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InsideOut client: Tom Rickenbacker... Wheelies Over B2VT Finish Line!

Caroline Kavanagh | June 30, 2021

Yes, that's Tom Rickenbacker, "popping-a-wheelie," as he crossed the finish line after 142 miles and 9,000 ft of climbing, in the recent B2VT (or this year, renamed as B2NH) bike challenge.

For those of you who don't know what the B2VT ride is, well, here on the East Coast if you are a cyclist or triathlete you know about this ride. It's intense, it's grueling, it gets progressively harder and there is a time cut-off. This ride is not for the faint of heart. Simply said, it's no picnic! Take a gander below at the ride elevation profile:

Get my drift?

To be precise, that's 8,959 ft of climbing. If you manage to reach the 100 mile mark with no muscle cramping and/or bonking then you are in luck, because then you are clobbered with another 42 miles of the steepest sustained climbing of the day. Take that, and that, and that... Are you still riding? That's how this ride feels. The weekend before Tom's B2VT ride he tackled his final training ride. The goal was 104 miles on hilly New Hampshire roads. At mile 80 he "hit the wall"...... complete leg cramps and dehydration foiled his ride.

How then, did Tom complete this 142 mile ride just a week later? And have the energy to "pop-a-wheelie" at the finish? I'll back track a tad, as Tom had just come into the InsideOut Lab for a Metabolic Efficiency Assessment. I mean literally - just came in - it was only about a week prior to his B2VT ride that I had his final assessment report complete. It was also during this time frame that he filled me in on his 104 mile training ride and his discouraging news relating to the muscle cramping and subpar fueling. I asked him about his nutrition on the training ride and he disclosed that he ingested electrolyte tabs and some off-the-shelf bars. At this point Tom's B2VT bike ride was only four days away!?! He needed a fueling strategy asap and there would be zero time to practice it in training. I always stress the importance of practicing nutrition prior to racing or a challenge of this nature [Practice - Practice - Practice], but in this case, the practice was going to have to be the ride itself.

Some good news... I had his unique carbohydrate and calorie oxidation data from his bike assessment and in Metabolic Efficiency "speak" he is a Level II, which means he is an efficient fat-burner. Below is the first page of his Metabolic Efficiency report which shows Tom's Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP).

............................................ Tom's Assessment: ............................................

Assessment Client: Tom Rickenbacker Date: Jun, 2021 Age: 60 years

RESULT: Assessment shows MEP occurred at an estimated heart rate of 152 beats per minute (bpm) and an estimated intensity of 185 watts. Below this heart rate and intensity, he was more efficient at using fat as an energy source, but began to burn a higher proportion of carbohydrate beyond this intensity.


From a fueling standpoint the results of his assessment (shown above) are favorable. Tom is burning a higher percentage of Fat up to a heart rate of 152 bpm - an efficient fat burner. He won't have to rely on acute intakes. Certainly the hill climbing will induce higher heart rates and therefore higher carbohydrate/energy needs. Fueling intake will be determined by the numbers.

What numbers are referenced to calculate fueling intake?

To determine hourly fueling intake for the 142 mile ride, the chart below showing Tom's unique data is referenced.

Additionally, conferring with Tom on data from his previous 104 mile ride, pace estimates, elevation grades and weather conditions predicted, calorie per hour target range was established. Thirty percent intake based on Tom's numbers at a heart rate of 169 bpm would be 346 kcal/hr. He wouldn't be holding this heart rate/wattage for the entire ride but sustained climbs and hotter weather would push limits in this range. Fueling strategy target calorie intake would be 330 - 360 kcal/hr. On a side note..... A few years ago it was concluded that carbohydrate intake should not be more than 60g/hr (120kcal/hr) due to the bodies inability to oxidize more than this amount and cause gastro-intestinal distress. Based on science, the intake numbers are now higher. Science concludes, that in fact, more can be utilized if the right combinations of carbohydrate are ingested, at 90g/hr (360kcal/hr) or even 120g/hr (480kcal/hr). Higher intakes can be challenging while running but on the bike gastro-intestinal distress is less likely. These higher intakes have been proven to be beneficial to performance for endurance events. These higher intakes require utilizing different transporters within the body in order to deliver more carbohydrate to the muscle. Tom's sport nutrition products would be the appropriate carbohydrate mix to reap the higher intake benefit. Tom's plan was "mapped out" which included fluid amount, timing of intake and dosages per hour. With a few simple directions of "don't force anything" and remember "pacing." The last 1/4 of the ride is the most challenging. Legs WILL be needed to get through those last 40 miles - for sure!

Tom followed the plan. No muscle cramping. Sustained energy. Nothing remotely like the previous weekends foiled century training ride!

SUMMARY This is the fun part! Tom Rickenbacker summed it up superbly, both in his actions (wheelie over the Finish Line) and in a few sentences to me in an email: "For two years, even the morning of the ride, I did not know, or feel as if I could finish this daunting B2VT ride." "The difference between the training ride and the event was huge. Proper nutrition, hydration and calories made all the difference in the world. At the end of the ride, I had large energy reserves left, so I pulled a wheelie over the finish line. Sky’s the limit from here."

"Thanks Caroline for the metabolic testing and the expert advice. You helped me make it happen! Could not have done it without your guidance."

Bravo to you Tom! The rewards of this epic ride are immense on so many levels. I am honored to have played a roll in your success. An additional mention..... Tom's estimate to finish the ride was 11 - 12 hours. He finished the 142 miles in 10.5 hours.

The Sky IS the Limit :)


Test don't guess! #metabolicefficiency


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