Transcontinental Race Winner James Hayden Special Edition | Ask GCN Anything


– Hello and welcome to
another Ask GCN Anything and in this special episode we welcome James Hayden to the set. – Hey. – We’ve got heaps of
your questions for James, who is fresh from not only
completing but winning his second Transcontinental Race in a row. So we’ll be getting onto
those in just a second, but remember to leave
your questions for us, for next week’s show, using the hashtag #Torqueback, or for your chance to win a three month free subscription to Zwift, use the hashtag #AskGCNTraining with your training questions. Now before we get into it James, could you just explain a little about what the Transcontinental Race is? – Cool, yeah definitely. So I’ve done it four times now, so I now a lot about it.
– Yeah. – Essentially it’s a self-supported solo, if you are solo or pair, race across Europe. No third party kind of re-supply, so you can’t call your mate up and ask him to bring a sandwich
in the middle of the night, you’ve got to find a
petrol station that’s open. We start in Geraardsbergen in Belgium and we race to Greece normally, can’t change through four check points across Europe. It’s normally 4000 kilometres long with around 35 to 45 was two
years ago metres of climbing so it’s pretty serious.
– Ouch. – Yeah.
– First one there wins. – Great and that was you for two years. So who better to speak about the race? Right, so let’s get cracking and we’ve got one from Anna
here who is the race organiser. Anna asks, How long does he spend researching
and planning his route? How important is a well
planned and researched route over fitness or bike setup? – So this is a bit of
a set up by Anna here cause it’s a really important thing and I think she’s asked
the question so that people entering the
race for the first time, those at home, understand just how serious route-planning and research is to completing the race and
not having any issues. And also for safety and things like that because we do plan all of our own routes, so you can make that choice at home if you’re going to take the fast route, that’s gonna get there really quickly, or take the maybe slightly longer route but it’s a lot more scenic roads, and if you’re not racing
for a top ten position, and they’re just trying to
get there before the party, could you just go slightly a nicer way. And so I spend about, this year is about 70 hours, planning my route.
– Wow. – And I look at all the options, so I plan, this year was about four routes, and then I kinda work
out which one is best and which one I’m feeling the most, and I’ll look at so many
different map sources you know I’m even on
YouTube googling road names. And as I’ve done it more times, I can spend less time doing it because I understand what
certain roads are like. – Get a bit of a feel for it – Yeah definitely. Over fitness and bike setup, it’s equally important. I’d rather have a better
route than be a bit fitter. I’d put it that way.
– Really? Yeah. – Definitely something you don’t
want to learn the hard way. – No.
(both laugh) – We got one from Freddo here. What is your way of training
for these type of events? Do you do any long rides
or multi-day trips? Or do you just do a few and
rely on your prior experience? – Yeah I think it’s changed
as I’ve done more races. Obviously now I’ve done four, I can rely on my experience more and I also understand how my body works and how certain training works for me. To everyone I’d say you need
to find what’s fun for you, and if the kind of training
you’re doing you enjoy, they you should do more of that and you will do more of it so don’t get a coach and
then them say to you, you need to train like
this if you don’t enjoy it. But at the same time I have a coach because I train a lot and I
know how to train really hard and he almost kind of says to me, look we need to do a bit less, we need to do a little bit less because I have a propendency to be able to go out and
hurt myself quite a lot and that’s not necessarily
the best way to train. So find what you enjoy, do a lot of it and you will be fit, and that’s good enough. – Yeah and am I right in thinking that you come from a
slightly different background to perhaps most in the ultra-endurance? – Yeah, I mean I’ve always said to
people I’ve never done an Audax and I kinda of like, I’m quite proud of that, cause you don’t necessarily
need to have done Audaxs to do this, but I always go away touring and went away touring for
several years before this and pretty long days in the saddle and I did some really long, long days in the saddle to prepare. So yeah, you do need that experience on your belt and how to understand how
to ride for day after day, but at the same time, you don’t necessarily need to
do that to train for the race. – Okay. So coming back to that touring point, Do you ever go on long bike tours for fun? Asks Mike Peace, If so, what do you consider
in your planning for them, and where would be your dream bike trip? – That is like three
questions in one there. Okay so do I go on long
bike tours for fun? Yes, not as much as I’d like to anymore because they’re not the best way to train. – Okay. – So I’m going on one next week actually, we’re going to Italy, to Tuscany and travelling
through Tuscany for a week and it’s just all about
fun and getting lost. And so, which brings us to the second part, would you consider planning? I haven’t done much planning because the whole point
is adventure for that so my route is just
nicked off someone else and I’ve made up half of
it and if we get lost, perfect that’s really, I want to get completely lost, and that’s what I’m trying to do. – Is that like a training
aspect so then you can cope with what happens?
