Mid-ride recovery

Hi all

Looking for some insight/explanations/solutions to my issue on yesterdays ride.

I went out and did 100 miles with a friend. I’m fairly familiar with the distance, but I definitely went a bit harder than normal in the first half because my friend is stronger than me.

In the second half of the ride I just could not put out any power and I basically crawled home for 50 miles. First half was 230w, second half was 145w average.

What’s strange to me is that normally after “hitting the wall”, I need a while to recover (let’s say maybe 10 miles) and then I can get back reasonably close to my initial pace. That didn’t happen this time.

Now I suspect what’s different in this instance is that I “hit the wall” due to poor pacing rather than poor nutrition, as is usually the culprit.

So my question is, short term, should I expect to be able to recover better after suffering from poor pacing or is there no antidote in that moment to going too hard? And long term, should I just work more on muscular endurance? I’ve done sweet spot base a few times and, as mentioned, am no stranger to 100 mile rides.

Thanks for sticking with me through a long post. Interested to hear your experiences and tips.

P.s. Here’s my ride

It’s possible that it’s a combination of both?

What I mean by this is that if your previous 100 mile rides have stacked up ok using a set nutrition regime, then maybe by upping the wattage and HR a step or two above what you are used to in the past, your energy needs For that first 50+ miles outstripped the nutrition you were applying based on previous experience.

For example, if you were hypothetically taking in 150 calories every hour on the bike and this had worked before, at a lower power and HR (pace) then maybe pushing a lot harder took you too far over the limit in terms of a deficit?

You could try and compare data from the first half of this ride with data from one of the previous 100 mile rides you’ve done (if it is available to you) to try and compare HR and power.

Looking at your graphs it’s fairly evident you went over threshold a few times and your HR peaked a fair bit more as a result. You will know how the peaks compare to your max HR and the relative zones’ you spent time in as a consequence.

Also worth considering some of the following aspects to work out if any of these may have been a contributing factor:

  • how tired / fatigued were you from exercise of life stress in the run up to this ride compared to the previous ones
  • did you sleep ok the nights running up to the ride
  • how was your nutrition in the 24 hours before the ride, compared to the previous 100 mile rides you’ve done
  • was it the same bike? / same weather (headwind?) etc
  • was it just an ‘off’ day on the bike (happens)

Either way, it’s probable you’ve seen a fitness benefit from riding at a harder pace with a faster rider for well over 50 miles and then effectively tagging on a long ‘endurance’ spin after that - (just a different lens through which to view the graphs of your ride) :+1:t2::grin:

It’s absolutely possible and something I need to spend more time planning. However, I think I probably ate a bit more than usual and (unlike previous bonks due to lack of sugar) even when I got in loads of carbs around half way (when I was feeling weaker) I didn’t get any stronger towards to the end of the ride when those carbs should’ve kicked in.

There’s no doubt at all that the first half of this ride was a bit harder than my first 50 of 100 miles would normally be. I’m sure of that. What I’m unsure of is what level of “comeback” I should be able to attain after hitting that wall and how I might train myself to deal with it better in the future since I’ve always previously been able to recover a little, refuel and then get back to a good pace.

That is a positive spin to put on it! Thanks! :smile:

Looking at the workout. As You say you pushed a bit harder than Normal. As i understand it Each energy system can only be worked for so long. If You are above the IF for too long that saps that more of that strength endurance bits.
Even 10 min recovery not enough.
You may have under fueled during the first half of the workout, due to working harder depleted more Glycogen reserves. As Previous comments, How much did you drink, electrolytes etc. Was it a warmer day? I have found during Audax events that if i have not got my salt balance right, my pace drops off at the back end and i find it very hard to get the pace and heart rate increased.

Yeah, it’s to be expected. 10 min recovery isnt enough, agreed, but I didn’t feel any stronger after 2 hours either!

It’s definitely possible that I underfuelled. I just don’t understand why, after taking on lots of fuel around mile 50, I still didn’t feel any better 2 hours later. I drank 1L of energy mix and about 500ml electrolyte tabs which is fairly typical for me. Temperature was 15 degrees C, also typical. You could argue that isn’t enough drink, and maybe it isn’t, but it also isn’t a million miles away from any other ride I do.

I am a heavy sweater… (Not sure that word passes spell check… Not a Jumper)lol
I have recently switched to using Precision Hydration, i even salt load before a long ride over 100miles (one 500ml bottle with one of the 1500 packets drunk with breakfast before setting off). You could just go with Nun or Zero , full bottle before starting the ride. It will generally mean you are hydrated well. And you can then eliminate that as the cause.

This isn’t 100% clear. Did you have the 1L of energy mix all in one go at your 50-mile stop, or throughout the ride?

And was the energy mix your only fuelling for the ride or were there other sources? If so, what and when did you have them?

The 1L of energy was consumed at regular intervals throughout the first 50 miles alongside other, solid, nutrition.

As mentioned above, I’m happy to consider this a lack of fueling given the intensity BUT, if this is the case, why did I not feel better later in the ride after consuming extra carbs like I have done so many times previously? Maybe this very particular mixture of conditions, ie specific sleep, fatigue, temperature, humidity, hydration and fueling is to blame? If that’s the case, it’s hard to learn my lessons and do differently next time

OK, got you.

Got any links to a previous century ride?

