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SpeedWorks

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How do you train for the events you do or have done?

There are a lot of different methods of training, some people may not even consider what they're doing training per se, but if you're getting ready for an event, what are you doing to get yourself ready?

What have you found that works for you, and what have you found that didn't work? 

Just curious as to the different approaches that those of us riding and racing gravel have to this aspect of the ride. 

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Sadlebred

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I race mountain bikes and cyclocross. I don't train specifically for the 2-3 gravel events I do each year. The opposite--I use the gravel events as longer training rides for endurance mountain bike events. I do 80% of my training on the road during the Spring and Summer, 20% mtb or gravel. It's about 60% road, 40% cyclocross once mid-August rolls around. I use different training plans for different times of year according to what my goals are.
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RonDempsey

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The gravel events I have been training for range from 100 to 200 miles. I raced several centuries last year as well as the Dirty Kanza 200.

If you want to "race" the gravel events, I think you need to train a little more on gravel just to dial in your equipment. You can certainly do most of your training on the road and still ride the gravel events, but you'll be at a disadvantage to those who have experimented with tires, gearing and navigation.

I typically train 3-4 days a week. I try to get in long rides on Saturday and Sunday. I usually try to get in 7-9 hours combined on Saturday and Sunday early in the season as I build my base. Later in the season I would like to stretch that to 10 -12 hours on the weekend.

During the week I like to focus on shorter intense rides with speed work. Sometimes I ride with a group that stretches me and just do my best not to get dropped. Other weeks I'll ride with a weaker group that allows me to hammer like crazy on the climbs without fear of getting dropped.

One of my biggest mistakes these last two seasons has been to overtrain. Last year I felt really strong in March and April. By May, my legs were heavy and I just didn't have the same pop I did early in the year. I could ride all day, but not as fast as I could early in the season.

I've tried to keep my base this fall to avoid having to rebuild in the spring. My plan is to focus more on speed work this spring.
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kansroad

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I am a senior rider currently riding about 100 miles a week on a Salsa Warbird carbon. I am using the DK 100 training schedule which I downloaded last year to give me some guidance on my training. I intend to do a 100 mile ride, all on pavement, in July. I am riding on Teravail 35 tubeless tires and ride 80% gravel and 20% pavement now. My question is, how much advantage will I lose riding a hundred mile citizen ride on my current set up? The tires will take 80psi and I usually ride on 40-50. My tech estimated I might lose 1-2% efficiency over a road bike. Does anyone have any other estimates/opinions?
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Zurichman

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kansroad
I am a senior rider currently riding about 100 miles a week on a Salsa Warbird carbon. I am using the DK 100 training schedule which I downloaded last year to give me some guidance on my training. I intend to do a 100 mile ride, all on pavement, in July. I am riding on Teravail 35 tubeless tires and ride 80% gravel and 20% pavement now. My question is, how much advantage will I lose riding a hundred mile citizen ride on my current set up? The tires will take 80psi and I usually ride on 40-50. My tech estimated I might lose 1-2% efficiency over a road bike. Does anyone have any other estimates/opinions?


kansroad I am completely new to gravel grinding but not cycling so here would be my answer. A 1-2% efficiency lose is nothing comparing to the comfort that you will receive which will keep you on the bike. I am not exactly sure what the gravel grinders do yet as I am trying to learn all this. I know on my really good roadie bike a Lemond Victoirre I run 125 lbs. psi in the back and only run 105 lbs. psi on longer rides and might pump it up some more on training rides. I also have double wrapped the handlebars and have a new shock absorbing bar tape on it at preset which has help stop numbness on my ultra rides. It also helps moving your hands around on the bars.

