In too deep: event strategy help, please!

Summary: I had signed up for the GFNY Middle Course (73km+1134m) on May 21, which was already a reach for me… and they changed the event to 136km+1932m, with an 18kph average-speed cutoff! Biggest rides are 93km+88m (4 yrs ago) and 47km+545m (1 yr ago), so I am NOT ready for this. But I’m going to try! Looking for pacing and nutrition help in particular, but any tips help!! The details below cover what I think I know and what I’m thinking of doing.

Thanks in advance!

Link to event route: GFNY NYC 2023 on RideWithGPS

The goal: Roads are closed for this race, so I don’t have to stop for anything, and aid stations are available at 27km, 55km, 82km, and 103km. I may not have the endurance to even finish the race, given my history… but to even find out what my body can do, I need to stay ahead of the 18kph “sweep” car. When that car passes, they open the roads to other traffic and if that car passes you, you are automatically DNF. So I have one simple goal: to stay ahead of the sweep as long as I can.

Pacing strategy: There are 35km of climbing on this route, and 28 of them lie before the Cheesecote climb that ends at 73km. After that, there’s 15km of downhill to recover, and 20km of flats before the last big climb at 112km. If I’m still in the game past 73km, then I’ll set some massive new PB’s for the day no matter what. So I need to ride 73km+1185m in under four hours. :grimacing:

On flat ground, I could maintain 140W for three hours… hopefully I can do that while intermixing some climbs! For the climbs, I expect my best power is about 180W (7kph at 55-60rpm) based on recent rides. For reference: 213W FTP, 108kg, 6% to 7% climb, and 33-36 gearing (SRAM 46/33 and 10-36 setup). Pacing strategy: 140W on flats, 180W to climb, and pray?

Nutrition: The Saturday app by @Dr_Alex_Harrison, which I’ve been happy with so far, says I’ll need 8.8 liters of water, 13.5g of sodium, and 520g of carbs for the entire event (roughly 75g carbs/hour). I routinely take in 60g/hour, sometimes 70-75g/hour, so the amount and rate of carbs seems fine. But how/when? I have a 4L CrankTank on my bike and two rear bottle holders, so here are my thoughts:

  1. To avoid carrying too much extra weight up the climbs, start with the bottles empty and the 4L CrankTank full of water plus 8g sodium and 3 servings (21 scoops) of Skratch Superfuel. Drink the CrankTank in those critical first four hours.

  2. I’ll be empty at roughly 70-75km, but there’s an aid station at 82km. Put 2L of water into the CrankTank along with 3g sodium and 6 servings (12 scoops) of Skratch Sport Hydration Mix. Also fill two 1L bottles with water plus 1.5g sodium each, and 3 servings (6 scoops) each of Skratch Sport Hydration Mix.

  3. Carry 100g extra carbs (Skratch raspberry energy chews) just in case, and also to share with someone else if they need a hand. Not sure how wise it might be to shoot for 80g/hour, or 90g/hour, fueling even beyond what the app suggests, and maybe risking GI issues? :skull_and_crossbones:

In a perfect world, this matches the app’s recommendations to a T, other than I’ll be at 8.0L instead of 8.8L by the end of the race, and it does so while making only one stop AND minimizing weight up the climbs. I think. Maybe I’m overthinking this. Or maybe I’m missing something due to lack of experience. :man_shrugging:t2: @Dr_Alex_Harrison, any tips or comments?

Other than (all of) that, any other hints or suggestions for what may be common to many, but is by far the longest and hardest event of my brief cycling life so far? :grin:

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Wait…they effectively almost doubled the distance and elevation vs. the event you signed up for? Did they at least offer you the option of a refund?

You should not need to take more than 2 large bottles with you on the ride, assuming you hit every rest stop (which you should). There is absolutely no reason to carry that much weight / water when you have that many rest stops available.

You have less than a 1:1 smallest gear, which is good. Pacing on the climbs, not the flats, is going to be critical for you. Hills will make you want to pedal harder, but it will cause you to burn your matches. Ride to you power target.

