Monday, December 21, 2015

Fast after Fifty, a book review

I am over fifty and I am trying to get faster on my bike and working to improve my fitness in general.  Thus, Joe Friel's book "Fast after Fifty" sounded real intriguing to me.  So I put it on my read list and finally had a chance to read it recently.  These are my thoughts on the book.

First, this book is not sport specific and will not give you pre-made workouts ready for you to go out and ride.  It deals more with the general topic of how to stay fast or get faster for any endurance sport when you are older than fifty.  Why fifty, why nor 45 or 55?  The first section of the book goes into the physiology of aging and its impact on sports performance. Using data from many studies he shows that the endurance performance of the population at large drops off significantly as age increases, especially after 50.  Then he brings up some other studies that show this decrease in performance can be greatly reduced by maintaining training volume and intensity even as you get older.  This means that a great deal of the drop off in performance in the general population is due to a reduction in training, with intensity being the best indicator of how much performance will drop off.  This counters the long slow distance (LSD) training methodology for maintaining and or improving fitness.  Training using LSD rides only will not maintain your fitness levels.  You need to have intensity in order to hold on to your fitness levels.  As you age it does become more difficult to maintain high levels of intensity, so the rest periods built in to the training schedule become more important.

Section two of the book goes into the kind of training required to maintain endurance performance for the aging athlete.  The information is more general and not real detailed for cycling.  One would want to have a book like the "Cyclist's Training Bible" at hand to develop specific training workouts and schedules, or perhaps just get the book "Cycling Past Fifty" which covers the same information about aging, but in a more cycling specific way.  The book does cover aspects of training and measurement of training results in great detail and includes sports specific testing examples and examples of training schedules in the appendix.  I just feel that the "Cycling Past Fifty" book is a better fit for cyclists and does a good job covering the information you need to know.  I am reading that book now and will post a review of it shortly.  "Fast after Fifty" is an excellent book for some doing cross training or preparing for triathlons.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments on the topic of training books and training in general.  What have you used to guide your training and how has it worked for you.  Also, what are you using to track your training?  Do you use an app like Strava, or Training Peaks.  Or, are you using pen and paper for a more traditional logbook.  What works for you?



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Does pickle juice stop cycling leg cramps?

Leg cramps are a cyclist's nightmare.  They usually crop up toward the end of the ride, just as you are thinking about that cold beer waiting for you at the finish!  Why do athletes get cramps, what can you do to prevent them, and how can you get rid of the cramps quickly once they have started?  The answers may surprise you.

First, conventional wisdom has been that cramps are caused by dehydration and loss of electrolytes. The thought is that you should drink an electrolyte replenishing drink such as one made with Nuun or Gu tablets to prevent the cramps.  However, several recent studies have cast doubt on this mechanism as the cause.   Certainly athletes still need to stay hydrated and keep their electrolytes in balance as since dehydration will affect your performance and health in other ways.  But, recent studies point to a failure of a neuro-muscular mechanism that prevents extreme muscle contractions as the most likely cause of cramps.  The nerves that keep the muscle from going into extreme contractions fail and your muscle goes into a cramp.  Your hydration level does not appear to have much affect on when this occurs and re-hydration doesn't change the duration of the cramp significantly.

If the cramps are caused by fatigue and confused muscle contraction signals, then what can be done to avoid them?  There are a few things you can do before the ride that will help.  Since you are more likely to get to the levels of fatigue that cause cramps when you ride in a competitive event when you push yourself, one way to reduce the chance of cramps is to have your training mimic the event in duration and intensity.  This way you will be less likely to develop the level of fatigue that leads to cramps.  Another thing you can do is develop a self awareness of how your legs are doing.  This awareness will enable you to predict when the cramps are about to happen and adjust your intensity down slightly before the cramps start. I have done this on rides in the past and it has even helped after the cramps have started.  I was able to continue the rides by reducing the intensity and stretching my legs during the ride.

