Late this past Sunday night, cycling columnist( and friend of CyclingTips) Rupert Guinness stepped off his bicycle in a Sydney car showroom and called an end to one incredible journey. He’d simply spent the past 12 days razzing on a stationary coach as part of the Virtual Race Across America( VRAAM ), the online version of the mythical ultra-endurance scoot that, like so many other phenomena, was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-1 9.
In those 12 days, the 58 -year-old had gone 3,358.68 virtual kilometres — an average of 280 km a period, on the indoor teach — webbing him eighth locate in the event. A got a couple of days after finishing the ride, Guinness took the time to chat to CyclingTips about the experience and how it cured him is fully prepared to a tilt at the “real” RAAM, in 2021.
CyclingTips: Congratulations on an awful move! How have you pulled up?
Rupert Guinness: Look, I’m feeling pretty good, actually. I’m patently tired. To be honest, I’m really tired[ but] I’m very happy with how things washed out. But I think this one certainly dipped into the threshold bucket, gave it that way. I feel more fatigued today than I did yesterday. There’s a few little niggles here and there, but nothing long-term or irreparable.
How did this whole thing come about? You were supposed to be doing the RAAM, right?
That’s right. I imply, we were preparing for RAAM and even when COVID rose its intelligence and when RAAM looked like it would assemble the list of sports events being canceled, I still continued preparing for RAAM because I meditated I’d wait until the final word that it was canceled. I would have hated to have gone over[ to the USA] and then deplored not having training of it properly.
So I continued studying. And then when it was canceled it was put to me by my copulate Anthony Gordon, after he had privately consulted with a couple of the other support crew — I didn’t know he had –‘ What about doing it practically ?’ I chortled at the idea and studied’ you’re kidding ‘. But over got a couple of climbs I envisioned’ well hold the line, what if we did ?’
I guess Anthony had this see in his judgment of creating an event; one, to provide me with a razz to do to sign off on all the preparation I’ve done and in preparation for next year’s RAAM, and; two, to try and do something which engenders some positivity during reasonably challenging ages for everybody. So I reviewed’ Yeah, why not- let’s do this. What else am I going to do now ?’
Anthony worked on getting marriages on board to wreak their expertise in and to get the event going. And then the RAAM organisation itself applied its thumbs up to the idea as well. That was kind of important because they didn’t have an event so this at least continued some momentum of interest in RAAM and the committee is also payed their gathering a chance to be involved in something that didn’t exist when they cancelled it.
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For the last 9 hours Australia slept. Not me though. I’ve keep the legs rotating, attacking over 180 km on my opening flowed. @vraammentalmiles HQ at @mercedesbenzgbrothers is the place to be. Come on down to say hello or dot-watch via the ???? link in my bio ???? ???? by @t_m_peters ???? to my partners: @sbs_australia @trekbikesau @revolve24aus @mercedesbenzgbrothers @kentwilliams_entoure @zoomsoundlab @suunto @bikeexchangeau @markobaloh @wagnerroofing @terranosystems @albioncycles @rudyprojectaus @crossingthelinesport @sramroad @kodanutrition @prism. bike @letsgomotorhomes #vraam #vraw #the60 #raam #raceacrossamerica #ultracycling #mentalhealth #mentalmiles
It looked like you had a pretty great setup there in the car dealership?
Yeah, it’s called G Brothers’ Mercedes in Mona Vale in the northern coasts area[ of Sydney ]. So they offered a zone of the showroom for us to use which had a kitchen area and a toilet locality and too an outdoor parking area. So that was huge, to have the equipment there to do it from.
Mind you, everything “were having” organised was basically contemplative of the preparation that we had for RAAM. So it wasn’t just like it happened overnight — the whole operation was nine months of piece and going all those people and methods in place. So it wasn’t just an off-the-cuff’ hey let’s just go and do this and grab people to come along’- it took a great deal of season putting that crew together, threw it that way.
And you had a campervan in the car park?
Yeah, the campervan was behind me where you construed me riding; it was just behind me. And the relevant recommendations of doing that was we wanted to create a sort of a RAAM setup so it looked like we were at RAAM. So the funding vehicle was there and we had another carry vehicle nearby.
