PBP tips from an Ancien

What do you want to know about PBP?

Eric (the campyonlyguy) has helpfully created a series of videos based on his experiences.

  1. Is it worth it?
  2. How tough is it?
  3. Time
  4. Picking a start time
  5. Fix it now!
  6. Weather
  7. Making a plan
  8. Hands and arms
  9. Lodging for you and your bike
  10. Relax!
  11. Food
  12. Getting Yourself and Your Bike to France
  13. Rest Stop Management
  14. Roads in France
  15. It’s NOT all about the bike
  16. [Diamond frame] Bike Choice, Part 1
  17. Drop Bags
  18. Talking About Rain
  19. Memories of PBP 2007
  20. Surprising Things About PBP


Continue reading “PBP tips from an Ancien”

How to Avoid Heart Disease

Beyond Cholesterol — What Really Causes Heart Disease?

According to Dr. Thomas Dayspring, a lipidologist (expert on cholesterol), and Director of Cardiovascular Education at Foundation for Health Improvement and Technology (FHIT), most heart attacks are due to insulin resistance.

He has also stated that LDL “is a near-worthless predictor for cardiovascular issues.”

Evidence suggests high total cholesterol and even high LDL are insignificant when trying to determine your heart disease risk.

Your best predictor is your insulin sensitivity.
Your fasting insulin level can be determined by a simple, inexpensive blood test. Continue reading “How to Avoid Heart Disease”

Early Recumbents

Geared recumbents , as distinct from early front-drivers , first appeared in the 1890s, soon after the pneumatic-tired safety bicycle.

Charles Challand , a professor in Geneva, built what was probably the first geared recumbent (Swiss patent 11,429 of 1895, British patent 6,748 of 1896).

He called it the Normal Bicycle, because the riders posture was more normal than that of a stoopedover rider on a standard bicycle.
The rider sat directly over the standard size back wheel, directly steering the smaller front wheel.

The crank axle was a few inches behind the steering head.

The patent drawing shows a skid shoe brake, and Paul von Salvisberg mentioned this brake in his report on a lightweight timber-framed version of the Normal Bicycle displayed at the Swiss National Exhibition of 1896 (von Salvisberg 1897, 47-48).

The American consul in Geneva was so impressed by Challand s machine that he sent a drawing of it to the State Department.
According to a report published in the New York Times on October 25, 1896, the bike had been tried in the streets of Geneva and had made a favourable impression.

In 1897 a tubular steel version, weighing about 26 pounds , was shown at the Paris Salon du Cycle.

Oscar Egg, from Switzerland, set the world hour record in 1914 at 44.247 km.

The First Recumbents

Geared recumbents , as distinct from early front-drivers , first appeared in the 1890s, soon after the pneumatic-tired safety bicycle.

See Early Recumbents

Jan Heine has discovered recumbents.

“While the racing world outlawed recumbents soon after Francis Faure set an hour record on a recumbent in 1933, cyclotourists and randonneurs couldn’t have cared less about what the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) thought: That recumbents weren’t “real” bicycles.

Recumbents appealed to “real-world” riders because they seemed to offer speed and comfort, in addition to novelty. “

He tried a mid 1930s Velocar but found it difficult to ride because he is too tall for the  machine  but has been offered another go when it has been adjusted to suit him..

As with all bikes, they must be fitted to the rider.

As he says, “recumbent seats have come a long way since 1933″ and I would certainly agree with that statement.

My current machine is superbly comfortable.

Read his post in full

Ride Far

Whilst this page is written for  self-supported bikepacking and long-distance cycling in general, the advice and information may be useful for randonneurs.


Ketogenic Diet for Randonneurs

Can I really fuel my rides purely by burning fat rather than carbs (or, technically, glycogen) and do so more efficiently and with greater recovery?

Doctors used the ketogenic diet in the 1920s as part of a therapy plan for people with epilepsy, although the origins of ketogenic medicine may date back to ancient Greece.

For randonneuring we do not need immediate bursts of energy—instead we should maintain a consistent pace.
This is possible with little-to-no carbs.

Here’s what the experts suggest:

Focus on Your Macros

Some get carried away by the specifics and insist on constant testing to see if it is working:

. . .  if someone is telling you he’s doing the Keto diet and you just have to try it, but he’s not testing himself, he’s not doing it right.

Rather than focus on hitting a specific number of grams each day, Rob Raponi thinks it’s smarter to track your keto diet by macro percentages. 

Your caloric needs change based on your energy output anyway, and “the amount of energy expended [during exercise] means carbohydrates will constantly be depleted, leaving the body in a state of ketosis so long as the appropriate amount of fats and proteins are consumed,” he explains. 

Macro percentages will vary per person and situation, a useful ratio for the keto diet is:

  • 70-80 percent of your calories from fat, 
  • 15-20 percent from protein, and 
  • 5-10 percent from carbs. 

Be careful not to underconsume calories, which can lead to problems like constipation, energy decreases, and missed periods in women.

Heather Bruce does not believe it is necessary to follow a strict dietary formula but recommends general guidelines in her Life Recipe.
She says eat lots of:

  • Fat,
  • veggies,
  • nothing cold or sweet, and
  • limit carbohydrate intake

See How Long You Can Go Without Snacks

Those who are fat-adapted generally don’t need additional fuel in the first couple of hours of a ride.
“Even very lean individuals are thought to have plenty of energy to fuel long distances.”
(Of course, this is after a filling breakfast of something like eggs, bacon, and sautéed non-starchy vegetables two hours pre-ride.)

