Training for 24hr Solo’s – Help Please

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  • Training for 24hr Solo’s – Help Please
  • Premier Icon rockitman

    Out of sheer bloody mindedness really my mate Ron and myself decided we would partake in at least one 24hr race this year. Now we’re doing 2. Mountain Mayhem (both solo) and SITS (pair). We’re currently “Sunday Riders” – you know 5 or 6 hour rides in the Peaks or a couple of laps round a trail centre, but can put much more in as the nights get lighter. Any ideas where I can find a training plan or at least a few tips on how to build up. We’ve got 3 months…


    Include some running with a bike that weighs about 50lbs through ankle deep mud in your training; you never know when this skill may come in useful!

    Do longer rides and do them more often? 8 hr ride on saturday afternoon / evening followed by the same with an early start sunday?

    I soloed Sits a couple of years ago and thats more or less what I did. Depends really what your target is – mine was a top half finish which I almost made. I aimed to ride 18 of the 24 hrs but only made 11 out of 19 hrs ‘cos I tweaked a hamstring

    To get a top half finish you are only talking about riding around a 100 miles in 24 hrs. Thats 3x 4hr rides at sunday afternoon pootle pace given dry conditions. IMO mental preparation and bike preparation are as key. You have to get into a “just keep on plodding” mentality and not try to “race”. You bike needs to be set up for maximum comfort and easy rolling – after all the courses are not technical at all.

    If you are aiming higher than that then a proper training programme will be needed which I cannot help you with


    Learn how to pace yourself, a minute down in the first few laps equals many minutes gained at the end.
    Basically its all about willpower and bloodymindedness.
    Oh, and do some road riding as its easier to get the hours in without doing too much damage to yourself.

    Don’t run the start. wait till all the impatient ones have run the start then queued for the first singletrack.

    Arm yourself with a few lines for people who pass to you alleviate the boredom.
    “whats the hurry mate”
    “don’t go so fast you are kicking up dust”
    “don’t hurry a good race”
    “gies a tow”
    “jeepers – you would think there was a prize at the end”


    Don’t wait for the nights to get lighter, go and buy your lights now. That way you can test your equipment, get more miles in per week and have fun – I’ve found riding at night makes my rather tame local routes just a bit more exciting.


    For a start don’t listen to me! but if you must then…..

    Longer rides.
    Road rides help.
    If you go to a trail centre, do em all in one day i.e have a go at doing at least 10/11 hours.
    Night rides now with the lights you’ll be using.
    Do some short very fast or local xc races to experience some discomfort.
    That’s always been my plan to just finish a 24. And I’ve done eight solos badly!

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    I did my first 24hr solo last year (MM) and found that it wasn’t the fitness that was an issue, it was the mental strength needed to keep going hour after hour. I packed it in about midnight/1am as it was lashing it down, had a shower and went to bed. Finished off the next morning with another 3 or 4 laps once conditions were better (and actually did OK) but I’d set my sights higher than that. Will be doing it again this year. Almost all my training at the moment is road and CX miles: CX allows me to do the road mileage with a bit of off-road to spice things up.

    Most important thing I’d say is to work out your strategy of eating/drinking/rest stops etc and stick to it. Ride your bike as much as possible between now and the race and make sure everything on it is a) working 100% and b) bedded in. Do NOT fit new bits the night before the race or be tempted to “just fettle” anything!

    Premier Icon rockitman

    Thanks everyone. Your words please me as I have excellent mental strength. I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Did Hit The North as a pair last year and did the full 12 hours.

    I shall take your advice, looking forward to getting some extra time on the bike and will be getting some lights soon…

    Premier Icon Harry_the_Spider

    Is this you George?

    If so, putting the right postage on the entry form envelope is a good start 😉


    Is Hit the North a 12 hour race so if so doing a 12 hour solo is far different from a pair doing 12 hours. Your mental strength has to be far stronger for solo trust me… but good luck and take the advice in above.

    Good advice i was given to race:

    Wear 2 pairs of padded shorts
    Get into the thought pattern of breaking the race say into 3 hour segments.
    Spray back with deep heat prior to race
    Go slower than you think…

    Moda – or set you bike up for comfort not speed? I used raised mary bars and a thudbuster. Looked daft but was dead comfy

    work on musculer endurence in the gym, low weight but hight reps, this will come in handy as your muscles will be get bashed for 24 hrs


    For me, i would say its 70%-80% mental. It doesn’t matter if you’re really fit, if you are mentally fried at half way, then you’re race will probably be over.
    Get a few good helpers that will be there for you, cheering you on and dealing with any problems you’ll have.

    For training, i would say you should concentrate on Muscular Endurance and forget about 6-8hr runs.
    There are people who do 12-24hr time-trails, who only do short hard training sessions before the races, usually around 8-15hrs a week.

