Video: Mike Cotty's 300-mile training ride

Mike's in training for something, but what does it take to get fit for a big challenge?

by Dave Atkinson   June 15, 2013  

Mike Cotty 300 miler

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If you've ever watched a Cyclefilm etape recce you'll probably recognise Mike Cotty as the guinea pig sent out to try out the parcours for you. He's a fit chap, Mike: a former cyclocross champion and record holder for the South Downs Double (the full return trip) and first British finisher in the Etape and the Marmotte. Now he's eyeing up a new challenge.

We don't know what that challenge is just yet. Whatever it is, it involves riding quite fast for quite a long time, because his current regime involves some rides like this one: 300 miles from Herne Bay in Kent back to base in Southampton. The pretty way, with over 6,000m of climbing. It's an interesting glimpse into Mike's life, which very much revolves around riding bikes fast, and it had us thinking two things. Firstly, we should never forget just how beautiful riding in the UK can be: this ride looks lovely. And secondly, why haven't we got a car following us around on our training rides? We're sure we could crack off 300 miles in 19 hours too, if we did. Ahem.

61 user comments

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Bez wrote:
"@Bez - wow, you have a great memory!"

It stuck in my mind cos I've always fancied doing that route* Smile - though, to alleviate the geekiness, I did have to google the stats; I'd forgotten exactly how it compared to PBP/BP.

(* Would be over the moon if I could do it in even double that time, though...)

To be honest it's such a nice route it sometimes seems a shame to not take longer to actually do it - so you can really enjoy it for what it is! When I did it non-stop I was in the dark for the best part of 10 hours. Scenery isn't quite the same with the lights turned out Cool

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
17th June 2013 - 13:01

8 Likes

Mike, are you a vegan?

posted by fred22 [207 posts]
17th June 2013 - 20:42

8 Likes

fred22 wrote:
Mike, are you a vegan?

Hi Fred, I'm not a vegan. Why do you ask? MC

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
17th June 2013 - 22:47

7 Likes

Great ride Mike and well captured malinphoto! Nice bit of inspiration to get out on those long rides.

Mike, just a personal thanks for your cyclefilm recces, last winter I watched (to my fiancees continued annoyance) your Tourmalet one about 20 times before I rode it before last years Stage 15, this year I've gone back in time and am now watching your 2009 Ventoux recce in prep for an attempt at joining the Cingles later in the 'Summer'. Great overviews and a huge help when plodding through the dark months in prep for those big Summer rides!

For the music haters, I can vouch that the music on this one is a huge step up from those for sure, and tbh I think both tracks fit this film really well. You'll never make everyone happy though:)

Intreagued to see what's up your sleeve with this one though!

posted by Carvers [41 posts]
18th June 2013 - 11:13

7 Likes

Hi Carvers, thanks for the message and kind words on the recon DVD's, really happy they helped you. Please pass on my sincere apologies to your fiancee.....I take full responsibility for your multiple winter hours spent in front of the TV! Good luck and ride safe. Mike

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
18th June 2013 - 13:00

5 Likes

Great video/ride lovely to see all the little lanes, who needs A roads.

Music fitted very well Smile

posted by SuperG [55 posts]
18th June 2013 - 20:23

8 Likes

I've got to ask Mike, if you did this ride self-supported, so carried your lights all the way, carried your extra clothes, food/drink (and bought more on the way) how well do you reckon you'd have done?

I'm training for the LEL having never ridden an audax before, so am trying to compare what I'm doing with others (both pro and amateur). My training rides are loaded up with extra clothes, enough food to get me at least between towns, not to mention spare tubes etc, just in case.

Nice vid btw Smile

posted by ir_bandito [59 posts]
18th June 2013 - 20:45

6 Likes

I did this last weekend in 38 hrs . Any good?
https://www.strava.com/activities/59268623

I was also totally alone. Left margate at 22:00 hrs after a 2-10 shift . Cycled through the night and the following day. Stopped for 2 hrs in Exeter overnight on saturday and made the remainder of the trip on Sunday morning. 38 hrs was time elapsed not moving time.