Once the cramp develops you can't keep riding at your previous pace.  You may need to stop at and take some action if backing off the intensity of your riding doesn't make it go away. Things that work to relieve the cramps are light stretching, rest, water, and pickle juice.  The stretching can be done on the bike, for example, standing on the pedals and dropping your heels in order to stretch your calves.  Rest and water will help as well, but studies have shown that a 2.5 ounce shot of pickle juice is more effective at making the cramp go away than drinking lots of water.  One particular study showed that pickle juice “relieved a cramp 45 percent faster” versus drinking no fluids and 37 percent faster versus drinking water.  Indeed the time it took for the pickle juice to affect the cramp was quicker than the time it would take for the electrolytes to be absorbed through the digestive system and into the blood stream.  The blood levels showed no determinable increase in the level of electrolytes during the test which supports the theory that it was not electrolytes that caused the cramps.  The hypothesis is that the vinegar in the pickle juice stimulates nerve receptors in the throat or stomach that then send out signals that reset the fatigue induced mis-firing caused muscle contractions.

Now, you can get your pickle juice from that jar of Vlassic dill pickles, but it is kind of hard to carry on a bike ride.  Fortunately, one company makes a handy 2.5 ounce pickle juice shot size that you can carry in your cycling jersey pocket or your saddlebag for when those unwanted cramps try to ruin your perfect ride.  You can get them online from Amazon here  or if you live in the Oakdale area you can go by the Oakdale Bike Shop.  Go ahead and get some to take with you on your next ride, your legs will thank you, even if your taste buds won't!

On a separate note, for those rides over two hours in duration you should be thinking about using an carbohydrate replenishing drink such as Gu Roctane to keep your glycogen levels up so you don't bonk.  Why you should do this will be the subject of a future post.  Until the next time, happy cramp free riding to you!


Friday, November 27, 2015

Part Three of a Trilogy on Flat Tires: How to prevent those pesky flat tires from happening in the first place!

There are some things that can be done to reduce your chance of getting a flat while out riding.  Some of these will increase your wheel weight slightly, but the amount of time you lose due to the increased wheel weight is much less than the time spent fixing a flat!

One of the first things you can do to stop possible future problems with flat tires is to replace the original plastic rim strip with a quality rim tape such as the one made by Velox.  The original plastic strip is slippery and has no glue so it will tend to slide to the side over time and expose the spoke holes in the rim.  A quality rim tape like Velox or Zefal will have adhesive that will hold it in place.  Just be sure to get the correct width for your rims.  A typical 700C 23/25 tire sits on a wheel that will use a 16mm rim tape.  The tape is easy to install.  If it has a valve stem hole in it, just line that up with the valve stem hole in the rim and start going around the rim.  I used the handle of a pair of pliers to press the tape into the groove of the rim since they were smooth and about the right diameter.  There is some debate as to whether or not to overlap the ends of the tape or butt them together.  Frankly, either way works so long as the butt joint is between spoke holes.  I used the overlap and did it opposite of the valve stem for weight balance across the rim.

Next, you have the option of installing a liner in your existing tire or upgrading your tire to a puncture resistant tire, or both if you live in a particularly bad area for punctures.  The tire my LBS recommends is the Continental Gator Hardshell DuraSkin Folding Tire as being the best tire out there for preventing puncture flats.  It is not the lowest rolling resistance tire.  The Bicycle Rolling Resistance blog has performed testing on various tires, including an earlier version of the Gator Hardshell that showed rolling resistance at 19.3 watts to be significantly higher than the lowest rolling resistance tires such as the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II at 12.2 watts.  The Grand Prix 4000 S II does have some puncture protection, but its puncture resistance score is 11 vs. the 19 of the Gator Hardshell.  So it is a trade off of puncture resistance for rolling resistance.  For the liners I could find no scientific tests on the increase in rolling resistance, but the general consensus is that the liners do add rolling resistance on the order of 10%.  I will have to do some coasting tests on some local hills to see if I come up with the same conclusions.

Preventing of pinch flats is done by maintaining adequate pressure in your tires.  For most road tires this means 90-110 psi.  You also want to avoid the potholes and sharp curbs.  A wider tire will give better pinch flat resistance as well.  A 25mm tire is better than a 23 mm tire and a 28mm tire is better yet.  You are limited by your rim width and the clearance available at your forks and frame tubes.

Finally, you can use tubes with sealant in them.  The most well known brand for tire sealant is Slime and you can buy the Slime in a bottle or in a Slime pre-filled tube.  Frankly, for Presta valve tubes I prefer the pre-filled tubes as it is much less hassle.  Testing on rolling resistance show minimal impact due to the sealant in the tube.  There is a small weight penalty at the worst place, the outside edge of the wheel where the inertial forces are highest.  But this penalty should be no more than that of a liner or a puncture resistant tire.