My other questions would be, did it feel like your legs hurt, or did it feel like your legs were empty? And how are your feeling today? Any indication you might be a bit ill? Have you taken your temperature?

Something would seem to be not quite right, because I don’t think a well-fuelled 3 hours at .77 IF should be leaving you hitting the wall.

Thanks, appreciate the advice.

My legs hurt towards the 50 mile mark when I started slowing down. I associated this with just “pushing on” a bit more than usual. After that, for the second half of my ride, my legs didn’t feel empty, I “felt” ok, I just couldn’t push on any harder. My FTP is 330w and I was struggling to sit at 175w!

Illness was my first thought but I have no reason to suspect that so far. I’m in work today, taking a day off the bike, and feel fine so far (except slightly sore legs, which I’ve come to expect from longer rides, even of a lower intensity). I haven’t taken my temperature.

Here’s a previous century ride where I performed well, to give an indication of what I am capable of on a good day. Note that my power for the first half is a touch lower than the first half of yesterday’s ride but otherwise, most things like fueling strategy and hydration, are very similar.

This looks like a little too hard and too fast in the beginning and it caught up to you. You got a bunch of All-Time Power PR’s between 90 and 120 min, so this pretty much speaks for itself in terms of your effort in the first 2 hours. If you look at the climb at 2:30 you are beginning to hurt. Your power climbs in the beginning portion of the climb, you try one surge, and then things drop off and power starts to fade. Similar pattern on the climb after the break.

Great that you pushed through and finished. There will be benefit gained as you still road pretty steady and didn’t take a lot of breaks.

For your next long effort, try scaling back a little in the first half. You may feel like you are slow, but then you can turn up the power in the second half and empty the tank then.

Thanks for your reply.

There’s absolutely no doubt that I went out too hard. What I dont understand is why, over the space of a couple of hours following that effort, i wasnt able to recover enough to atleast maintain zone 2 power

Really? I wouldnt have thought 1 litre in 2.5 hours was excessive?

I interpret it as not just going out too hard, but going out the hardest you ever went, hence the power PR from 90 - 120 minutes.

While things can vary from day to day based on your training load, rest, etc, you gained some valuable information in that it was not possible for you to come back after going that hard for the first two hours. Your muscle fibers fatigued and didn’t bounce back. It doesn’t really sound like nutrition was a major issue and I don’t think you drank too much. Maybe there is still some room to optimize it but its the PR 2 hour power that jumps out at me as the issue. Too deep, too early.

Now you know what to work on. Even out that power and keep mixing in those long rides. You will continue to build that muscular endurance, but it takes some time.

Absolutely, I see it as more of an orders of magnitude thing. Recovery time isn’t universal, hence why recoveries between intervals vary based on duration and intensity.

If you think about it in terms of, say, a classic 3 x 20 sweetspot session- if your pacing is a little overambitious in the first interval but you tone it down when you realize it’s unsustainable, there’s a good chance you’ll make it through the workout. However, if it was your best 20min power ever, paced like a 20min test, most people aren’t going to be able to bust out 40min at sweetspot after that even if they did a couple of hour’s worth of recovery spinning in between.

IMO I’d worry less about recovery time after you bonk or blow yourself up- ideally you don’t go there in the first place. Hitting the kind of power PRs you did with some extra volume at the end will certainly bring about some gains, but if you’re killing yourself with nutrition or pacing on a regular basis that’s a pretty inefficient way to improve long-term.

Thanks both. You make some valid points which certainly seem like the most likely conclusion.

My fitness and power continues to grow so it’s no huge surprise to me to see a number of PRs but I guess the tank has to run empty eventually!

Plenty more work to be done.


I may be reading the PR chart wrong, but it looks like your FTP is higher than your best ever 15min power. Given that you set new PRs for multiple durations over 60min on this ride, you may have your FTP set too high or you have an unusually low TTE. Just a thought.

FWIW my FTP is only a bit higher at 350w. My 2hr power is over 300w and 4hr isn’t much less.

I think you pulled a Contador/Landis and bonked.

Your optimistic first half pacing depleted your glycogen stores early. By the time you refueled it was too late… you were already empty. Your only hope at that point was to perform a homologous blood transfusion that evening (tainted with synthetic T) and come back strong the following day to win the stage. /Landis Joke

You should’ve been fueling from the start. Much easier to try to top off glycogen throughout the entire ride than to fill an empty tank, which just doesn’t work.

My rough rule of thumb is to replenish half my KJs immediately after they’re spent, i.e. via the bottle. Since it’s nearly impossible to precisely gauge the burning of sugar vs fat, I just say 50/50.

So in the first half of the ride, you burned 2500kJs, so I would’ve fueled 1250kCals in carbs.

Had a look a bit deeper into it and I think @kuttermax and @Tanner1280 have it right. I know it’s not something anyone wants to hear, but your FTP is set too high.

On 2 July you did a ride with a TT effort in the middle of it. Your highest 20min power on that ride doing the effort was 316, which suggests an FTP of 300 or possibly a little lower. There may be some variation. But I’m fairly confident in saying it isn’t 329.

So the first 3 hours of the ride at NP 250 were more like IF .83 than .77 - which makes quite a big difference.

I think the other thing to note from your recent rides is that you haven’t done much structured training recently. Which is fine, it’s summer and nothing wrong with getting out on your bike and just riding. But unless you put in some proper long intervals either outside or on the turbo, your muscle endurance is likely to come up short when the intensity goes up.