You mentioned 140w on the flats and 180w for the climbs. Seems like a big gap. I would lower your target wattage for the climbs and save some juice for the final climb. You can then start to open it up to the 180w level if you feel OK.

You also still have a LOT of time before the event…you should be able to get up to being able to ride that distance before then. 136km is ~85 miles, which is a lot but within the reach of most cyclists. Start increasing your weekend rides with a goal of getting to at least 60 miles / 100km before the event. You’ll then be ready to make the extra jump to the event distance.


Relax, if you can ride 1/3–1/2 the distance, you can ride the full distance. The rest is a matter of gearing and nutrition.

I’d get easier gearing if I were you. You could replace the 10–36 cassette with a 11–39 cassette by Rotor.

Here is what I would do:

  • Practice nutrition, i. e. take in your target amount of carbs and liquids during training. Don’t worry about weight gain or anything, the goal is for you to get used to taking in your target amount (about 75 g/h). Experiment with that, i. e. don’t blindly trust @Dr_Alex_Harrison’s app, you need to be able to take that much in for such a long time. (I’m a big fan.) Just think of drinking almost 9 l of water!
  • I’d do anything to put on easier gearing. At 108 kg you will need it. Don’t worry about gears at the top end or gear jumps, this trumps essentially everything but nutrition.
  • Another big one is clothing, make sure you have things like arm warmers and/or a softshell jacket as well as potentially a rain cover with you. I speak from experience when I say that long days in the saddle when you are soaked (especially downhill!) are plain miserable.
  • Test your clothing, fueling strategy and equipment, and make tweaks when needed. Try to do one ride well in advance of the event that is about 1/2 distance and where you have to climb 1/2 the elevation. If you can do that, you can do the event.

Lastly, and let me make this bold: You are trying something that is very hard, so don’t be disappointed if you end up DNFing. The event will take you longer than a marathon, so keep that in mind. Be prepared to fail, but don’t take that as discouragement. When you honestly give it your best, you haven’t failed. Try to learn from it, feed that back into your training and continue your training for the next event.


No, that was conspicuously absent from the message. :roll_eyes: They “strongly believe you can complete the [new] course”, especially since the 18kph cut-off is “very generous”. Sheesh. Still, thankfully I have no interest in a possible refund… I want to try to beat this thing.

You’ve hit on two of the most important questions of all. The first is, will carrying 2L less of water (2 bottles vs the tank) be faster over the first 73km than stopping at an aid station to refuel? BestBikeSplit says 2.2kg less would be 4 minutes faster… not sure I can pull into an aid station, park my bike, fill two bottles, mix in my powder, and be back on the road within 4 minutes given my experience level.

The second important question is, is it better to save power to avoid blowing up, or to risk blowing up in order to try to get away from the sweep car? BBS says that, if I’m able to hold NP of 140W for the entire event – which is a huge IF – and I do 180W up the climbs, I’m barely faster than the cut-off. But most of the climbs are in that first 73km (2.5 of the first 4.0 hours are spent climbing)… and if I get caught there, what I might have been able to do for the rest of the event is moot.

I tend to think it’s better to go for broke in the first 73km and risk blowing up. But I posted this question to get advice based on real-world experience, so I’m definitely listening and looking to learn, so do you still think taking less water is faster?

Four weeks from yesterday. Honestly, doesn’t feel that long to me! :grin:


On your pacing strategy…I think that’s ultimately up to what you’re looking to get out of the race. If making the cutoff is a big ‘maybe’ and you just want to use it as a learning experience, I’d be inclined to think that riding within your limits and being sensible with nutrition would be more productive and a better representation of your capabilities than blowing yourself up early on, as well as distinctly more pleasant. (speaking from experience :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) But saying ‘f— it’ and going for broke has it’s place too, as long as you set your expectations accordingly.

