but you better start obsessing over tire pressures…
This is exactly why I don’t try to stay up front and catch the draft for the first 20-40 miles. Lots of flats in the early miles when it’s crowded and people have no line choice. I prefer to hang back, start slowly, and hopefully avoid any mishaps. I think you “win” your race in the last 100 miles by proper pacing, fueling, and avoiding mechanicals in the first 100. Now if I can just hold off the heat exhaustion that got me at mile 117 last year (finished in 2019).
Heat got to me last year. I felt good through first checkpoint but then it got hotter and I hit the wall and couldn’t get any energy in my legs. Body was rejecting all fluids so called it a day. Didn’t get in this year but hope to be back next year
The heat was pretty brutal last year. I came unglued some time before Little Egypt and barely escaped the wreckage of bodies at the rest stop in Alta Vista. The only reason I survived was because I avoided major mechanicals and had a friend who could pull me along and fill bottles at the aid station when I could barely move. Weirdly, if you can survive until nightfall things get easier as you cool down and get your life back.
I can only hope for some reprieve this year but it frankly could easily be even worse as it was hot but not that hot last year.
This is one of my biggest concerns. I can fix a flat tire (hopefully), but heat sickness is a show-stopper.
What would you have done differently?
If I had gotten a flat any time during the middle of the day I don’t think I would have been able to fix it without compounding the heat issues. The slower you go (or stop) the hotter it feels!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I don’t have a ton of good ideas sadly. I’ve always been bad in heat and Unbound happening earlier in the year means we get very few days here in WI to practice riding in the heat (1 day of outdoor riding over 55 degrees so far ).
The biggest change I’ll make this year is carrying more water with me in a bladder in a frame bag vs on my back. I was pretty conservative with how much I carried last year and it still wasn’t enough to make up for a) a slower pace than anticipated and b) a higher rate of consumption due to the heat and the slower pace. I do think the spacing of the stops “only” ~40 miles apart should help with keeping up with hydration this year.
I’m also going to try to do more time indoors without a fan to see if that helps as I did not do much of that last year.
The other thing is to do what you can to not give up. Obviously it’s not worth risking your health over a “race”, but it’s a long day and it’ll almost inevitably get better at some point. I hit the wall 7 hours in and somehow kept going for another 10 hours, even enjoying the last couple of hours.
It’s hard to say. I live in Georgia now so it’s not as if I don’t train in the heat and I’ve done gravel races up to 177 miles before. But I had an IM where the heat got to me and Unbound last year.
With Unbound the lack of any kind of shade is killer. It’s just constant sun exposure. I honestly felt I paced myself okay through the first checkpoint. But I’m notoriously bad about hydration and it’s something I’ve been working on. Drinking to thirst doesn’t work for me. I now just make sure I drink every 15 minutes. No idea how much I drank last year but almost certainly not enough. And what happens to me my body just starts not wanting to drink.
So I’d say for me not getting behind with my hydration is key. Once I get behind it’s hard to recover.
Good call on the frame bag w/ bladder. I tried it, but couldn’t make it work since my inner thigh kept rubbing the bag and irritating my leg. I’m going to attempt a hip-pack with 1.5L and 3 bottles on the bike. My Chase bike vest is doable, but noticed that it causes additional neck and shoulder fatigue during longer rides.
They have discussed this several times on the podcast…options to consider:
- ride the trainer in the bathroom with a hot shower going
- Do a regular TR workout and then immediately after getting off the bike, get into a HOT bath. Emphasis on HOT.
- Sauna sessions…start with brief periods (5 minutes) and work your way up to longer ones. I know people that got up to 60-90 minutes prior to Kona. (also see above…if you can immeidately get into a sauna after a workout, do that)
- Train in long sleeves and without a fan when on the trainer
Timing of all of the above is crucial so do some research on length and timing prior to the event.
Yup…Northern IL here…before I did it in 2019, we had one day before the race when we were in short sleeve jerseys. I DNF’s at mile 75 (mostly because I had been really sick the week before the race, but the heat didn’t help) and my buddy had heat stroke at the second checkpoint and we had to take him to the ER.
Good point on the heat training. I’ve been doing my Z2 indoor rides without cooling and tacking on non-cooled endurance time after intervals… not fun. Trying to do this 3-days per week leading up to Unbound (about the minimum effective dose).
Hit the trainer today without a fan, wearing “chilly outside ride” gear and RPE was noticeably higher before even getting out of warmup. It was wild. Drank 2 bottles of Skratch over 90 minutes and then couldn’t get enough water after.
There’s no going back now but the lead up to this race has me thinking this will be a one-time event for me. Wasn’t nearly this stressed/annoyed for SBT or Ned.
I say that about all my big bike events and no matter how bad the suffering I get that race amnesia and sign up again.
I rode Unbound 100 last year. I came from Houston, TX and thought I was ready for the heat. I ended up in a bad place with heat sickness and dehydration. The terrain is unrelenting and there’s very, very little shade on the course. I rode with a running hydration vest, which hugged me tight, and while I would ride with a hydration vest again, I would choose one with more ventilation.
I rode unbound last year, i only was able to get a few rides outside with temps in the 80s prior to the event. I did try my best to heat acclimate, but I feel like there is no substitute for riding outside in the heat. I fully dehydrated at the end of the event but that was my mistake not the heat.
Mini dress rehearsal with my gear/fueling/pit crew yesterday. It was mid 80s by the end of the ride so happy to get some warm weather riding in.
Got a bum tire that I have to get figured out asap. Second weekend in a row that it just randomly deflated at the valve stem and wouldn’t seal. Did get to test out the inserts though - got me the 4 miles back to the brewery. Wouldn’t want to have to go very far on those - that was not fast… but faster than walking.
I lived in Florida for many years and training in heat was pretty much the norm. I don’t know if it gave me much of an advantage over people from cooler locations. Maybe it did. I don’t really know. I’m pretty sure I felt and looked as miserable as everybody else
A lot has already been said, but another (sort of drastic) option is if you are really feeling and you get to a creek crossing, get off your bike, take off your shoes and helmet, and fully submerge in the creek. It will drop your core temperature. Of course, you can’t carry or plan for the creek. But it’s an option. And trust me, you won’t be alone!
Think we got it figured it out - the zip tie that holds the insert together ripped the tape inside the wheel. That was pretty insulting.
Reinstalled the inserts with the ziptie on the lateral sides of the foam, re-taped the wheel, and let’s hope that’s the end of it
The guys on team giant just jumped in the creek last year, helmet and shoes, no cares given
When I installed my Vittoria inserts, I had this exact fear. How can a zip tie rubbing the tape be a good thing? I made sure to put the female block on the tire side of the insert, but still have concern of the zip tie rubbing a hole in the tape. hum…