Zman

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kansroad

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks, yes it is a comfortable and light bike and I've done 50 miles on it no problem. The only thought would be to get another set of tires for highway but I don't want the expense if most of my riding will be gravel/dirt anyway. If I can get my current tires to their max psi of 80 I think I should be fine.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonDempsey
The gravel events I have been training for range from 100 to 200 miles. I raced several centuries last year as well as the Dirty Kanza 200. If you want to "race" the gravel events, I think you need to train a little more on gravel just to dial in your equipment. You can certainly do most of your training on the road and still ride the gravel events, but you'll be at a disadvantage to those who have experimented with tires, gearing and navigation. I typically train 3-4 days a week. I try to get in long rides on Saturday and Sunday. I usually try to get in 7-9 hours combined on Saturday and Sunday early in the season as I build my base. Later in the season I would like to stretch that to 10 -12 hours on the weekend. During the week I like to focus on shorter intense rides with speed work. Sometimes I ride with a group that stretches me and just do my best not to get dropped. Other weeks I'll ride with a weaker group that allows me to hammer like crazy on the climbs without fear of getting dropped. One of my biggest mistakes these last two seasons has been to overtrain. Last year I felt really strong in March and April. By May, my legs were heavy and I just didn't have the same pop I did early in the year. I could ride all day, but not as fast as I could early in the season. I've tried to keep my base this fall to avoid having to rebuild in the spring. My plan is to focus more on speed work this spring.


Ron thanks for your great advice here. You look like you have a solid plan in place. Can you comment on some of the other rides you have done? Would you do the Kanza200 again? I am the newbie here. I had a Schwinn Highlander heavier than a rock before my last purchase a couple of weeks ago. I found over t the Bike Forums website a thread on setting up a Corporate Account direct from Raleigh. I bought a 2016 Raleigh Tamland 1. Last years price was $1799. My LBS was going to sell it to me for $1300. I bought if from Raleigh for $799 and $48 tax. I am picking it up from that dealer hopefully today. I didn't know how to install the front disk brake caliper. I think I got it for a steal of a deal for sure.

Here is my question though. I keep seeing the Salsa Warbird showing up as bikes everybody is riding or at the least lots of folks. My bike is steel and was listed as weighing 24.5 lbs. without accessories. On the ultra rides how much difference would I be able to gain/feel from say a bike like he Warbird. I love my Lemond Victoirre carbon/ti for the road. Is a carbon bike good for gravel grinding.

Thanks for any replies even sadlebred as I see you are a racer.
Zman

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DieDieMyDarling

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Reply with quote  #8 
The Raleigh Tamland is a good bike.  24.5 lbs for a steel bike is actually pretty light. 

For ultra endurance events like the DK, it's more important to have a bike that fits you well and one that you are comfortable riding for many hours (12+) at a time.  Many prefer a steel "gravel bike" for that very reason.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DieDieMyDarling
The Raleigh Tamland is a good bike.  24.5 lbs for a steel bike is actually pretty light. 

For ultra endurance events like the DK, it's more important to have a bike that fits you well and one that you are comfortable riding for many hours (12+) at a time.  Many prefer a steel "gravel bike" for that very reason.


Thanks for that reply as that is what pretty much happens in the ultra road riding scene. I thought I was a good candidate for the Warbird after reading so much about it. Then I read today that it has no rear rack bosses if I  want to go camping sometime. It is only 4 lbs lighter than my bike. I just have to work harder to lose 4 lbs from the motor. [biggrin] 


Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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drwelby

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kansroad
I am a senior rider currently riding about 100 miles a week on a Salsa Warbird carbon. I am using the DK 100 training schedule which I downloaded last year to give me some guidance on my training. I intend to do a 100 mile ride, all on pavement, in July. I am riding on Teravail 35 tubeless tires and ride 80% gravel and 20% pavement now. My question is, how much advantage will I lose riding a hundred mile citizen ride on my current set up? The tires will take 80psi and I usually ride on 40-50. My tech estimated I might lose 1-2% efficiency over a road bike. Does anyone have any other estimates/opinions?


If it's a training ride, why are you worried about efficiency? 

Let's say road tires save you 2%. Then it would be about the same as riding your DK bike but you bail out 2 miles early. So your 100 mile ride is now 98. 

Why not ride the full 100? Are you worried about finishing?
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Sadlebred

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurichman


 I am not exactly sure what the gravel grinders do yet as I am trying to learn all this. I know on my really good roadie bike a Lemond Victoirre I run 125 lbs. psi in the back and only run 105 lbs. psi on longer rides and might pump it up some more on training rides.