    I tend to do things differently from other people, if i’m doing a race like that, i would just go as hard as i can and try and keep it up!!
    BUT, everyone is different and that might not work for you, but you never know until you try.
    Good luck

    Premier Icon oxym0r0n

    Only done 1 24solo (Twentyfour12 last year) but came 7th on an SS. Had quite a lot of useful advice before I took part. If you drop me am email I can try to help with a bit passing on of said advice + experience…

    Premier Icon molgrips

    You need base fitness. That is, endurance fitness.

    If you only have three months, then you need to pile in the base rides. A base training ride is one that is SLOW and long. You have to basically not breathe hard the whole ride. So that basically means crawling up the climbs, and keep it as steady as possible. If you have a heart rate monitor this is easier. You have to pedal on the downhills too to maximise your time spent actually training.

    Just don’t ride too hard. If you do, you’ll be training a different physiological system to the one you need for 24 hour riding.

    I did proper base training coming up to my 24 hour solo effort. It was so effective that I didn’t even feel tired by the time I’d finished. I set of at a slow steady pace and I kept trundling to 28th place without even feeling it.

    Base training works. Oh, and it is best done on road, and steady roads at that.

    Premier Icon twinklydave

    to just ‘do’ at 24hr race you have to take it fairly easy – measure out your power, chill when you feel like it and such things. Do lots of base miles (around 60% max HR) to prepare yourself and try to relax
    To do well at 24hr races you have to seriously want to be on your bike all the time. All the time. I’m not saying ride you bike silly amounts as you’ll have to train properly (rest being uber important and all that), but you’ll have to want to.

    Mix up big long rides that should make your saddle seem like a more natural place to be than anywhere else in the world with some shorter, more power based rides – few UK races have climbs that take longer that 5 – 10 minutes, so get used to lots of reps of that sort of thing.
    Get used to riding at night with the stuff you’ll be racing on, get used to riding tired, if the past few summers have been anything to go by get used to riding in the mud too!

    You say you’ve got good mental strength, good, cos you’ll need it when you hit the doldrums in the middle of the night. Lots of ‘fairly fit’ people do well at the odd 24hr race simply because they don’t hit the mental wall as hard during those hours where your body is playing every trick it knows to get you to stop and go to sleep. You might get away with feeling OK throughout, you might hit that mental wall, make sure you’ve trained enough to believe in that, rather than what your head is telling you.

    Eat and drink stuff. I always fall down with nutrution as there isn’t much I can eat when I’m done in and am still searching for that magic foodstuff that fuels me and doesn’t leave me gagging. It’s worth spending lots of time reaserching what you can keep down and finding out what you crave when knackered and making sure you’ve got lots of it come race day.

    If you have support at the race, make sure they’ll be ruthless with you to stop you from wussing out too. If you’re doing it completely on your own, always keep an eye on the time between eating/drinking as it can build up without you noticing and make a note of how long you’re off the course for whenever you have to stop – it adds up scarily quickly!

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Twinkly dave knows what he is talking about.

    Although I still reckon that if you do enough base training it won’t seem all that hard, and if you do hit a wall it’ll be easy to deal with. The only problem I had was that I had a fair few mechanicals and things to sort out on my first few laps which stopped me getting a rythmn, and then during the night I stopped to eat and ended up sitting about, and I got cold which meant I didn’t want to get going again.

    It can get a heck of a lot colder in the middle of the night than you think, even though it is mid summer.

    Premier Icon jonathan

    Twinklydave just said a lot of what I was about to type, and then Molgrips said the other thing I was going to type 😉

    From my personal experiences of regretful under-achievement I can definitely say that having someone to kick you back onto your bike again is great (I never have). It took me three solos to work out what I could happily eat (creamed rice and cold spaghetti hoops) and keep down (avoid ODing on energy drinks – they’ll make you barf).

    Don’t stop, you’ll get too cold and damp. Don’t ride in soggy shorts. Try and work out how fit you really are, so you know how hard you can push. I tended to “over pace” myself and end up with probably a few laps left in my legs, regretting I hadn’t put them in earlier. This was really clear when I failed on the wet shorts rule and managed two laps at Eastnor without sitting down :-/


    I’ll second the 24 being a whole different story to a 12. I can manage 12 hour solos ok with just a few minutes stop for food. However around the twelth hour I get very painful acid reflux that is more often a race stopper and leaves me in pain for about three weeks after.
    To that end I’m having some time out from 24’s this year to try and sort it. I’m also hoping the motivation of still doing them when I’m 50 next year will help. I’m also working on building my ‘perfect’ HA! 24 hour bike.
    See you outthere.