I’d have some of my sleeps in the motor home. And interesting thing like getting used to the motor home and how you organise yourself to use the shower inside — they’re all detailed level things but I was much better at being ready and showering and changing at the end than I was at the beginning. It really goes you more au fait with the environment of what we’ll have in RAAM next year.
— Nine News Sydney (@ 9NewsSyd) June 21, 2020
What would an average period look like for you? How many hours were you spending on the bike?
Roughly it was 18 to 20 hours per day. We started off on a 20 -hour program then this kind of alternated from 20 to 18 hours. I contemplate the key point was to find the ideal sleeping pattern, and the same with nutrition and hydration; to find the title patterns that worked best for me.
So from the sleeping patterns, I conclude I tried a couple of four-hour blocks which were a little bit long for me early because I’d attain I’d be restless and really waste time. The best one for several days was anything from midnight to one o’clock in the morning, I’d start a three-hour block in which I’d probably sleep two and half hours. That would also include my shower.
I’d try and eat before I went off the bike — so I would have started digesting my nutrient — and then get off the bicycle, go into the motorhome, strip off, have a shower and settled my fresh bake gear on that I would journey for the next displacement and then go to bed in my kit, and get up after two and a half hours or so and then merely try and ride till daybreak. I’d be picking away at nutrient and drinks that the carry crew would bring me and then often around 10:30 -ish I’d have my first stop for massage.
So I had that three-hour block in the night to sleep. I too admitted myself anything from two to three hours during the day. I may stop for half an hour on the rub table, and sleep at the same time. I may have a 10 -minute power nap on a mattress, which was near where my motorcycle was. On some eras, I stood myself to have a one-hour sleep in the afternoon at three or four o’clock before the evening shift started.
And this helped break the day down too, rather than thinking of the whole long longevity of it all. So it did vary along the way, depending how I felt as well.
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I’m 1,134 kms into @vraammentalmiles. We’ve had certain technical impediments overnight and every day presents a new challenge. Today I’ll need to complete more than an Everest. VRAAM certainly presents some humps in the road ….! Check the leaderboard and dot-watch via the ???? associate in my bio ???? ???? by @t_m_peters ???? to our partners: @sbs_australia @trekbikesau @revolve24aus @mercedesbenzgbrothers @kentwilliams_entoure @zoomsoundlab @suunto @bikeexchangeau @markobaloh @wagnerroofing @terranosystems @albioncycles @rudyprojectaus @crossingthelinesport @sramroad @kodanutrition @prism. motorcycle @letsgomotorhomes #vraam #vraw #the60 #raam #raceacrossamerica #ultracycling #mentalhealth #mentalmiles
The ride took place on the FulGaz scaffold. How did “whos working”? Were there specific moves you had to do? Or could you time choose whatever journeys you wanted to make up the interval?
The journeys would come up[ on the app] from one to 214, and they’re in a designate sequence that you have to follow. So that room you’ve got the appearance of a track that’s unfolding before you.
Each time you are able to terminated a go you’d have to upload the ride as you do with Strava and it would go onto FulGaz where all the data, in particular the kilometres, would be put onto your call and then your accrued kilometres would just add up. And then you’d go back to the menu and the next travel would always have a lettuce label around it. So you knew where you had to go back to. So you’d really press’ start’ and do it again.
I remember at the beginning thinking’ Gee, at one point this will be the last one I have to press start on. I’m looking forward to that minute .’ And you only chip away at it and before you know it you’re into the 20 s, 50 s and 100 s and then getting to the high hundreds and[ by then] you’re getting to the end.
You objective up submerge around 3,300 km. How did that compare to what you were expecting?
Obviously when I started I thought it’d be great to do 4,500 km[ ed. the length of RAAM] and then in the end I did 3,358.68 km. I recollect after the first five or six dates I started to think’ This is a lot harder than what I recalled .’ Then we heard, general consensus, that the course was harder than what they had estimated. And you could see that’ Hold on, there’s a possibility that no one’s going to finish the 4,500.’
