In August 2009, after a lifetime of issues with mental health, Pav Bryan was diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder. This kick-started him on a journey back to good health, which focused on the sport he loved as a child, cycling.
Now he's riding 2,500 miles to raise awareness and help more people ride their way to good mental health. We caught up with him a few weeks before the start of his epic Route 66 challenge and he'll be out on the open road when most of you read this...
So, Pav, how have you adapted your training for the Route 66 Record attempt?
I’ve more than doubled my weekly training hours, in comparison to when I used to race time trials. I’ve never trained at a TSS (Training Stress Score) so high and so consistently, and despite not doing any training really specific to the challenge, I have hit my best power figures, pretty much across every measure.
Nice. What has a typical training week looked like for you in the run up to the attempt?
Having the 1-2 recovery days, where I focused on optimising my recovery, has been crucial to maintaining my form. It’s been a slow process to get to there, but my progression has been monitored well. I’ve had Ian, one of the coaches who works with me at Direct Power Coaching, help me with it.
Have you done any “race simulations” in prep for the attempt?
Haute Route are another sponsor of my record attempt, they were kind enough to allow me to attend all of their US events so far this year.
San Francisco & Asheville were amazing, but the Rockies event was the real simulation, involving seven days of hard riding.
I didn’t push myself as much as I know I could have, I wanted to ensure I was achieving a similar TSS per day as I would during R66. On the final day I think I climbed about 10 places as others around me faded and I was riding strong.
What will your nutrition/hydration plan look like when you're actually on the bike?
In terms of hydration, I’ve been working on one bottle per hour with PH 1500 in it. I’m also adding Pink Himalayan or Real Salt to my food, I’m a heavy sweater and also secrete a lot of sodium. I have to continually replenish my stores, or my recovery suffers.
And what about your pre/post race meals and recovery foods?
Dinner will be whatever we find along the way, but it'll be clean and healthy! I run on fruits & veggies....
With sleep being a crucial part of recovery, how much sleep are you targeting each day? Where/how do you plan to get that sleep during this attempt?
I expect the latest I will be riding is 8pm. Then it'll be shower, massage, food & bed.
I'll be up the next day at around 4am, so hoping to get a solid 6 hours per night. I’m a light sleeper though, so we'll see...
How many crew members do you have assisting you? What's the biggest logistical challenge you and the team'll face?
A great bunch of guys who I really appreciate and respect. It’ll make for a fun trip, although I’m certain I’ll be struggling during a lot of it.
The biggest challenge is protecting me from traffic. Route 66 is mainly frontage streets and service roads now, so it’s semi-trucks & RV’s that cruise it.
We'll have a car with signage and flashing lights following me wherever possible.
Yikes! Ok, talk us through your bike setup...
We'll need to keep it repeatable, so we'll only use that bike - unless the frame gets damaged. I have a backup Trek Madone in that case, plus some backup wheels.
I have added some aero bars for the flatter roads, although the road surface is so poor I might not use them that often!
To deal with the heat I have a Spruzzamist device which sprays water into my face, lifesaver!