– No it’s just for fun, cause you find the best
things when you get lost and when you’re just off the
trails and when you know, yeah and that’s when it’s fun.
– Spontaneous So that’s completely the opposite of what you want in a race, so I’m looking for that adventure that I can’t get when racing. My dream bike trip? I want to see the whole world, so I’m going to say the whole world, travelling the whole world by bike. Yeah
– Exciting. – Right, next we have one
in from Kevin Speight, Assuming he has times when
he struggles mentally, what is his strategy for a mental reset to refocus and get back on track? – Good question. So I’d refer everyone
that has entered the race to go look in the race manual because in the back of
the race manual it says, never scratch at night.
– Okay. – And that’s kind of, it’s a rule. If you were to call Mike up on the phone try to scratch at night time, you’d say no, no, no, I can’t talk to you right now I’m busy. And call back in the morning and daylight. And I seriously wouldn’t hang up on you, but you know, he wouldn’t really take
a scratch at night time and it’s because everything
seems worse at night, but if you wait until the
daylight and the day time and you’ve had a good sleep and
probably a good feed as well hopefully stopped at a nice hotel, and it’s just gonna, that’s
really gonna help you reset and you wake up the
next day and you think, what was the problem yesterday? Oh my knees don’t feel so bad. You’re gonna feel a lot better
cause you’ve had a good sleep and you’ve had a good feed and that is, so yeah those are the two things, sleep well, eat well and just that will allow you to reset. And if you can’t do that, put on some good music that’s
gonna transport you back to a really good memory.
– Okay. – So next up we’ve got
Chris Webb who asks, between your previous attempt, when you withdrew due to Shermer’s Neck, which is a weakness in the muscles, so unable to support weight of the head, were there specific strength exercises that he did to avoid that again? – Can we flick to the photo? Like let’s flick to the photo cause everyone can see the like, cause you can either go
on google and type like James Hayden Shermer’s Neck
or something like that, I think it’s like the first
one if you type my name anyway. Everyone thinks I have the
secret answer to Shermer’s Neck and it comes from the context what did you do to fix Shermer’s Neck? Fix it for me right now. And I kind of have to say
well there’s no one answer, it’s not one of these things
where you can go to the doctor and he prescribes you
this pill and it’s fixed, it doesn’t work like that. So for those who don’t know, what happens with Shermer’s
Neck is the muscles down the back of the
neck here stop working and if you’re standing
up it doesn’t matter, but it happens when you’re cycling because the weight is a bit different and then your neck’s like
this and if you life it up it just collapses again like this. And then you can’t see down the road, so it’s quite dangerous
from that perspective and then it caused me some
back pain when I had it and things as well so
that’s why I scratched. There’s no one way to fix it, you got to think about everything
that could possibly affect your neck muscles and strain them and then do something to deal with that, whether that’s the weight of your helmet, the airiness of your helmet,
– Interesting. the kit and the way the kit
compresses around your neck, the strength of your muscles, so doing neck exercises
and things like that, and I went to see a physio
and we worked some stuff out. Bike fit is definitely a big one as well – Position of your bike.
