Crew Training Day 2

Sunday 2nd August saw Team  PB assembling for our second full training day together.  The aim of the day was twofold; firstly to ensure that all documentation for registration for Race Around Ireland is ready and secondly to really get to grips with the ins and outs of the Follow Car set up, kit, nutrition and race strategy.

The day started with bacon butties and a review of the route and time stations before we moved on to the kit. This was quite an eye-opener for some members of the team who don’t realise just how many different types of kit a cyclist can have! I have something for every possible permutation of temperature, sun, wind and rain! Adey is responsible for ensuring that the right kit is in the car and that laundry runs are done where required. The weather will very much dictate what kit is used, but the crucial thing will be ensuring a regular change of shorts to help to prevent bacterial build up and the resulting saddle sores.

The Follow Car will be self-sufficient for all but my “off the bike” meals and will carry a day’s worth of kit and “on the bike” nutrition as well as my sleep kit. I will be sleeping in the car so that I can nap anywhere without being dependent on the RV, but it will also avoid me getting too comfortable tucked up in the RV! I have an awesome piece of kit called a “Dryrobe” which is a large fleece-lined waterproof changing robe which will keep me warm when I’m changing and having time off the bike. We have a little Pak-a-Shack which will allow me to get changed out of the rain if necessary and give me some extra ventilation in the car whilst I’m asleep.

After a replen of teas and coffees we settled down to discuss nutrition.  This is a key factor for race success and is a very difficult balance to get right in endurance sport. For the amount of cycling I will be doing each day, I need to be consuming around 7500 calories a day, with the majority of this needing to be carbohydrate at the rate of 60-90g of carbs an hour. On the bike this will be mostly with my Torq energy bars, topped up with some real snacks to prevent palate fatigue. Twice a day I’ll be having a Torq Recovery drink to give me additional carbohydrate and protein in an easy-to-absorb formula and I’ll be having porridge for breakfast and a solid meal such as fish and mash potato or pasta in the evening to provide me with additional nutrients. I will need to avoid consuming too much fat as this inhibits the absorption of carbohydrates, and similarly too much fibre will cause digestive upset. It’s a tricky balance as my body will need energy but as I’m getting more tired, my desire to eat will decrease, similarly if I’m cold or starting to feel nauseous. The crew will be logging all my food and water intake and Zoe will be responsible for ensuring that Kyle my Crew Chief, or John my Deputy Crew Chief , are aware if I’m starting to fall behind or experiencing gastrointestinal problems.

Before breaking for lunch, Adrian went over the wheel change procedures for my Time Trial bike, the Argon. Providing it isn’t too windy, this bike will allow me to be a little more aerodynamic and go a bit faster but is a little more fiddly to maintain. Adrian has been doing a superb job at the Reading Bicycle Kitchen keeping my bikes on the road over the months of hard training. No sooner does he get them sorted, they seem to have done another few hundred miles and need another check or a tweak!

Over lunch we reviewed travel and accommodation arrangements and then the crew packed the car for the next activity which was to practice direct and leapfrog support and run through the “Actions On” for each of the different types of stop scenario (loo, food and sleep being the main ones we are planning for!) The stops also give me the opportunity to receive chiropractic and massage treatment from Zoe as needed. She will be doing a great job keeping me and the crew moving…

The run through provided a great opportunity to identify pieces of missing kit and little things we hadn’t thought of. It also provided some comedy for the crew as they watched me trying to change inside my Dryrobe! The crew packed the car, then unpacked and assembled it for a sleep stop, proving this works well and there is plenty of room for all the kit plus a very tired racer in the car.

The final part of the day was a run through and discussion of the key rules. There are a lot of rules for the event, designed to ensure that it’s conducted safely – particularly at night and when everyone is tired – and in the true spirit of sportsmanship. Both racer and crew can incur penalties, which are time-based and will quickly mount up if people aren’t thinking. It was a useful discussion and proved how focused everyone is on making this a success.
Our final official training event will be a night time practice of direct follow. I have some great bike lights provided by Magic Shine UK, but at night time I will have the Renault directly behind me. It is important that I know in advance how this affects my vision and we practice keeping me in the headlights and the mandatory distance in towns and when going up and downhill. It should be an amusing evening!
Once again a huge thank you to my crew for giving up their Sunday and making the event a success – I can’t wait to do this for real!

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