So which should you use?  It all depends on your aversion to flats.  If you ride with the Oakdale Bike Shop rides and you have the awesome ride leader Ed along he will change the flat for you!  No problem, you get to rest up from the thrashing you have been receiving while you tube is changed out! Then again if you ride out by yourself or are on a drop ride then you want to minimize those flats.  Do you have goat head thorns like we do, or is it more glass and man-made sharp objects that cause the flats?  Hard to say what the perfect balance is.  For me I will ride with liners and Slime during goat head thorn season (summer in California) but will be looking to pull out the liners, keep the Slime and go to the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II during the winter for a low rolling resistance combination.

Please comment on this post.  I would love to hear what works for you out there on the roads.  Also, see my related posts on The Causes of Flat Tires and How to Repair Flat Tires.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Part Two of a Trilogy on Flat Tires: Some tips on fixing those pesky flat tires when out on a bike ride!

In my previous post I covered the four main causes of flat tires for road bikes.  In this post I will talk about fixing flat tires.  The best way to fix a flat tire is to get someone else to change it for you!  Just kidding, but that is what happens if you go on group rides with an awesome local bike shop like Oakdale Bike Shop.  Your ride leader can have that tube changed out in a jiffy.  Of course, not every shop has a great ride leader like Ed!  So then, unfortunately, you have to change the tube yourself.

When you have a flat you need to remove the tube.  To do this you will need a tire lever. Some good tire levers are shown in the picture and include ones made by Pedro's, Crank Brothers and Avenir.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each one, but the general favorite/standard is the Pedro's levers.  The Crank Brothers Speedier lever has some features designed to make it more ergonomic and easier to use but it hasn't quite worked out to be easier for me.  Some people swear by the Speedier lever and others swear at them!  Fortunately the levers are cheap and you can find them online or at your local bike shop for very similar prices.

inner tube replacement on your bikeUsing the tire levers to pop the bead of the tire over the rim will make it possible to remove the tube for inspection and repair or replacement.  You may need to pop the tire bead away from the rim by pressing with your thumbs as you go around the rim.  I have to do this with my Giant's rims because the bead locks in place.  On other rims this is not an issue and you can just use the tire lever to pry up the bead over the edge of the rim while being careful to not pinch the tube (if you want to save it) and then slide the tire lever around the rim to bring one side of the tire over the edge.  You can now remove the tube.  I usually start at the valve stem and simply move the tire over so I can slide the valve stem out of the rim.  Don't forget to remove the stem nut if you use one, though according to my weight weenie friends you shouldn't use it because it is just extra weight!

Once the tube is out locate the hole(s) causing the leak.  This is important especially if you don't know what caused the flat.  If you know it was a pinch flat caused by hitting a pothole or you pulled the thorn out of the tire that caused the flat you can skip this part and go straight to replacing the tube.  When you are on a ride it is just quicker to replace the tube with a spare tube and then you don't have to worry about whether the repair will hold.  You can then repair the tube later with a good quality patch kit like the one manufactured by Rema.  If it was not a pinch flat you will want to run your fingers along the inside of the tire before installing the new tube.  Even if you pulled out the thorn, there may be other thorns in the tire ready to puncture that brand new tube 10 minutes down the road!

If the tube failure was caused by a hole in the tire you need to locate the hole in the tire and reinforce it with a tire boot.  For this you can use the official tire boot such as the one by Park Tool, or a thin piece of cardboard or even a dollar bill!  The advantage of the tire boot is that it is adhesive backed so that it will stay in place better than a dollar bill.

Once you have made sure there are no sharp objects still sticking through your tube and taken care of any holes in the tire you are ready to install the new tube you were carrying with you.  First step is to put a little air in the tube to give it some shape.  This will make it much easier to put back into the tire, but it will also reduce the chance that you will have a twist in the tube that could cause it to fail when you inflate it up to pressure (pow!).  Insert the valve stem first and then work your way around the tire sliding the tube into place and working it back onto the rim.  Now it is time to re-seat the tire bead.  You can do this by hand or use the tire lever.  I usually start it by hand and then use the tire lever to finish popping the bead over the rim by sliding the lever around the wheel.