– That’s a massive one. And where the arms are– – And did that change you
much between your recent– – Yeah. I’ve had the same fit for
three years now more or less, so we moved it a little bit cause everything changes each year, little things change each year, but yeah for the last few years
since I got a new bike fit then it stayed the same. – So it’s obviously working for you then those combinations of different things – Yeah you got to just try
lots of different things and hope one of them or a few
of them together will work. – Next up, we have one from David Fairweather. For how many days does
he think that riding at this sort of minimal stationary time could be sustained for? Is it around 10 days, so the Transcontinental length almost the limit
– Yeah. or could you double that? Sounds like a good challenge doesn’t it? – Sounds like a challenge. I think it’s an interesting question stationary time of being
stopped and limiting that is a mental thing,
– Okay. – It’s not a physical thing, you know physically
stopping to buy some food, you don’t really need to do that, it’s mental and so if
you’re mentally strong then you can keep doing
that exponentially I think cause it’s just mentally tiring
that and it’s not much fun but you exponentially. Physically as you start
to stretch things out and the race duration gets longer, you’re going to have find
you just need to sleep a little bit more, so if you went to sort
of 20 days or 30 days, three hours a night may not be sustainable and you might need to go to
five or a mixture of the two. Yeah exponentially really, it’s sleep that you’re going
to have to kind of change rather than stop time,
– Interesting. if you’re mentally strong. – Patricia Henley asks: How much of his success is
down to mental preparation and how can that be practised, alongside all the hours
climbing in the mountains? – Yeah I mean, I have to say to people that the first three days of the race, maybe about being physically fit, but then after that becomes
about being mentally fit and if you’re strong up
here then you can just push though
– Hang on in there. – Yeah hang on in there, cause it is hanging in, or you push through anything. I think maybe how you train, that differs for everyone, perhaps some people it is
just you’re born with that, you know you’re born with, you’re pain threshold of seven being someone else’s like 10, so you can just sustain more. Can you train it? Yeah you can as well I think to a limit. How? Obviously if you’re out riding in the rain and things that sucks but it might make you be able
to endure things a bit more. You know the more you’ve
suffered previously the more you can suffer in the future because you can go back to that place. So after I’ve done one TCR, I understood how that pain would feel and how it would feel to get to the end and then I knew how that would feel, so I knew if I’d done it
before I could do it again. So experience of it. I think the ability to suffer or the willingness and the want to suffer is something that you’re possibly just born with on some level. – Okay we’ve got a good
one here from Rico, I’m not going to attempt
to pronounce that, apologies Rico. I’d be interested in the
way that Ede Harrison, so the woman who won the women’s category, and James and all the other riders are dealing with recovery, so after the race. Does everyone just sleep a lot? How do you cope with the physical effects weight loss, random sweats, nightmares and other things, maybe even the mental aftermath
like post adventures blues and settling back into your everyday life. – Yeah, he’s kind of like pointed
out the post adventures blues which maybe encompasses a lot of that, often when you’ve put
everything into one thing and work for that for a long time, a year here really.
– Yeah, absolutely. – When you’re finished it’s like, you lose your identity a bit because he’s mentioned
recovery and things like that, so to recover you can’t
really go out riding a bike, for a year you’ve ridden
your bike really hard to prepare
– Yeah. – And now you can’t ride your bike so you lose your identity a bit. And you know you’re eating
a lot to kind of recover and so you put on a bit of weight, so you can become a person you’re not and so you completely lose your identity, and so that really can hit you a bit. I think the best way to
deal with stuff like that is to do two things: One, you need to recover and respect that, so do just take it easy and chill out, don’t try go ride your bike a lot and do these other things because you need that
physically and mentally as well. And then secondly, keep yourself busy with other things, find something else, like if you haven’t been
away on holiday for a while because you’ve been so
engrossed in training for TCR and the preparation, cause
it takes up your life. – I can imagine. – Go away on holiday, book a
holiday for after the race, you know give it a week so
you can come home and relax and then go away again
and do a holiday again. If you got to go back to work, take on a new project at work, one that’s not going to be too intense cause you’re still pretty tired, but something that you can
invest your time and energy in because you’re obviously,
if you’re doing TCR, you have a lot of time and energy and this counts for any kind of other person doing adventures, and if you can’t invest
that into something you’re going to get lost. And so find something to
invest your energy into, and it’s really going to
help you mentally recover that’s not bicycles, so then you can come
back feeling refreshed. – And I guess having something planned in ahead of when you go away
is probably a good thing to have something to look forward to. – Yes, so in the period
after the race this year, I’ve done these kind of media things, I’ve tried to search for a new
flat cause we’ve got to move, I’m starting a new job, I’m going away on holiday, I’m then getting married and them I’m going away on honeymoon, and this is in a period of like four weeks.