At the start they said everybody who finishes 4,500 km will automatically were eligible for the RAAM. It was estimated the course was 30% harder than real RAAM because there was 20,000 metres more descending in VRAAM than there was in RAAM. And there was very little descending because a great deal of those individual journeys were like straight up a mountain and then you finish the razz at the top and you go to the next one and it’s another elevation. So it was like a number of mountain time troubles.
So around about that time when they started saying they were going to review the qualifying mark, undoubtedly by then you realised that Oh, it’s not just me fantasizing’ shit, this is harder than I supposed. It’s generally accepted .’ So then I kind of figured I didn’t know how many[ FulGaz segments I would accomplish] because this is the first time a virtual Hasten Across America has been held.
The unknown was a stimulus for me. You could study the unknown could be a scary thing but I was preserving a very open mind. When they mount this new[ qualifying] marking, my focus was on getting past that marking firstly — 3,428 km. Anything on top of that was a bonus.[ ed. Exclusively one equestrian accomplished the full interval: Japanese equestrian Hirokazu Suzuki, who rode( practically) all 4,539.80 km from the west coast of the USA to the east .]
It seemed like you had a nice little engagement at times with broadcaster and onetime Giro d’Italia stage winner Dave McKenzie at particular levels along the way?
Yeah, that was interesting. We were real close to each other and chopping and changeable the make. I think that sort of helped me get the best out of myself. It was nice to have that and I picture Macca did a great job. I hope he’s happy with what he did[ ed. McKenzie handled 3,005 km ]. It was great to have somebody like him in there. It saved me honest. There was a point there, I pictured,’ fucking – god, this[ debate] could go all the way to the finish like this .’ I wasn’t looking forward to that.
“It’s a rollercoaster, this thing, #VRAAM.”
— CyclingCentral (@ CyclingCentral) June 21, 2020
That said, I felt like I was coming stronger towards the end of the event, which kind of caught me,[ but] which is probably pondering of the program I was given by my instruct, whose aim is to being stronger at the end of RAAM.
I think the whole thing reaffirmed to me how important the planning is for RAAM. My program started basically in September last year and I was pretty strict in keeping to it. And it just increased. It was a challenging platform, but it was achievable. It wasn’t something that the average person like myself can’t do, but you have to commit to it.
During VRAAM I didn’t have any booze. That was the longest stretch without liquor for as long as I can retain. That was my number one achievement I guess. Twelve epoches without liquor. But I still experienced wine-coloured in preparations for it, and training courses.
You induced it past the revised RAAM qualification mark on the final day, right?
Yeah, I get past it on Sunday I think about midday. I came kind of stimulated and there was a block where I was doing, 385 to 425 watts or something and then I get past that commemorate and I belief’ Hold on, there’s another 10 hours to go. I better ease up here.’
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BREAKING: @rupert. guinness has just affected 3,248 kms, the interval required to be considered an official VRAAM Finisher! He’s still in the hasten until 11 pm tonight, clocking up yet more kilometres. Well Done Rupert! Keep an gaze on the leaderboard by ???? clicking the link in our bio ???? ???? by @nothinbutshorts ???? to our partners: @sbs_australia @trekbikesau @revolve24aus @mercedesbenzgbrothers @kentwilliams_entoure @zoomsoundlab @suunto @bikeexchangeau #vraam #vraw #the60 #raam #raceacrossamerica #ultracycling #mentalhealth #mentalmiles
How did this experience compare to your trips in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race and the Revolve 24 -hour scoots?
Ah, it certainly is up on another level. But that’s perhaps reflective of my deficiency of ordeal with Indy Pac when I first did it. But I remember the accomplishments of Indy Pac one and two and my Revolves — I think they all helped in knowing my doorsteps and ability to manage myself through high-flowns and lows and the sleep problems. They’re all a part of the building blocks of what my execution was this time. So it was all a learning experience and this are helpful in me for RAAM next year vastly because you’re always learning brand-new things about yourself.
When I did my first Indy Pac, when I look back on that, I realise how little I was prepared for it, even if they are I recalled I was well-prepared. But that’s part of the undertaking of it all. That’s what I love about ultra-endurance riding. You’re never 100% sure of anything, you are aware?