You are now ready to inflate the tube using either a CO2 cartridge powered inflator or a frame pump.  Just take one final look at the tire as it sits on the wheel to make sure the beads are where they belong and there are no funny bulges where the tube is wadded up!  You should begin by partially inflating the tube and checking again to make sure the tube isn't folded inside the tire.  Just last week a fellow rider blew his brand new tube at this point in the replacement because of a kink in the tube. After verifying the tube is not kinked inflate the tire to full pressure and reinstall it on the bike.  You will get faster with experience, but it is better to take the time to do it right rather than have that tube blow out on you a few miles down the road.  Also, see my next blog where I talk about steps you can take to avoid getting the flat in the first place!

Please see my earlier post, Part One of a Trilogy on Flat tires, What Causes Them? for information on the causes of your cycling flat tires,  Thanks for reading, and as always I look forward to your comments.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Part One of a Trilogy on Flat tires: First, what causes them. Second,how to fix them. Third, how to prevent them.

There are three givens in life: death, taxes and if you ride a bike....FLATS!  Flat tires never happen at a good time, but the chance of having a flat while cycling can be greatly reduced with some careful attention paid to your bike's wheels, inner tubes and tires.

cycling through thorns causes flat tire due to punctures
So, what causes bicycle tires to go flat?  If you have the tire in the picture to the left it is an obvious answer, but there are at least four distinct types of flat tires.  Each type has its distinct personality and appearance.  Full anointment in the brotherhood of cycling happens when you have had the joy of experiencing them all!

First is the puncture/cut flat, which is the one we think of most often when we think of a flat.  A thorn, a piece of wire, glass or other sharp object on the road punctures or cuts through the tire and inner tube leaving you on the side of the road disassembling your bike so you can fix the flat.  This flat can take some time before it is noticed if the puncture is small, or it can be as long as a day or two before it goes flat.  Sometimes the hole is so small it is hard to find.  I have had to resort to dunking the tube in a bucket of water and watching for air bubbles to find these holes.

cycling rim tape spokes cause flat tiresThe second type, the pinch flat is the scariest flat because it often occurs when you are going fast, there is a loud pop and the tire goes flat immediately!  It happens when you hit a pothole or other sharp edge and the tube gets pinched between this edge and the two side of the rim.  For this reason this flat typically looks like a snake bite on the inner-tube with two punctures spaced apart from each other by the width of the rim.

Another type of flat happens when the rim tape moves over enough to expose one of the spoke holes in the rim.  This one can happen while riding, or even when the bike is just sitting there!  Notice in the picture how the green plastic rim tape has moved over and exposed the hole for the spoke nipple where the screwdriver tip is pointing.  That small amount of spoke hole showing was enough to cause me a flat!  This flat occurs because the rim tape fails to support the tube over the spoke nipple hole and the tube ruptures in a blowout.  It will be a large enough hole that you can't pump the tube backup with a floor pump.  The air will leak out as fast as you pump it in and the hole will be on the rim side of the tube.

The fourth type of flat is related to the cut tire, only this time the tire wall is weakened enough that the tube pokes out through it and ruptures.  This could be caused by a brake pad pivoting and rubbing on the tires sidewall until it gets so thin that it give way, or a piece of glass or metal on the road side. With this type of flat, if you don't have a spare tire you will have to line the tire with something in order to get home.  You can use a section of old inner tube, a large patch, a pre-trimmed piece of thin cardboard, a Park Tool emergency tire boot or a dollar bill placed inside the tire so you can get home.  The Park Tool emergency tire boot takes up very little room in your emergency kit, see below for a link to buy or check with your local bike shop for availability.

What should you carry with you on your ride?  At a minimum you should carry a spare tube, a tire lever and a CO2 inflator.  This can fit in you jersey pocket or in a saddle bag and will be enough to for shorter rides, group rides where people are willing to share, and supported rides that have spare tubes and flat repair as part of the ride service.  If you go out on longer rides by yourself, then you may want to include two tubes, a patch kit and either multiple CO2 cartridges or a frame pump. Crank Brothers makes a great CO2 inflator and the Topeak Road Morph G is a road pump that actually works as a pump.  There are smaller and lighter pumps but I highly recommend actually trying them before buying to see if the amount of work it takes to pump up the tire to a ride-able pressure is acceptable to you. You should also consider the emergency tire boot mentioned above.  If you are really out on your own a chain break is also a good idea.  This can be a separate Park Tool chain break or one that is part of a multi-tool such as the ones made by Crank Brothers.  Examples of both are listed below.