Zman


That is a lot of pressure!  What size are the tires? Current road racers are running much lower pressures. See this chart as a guideline. I have700x25 tires on my road bike and will often run as low as 75-80, but I am small and light. On the velodrome I only run about 95 with clinchers (need a bit more pressure on the track). Try taking your tires down to 95-100 depending on your weight. You'll be amazed at the difference in ride quality with narrower rims and 700x23 tires.

http://road.cc/content/feature/180830-how-choose-your-tyre-pressure

Since my original post, several coaching companies have come out with Gravel Grinder training plans. https://fascatcoaching.com/training-plans/gravel-grinder/ is one. For $49 it's worth a try if you want to get a bit more serious about training. The best way to get faster and better besides riding is to find a coach that works with the discipline you want to race (ie gravel grinder). Many mountain bike and road coaches will write custom training plans for you with weekly or monthly feedback. Cost is anywhere from $100-300+ depending on what is included (phone calls, daily or weekly emails, plan changes, etc.). A coach will work with you one on one for your training goals.

Again since that post I have been working with 2 different coaches for the velodrome (I've mostly started racing on the track April-Sept. and cyclocross Sept.-Jan. since endurance is no longer my "thing"). It has made a world of difference in my racing. I'm faster, leaner, and able to keep up with the boys---most of the time.


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FasCat

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Reply with quote  #12 
Hey there - thanks for posting our plans link. We/I love the emerging gravel grinder racing and hope to contribute more in the near future. First things first: the Crusher in the Tushar.

Tailwinds,
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #13 
In my racing days, I was very nerdy. I followed detail training plans, used a power meter, worried about all sorts of stuff. I've had some modest success over the years, and also as a coach and mentor to friends and team mates. But, when all is said and done, the most important lesson I've learned over many years of racing (1958- 2009) is that "specificity" rules. If you want to train for an event, then you will get your best results by modeling your training after the type of demands of that competition. For example, if you want to do the DK200, you had better do some very long all day training rides on challenging dirt and gravel roads. This doesn't mean that you have to go out every week and do a 200 mile ride on dirt. I would give you a simple formula: regardless of your total training mileage, try to build up to doing at least one or two rides a month equal to at least 60% of your race distance. The other piece of advice from an old veteran - DON'T IGNORE REST! I would recommend at least one day a week of total rest. More rest if you are feeling very tired or jaded. Even take a week off, once in awhile. Your body and fitness improves when you are resting; not when you are working to exhaustion. 
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #14 
So here is my dilemma.  I am just coming off a bad case if the Shingles which has taken me off the bike for 16 days. I still do have some grit/natural athletic ability in me though. I went out today and rode a supported metric ride(62 miles) which I pretty much road unsupported and ate stuff out of my bento box. My first goal is to get ready to climb Pikes Peak on July 26th so yes I am behind in the training curve for that. I do think I have time for that though. Second I want to get ready for the Pony Express on Sept. 9th. I want to be ready for that ride as much as I can so if I want to stop and take some pics I can. Lastly I don't want it to be a Death March since it is going to be my first ride into gravel racing and hope to do some more in the future. I  might have to talk to some local mt. bikers to find some more areas to ride as we don't have much gravel riding here in Pa. and want to get as long as rides in as I can. The other thing being the newbie I have no clue what would be the best tire for my Tamland in the Kansas ride as I probably won't have lots of time to wear out/try different tires. I have my Road bike dialed in as I have ridden it for quite some time. I will freely admit I don't have my Tamland dialed in yet except for the gearing and thinking of buying the TRP disk brakes people are talking about. I am not comfortable coming off my local mt. as I keep grabbing brakes and what seems like not too good of stopping power. 

Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated. I think I want to go tubeless but not 100% sure.

Thanks
Zman

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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Brennus

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kansroad
I am a senior rider currently riding about 100 miles a week on a Salsa Warbird carbon. I am using the DK 100 training schedule which I downloaded last year to give me some guidance on my training. I intend to do a 100 mile ride, all on pavement, in July. I am riding on Teravail 35 tubeless tires and ride 80% gravel and 20% pavement now. My question is, how much advantage will I lose riding a hundred mile citizen ride on my current set up? The tires will take 80psi and I usually ride on 40-50. My tech estimated I might lose 1-2% efficiency over a road bike. Does anyone have any other estimates/opinions?


Hey kansroad, there is a 7.5 mile triathlon loop about a mile from my house that is great for training.  It's a nice 19 to 20 minute test course I can use as a 'stake in the ground'.  I have a 2011 full carbon Orbea tri bike and a full carbon gravel bike built last year.  Would probably have to ride the tri loop 100 times on each of them before I could tease out any difference between the two bikes performance wise.  ;-)  Wind direction is a far bigger differentiator.  Seriously, for a long time my PR on the tri loop was on my gravel bike. 