I also did it after three days of total fasting. Carried no food. And ate one egg and bacon at the hogs back cafe. That was the only food I ate during the ride. No joke.

posted by wyadvd [118 posts]
18th June 2013 - 21:21

7 Likes

Great stuff Mike. You've captured quite a lot of people's imaginations here.
I just need to get you foraging as you ride now... Wink

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [46 posts]
18th June 2013 - 22:05

7 Likes

Mike Cotty wrote:
fred22 wrote:
Mike, are you a vegan?

Hi Fred, I'm not a vegan. Why do you ask? MC

Saw what appeared to be non dairy milk at beginning of vid and jumped to that conclusion

posted by fred22 [207 posts]
18th June 2013 - 22:27

7 Likes

Hi ir_bandito.

Great question! To be honest my intention wasn't to go out to "do a certain time", it was a training ride for a challenge that I'm working towards later in the summer. My main priority was to test certain bits of kit (wheels, nutrition, clothing, lighting etc) so it's hard to compare if I were to do it self-supported.

Interestingly when I did the South Downs Double supported I was actually the best part of 3 hours slower than when I rode un-supported. I blame my support team for wanting to chat too much Wink

Even so you haven't ever ridden an audax before it sounds like your training is pretty much spot on. Simulate what you hope to do on the day / night and you can't go far wrong.

Good luck and glad you enjoyed the vid.

Mike

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
18th June 2013 - 23:42

9 Likes

Hi Wyadvd.

You're ride looks amazing. Very impressive indeed! I'd be happy to do that on a full tank of fuel and plenty of top ups along the way. I do have a question for you though, what sound do you hear when you tap your quads? If it is a metallic noise it confirms my suspicions that you are in fact a MACHINE! Smile

Keep up the good work!

Mike

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
18th June 2013 - 23:46

7 Likes

fred22 wrote:
Mike Cotty wrote:
fred22 wrote:
Mike, are you a vegan?

Hi Fred, I'm not a vegan. Why do you ask? MC

Saw what appeared to be non dairy milk at beginning of vid and jumped to that conclusion

Aha! Eagle-eye in the house I see! If you saw the amount of yogurt I consume on a daily basis you would know I am definitely not a vegan! Smile

Cheers,

Mike

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
18th June 2013 - 23:48

8 Likes

Vin Cox wrote:
Great stuff Mike. You've captured quite a lot of people's imaginations here.
I just need to get you foraging as you ride now... Wink

I could learn a lot from you Vin......teach me! Oh, except I don't like roadkill rabbit. Would I survive one of your rides??

MC

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
18th June 2013 - 23:49

8 Likes

Not many sports where you get an absolute legend casually popping on to a forum and offering a few words.

posted by farrell [1457 posts]
19th June 2013 - 0:11

7 Likes

Mike Cotty wrote:
Hi Wyadvd.

You're ride looks amazing. Very impressive indeed! I'd be happy to do that on a full tank of fuel and plenty of top ups along the way. I do have a question for you though, what sound do you hear when you tap your quads? If it is a metallic noise it confirms my suspicions that you are in fact a MACHINE! Smile

Keep up the good work!

Mike


Read this:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0983490716/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1371619378&sr=8-1&pi=SL75

posted by wyadvd [118 posts]
19th June 2013 - 6:23

6 Likes

Good stuff Mike - interested to find out what the training's for. Hope you're well.

minnellium's picture

posted by minnellium [79 posts]
19th June 2013 - 8:33

7 Likes

Hi Mike,

Cracking video and ride Smile

All the best dude

Mountbatten Crooky

posted by sc129806 [43 posts]
19th June 2013 - 9:44

7 Likes

Mike - Most enjoyable to watch.

Can I ask what your food and drink strategy was though?

I never seem to get it quite right on the odd 100 miler that I do.

Cheers, and good luck with The Project.

neildmoss's picture

posted by neildmoss [192 posts]
19th June 2013 - 10:45

7 Likes

neildmoss wrote:
Mike - Most enjoyable to watch.

Can I ask what your food and drink strategy was though?