– A lot of recovery there. So I wouldn’t recommend taking on quite as much as I have taken on, and you know it’s kind
of lucky I am who I am, but definitely take some stuff on and just getting stuck
into different things. – Cool, that sounds like solid advice. – Yeah. – And we’ve got another one
here from Vince Jerrard. Vince says: with so little time stationary, how did you still manage
to use hotels every night? What were his typical check
in and check out times? – Maybe he’s asking for
my secret right there, I can’t give away all my trade secrets, but you just got to think
about these things logically on how you reduce your time, and time that you’re faffing
and things like that. Everyone’s different, so people faff in different ways, and I’m also not going to
give off all my secrets, but I’d say that within walking
into the front of a hotel and being in my room is less
than five minutes sometimes too and how you do that, you gotta work out your own way. I won’t tell you my way.
(both laugh) But it’s just about being efficient and just about thinking about things, you know how can I be more efficient and how can I make this process quicker. Yeah I’m not telling you my secrets. (both laugh). – Right let’s move on to
our Zwift training segment where we answer one of your
training specific questions for your chance to win a three
month subscription to Zwift. And the lucky winner
today is HFODT who asks: I would like to prepare for longer 250 to 300 kilometre rides. The ultimate goal is twofold, to ride around a big loop here in Sweden and to get ready for
long distance touring. Time is not the goal here, comfort on the bike is and endurance. I usually cramp at about 200 kilometres. How do I train for this? Now I think between us James, we’re probably quite well
qualified to answer this one. I spent the first half of this year training for the Dirty Kanza, which is a 330km race in just
one day over in the states. I think the answer to
it is really twofold, it’s about pacing yourself
during the training, and about the nutrition. So the first one on pacing, I think the most important
thing when you’re going out for a really long day rides, is to stay within yourself, so you might go out with
friends for example, who are a bit stronger than you, I was certainly quality of
doing this and trying to keep up and you’re sort of running at this level whilst they’re quite chill down here, but that actually is going
to tyre you out so much more than just sticking at a really reasonable level for yourself. – Yeah I think, like you don’t need to
just train at the level that you want to ride
up when you’re riding, it’s best just to mix things up cause some days you might
have an hour to go out riding and some days you got six, and so if you’ve got an hour just go out and you can ride pretty hard for an hour and that’s good training, cause you’re going to
have to climb some places and that will help you learn to climb. And if you got six hours, and you enjoy going out for that long, then go out for that long, you know four hours or however you can and just build that up, so week on week do a bit more. Yeah, you know, and some days you got to
take it easy don’t you? – Absolutely. And I think it’s really
important to stress that even if you’re target
is a 300 kilometre ride you’re not going to go out
and do that straight away, it’s all about building up
to it from where you are now and then think about doing
two thirds of the duration, or as a distance of your target event very close to the time of the event. So you’re going to build up week on week, and you might take one weekend, for example if you work during the week, doing a longer ride and then
during the second weekend having a shorter more intense ride and building up from there. But it definitely does
help to do it over time, gradually.
– Yeah. You said about nutrition as well and how it’s an important point because a lot of people don’t
eat enough when they’re riding and they think,
– Absolutely. ‘oh I can get by with not eating much’, but when you’re less fit you
actually need to eat more cause your body is less efficient and it’s burning more
carbohydrates and things at a lower intensity, and so people always think, ‘oh I carry so much luggage
on my bike and stuff’, but actually my triangle frame
bag is just water and food, you know I got a pump in
there and a few energies, but otherwise it’s just water and food because I don’t want to run out of food, if you run out of food
you can’t keep going and so it’s important to
always have food on you and on the bike, don’t eat it all in the first hour cause you’re gonna get fat, but just ration it out and
just always be eating something and then you’ve always
got energy going into you and I like putting sugar, amount of dextrose and
fructose in my drinks and then I’m always getting
that carbohydrate that I like in I mean some people do low
carb and things like that, but I like carbohydrates
cause they fuel me, I just make sure always
getting some fuel in and that’s really important. – And when we talked
about the Transcontinental pretty much on the start
line with you James, I remember you saying it’s
almost an eating competition. – [James] Yeah, yeah. – [Katherine] Who can keep
eating and fueling the longest. – [James] Yeah the first
hour I burnt 14,000 calories and I went on to burn 75 in nine days. And you can’t eat that much
– Wow. – [James] That’s why you
lose four or five kilos during the race
– Crazy. – [James] You just got to
eat as much as you can. – And I think the other point
in there was about the cramps at about 200k mark and probably worth trying some electrolyte
in your drink for that, a few other things that you can look into. I remember when I was over in the states, in Kansas for the Dirty Kanza, they even had salt tabs
that tasted of orange and that’s something that we
never even come across here cause it’s never really that hot, it’s usually raining.
