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I'm nervous about the ride and looking for some motivation, support and answers to a couple of questions. I'm a 53 year old female and I've done 75, 80 and 100 miles before but never a two day ride for a total of 180 miles. I've put quite a few hours in on my bike but I'm getting nervous now. I know I can do the first day but I'm concerned about the second day and how I will feel. I tend to feel a lot of burning across my shoulders and neck after about 50 or 60 miles. Question 1: What can I do to prevent this? Also, what should I eat the night before the ride and is there anything I can do to prepare myself mentally and physically after the first day? Can I do this? I won't back out now............I told my family I was crossing the finish line even if someone has to drag me across. Please help! I'm not even sure I can sleep tonight!

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Take a deep breath. Blow it out. Ride. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 12 '12 at 19:27
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3 Answers

Don't be afraid to get off the bike. Take a break every hour or so. Shake out your legs, shake out your arms. Stetch your muscles. When on the bike, try to remember to switch hand positions often set a timer on your watch every 10 minutes if you have to to remind you to switch things up a bit.

Eat before you are hungry, at regular intervals. Don't wait until you feel hungry to start eating. It's already too late at that point.

Don't drink too much on the night between the rides. I don't know about the ride you are going on, but a lot of these two day rides have "refreshments" available at the end of the first day. A cold beer can be nice to relax you, but don't overindulge. You'll regret it the next day.

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Yep, take breaks -- get off the bike, walk around, lay down on the ground if the thought sounds good at the time. Drink plenty of water or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages. Get snacks at least every two hours (carry some "energy bars" or whatever on the bike). And don't be ashamed to "sag" if you really have to. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 12 '12 at 19:30
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I like to put a few quick snacks that are easily reached in my jersey pocket like dried fruit and eat a piece every 20 minutes or so. Make sure eat something more substantial every couple of hours as well, but I find that I feel a lot better if I eat small bits continuously throughout the ride. –  Kibbee Oct 12 '12 at 20:33
    
+1 for the don't be afraid to stop. It might, in the short term, affect your average speed and your rhythm and so on, but longer term, the chance to just let your heart rate drop, stretch your legs and just take a breath will stand you in better stead - especially on day two. –  Unsliced Oct 15 '12 at 10:15
    
I'll add that every (non-race) ride I've ever participated in has had planned stops at least every 50 miles, generally 20-30. Even if you can keep going beyond that, you'll enjoy the ride much more if you stop from time to time and stretch/relax. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 26 '12 at 18:10
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Adding to the Supurb answer by @kibbee

The second day you may find the start hard - muscles are a bit tied and sore. Legs are not working like the did at the start of the first day etc, they are stiff and sore.... When it's a training schedule, you (well me anyway) would normally say "Best to rest and recover" - so it's not something you will have dealt with much before. If this is the case - take it easy, and get warmed up slowly and before you know it, that sore and stiff feeling will be gone, and you will be feeling good again.

At the end of the first day - you need to get the glycogen stores replensihed - this is best done with a decent quality carbo feed within an hour of stopping. It's nice to have a rest and cold brew and socialise - but make sure you get a carbo meal in. Now is not the time to be on the latest anticarbo fad diet - or shy about going back for seconds either (not the wine/beer). You need to replensih the calories you used. It's also important to recover lost fluid - We used a rule of thumb when climbing moutains - if you have got dehydrated- drink until you pee, then drink another litre before bed.

As you have already riden 100 mile in a day - you can do a second day -it's your head that will stop the legs turning, not the otehr way round. "If you think you can or think you can't, you will probably be right" (paraphasing Henry Ford.)

I am saying you can do it - I am not promising it will be easy - good luck......

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Yep, the first half hour may seem like agony, but after that you'll wonder why you were worried. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 13 '12 at 11:46
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I have ridden RAGBRAI 3 times and ask myself the same question each time. (and I am 62).

Aside from what everyone else here has said, I find training to be essential. For a 2 day 180 mile ride I would recommend that:

  1. You have riddent at least 700, preferably 1000 miles that season prior to the ride.
  2. You have riddent at least 2 back to back training rides. Say the 2 weekends before your ride ride 40 - 50 miles Sat and 40 - 50 miles again on Sun. Do that 2 weekends in a row and you will have the confidence (and miles) to finish your 180 mile ride.
  3. Hydration- everyone has mentioned eating (which is very important), but make sure to drink! If you don't have to pee during the first days ride you aren't drinking enough.
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