With 4 weeks left, you’ll hopefully have time to do some ‘practise’ rides that replicate your effort and strategy as closely as possible- those might give you a bit more insight and an opportunity to test what works best for you. FWIW I think you’ve got a pretty stellar attitude about it, and I’d love to know how it goes!


Technically I’ve never done anything like 65km plus 1,000 meters of climbing… but I’m going to find out over the next couple of weekends!

I can take in 60g/hr for 3 hours. These coming 4 weeks, I’ll do 75g/hr or 80g/hr. I don’t expect a problem, but at least I have a little time to test and to get used to it.

Will look at that option. Will the extra 5rpm (from 65rpm to 70rpm) thanks to three additional teeth make a big difference?

Will do. Where do you normally store that stuff if/when it’s not needed?

I’ve mapped out a 90km+1000m ride for that “practice run”. That’d be my biggest ride ever so far. Should I try that once? Or should I try to see if I can do that ride each weekend from now until the event, to build endurance?

Thankfully, that is EXACTLY my attitude. Hit it with everything I’ve got, knowing a DNF is likely, but will then help me be far better prepared for the next long event I attempt.

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In theory, riding near the top of my current capability, but holding that for four hours to stay ahead of the sweep car until at least the 73km mark seems like it is not-really-but-hey-who-knows-kinda, maybe, hopefully sorta achievable at the very edge of what’s possible. And right now, it feels really attractive as a test of both physical and mental toughness. I’m thinking this ride helps me find our where my current limits really are, so I can train them better going forward.

Long way of saying that “f— it and go for broke” is calling me, I guess. :innocent:

Thank you! I’ll follow up on this thread. I always appreciate it when others come back to provide the end of the story, so I’ll make sure to do the same.

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Based on a quick read of the race guide, it looks like the cutoff is 16kph/10mph so you’ve got a bit more time to play with. (but that guide was last years so it may have changed)

I agree with others that I wouldn’t blow up just to make the mid point point cut offs. Maybe go like 105% of your target to get there safely and then have some left in the tank for the second. But if you truly kill yourself for the first half of what is a stretch distance for you then the back half could be real miserable. Just put in a good honest effort from the gun, stay on top of nutrition and hydration, and get with a group that is moving just a tad faster than you would alone.

Drafting and riding in a group (if you’re comfortable with that) could easily give you another 3mph for the same effort. The climbs make it difficult to do this consistently but if it’s convenient to get in a group on the flats/descents then do it.

Don’t spend too much time at the aid stations! This 0mph time will completely rob you of your avg speed. Have a plan as best as you can. “Rack bike, fill bottles, grab food, pee, start riding”. It should all take less than a couple minutes and you can eat while you’re moving. Have your drink mix in pre-portioned baggies so you can just dump it in. If you don’t pay attention to this then it could easily add up to 30-60 minutes over the course of the day. Stay calm but move swiftly.

Use the descents! Get used to descending fast. It’s free speed while you recover. So get a little aero and you could get an extra 10-60s per descent without having to put in any extra energy. Obviously be safe but over this long with that many descents those couple mph extra will really add up.

As for the nutrition, I don’t know anything about the ‘Crank Tank’ but make sure it’s easy to fill. Many times the only thing to fill bottles are those big gatorade jugs so make sure it’s easy to remove and hold while dispensing from those things. If this were me, I would try to swap out some of that carb mix for a bottle of plain water and get those carbs from gels, chews, etc. It’s nice to have something to chew. But more so, sometimes what you really want is plain water to get the sweetness out of your mouth. If that’s not an issue for you then great but it’s something to think about.

I would consider just doing the 2L bottles of carb and then a smaller bottle of just water on the rear. That tank sound super unwieldy and heavy. Just stop at the 4 aid stations and fill your 1L bottles with carb mix and water.

13g of salt sounds like way too much. Superfuel also has 400mg of sodium per serving and the Sport has 380mg per serving so make sure you’re not over salting.


Could work. Could backfire your first time. Test it in a long training session first. It’s well within what we know works really well for most folks.