Your tech is probably correct but it's so close you'll never know the performance difference.  Just run a little higher pressure on the pavement.  And enjoy the comfort.

I ride my gravel bike on local roadie rides all the time, no problem.  Just because it's the bike I like to ride.  It does seem to make the other riders go about 10% faster than they otherwise would, though.  Can't figure that out.


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kansroad

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Reply with quote  #16 
Thanks for the comments. Yes, will probably run the max air for the Terravail tires which is 80 psi. Don't think I'll give up that much with the 35 tires. Normally run 45-50 psi for my gravel riding and some pavement. Am having a hard time getting to 13 mph average for even a 2-3 hr. ride so concerned about getting at least that for 100 miles, but the ride will be all on pavement.
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Brennus

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedWorks
How do you train for the events you do or have done?

There are a lot of different methods of training, some people may not even consider what they're doing training per se, but if you're getting ready for an event, what are you doing to get yourself ready?

What have you found that works for you, and what have you found that didn't work? 

Just curious as to the different approaches that those of us riding and racing gravel have to this aspect of the ride. 



I'm going to take a stab at this because it would be cool to get some dialogue started about this specific question.  First the caveats...I'm a mediocre middle aged rider who doesn't take testosterone, prescribed or otherwise, so my hormone profile is just normal for a middle aged endurance athlete.  I like 100+ mile events.

What works part 1:  Surviving the Distance

When I got it in my head to do the DK200 in 2015 I was a middle of the pack sprint triathlete.  So a 50 mile bike ride for me was kind of longish but I was no stranger to the bike.  Since the base required for a 200+ mile ride wasn't there most of my initial work was just riding miles at race pace.  The ultimate goal was building up to cumulative three day mileage of 210 miles.  Just had to build the base.

Most base miles were done on tarmac.  Not the best but that's what I had.  Yeah it would have been better to ride a lot of gravel but I decided not having gravel to ride on wasn't going to be enough to stop me.

Once a base was built, just targeting long gravel races was probably the most important thing.  I did ~80 miles, 118 miles, 147 miles, and ultimately 206 miles.  That let me dial in gravel setup, nutrition, hydration, and mental toughness.

Also important were what could be called 'brain train' sessions.  Ride with a tail wind for 30 miles so you have to deal with a stiff headwind all the way home.  Ride tempo for 40 miles...then ride by your house on the way to doing some hills.  Ride in the cold.  Ride in the rain.  Try to break yourself...it's a little like trying to tickle yourself.  For me, I just didn't want my mind to be the thing that quit.  If my bike breaks, ok, sometimes you can't help that but I didn't want mental toughness to ever be the weak link in my competitive chain.

So, riding to survive, three simple things:

1.)  Be able to do the target mileage over a three day period
2.)  Get a few competitive long rides in that build up to the target mileage
3.)  Brain train for mental toughness

Results:  Finished in a little over 17 hours

What Works Part 2:  Let's try to go faster now...

For the 2017 DK200 I wanted to go a little faster.  14 to 14.5 hours.  Once again I trained solid blocks at race pace.  Upped the mileage 30%.  Did a couple of 5 or 6 week blocks of 200+ miles at race pace.

This year I also picked out a couple of months and targeted feet up hill.  DK200 is about 10k FUH so I did four or five week blocks of 10k+ FUH every week.  That was a lot of hill repeats but I think this really paid off.  There are only small 60, 70 foot hills in my area but that's good enough.  That's what DK is mostly anyhow, a bunch of 50,60,70 foot hills strung together.

Also added multiple 50+ faster than race pace efforts.  Maybe you could call them 'tempo'.  Just at a pace that was definitely faster than race pace...

Still did a similar competitive schedule before my target race but instead of just riding to survive the distance I decided to ride go out with the lead group.  Or, see how long I could hold Lance's wheel.  Or, stay with the lead group for the first 30 miles.  Or, stay with the lead group until the last big hill.

