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12-hour velodrome test run – balancing energy levels and testing the audio


June 10, 2019


As my 24-hour cycling world record attempt at Newport Velodrome fast approaches, this test highlighted the fine balance of getting the nutrition right – or wrong – and allowed us to test the benefits of audio communication.

As I mentioned last time, the 12-hour test run at Newport Live’s velodrome was a significant milestone in our training plans for my world record attempt on June 22nd.

New environment – new challenges

Firstly, was great to be able to practice at the actual venue for a prolonged period of time, as it allowed the whole Project Kansas team familiarise themselves with the track to ensure we’re all as prepared as possible on the day. It also helped us understand how the environment works and how I need to work with the space. In addition, it was a vital element of our overall preparation plans as this single-day indoor feat of endurance will be very different from my previous endurance record attempts, all of which have been outdoors and taken place over several days.

Firstly, the event will be over in 24 hours rather than taking place across several days. And being indoors means no unpredictable elements to contend with, like the cold and torrential rain of my non-stop cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End and back (Joggle Jog world record) and the severe storms we endeavoured to dodge during the Race Across America.

So far, so good.

However, circling a velodrome non-stop for a whole day will take its toll in other ways.

Balancing energy levels

For instance, the air quality is much dryer than the great outdoors, making it more difficult to swallow. This means our overall approach had to be revised, particularly in relation to fuel and maintaining energy levels.

This might seem a relatively straightforward part of the process yet devising a sound fuel and hydration strategy presents a major challenge. Having used solid foods for previous outdoor training sessions, it was clear that this wouldn’t work in an indoor environment. The answer was to consume liquids or semi-liquids of a similar consistency to baby food. We’re also trying yogurt sachets and energy gels, as we adjust and adapt, finding out what works -and what doesn’t.

It’s also a fine balance between underperforming and overperforming. In a relatively short race, a sugar rush from some of the jam-like substances we sometimes use can provide a much-needed energy boost. For a 24-hour endurance event however, it’s vital to keep the tank half-full at all times. This leaves very little scope for adjustment and virtually no margin of error. During this test, we discovered that the biggest impact on performance was actually over-fuelling, which makes me feel sick and that slows me down. So, getting it right was the most important performance gain. Unfortunately, this is something that’s not easy to achieve.

Tech support

The day also enabled us to test the full stereo audio communications for the first time, enabling me to speak to the crew while on the track, letting them know how I was feeling, what the computer readings were telling me, etc. Getting the communications working was no major feat, given that we were inside an area with multiple radio signals, all competing with our wireless audio communications solution.

Even more exciting, for the 18-hour test, the Dimension Data /Cisco Meraki technology will be in place, with full telemetry. This means the team can monitor all my vital signs and tell me if I’m burning too many calories, moving too quickly, etc. And not having to monitor the computer readings myself any more means I can focus on the job in hand.

And as I continue preparing for this crazy venture, it’s great to know that the technology we’re putting in place will stay put long after my attempt has been completed, supporting the vision of other cyclists, whether training for international events just testing themselves against the clock for fun.

Next time – more on the 18-hour velodrome test run.

For now, the countdown continues.

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