In my next post I will talk about how to fix the tires, and then I will follow that up with another post giving you some tips from the bike shop pros on how to prevent the flats in the first place.  Please comment on this post.  I would love to hear from you about the kind of flats you have experienced and what is in your emergency kit.

 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cycling Lighting review for those dark fall night rides. Light and Motion Urban 800 and Planet Bike Superflash Turbo.

With fall comes cooler weather and shorter days and night rides!  Our Oakdale Bike Shop night rides start at 6:15 pm so we are riding in the dark now and that means you need to have good lights on the front and rear of your bike!  Lucky for us the LED lighting revolution has resulted in some great lights for your bike. Until now I had been using a Sigma TriLED light on my bike.  It was purchased a few years back and is older technology compared to today's lights.  At about 60 lumens it is just adequate for letting cars know you are there, but for after dark club rides on unlit country roads I needed something more.  This is where the Light & Motion Urban 800 comes in.  This light has a maximum output of 800 lumens with a medium setting of 350 lumens and a low setting of 175 lumens.  The battery life is okay, with an advertised battery life of 1.5 hours on high, 3 hours on medium and 6 hours on low and even longer on pulse mode.  I usually ride on medium as that is plenty bright for up to 25 mph.  My experience is that the battery lasts as long as they say it does.  It takes 6 hours to reach a full charge connected to the USB port on my computer.

headlight handlebar cycling bike night ridingThe light output is white in color which really helps with my vision on the road.  I have seen other LED lights that are more yellow or blue in color and definitely prefer the white as the shadows of holes in the road are better defined.  The beam of the light is fairly wide and even in brightness across the width.  I have seen some lights that vary in brightness significantly across the width of the beam.  This can result in you not seeing holes in the road!  Even though it is hard to quantify how even the light's output is from side to side of the beam I feel it is very important in the real world when riding a dark, bumpy road at speed.  You need all the help you can get when riding on pot holed roads during dark nights! You may notice that it also has side facing amber lights that help somewhat with visibility from the side, though some of that light is blocked by your hands and arms when riding in the drops or on the hoods.  However, the amber side light does help me see my Wahoo RFLKT+ cycle computer if I have it angled correctly, so I don't need to run its backlight thus saving its batteries.
headlight charging cable mount cycling

The light comes with a charging cable, a handlebar mount, a Go Pro mount and a helmet mount.  The handlebar mount is the one that I use.  The rubber strap slips over a hook on the mount and can adjust to different diameter handlebars.  It is generally easy to remove, though sweaty hands can make it difficult to grip the end of the strap.  I had to grab a paper towel after one particularly hot ride as the strap kept slipping out of my hand!  Charging uses a standard micro USB port which means one less charger and cable to keep track of!  Construction quality is very good and Light & Motion has excellent support, especially when purchased through your local bike shop, such as my LBS, Oakdale Bike Shopwhich has been rated as one of America's Best Bike Shops for 2013, 2014 and 2015!  The warranty is an excellent 2 years.

    
Of course you also need a tail light for safe riding at night.  I use a Planet Bike Superflash Turbo tail light on my bike. It isn't the sexiest looking taillight, but it does have a pretty bright flash mode, uses standard AAA batteries, and lasts for over a hundred hours on those batteries in flash mode.  The white case lights up with the flashes as well which really improves visibility from the sides.  It can be mounted on a seat stay, seat post or hung on a seat bag. The light angle can be adjusted up and down, a helpful feature for those group rides so you don't blind the rider following you.  We have all had those red spots in our eyes after a night ride following a particular bike with a way too bright taillight pointed straight in your eyes! 