– No. – [Katherine] So yeah
there’s a few other things that you can look in to for that. Right and now we’re going back
to your questions for James and there’s so many here
that we’re going to go for a quick fire round. Are you ready James? – Maybe, think so, we’ll see.
(both laugh) – That’s not very promising is it? – My brains still not working so we’ll see how quickly it can work. – Okay here we go, you ready? Now I’ll have to just explain this one, this one’s from Rene Bonn
who we actually spoke to at the start of Transcontinental. Some incredible handmade
carbon fibre bags, anyway Rene asks: What music is on your TCR playlist? – A bit of everything, cause you need different
stuff for different times, so I love Dire Straits. So I could listen to Dire Straits all day.
– Dire Straits that’s the one. – Marion asks, one piece of advice you’d
give to a first time TCRer. – Research, plan your
route, respect the race and just make sure you’re
putting in the time to it. – That’s not one piece of advice. – Respect the race. – Pete Robson, I’d be keen to know his dog tactics, is he a dog whisperer or is
he just too fast for them? – Run away scared, yeah quickly sprint. – Stuart James, what’s his favourite flavour
of 7 Days croissants? And for viewers that might not
know the delights of 7 Days, he can explain why they’re
great ultra endurance food. – Quick fire, they’re disgusting and everyone hates them and they’re a running joke, and the ones with chocolate in the middle cause I like chocolate the most. – Excellent. And lastly, but not least in our quick fire round, Will he be back to
defend his double title? – You have to wait and see. – And now, we can relax cause that’s over thankfully, but I have another interesting one here. So if you watch the GCN
show a few weeks ago we featured James’s hack or slash bodge and the jury was out on this one. Si threatened to ask you
this question himself, but he’s sunning himself in California, it’s a hard life, so Si wanted to ask. – [Si] Why’d you put tape
on the outside of your tyre? – Why not? No, why not? Like you know, put tape on the inside, Gorilla tape, other tapes are available, and it sticks really, really well, put two layers of that on the inside and then so that’s stuck, it’s not going to open, so why not just put one
more on the outside? Gorilla tape will stick,
It’s not going to come off – And it’s just going to
protect it a bit more. – And how far did you get on that one? – Rode 550k and you can
go into the Rapher shop and it’s still actually on there cause I’m not taking it off this time. – So it took you to the end of the race, and in winning form.
– So it worked. – I think that’s a hack. – Me too, I was in the middle of Albania, I think that deserves a hack. If I was in my garage at home, I’d give that a budge, but in the middle of Albania. – When Si comes back we’ll
tell him it’s a hack. – It’s a hack. It’s a hack. – And finally to finish with, we’ve got one here from Matt Cruickshank, ask him to make sure
Kristoff races next year, so Kristoff won the race three times, so that we can have a
head to head between them. It’s the obvious face off
that we all want to see, what do you think James? – Don’t know why you’re
asking me, ask Kristoff. – Would be a good race wouldn’t it? – Ask Kristoff. – Well thank you very
much for joining us James, it’s been a really fascinating insight as to what it takes to
be at the very top level of ultra-endurance racing. Remember that if you want
to leave your questions for next week’s Ask GCN Anything to use the hashtag #Torqueback and leave them in the comments below. And if you’d like to be in
with the chance of winning a three month subscription to Zwift, use your training question
with a hashtag #AskGCNTraining. Remember to head over to the GCN shop if you’d like to check out
our cool new Spanish tees, as modelled here, and much more. And if you’ve enjoyed our ask for James, remember to give us a thumbs up. – And if you want to check
about a bit more about my bike and the set-up on that, find out a bit more
about how I’m running it, you can click up here
and go to the video now.