    I didn’t really do much training, I just tried to ride as much as possible. Oh and I was doing turbo training sessions, but I was doing them to improve generally fitness anyway. I think the stubborn bastart side of me was of more benefit than fitness – riding wise I just kept on plodding round really. Oh and have 3 people in the pits to make you do one last lap.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Agree with what people say about 24hr being a whole different ball game. I’ve done fairly well at the Ten Around/Ten Under races without too much in the way of training but at MM last year I just wasn’t mentally prepared for the event. I also got into a daft game of keepie-uppie with a mate, we were both riding too hard at the start.
    The riding side is the easy bit. It’s dealing with your brain at 1am when it’s shouting “STOP!”, it’s persuading your stomach that it NEEDS to eat at a time when it’s normally asleep, telling yourself that you need to get out for another lap then another.
    twinklydave ^^^ has given some excellent advice, he’s an experienced 24hr soloist.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    I’m also working on building my ‘perfect’ HA! 24 hour bike.

    Have never done a 12 or 24hr solo, but I think even without that experience I can confidently say mine would have a hidden engine in it somewhere.

    A riding club colleague of mine is an experienced (top 10) solo-ist and his advice is start really slow and then get slower.

    Of course, his really slow is still my balls out short course effort, but that’s another matter. basically you need to find out what your really slow equates to.


    It’s easy to prepare for riding round in circles for 24 hrs.

    What takes some getting your head round, is finding that all that training for riding counts for little when you are pushing / dragging your bike through the mud. IME bad conditions under the wheel count for more retirements than the weather.

    I did one a few years back and I am by no means fit. Little training during the 4 weeks I had between signing up and the competition itself because I broke my hand on the first training ride.

    Best advice I got from a psychologist woman was to break it down into small sections. It is not the whole race, it is just this lap; it is not the whole lap, it is just this hill; it is not the whole hill, it is just up to that point on the trail. This way you are constantly achieving things.

    I was feeling quite motivated until the last bit where she said ‘Remember, it is only 4 hours riding’ and then when I explained it was 24 hours she snorted and said ‘You are f*cked then mate!’

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I was feeling quite motivated until the last bit where she said ‘Remember, it is only 4 hours riding’ and then when I explained it was 24 hours she snorted and said ‘You are f*cked then mate!’

    LOL! Classic! 🙂

    Another possible tip – try doing a few rides really late at night, or even in the small hours. You’ll get used to the damp mistiness, the eerie quiet loneliness of being out in the middle of the night. Your perception of reality changes a bit as your brain hormone levels change.

    Another tip – I find voices help distract me. I listened to Radio 4 on a tiny portable radio, then it gave way to the World Service. Marvellously calming, interesting, distracting, soothing all at the same time. Listening to stories from around the world make your riding seem insignificant.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Oh and be prepared for the shock when you see the sun come up and you think you’re almost finished, Then you realise there’s still EIGHT hours to go, which would normally be a monster epic ride 🙂

    molgrips – advising someone to listen to ‘the voices’ when their riding at night can be dangerous

    It was the buffalo jumping out of the bushes in the small hours of the morning that upset me. The voices were fine

    Matt M

    I have done a few 24hr solo’s and there are alot of ways of training for them. (as listed above) one thing ifound useful was to go out riding with a mate get them to drive to a trail centre or up the peaks do a ride with them for a few hours get back to the car then sod off and ride home after you have totally wasted yourself. This techniques works really well if your mates are fit as F@~_£! The only down side is you will have to increase the amount you normally spend on food each month.
    buy some really good shorts pref 2 pairs one for riding in on these rides and the other to wear a few rides before your event. make sure you have enough light/ battery every lap.
    Big one for me was my wife never lets me into the pit area try and stay well clear of anything that looks like a conventional chair.
    Assos ass cream.
    I always use bottles not a camelbak so that i can monitor how much fluid i am taling on board.
    Use a heart rate monitor on the event as well as for training and dont go over your 70%max at ALL!!!!
    Best of luck
    I dont think i will ever be doing any more they are that much fun i cant control myself!!! Honest.


    Yeah, actually a note to self.
    Oldgit, you can’t tolerate doing laps for one hour in a cross race let alone 24 hours worth.

    Premier Icon Richie_B

    Two methods:
    – Get a divorce so you can enough time to train properly
    – Have a baby (So your completely used to trying to operate relatively normally on no sleep)

    Premier Icon molgrips

    dont go over your 70%max at ALL!!!!

    That’s good advice.


    dont go over your 70%max at ALL!!!!

    Each to their own. The couple I rode with a HRM I rode at 80/ 85%.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    I was going to say that the 70% figure might be a bit low. With me my 24 hour sustainable pace (ie lower lactate threshold aka onset of lactate production aka point where you start chewing through proportionally much more carbs) works out at 80-82% of max.

    But once you’ve established that figure DO NOT go over it. Just one climb here and there will slash your endurance potential

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