I have used this light for 6 months on the same original batteries, riding with it on flashing mode during night and day rides for 2,000 miles.  I even left the light on over night once when I forgot to turn it off.  I finally replaced the batteries when it started to get dimmer and put in some Duracells so it should last forever now! Some have complained about the clear flashing part falling off during rides.  I have not had that occur to me even though we ride some pretty bumpy roads!  But, I would recommend making sure it is securely connected to the white body before using it.  

tail light for biking and night ridingOthers in my ride group swear by the Cateye Rapid X2.  It is a slimmer, sexier design that fits nicely on the seat stay using a supplied rubber band to hold it in place. It can also be mounted on a seat post or clipped to a seat bag with an optional mount.  This light is very bright for a tail light at 50 lumens and has six different modes from solid to very rapid flashing.  It is powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts from 4 to 40 hours per charge depending on the mode you choose.  It has six modes instead of just the two of the SuperFlash Turbo which can be useful at night to make it easier for someone following you to identify you by the flashing sequence. Also, the different modes each have a different battery life.  One disadvantage is that you can't aim the light up and down like the SuperFlash Turbo.  Really, the choice between the two lights comes down to which one looks better to you and whether you like the rechargeable battery or the replaceable AAA batteries.

I hope this information helps you get setup to ride safely out on the roads after dark.  My wife feels better knowing that I have excellent lights on my bike when doing the night rides.  The best compliment I received about the lights was from a guy waiting at a stop sign as I drove by.  He yelled out his window to me, "Dam, that is one bright light!".  So, don't let the short days hold you back.  Get some good lights and get out with a group and do some night rides. It is fun!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Long Distance Cycling book review

long distance cycling Seattle to Portland road biking century
My daughter and me on the STP
A year ago, a normal cycling distance for me was less than 20 miles.  Now my average ride is 50 miles and some go over 100 miles.  This change started when I decided to ride the Seattle to Portland (STP) with my daughter.  Now I had never ridden 100 miles in a day before, much less 100 miles two days in a row!  I knew I needed to train so that I could enjoy the ride, so the first step I took was to go to my local bike shop, Oakdale Bike Shop, and connect with their group rides.  These rides helped out a great deal with my fitness by pushing me faster and farther than I had been riding in the past.  However, at a typical distance of 30 mile the rides were still shorter than what I needed to give me the confidence I wanted to take to Seattle.

Some of my fellow group riders had done long distance rides and were able to give me some input.  But a lot of the advice amounted to "just get out and ride and you will be fine!"  My problem was then and is now that I don't have the time to go 200-300 miles a week every week and I also hoped that it wouldn't take that kind of riding just to be able to enjoy the STP!

So I went online and found several sites that gave tips on prepping for century rides or even for the STP itself.  Most of these sites fell into the category of the "quick list of things" you can do.  You know, like "10 tips from an STP veteran", which gave some helpful tips to prepare and ride the STP but didn't answer many of my questions on how to train, what to eat, and most importantly, how to make sure I would still be able to sit on my bike saddle on day two of the ride! I needed more in depth coverage of what it takes to train for and ride a century ride.

long distance cycling training book
I found this kind of help in the book "The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling" by Edmund Burke and Ed Pavelka.  In the book they cover topics in more detail than on any web site. It starts with discussions of how to build a training plan targeted to the type of ride you plan to do.  A good discussion of training intensity and heart rate zones leads to an understanding that you are better off with rides of varying intensities to build your base endurance, climbing power and sprinting ability.  It is important that not every ride should be ridden at full intensity.  Your endurance is better built by riding in heart rate zones 1 and 2.  The authors go on to discuss over-training and how it can set you back in your preparations.  A cursory review of gear is included that is helpful in getting to know what is out there and what it is called so you can at least converse with other cyclists about their favorite gear.

They go on from there to talk about different types of long distance rides and give specific suggestions on training plans, gear, clothing, food and mental preparations.  I found this section useful to read as it helped me prepare for the rides with greater confidence and not feel that I had to take everything with me!

The remainder of the book covers details about various topics. These include a section on Danger Zones, which are the things that can end your ride.  Also covered are saddle sores, general body issues and dealing with the elements.  Following the suggestions included in these sections allowed me to complete the 200 miles of the STP with no saddle soreness and feeling well enough to ride the bike from the finish line over to my daughter's house. My Selle SMP Lite 209 saddle certainly helped out with that accomplishment!

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to take on a long distance event.  Following the information in the book will make your ride much more enjoyable.

Two other books that you might consider on the topic of cycling training are:"Cycling Past 50 (Ageless Athlete)" by Joe Friel and "Fast after Fifty" also by Joe Friel.