So, to summarize:

1.)  Be able to do 200+ mile weeks at race pace for many weeks in a row
2.)  Be able to do 10k+ FUH weeks at race pace for many weeks in a row
3.)  Throw in some longish rides at faster than race pace
4.)  Be more aggressive during races

Results:  Finished after a little over 13 hours of riding (in what was the fastest overall DK ever...very fast conditions)

What Has Not Worked For Me:

Intervals.  I actually dig intervals but they don't help much during an endurace gravel ride.  Although I guess you could say longish rides faster than race pace are a kind of interval.  Once I asked Chris Horner (at a bike race in Houston) how his approach to intervals had changes over the course of his career & he told me, 'I've never done an interval in my life.'  So, you know, you can get by without them I guess.

High intensity work.  Like it.  Doesn't help me.  At least not for endurance gravel stuff.

That's it!  The Every Man Gravel Training Plan.  No power meter required.  I have a heart rate monitor but seldom use it.

Those are my thoughts.  Really would like to hear what other folks have to say.
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Zurichman

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kansroad
Thanks for the comments. Yes, will probably run the max air for the Terravail tires which is 80 psi. Don't think I'll give up that much with the 35 tires. Normally run 45-50 psi for my gravel riding and some pavement. Am having a hard time getting to 13 mph average for even a 2-3 hr. ride so concerned about getting at least that for 100 miles, but the ride will be all on pavement.


I am an ultra distance roadie who just happens to be coming to the gravel scene after a drunk hit me with his mirror back in Jan.

I have ridden as much as 301 miles in a 24 hr. period quitting with 2 hrs to go and was on the bike for 20 hrs and 25 minutes of the 22 hrs.

Here are some suggestions.

Not sure when your ride is in July.

1. 2 weeks before the ride do a 75-80 mile training ride or at least 75. Don't worry about how fast you are going but instead just get in as much saddle time as you can.
2. When you do your century ride if it's supported, have fun take pics and get some food in you at the rest stops. Don't waste time at the rest stops especially towards the end as you probably will stiffen up some. 
3. Depending on the temps drink sips of water every 5 miles. If hot drink more often. Try to eat while on the bike. I use what they call a bento box that fastens on to the top tube and front steerer. You should be able to buy them at any tri shop locally or online. 
4. If you cramp up some nothing wrong with getting off the bike and stretching some.
5. Don't try some kind of new drink during the day of the ride have that already worked out. I happen to like Accelerade as it keeps me from cramping up but you have to find out what works for you.
6. Sounds like this is your first Century ride so above all have lots of fun. Take lots of pics before and after maybe. [biggrin]
7. Don't worry about your speed/avg. per mile you can worry about that after you have done a few. You main goal is to finish the ride and not hate your bike. [biggrin]

I belong to a website bikejournal.com where we can track our long rides thru a thread called the Eddington number I am now at a 100 rides of over 100 miles.

What works for me is unsupported rides of varying lengths. I live here in rural hilly Pa. so I can get lots of hill workouts on my one mt. training rides. I eat while on the bike and might not be the fastest guy out there 15 mph avg. but I will beat a lot of faster riders because I don't spend much time at the rest stops. Case in point. I was off the bike for 16 days and did a 62 mile ride this weekend and pretty much rode the ride unsupported even though there were lots of food at the rest stops.

What hasn't worked. Trying the rides Sports drinks too weak and it does you no good. Too strong and it will cramp you up. I use 2 scoops of Accelerade in my Polar big bottle. That works for me. The ride I rode had Hammer Heed there if I mixed my own up I probably would have been ok. You also might be ok on almost anything for a 100 mile ride but after that it's a crap shoot if you don't have some kind of protein sports drink in. I still would have that in me on any ride over 50 miles. IMHO.

Some other thoughts. If you just want to survive finish the ride the 70 - 80 mile ride 2 weeks before the ride should help you make it thru it. If you wanted to be more competitive or finish stronger doing back to back long rides over a weekend to get your legs ready for the stress works out well.

I read where some top riders drank Chocolate milk within the first 30 minutes after the ride and that has worked for me for faster or great recovery.

One last thought while you are riding all the blood flow is going into your legs muscles as that is where all the work flow is going. I have soft pedaled the last 3-4 miles of a long ride to help wash out some of the junk(lactic acid out of my legs) Riders complain of being light headed or dizzy after finishing a long ride that is because there isn't much blood flowing to the brain and they just jump off the bike too fast. So yes I have done some cool down for a couple of miles after a ride also.

Hope this might help.




Good luck but above all else have fun.
Zman




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If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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