Training for the CTR

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ZeroDarkBivi
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Training for the CTR

Post by ZeroDarkBivi » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:42 pm

Thinking hard about the CTR this summer, and need to up my game, particularly with my technical riding. Living in Somerset doesn't lend itself to the sort of terrain I need to be riding to improve my skills. Any suggestions for routes I should consider, ideally not at the other end of the nation, would be most welcome. That said, if it is somewhere a short flight from Bristol, with decent winter weather, that could be a good option. Whilst I understand there is a lot of HAB on the trail, I have no desire to waster valuable riding time 'practising' carrying my bike - I think I have that basic skill sufficiently learned and there are other ways to develop the physiological adaptations required.

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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:23 am

Although it makes my toes curl to say it - could a trail centre be a very effective use of time in this case Craig?
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Dave Barter
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Dave Barter » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:28 am

^ that. From the limited bits I've ridden laps of Afan fully loaded would be great prep.
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whitestone
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by whitestone » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:28 am

I'm with Stu on this. You want something where you can get lots of tech riding done in as short a time as possible, ideally short loops that you can repeatedly "session" to get better. The Forest of Dean isn't too far from Bristol plus there's decent natural stuff around there as well.

If you have problems with particular techniques/features then perhaps some lessons as well - often it's very small differences between success and failure and having someone who's able to spot what you are doing wrong can help.
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psling
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by psling » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:39 am

Bearbonesnorm wrote:Although it makes my toes curl to say it...
Is that coaching speak for technical riding on flat pedals?!?
whitestone wrote:I'm with Stu on this. You want something where you can get lots of tech riding done in as short a time as possible, ideally short loops that you can repeatedly "session" to get better. The Forest of Dean isn't too far from Bristol plus there's decent natural stuff around there as well.
I don't know how 'technical' the riding is on the CTR but the built trails in FoD aren't particularly technically challenging. Having said that, you are right that there is plenty of decent natural stuff in the area, some of which is quite techy in places and it could be a good training area not too far from the levels.

Worth sessioning some loops in the Quantocks as well maybe, not to far away for you.
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whitestone
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by whitestone » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:55 am

Forgot about the Quantocks, should be plenty around there. Generally though you want something that's maybe 50-100 metres long so you can concentrate on just one or two things at a time. Is there a skills area at FoD?

There's a few videos of the CTR so hopefully you'll get an idea of some of the terrain. Neil Beltchenko said he thought the CTR was harder than the HT550 but whether that was technical or physical I can't remember.
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by ianfitz » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:09 pm

whitestone wrote:
There's a few videos of the CTR so hopefully you'll get an idea of some of the terrain. Neil Beltchenko said he thought the CTR was harder than the HT550 but whether that was technical or physical I can't remember.
Probably both, much more singletrack, more technical riding and more ascent. All at altitude.
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ZeroDarkBivi
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by ZeroDarkBivi » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:26 pm

Thanks for the steers. It's does come down to effective use of limited preparation time, so trail centres might well be a necessary evil. Quantocks are the best local option, but have their limits (relatively short sections, rather than epic long descents) and still involve the drive faff (or long boring road ride).

Agree completely that coaching is worth pursuing, so booked a 3 day BC course delivered at Glenmore Lodge - heard good things about some of the instructors there. Willing to look at other options if you know of any good coaches. Would also like to do a couple of similar trips between March and June as 'race simulation', maybe exploiting the terrain and weather of Southern Europe. Or I could just do loops of the Lake District, which would provide climatic conditioning if we get another crazy-wet weather event in Colorado (hoping last year was an isolated freak).

Tried to avoid ''sessioning" the same sections as it's a bit dull - do you think the improvement from doing this is from becoming a better rider, or just learning the best lines for a particular segment? Having ridden round Breckenridge a few years back, I know what a difference the altitude makes, and hope to get out early this time to get some acclimatisation; must be some pharmaceutical solutions to that problem available on the Dark Web, if I can ever find it...!

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In Reverse
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by In Reverse » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:54 pm

ZeroDarkBivi wrote: Tried to avoid ''sessioning" the same sections as it's a bit dull - do you think the improvement from doing this is from becoming a better rider, or just learning the best lines for a particular segment?
It'll give you the confidence to ride over techy bits at the right speed and not panic and brake as you approach them. That's half the battle imo.

I wouldn't discount the FoD personally.

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by whitestone » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:12 pm

Short of heading out to Colorado a couple of weeks early there's not much you can do about the altitude. Diamox (or variations) can be used to lessen the effects.