I never seem to get it quite right on the odd 100 miler that I do.

Cheers, and good luck with The Project.

Hi Neil,

I got a lot of advice from the guys at Torq Fitness regarding nutrition. I like to keep things as simple as possible, especially on really big rides when (as you get more tired) you don't want to start scrabbling around in the dark and guessing what you're doing.

I've found that their Fuelling System works well for me - http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/torq-fuelling-system. In its simplest form this is based around taking in between 60-90g of carb per hour through either gels, bars or drinks (each being 30g of carb so it's easy to know what you're doing). Apart from inhaling a tuna snack pot in the early hours of the morning as I fancied something savoury I pretty much stuck to this strategy.

In the past I've found that under fuelling during the ride can lead to prolonged recovery times. After a solid few hours kip I was back on the bike the next day and pretty much felt normal again. I know I wouldn't have felt like this if I hadn't kept the fuel coming in.

One thing that I really do get on well with is their Vanilla flavoured energy drink. It's super mellow and doesn't have the sickly taste that some drinks can have if used hour after hour. Of course it'll only go down well if you actually like vanilla which fortunately.....I do! Hope that helps.

All the best,

Mike

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
19th June 2013 - 21:24

6 Likes

Hi mike!
Had you considered or even heard of the low carbohydrate approach for endurance? I can recommend it. I'd expect rapid recovery from someone of your age, but I am 46 and the recovery after mega long rides while on a ketogenic diet are noticeably more AMAZING than when I had to keep knocking back carbs. The reasons are many, but zero lactic acid production is one.

Goog luck with round the world?

Wish me luck for the Sliven-varna -sliven 1200 Audax on the 29th!

posted by wyadvd [118 posts]
20th June 2013 - 7:36

4 Likes

Ok, so... I went and bought that low-carb book last night and started reading it this morning. I've had some odd issues in the past which seem to be sugar-related so, even though I'm a natural sceptic, it's of particular interest.

It's too late to give it a go for this year, but I'm quite tempted to experiment with it over the winter. I've done up to 600k before but it's fair to say that consuming high-carb foods/drinks for anything longer than about 12 hours is not something I enjoy.

The one bit that feels like it wouldn't work for me (and only having read the first bit of the book I've no idea how integral to a low-carb diet this is) is the idea of fasting or doing a ride on very little food. After about four hours I start to feel pretty bad - physically and psychologically - from an empty stomach.

How do you find that element?

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [381 posts]
20th June 2013 - 8:01

7 Likes

And if you went out for a nice slap-up dinner would that wreck you, or would it have little effect?

I'm not sure I'd sacrifice my enjoyment of food for lighter pockets on a long ride Smile

Though I'd save a hell of a lot of money Plain Face

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [381 posts]
20th June 2013 - 13:46

6 Likes

I do a 30 mile round trip commute.

This time last year I had the most mahoooosive bowl of porridge every morning. And a double portion of chips most lunch times. And I was still hungry . Now I am in ketosis I have a single cup of coffee (with double cream ) for breakfast, skip lunch most days and then have a fatty rare steak with a heap of olive oil drenched salad for dinner. Never feel hungry. Hunger comes from carbs believe me.

On audaxes I just don't feel hunger at all once
Lipolysis kicks in. And strangely I don't feel hungry afterwards either.

The conversion phase to full ketosis is very uncomfortable and for me lasted about 2 months . When the uncomfortable phase ends ( running down glycogen levels to zero) I felt more energetic than at any time in my life. If you take in any carbs during this phase you just prolong the agony. You need to be very single minded.

I think it's well worth a go. You end up with no anaerobic capacity so sprinting is a
No no. But endurance is amazing.

posted by wyadvd [118 posts]
20th June 2013 - 13:52

5 Likes

wyadvd wrote:
Hi mike!
Had you considered or even heard of the low carbohydrate approach for endurance? I can recommend it. I'd expect rapid recovery from someone of your age, but I am 46 and the recovery after mega long rides while on a ketogenic diet are noticeably more AMAZING than when I had to keep knocking back carbs. The reasons are many, but zero lactic acid production is one.