Your plan looks awesome. The app will eventually help you build this sort of plan, too. (or just outright suggest it, based on the vessels you tell it you have.) That’s our top feature to add this year.

Go get it!


They issue the current year’s race guide way too close to race date, so it’s not out yet… but the email I received last week said 11mph. That’s actually 17.7kph, a hair under 18kph, and that little difference just might matter to me. :joy:

I really like the idea of the CrankTank, by the way. Just got it from Adventure Hydration in Australia, so I’ll test it over the next couple of weekends. Weighs only 0.5kg installed, and I like hydration packs, so I’m hopeful that it’ll be a useful tool. Will post more comments when I’ve used it a few times. (Note: doesn’t seem very easy to refill, but for this race I won’t have to.)

Thanks for all your other suggestions re drafting, descending, etc. Will note all of those and try to apply them. :100:

Yes, that’ll make a big difference. Always err on the side of having easier gearing, especially on very long events. Your gearing should be appropriate for your FTP and your power-to-weight. Currently, it is way too hard. That isn’t your fault, that’s the fault of the cycling industry.

You mentioned that you are taking a hydration bladder with you. The easiest is to get a backpack with some storage. I like Deuter backpacks, they make them in all sizes. For example, their Race series of backpacks comes in sizes that ranges from 8 liters to 17 liters. Mine is no longer sold and has 10 or 12 liters, but expands a little if I open a zipper. Since your goal is finishing, I wouldn’t worry about aerodynamics or some such.

Another option (which you can also use together with a perhaps smaller backpack) is a bigger saddle bag like Ortlieb’s 4.1 liter saddle bag. They also make bigger ones and frame bags, but I think a saddle bag and a small backpack would do the trick nicely. (I have the 1.6 liter version of this saddle bag and am super happy with it. It is the first saddle bag that actually fits my mini pump.)

On days I take my backpack with me I put things I don’t need to access often in my saddle bag. Deuter backpacks often come with side pockets on the “belt”, which are ideal for gels and chews. I’d put clothes in the main compartment at the bottom. Arm warmers can be kept in the side mesh pockets for easier access.

What clothing you will need depends on the expected temperatures, humidity and weather. If rain is a possibility, I’d make sure I take a rain jacket with me. Rain jackets are also good for descents in colder conditions. The worst thing is to get wet on the climb and then descend with wet gear, it is a recipe for misery and getting sick.

Try it once, but don’t try it every (other) week. And leave enough time to your event, don’t do it the weekend before your event, that might be too much fatigue to handle.

If you want to build endurance, do it slowly over a period of time. E. g. ride 1:30 hours at endurance pace and extend by e. g. 15 minutes each week. The goal is not to ride so that you feel fatigue, you want to feel very little to no fatigue after each ride. Keep the increments manageable. It should feel easy to at most moderate.

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I think I’ve been doing this backwards… when I’ve done endurance rides on weekends, I’ve tried to go long enough and far enough that I’m truly and properly tired by the time I get back. After this event, I’m going to make some changes to my training!

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Ride report!

GFNY on Sunday was a good test of my endurance and a good learning experience. Planned for 140W NP (66%), and managed 135W NP (yielding ~15.5kph/9.6mph) for the first 3.8 hours. Huge win on that front, considering I’ve only done five four(ish)-hour rides EVER and the last one was January 2021.

  • All-time longest ride: 7:11
  • All-time most climbing: Garmin says 1425m, RideWithGPS says 1162m (why???)
  • All-time most work: 2690 kcal

Four good hours and 59km/+780m was all the body had, though, and it took about 3.3 more hours of real suffering (part riding, part walking, part resting) to travel the last 16km/+420 required to my goal point. Made it, though: second big win.

The sweep car had no mercy: they passed me just 30km into the race. :joy: And because I was well slower than the cutoff, I was barely able to make a quick stop at Aid Station #2 before they packed up and went home. So my fueling strategy was well-thought-out, taking the CrankTank was a good move, and the only note is that I drank less than I should (therefore fueled less than I should) and I’ll need to improve on that.