All training is "dull" especially skills training as you need the repetitive activity to get the activity correct. Basically you are rewiring your brain and muscle memory and the only way this can be done is by doing things multiple times. The improvement will come from a mixture of knowing that a technical section can be taken at a higher speed and being able to apply that to novel situations.

Are there any "cheeky" trails in the woods near Bristol?

If you are time-starved then driving to somewhere like the Quantocks or FoD if there's nothing closer is making the best use of your time.
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Scattamah » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:12 pm

If you're really up for it...try Everesting the east-side climb of Dunkery Beacon...the rock-strewn one that we go down for the Braunton 150. Then you get to belt down it and avoid the lumps. Rinse and repeat.

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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:41 pm

I reckon the ClimachX would make a good venue for this.

1/ The place is almost deserted much of the time.

2/ Still might contain the longest man-made descent in the UK. About 3.5km I recall.

3/ The final descent (see above) is very singletrack in nature with enough 'tech' and variation to keep you on your toes.

4/ The start of the final descent can be easily accessed without riding the rest of the trail should you wish.
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ScotRoutes
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by ScotRoutes » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:21 pm

If you bear in mind that trail centre obstacles/features are designed to be ridden, and then practice them a few times, your confidence AND line choice will improve. I was at Laggan Wolftrax last year and then did a "natural descent in the Cairngorms a week later. I know that I'd not have managed the latter without the trail centre warm-up.

IIRC Jenny Graham did some HAB training prior to the CTR last year. That included carrying her bike tied on her rucksack for an extended period.

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by AlanG » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:39 pm

Jenny did the AZTR last year where you need to carry your dismantled bike across the Grand Canyon. There is nothing like that on CTR, you can leave the wheels on and just push it (most of the time!).
I'd say the trails on the CTR are generally easier than HT550. I remember loads of flowing singletrack both up and down. There are however many bits of perfect trail that you need to push up due to the gradient which is depressingly not that steep when you are up at 3500m with a loaded bike!
The trail is generally much closer to the Ben Alder singletrack than the Achnashellach descent or Devils Staircase. A lot of it is indeed very much like a blue/red at a trail centre.
There are nasty bits of course, some gnarly uphill hike-a-bike approaching Ten Mile and up Fooses Creek. Then there's the infamous Sargeants Mesa which is similar to a lot of the Ledmore traverse on HT. I remember some short technical rocky sections on the descent from Georgia Pass but not a whole lot of downhill hike-a-bike.
Big days out on the Quantocks and Exmoor will serve you well with lots of climbing and descending on rocky singletrack.
The biggest factor in how fast you can go is how well you aclimatise. If you have the time/money, spend two weeks at altitude before the start, one week at a minimum. If you can deal with the altitude reasonable well you should be able to complete the route in around six days. You may save a few hours by becoming a singletrack riding god but if you crash and break yourself or bike you are properly out in the wilderness and things could quickly get very serious.

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Loki
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Loki » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:43 pm

Another Somerset dweller here so I understand the challenge, I often pop down to Plymouth to see family and head up onto Dartmoor for rides and bivvy trips.

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Alpinum
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Alpinum » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:55 pm

I recall Jenny riding the ATR. Carrying the bike on the back due to the route going through the Grand Canyon, where bikes, even pushing them, are a no go.

Alan G could give some advice. He's ridden the CTR, I think and will know the route characteristics first hand.

The CTR has loads of double tracks the many videos don't show.
I remember Jesse and Marshall saying that the HT 550 was a bit tougher by terrain.

Should you head out to Spain for training, you might want to look into the Altravesur. I know of a bloke who rode it, or parts and went by Pico del Veleta (I don't think it's on the Altravesur itself but close by), just short of 3400 m asl and could ask him for the route. He's also on Strava (DM if you'd like his contacts).
https://olevvito.wordpress.com/2017/11/ ... -und-dann/
(Just don't ride through the national park like he did...)

Diamox... For many reasons it's not recommended by leading high altitude experts and specialised high altitude med guides.
Best way to acclimatise is to give yourself time.

Best you can do is to go to Colorado a week (better two) before to acclimatise to the altitude, culture and shake a possible jet lag off - I spent quite some time in Scotland with RJ and experienced how he made some not so fun acquaintence with the sleep monster. His account of the Highland Trail is a great read; http://rjsauer.com/highlandinsomnia/

Acclimatisation lasts about 10 days.
For example from activities in the Alps; even just a night or two above 3000 m makes a significant difference before going up beyond 4000 m a week later.