My biggest problem[ during the VRAAM] was when my Tacx smart trainer blew up on the first Saturday at about three in the morning. And that kind of pissed me off because then I didn’t have a smart-alecky manager for a bit. We had some backups and then my reinforcement gang, the ones who were on stand-by, “theyre saying”‘ ok, we’ve got to stop for instant. Use this stop to catch up on some sleep and we’ll fix it. We’ll wake you up .’ So that’s where you had to have faith in your gang so I didn’t have to stress about a mechanical.
But again, I think this was up another level for me. Because apparently the people who go for the acquire at Indy Pac they’re going at it at a tier that I wasn’t at at Indy Pac. For me personally, this was up another level because I was going in to scoot VRAAM not to travel VRAAM. I was going Indy Pac to finish. And if I was going to do RAAM, I was going there to race.
It’s the mentality. This was my first knowledge genuinely to go and race an ultra-endurance event 12 epoches. And I know when I go to RAAM, I’m going to have to go there to race it. So this is a prime opening. The reality that we had a cut-off mark to prepare[ 12 dates] heightened that. Also, it was a good example of in RAAM, where you have cut-off marks which you have to reach to avoid elimination, it was a good test to simulate if my gang said’ Rupe, you’ve got so many hours to make the cut off, we’re gonna have to really dig deep here .’ That mentality helped me prepare for that.
Physically, it sounds like you got through it penalize?
Yeah, I finished strong. I had a couple little niggles. I begins with a corn on my freedom little toe, which is still genuinely sore — I had to cut a fault in my cycling shoes so there wouldn’t be push on it. I’ve got the usual hot-feet syndrome. My left knee got a little bit absces towards the end so I had to tape it up for the last few hours. But that was just precautionary — it’s fine now. The muscles get certainly sore because you’re on that stationary bike. They’re still sore if I stroke them now, the muscles above the knee detonator.
The worst thing I’ve got is the pinky and the next thumb[ on my left end] are basically stupefy which I think is metacarpal syndrome, from being on the handlebars. I can’t straighten my pinky — if I threw a gauntlet on, I “re going to have to” direct the pinky through the mitt. And that’s quite sore. At light experience when I’m in bunked it gets really pretty agonizing. So that’s probably the most important thing.
And I’ve got to see a dentist because just before VRAAM a fill in part of a tooth came out and with all the devouring of food[ during VRAAM] it’s probably not the best thing to be eating with a flaw in your teeth.
With the hand thing I’m probably going to see a doctor tomorrow — it may require a bit of a surgical process to exhaust the nerves.
Anything else you’d like to share about the move?
The other thing is we were doing it for mental health awareness — that was the superseding effect. Not for one charity, but general awareness. The organisers wanted to create a positive strategy during these ages and mental health awareness was the theme we were trying to put out there.
The VRAAM also actually drove home to me the importance of a really good support crew. Like I said, our foundation crew we’d adopted and worked with for a long time but this was very much a dry run for them. The fact that they got me through to a site where my weight loss was pretty low-spirited and when I said I felt stronger at the end than I did at the start, that’s really reflective of how they were able to not just feed me and framed me to sleep, they could read more body.
They knew when I was fatigued before I knew it. Or they would just be able to act when they needed to act, before I even knew they needed to act. And you really have to have a support crew “whos working”, like a Formula 1 squad crew. There’s no way you have been able get the best out of yourself without that sort of cohesion. It may be an individual event, but clearly you need that crew there. I wouldn’t have done it without them.
Total distance dealt: 3,358.68 km Average distance per epoch: 279.9 km FulGaz goes completed: 173 Total sleep: 60 hours Average sleep per day: 5 hours Total calories burned: 84,271 Force lost: 2.9 kg
Rupert’s funding crew
Crew chief: Anthony Gordon Logistics bos: Kent Williams Medical administrator: Troy Peters Chief physiotherapist: Orla Cunningham Head act coach-and-four: Tony Kiss Social media overseer: Sally Heginbotham Media premier: Peter Cunningham Nutritional advisor: Brett Davidson Chef/kit honcho: Libby Bennett( Rupert’s partner) IT/comms principal: David Fell
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