All told, a VERY solid performance and one with which I’m happy. Looking forward:

  1. I’m more interested in better power/speed over a medium duration than in greater endurance. So for next year, I’m going to target a little more distance (100km), but at a much faster speed (20kph).

  2. I need to drink more (just 650ml/hr average this ride, should have been 900ml/hr). Drinking less also meant I fueled less, getting just 175g of carbs (44g/hr) in the first four hours. I’ll add in some chews and things for now, but over time I just need to drink more.

  3. I think the healthiest plan for the next 12 months is to increase FTP 10% or so (ideally 13% to 240W), lose about 40 of the ~70 extra pounds I’m carrying (the most important part), drink/fuel more, and gradually extend my long weekend ride to four hours, so I can then put in 5-6 hours of work during an event like this one.

Thanks for all your help and discussion during the planning for this… it certainly helped make the ride a success. :pray:t2:


Just my personal experience, but when you’re almost never even hitting a 4 hour ride, doing a 7 hour one is pure torture, especially if you’re trying to hold numbers you’re used to seeing during the first 4 hours. (Ask me how I know :rofl:)

My feedback is that if you DON’T want to massively suffer, you need to do more longer rides and get your body used to that. Whether or not the time and energy that takes is worth it is your decision. Anything over 3:30-4 hours on a training ride and I’m just not having fun any more, so I just kind of accept that I’m going to suffer on the day of the event. The TR folks like to say you don’t have to do long rides to prepare for a long ride event, and I agree that’s true, but you’re going to suffer as a result.

Congratulations on a massive ride and a huge personal achievement!


Thankfully, my cycling is purely recreational and I’m very process-oriented, so to me the training is the important part and what I enjoy the most. Events serve only as aspirational training targets or benchmarks, and data to measure my progress.

While I may do one or two rides a year like this one, where I go to 6-7 hours, I’m perfectly prepared to suffer on those days: Lord knows “massive suffering” is a charitable way to describe the last three hours of last Sunday’s ride.

I’m focused on sub-4h performance, and I think generally the goal of doing 100km in 5 hours (20kph) for next year’s GFNY reflects the blend of power and endurance I want to develop.


Garmin will usually read elevation off your barometric altimeter unless you tell it otherwise, where as RWGPS will ride off their map, and the frequency of sampling will make a difference too. You’ll find lots of sites are different. TR and RWGPS reports almost double what my garmin fed to Strava records through its altimeter. I remember for one event years ago (the early days of barometric altimeters/gps) the garmin recorded circa 1000m for a ride that was advertised +3000m. It had rained all the way and when I reset the garmin to read off a base map it did indeed say +3000m. Now a days I would never expect an altimeter to be out as much but it Its not an exact science, so don’t worry about the differences between measurements but it will vary everytime. IIRC my club 10miles TT varies on the garmin between 95 and 125m. Jus generally picked one source and stick to it if you are tracking elevation. What is more important IMO is the elevation you feel in your legs. PS well done on the ride :clap:

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Oddly enough, my 1030 said 1380m by barometer. I asked Garmin Connect to do altitude corrections using its base map, and it went to 1425m… which in theory should match closely with RWGPS, as it did in your case… but it’s still ~200m off. :man_shrugging:t2:

And thanks!


Double true if you’re only eating half of what you wanted to. Not fueling enough will generally make you hit that wall that you experienced. It will feel like you’re doing all right until suddenly the lights go out and you have to stumble your way home. I bet you would have had a massively different experience if you had fueled closer to that 90g/hr


That’s part of the problem though. If you’re not used to riding more than an hour or two, it’s tough to get your stomach to take down 90g an hour for 7 hours. Especially in the heat.

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That’s definitely true. Though he didn’t mention any gut issues (that I saw) so he presumably could have gone a bit higher. But yeah if you don’t train or practice it then you likely will run into some unforeseen issues.

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