I'm sure there some great things to do in Colorado before the CTR. Friends of mine live in Boulder, I can ask them for some ideas if you like.

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Mbnut » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:19 pm

Ha... what are you lot like, Trail Centres are not 'evil', just places to ride.

Quantocks are pretty good, with full combe descents being near a mile long with tough climbs/pushes back up. The descents tend to be pretty fast and flowy if riding the combes, there is the steeper stuff off the western side towards the southern end. Be aware of walkers.

FoD trail centre stuff is tame but there is a huge amount of riding within the forest, some of it can get extremely steep and challenging, say 20% gradient for short sections, usually muddy rather than rocky.

Don't overlook Cwmcarn as a good option. The climbs for the 2 trails are not easy to clear, they'll help with your techy climbing for sure and the descents are very different, both have sections that will challenge a loaded bike. Cafe is ok now too, Welsh Cakes reasonably priced. Being a trail centre and reasonably located it may get busy at weekends, though the climbs keep many away. Twrch I'd say would provide you with a great training loop. A little time getting to know the area and there is a wealth of non trail centre stuff around too, again though it can get a bit lively quite quickly.

Afan/Glyncorrwg, made for your purposes. Great mixture of trails, some good natural stuff to roam further afield and some excellent techy stuff nearby to really hone your skills. Bloody good cafe too.

You can link up the likes of Cwmcarn and Afan which would make for a good couple of days riding, emcompassing pretty much everything you could want.


Be warned though, all this trail centre riding, you are in danger of enjoying yourself.

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by htrider » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:15 pm

Lake district if you can be bothered - plenty mentally techy stuff there. Styhead Pass, Black sail and the Helvelyn traverse as a starter for 10.

I'd heard about the ATR crossing the grand canyon and saw people carrying bikes on rucksacks but hadn't appreciated that your not allowed to push (or ride FFS)?? Americans have some funny ideas about access despite having such vast areas of land and also allowing motorised vehicles free access to much of it....

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ZeroDarkBivi
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by ZeroDarkBivi » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:20 am

Many thanks for some excellent tips! Trail centres are probably part of the solution, and tend to be more weather resistant at this time of year, then re-acquaint myself with the Quantocks/Exmoor, when the trails dry out a bit. Doing the Breck Epic XC stage race in 2012, arriving 1 day before the event was dumb, and I intend to go out at least a week early this summer, but leave is always tight! Used Diamox whilst > 3000m in Nepal, and just found I needed to piss all the time...!
Alpinum wrote:Should you head out to Spain for training, you might want to look into the Altravesur. I know of a bloke who rode it, or parts and went by Pico del Veleta (I don't think it's on the Altravesur itself but close by), just short of 3400 m asl and could ask him for the route. He's also on Strava (DM if you'd like his contacts).
Still on the lookout for a trip somewhere warm and not too far; did part of the Altraveseur last April, and it was a good tour, but mostly double track; be good to know what other options are in the region.
htrider wrote:Lake district if you can be bothered - plenty mentally techy stuff there.
Yep - great riding, just have to suffer the M5/M6 nightmare!
AlanG wrote:You may save a few hours by becoming a singletrack riding god but if you crash and break yourself or bike you are properly out in the wilderness and things could quickly get very serious.
Very true - had an epic in BC from 'over-reaching' then injuring myself on the trail, would have been much worse if I was on my own.
Scattamah wrote:If you're really up for it...try Everesting the east-side climb of Dunkery Beacon...the rock-strewn one that we go down for the Braunton 150.
Ridden that from both sides, and it is nice, but the thought of Everesting anything... think I'd rather ride the turbo, which is all I can do until this sprained wrist heals. Bloody ice!

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by jameso » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:36 am

Altitude affects you mentally also, I've found it meant backing off technical sections that I knew I could ride at sea level, I just wasn't picking lines or reacting as fast as I would normally, above 3500m and it was quite an effect (though that'll be more about my acclimatisation rate than the actual height?). I know at 4000+ I was playing safe on more short steppy rock sections than not.

There's also less ability to make those quick moves that need a bit of power and you know it, so that takes away any confidence you have as you roll up to something tricky. But you adapt fairly quickly, so I'd take a guess that an extra week or so out there before the race will have similar effect to the training you can do beforehand. Ride up high, work hard for a short period, come back down to recover + sleep, repeat a few times and it'll make a big difference.

