got smarter and stronger over that time.

Definitely I’d say do the training at a higher IF and to dial in nutrition and hydration. And of course there’s a huge mental aspect which is arguably more important than any physical fitness.

Good luck!

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I would say when you have completed it. Always difficult to know if you’re ready for your first one (or even 2nd or 3rd), but i think the most important thing is that you are mentally as ready as you can be and determined not to quit unless it’s an unavoidable cause like a major injury.

Also depends on the duration of the ultra. For something like TCR I would say a good test would be to ride for 16-18hrs on a loaded bike, sleep for 4hrs in a bus shelter and then do it all again. If you still feel motivated to do this for 2-weeks in a row then just go for it.

Finally, don’t overestimate the fitness requirements. Yes you need to put the big training hours in and build up some resilience, but you don’t need to be in pro-level shape to complete these events. When I did TCRNo5 as my first ultra in 2017 I was smoking 15/day including throughout the race (I have since managed to quit and maybe I’ll be a bit faster this year;).

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Congrats on doing TCR! Was that your first ultra or did you do smaller events before it?

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Yep my first ultra and 2nd year of regular cycling. In the first year I did La Marmotte 175km sportive and a leisurely 1000km bike tour over a week.

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