Goog luck with round the world?

Wish me luck for the Sliven-varna -sliven 1200 Audax on the 29th!

Hi Wyadvd,

I've experimented a great deal over the years with diet and nutrition for extreme endurance rides through to very high intensity shorter disciplines such as XC mountain biking and cyclocross (both of which I still compete in) to see how my body copes and adapts to each. Since everyone is different I prefer to base all of my nutrition choices around my own personal experience as I've come to the conclusion that over two decades of cycling (yikes, where'd that time go!?) nobody knows my body better than I do. Again, it's a case of making choices through your own experience and finding a diet that you are comfortable with.

I trained for many years on a diet lower in carbs (and overall calories) than you may expect for an endurance rider, mainly due to the fact that my diet off the bike consists of a large amount of fresh produce (fruit, vegetables) and lean protein such as fish (I don't eat meat). I keep complex carbs like pasta and breads to a minimum and introduce these into my diet depending on what I am doing from a training and racing perspective.

I guess I'm lucky in one respect in that I never feel like I'm "on a diet" so to speak. I've lived on what I consider to be a healthy diet for years - high in nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and low in fat, processed or refined foods. Interestingly I recently learnt that there may be a link between calorie restriction and longevity through a reduction in IGF1 levels, slowing the rate of cell reproduction and in turn meaning existing cells are repaired instead of new cells being reproduced. Interesting stuff indeed but no doubt a topic that could rumble on back and forth on the forums until we're all 100.

Whilst I've read about ketogenic diets I have never put one into practice so am unable to give good judgement on this from a personal perspective. For me, turning things upside down at this point after many years (with a diet I'm comfortable with and has worked well) could be like trying to run a diesel engine on petrol or vice-versa. Admittedly, it's a crude analogy but with anything it's about trial and error with adequate time needed to adapt.

I think the easiest way to sum it up is "if it ain't broke don't fix it" and from my side things feel like they're balanced and working well.

Best of luck in the 1200km audax.......Mr Machine Smile

MC

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
20th June 2013 - 13:52

7 Likes

Roast dinner without the spuds normally
Does it! You have to enjoy fatty food!

posted by wyadvd [118 posts]
20th June 2013 - 14:02

5 Likes

roast potatoes Crying

what about hollowing out the insides and just having the goose-fatty crispy bits? Smile

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [381 posts]
20th June 2013 - 14:09

6 Likes

All ill say is that if you read Phinney and Voleks books you'll understand. Overload with protien and its as good as eating loads of carbs . Carbs cause insulin rushes which lock up the fat from being utilised. So you have to be prepared to eat lots of fat . Not easy if you are a veggy unless you can do dairy. As long as you avoid carbs , a high fat diet is actually safer for your heart than a low fat high carb diet. And there's loads of RCT literature to show this. The myocardium is actually an almost exclusively fat burning muscle in any case.

But I agree 100% it's horses for courses so to speak (not lasagne). You are 10times the athlete I will ever be so you must do something right!

I just wanted to say that a ketogenic diet has made
Long distance cycling a possibility for me where before I could never consider it.

Also please read this:

http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2012/08/11/western-states-100-low-carber-...

posted by wyadvd [118 posts]
21st June 2013 - 13:41

6 Likes

Came to this from the announcement of the epic challenge.

What a great video of a fantastic ride. I suspect for most riders this would be something to train for, not used as a training ride.

I must keep a link to this so that when I'm whinging about a 50 mile ride I can think "Really? 50's not so far".

posted by akmbikes [4 posts]
30th July 2013 - 13:07

6 Likes

akmbikes wrote:
Came to this from the announcement of the epic challenge.

What a great video of a fantastic ride. I suspect for most riders this would be something to train for, not used as a training ride.

I must keep a link to this so that when I'm whinging about a 50 mile ride I can think "Really? 50's not so far".

Thanks a lot, glad you like the video! M

Mike Cotty's picture

posted by Mike Cotty [48 posts]
12th August 2013 - 14:16

6 Likes