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Justchris » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:15 pm

You could hire an altitude tent or canopy.
Maybe use it to get some altitude sleeping, Cutting down the time your there before the event, saving you holiday time and maybe money.

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Alpinum
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Alpinum » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:20 am

jameso wrote:Altitude affects you mentally also, I've found it meant backing off technical sections that I knew I could ride at sea level, I just wasn't picking lines or reacting as fast as I would normally, above 3500m and it was quite an effect (though that'll be more about my acclimatisation rate than the actual height?). I know at 4000+ I was playing safe on more short steppy rock sections than not.

There's also less ability to make those quick moves that need a bit of power and you know it, so that takes away any confidence you have as you roll up to something tricky. But you adapt fairly quickly, so I'd take a guess that an extra week or so out there before the race will have similar effect to the training you can do beforehand. Ride up high, work hard for a short period, come back down to recover + sleep, repeat a few times and it'll make a big difference.
I see the mental part more in the location and lack/difficulty of access to medical support than altitude. Another factor which is often forgot is the tiredness that comes with incomplete acclimatisation.
When out ski mountaineering/climbing/biking mate's who don't spend loads of time in the mountains no just need to make more breaks and struggle with bursts of more than about a minute but at the end of a long day they're also much more tired. Most think about less speed and power when not well acclimatised, but tend to forget the impairing effects on regeneration and overall increase of tiredness.

Lets not forget, we're not talking about doing the Everest-Lhotse traverse... whilst the Hypoxico tent is a superb piece of kit to have at home when you want to go sans bottled oxygen up and beyond 8000 m, I struggle much to see it's value - even if rented, for Colorados Rockies.

Just head out to Denver (or where ever), sort a few things, take a bus to Leadville, spend a few nights there on beyond, don't get drunk and push your heart rate beyond 120 bpm, go on some nice hikes. Head back to Denver, relax a night or two and line up for the CTR. Try not to work hard; working hard in this phase will lead to very long recovery.
It's really, really difficult to hold back your heart rate whilst biking single tracks unless you ride gravel roads or tarmac. I know it's a bit easier in the US as many trails are graded, but if you like hiking and dislike road riding, going per pedes might be the better option. make sure the elevation gain above 2500 m is less then 500 m/night (300m/night would be better). If it's more, spend two nights at that altitude.

Looking at the elevation chart of the CTR (starting from Denver) it's as perfect as it can get as it gently climbs towards 3500 m then has some drops below 2800 m. So if you start riding without acclimatisation, try to hit those drops at around 2800 m for the first few nights.

Here's a little when mucking about beyond 4000 m sans acclimatising;
Forced respiration, deep breathing and pressure breathing.
Inhale with you tummy. Pull lungs down by forcing your tummy out, inhale deeply and then exhale against pressure. Press your lips together, so you have to force air out. Don't try this at home, you'll go dizzy and may even faint, but where air pressure is low you can compensate a bit with those techniques.

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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Justchris » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:31 pm

ZDB you should maybe do a little bit of reading around the subject yourself regarding altitude. Just to keep yourself right, and you know what to look out for. Especially if you have never been at altitude before. Everyone is different, and Altitude affects people differently. I really feel destroyed 3900m plus, the shitty feeling comes at about 3600m. While my good lady has been 8000+ a few times with little effect other than slight fatigue.

Nothing worse than being in a difficult spot with a fuzzy head and looking back and thinking.... that was bad advice. Make sure you know your stuff and the information is from a reputable source.

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whitestone
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by whitestone » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:53 pm

Not only does altitude affect everyone differently, each trip to altitude can affect the same person differently. Some years ago we went to Mt Kenya, one of our party of four who'd spent the summer in the Alps and one of another party (who was a well known Himalayan climber) both suffered from altitude sickness. My friend was so bad she had to be helicoptered off the mountain.

Mt Kenya is a bit of an oddity though - you get transported quickly to the road head at 3000m then the next day you are walking in to the central area at 4000m with very little time to acclimatise. There was a statistic floating around in the 1980s/90s that most AMS cases worldwide were on Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

I've felt crap at 2500m and fine at 4400m both with similar acclimatisation periods.

Gian: my earlier comment about Diamox wasn't a recommendation to use it, more that it's legally available. I'm not a fan: yes it has an effect but that can just put you further in the brown stuff if/when things go wrong.
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Re: Training for the CTR

Post by Scud » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:10 pm

You should try training for Torino-Nice and living in Norfolk.......

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