For longer training rides, a bag of high-fat walnuts is a good standby, but may not be needed.

Experiment With Your Fuel

Keto-friendly options that behave well with my stomach: 

  • Walnuts, 
  • cashews, 
  • pickles.
    (tip: Put dill pickles—and their juices—in an insulated tumbler you can store in your bottle cages to sip on for a still-cold hit of supplement-free electrolytes.)
  • sliced avocado,
  • cheese, and
  • nut spreads.

Everone’s needs are different so you must learn by trying it yourself. 

“All ketogenic diets have the same underlying principles, but the details of meal timing and snack choices can vary tremendously.”

You should be able to take in fuel on more of a delayed schedule than you would on a high-carb diet—about every 40 minutes instead of every 30.
This allows the fats to be absorbed without overwhelming your digestive system. 

“Because fats are more calorie-dense than carbohydrates—each gram of fat carries nine calories of energy as opposed to four calories of energy for every gram of carb–I would recommend eating slightly smaller amounts, less often” – Zandes

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

“Fat-adapted athletes still need to make hydration a priority, [as] excessive sweat losses will result in losses of sodium and potassium, which need to be replaced in order to maintain exercise intensity,” says Zandes.
The only problem? 

Gatorade and similar sports drinks aren’t on the keto-approved list due to high sugar count. 

That’s why, for those who need something more than water, the pickle juice can help—it’s chock-full of sodium and electrolytes to help recoup your losses. 

Or try low-carb, low-sugar Nuun Electrolyte tablets. 

“In theory, someone on a ketogenic diet is running off of these ketones for energy, so supplementing with them offers a quick and readily available source of energy similar to that of sugar,” he explains.

Popping a caffeine pill 20-30 minutes before your ride can also help shift metabolism to a more fat-burning state after 90 minutes of exercise, says Raponi.
Dosage recommendations vary based on your individual caffeine tolerance and how much of it you consume in your day-to-day, but Raponi suggests starting at a low dose of about 3 mg for every kilogram of body weight.
So if you weigh 180 pounds, that’s about 246 mg of caffeine.

Have a Reserve of Carbs

You never know what’s going to happen on the road. 

As prepared as you think you are, it can affect everyone differently. 

According to Brodie, there are some indicators that mean the diet probably isn’t working. 

“Usually the first thing is you have a big sap of energy—like someone flipped a switch and you just can’t go anymore,” he says.
“It’s not bonking; it’s like the pedals are turning but nobody’s home.”

Then comes the lightheadedness. 

If the dizziness refuses to dissipate despite more keto-friendly fuel and hydration, it’s time to turn to carbs, and having an emergency stash is helpful. 

Rather than shock the system with gels and chews, Brodie suggests cutting half a bottle of sports drink like Gatorade with water and chewing on dry dates. 

They have a similar glycemic index to a gel, so the body will respond similarly, but they also contain fibre and will have more of a gradual, long-term effect on your energy (whereas a gel would spike your levels quickly), he explains. 

Within 10 minutes or so, you should be able to recover and finish the ride strong, but take your time and don’t rush it. 

When you have to choose between ketosis and finishing a ride, it’s that diet that can be broken.

Road Bike Rider published this interview with attorney, certified Bulletproof nutritional coach, and road cyclist, Valerie Peterson of http://www.ketoadaptedcyclist.com/.

Other links:


  • Mitchell Zandes, a registered dietitian and certified strength and conditioning coach in New York City.
  • Rob Raponi, a naturopathic doctor and certified sports nutritionist in Ontario
  • Heather Bruce, internationally recognised acupuncture consultant
  • Brodie MJ Glasgow Infirmary


John Hughes has some interesting articles on his site.
Recently he discussed physical ailments that can lead to a DNF (Did Not Finish).

Of course most of these relate to riding upright bikes.
Since I started riding recumbents in 2002 I have only ever experienced the last two conditions.
Cramping has rarely bothered me, especially since I have been using topical magnesium.

Hot feet is something I have experienced on some hot rides.
Shoes with metatarsal supports seem to help me.

Cycling Ailments

Saddle Discomfort / Saddle Sores afflicted 21% of the respondents. Riders’ butts are as different as riders’ faces. This column discusses the general types of problems, causes and solutions. If you suffer from pain in the nether regions, hopefully you can use or adapt one of these suggestions to help.

Upper Back, Shoulder, Neck Pain / Discomfort was a problem for 17% of the respondents. The column illustrates with photos the common causes and how to correct them.

Numb / Painful Hands was a problem for 16% of the respondents. The column describes the physiological causes and the changes you can make to your riding equipment and technique.

Low Back Pain / Discomfort, caused by muscles tightening as you ride, was a problem for 15% of the respondents. Using a personal example, I describe what I do and how you can deal with it.

Cramping Pt 1 and Cramping pt. 2 are a case study of this quite painful problem for 11% of the riders surveyed. It describes what causes cramps and what you can do to prevent them, including whether advertised supplements actually work.

Hot / Painful Feet hurt 9% of the respondents. The column describes in detail the causes and then the remedies, starting with the simplest.