Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#10Weeksto100 - Week 8 - Drink, Eat, Repeat

Aside from bikes and gear, there probably isn’t any topic brought up more in bicycling than food and drink. From the best recovery drink, the highest energy snack, or the best post-ride burger, brew or ice cream, bicyclists are almost as obsessive about food as they are their gear. Endurance cycling events are also unique in that some can require a full meal to complete; food you almost have to consume during the event.

"Eat before you are hungry.

Drink before you are thirsty,"

That is one of the earliest bits of commonly shared cycling advice, written over 120 years ago. While the choices and options have changed, it remains true today. During a long ride or event, if you dig too deep into your body’s energy stores without replenishing, it will diminish your enjoyment as you work through the “bonk” to finish. And if you fall behind in hydration, you put yourself at a serious health risk, especially in warmer weather.

Prepping my on-bike and sag bottles for RAIN 2016 
This is also why most important add-on equipment for your endurance training and riding are two water bottle mounts on your bike. Two bottles provide you with 40 ounces or more of fluids, enough for riding 2-3 hours. You may also want insulated bottle, like the CamelBak chill, since cool water is easier for most riders to drink. If you are not comfortable drinking from while maintaining your pace, you may want to consider a hydration pack. With a pack, single action brings the drinking tube to your mouth, and you are back to both hands on the handlebars in just a second or two.

For the novice, the duration of the ride is your best guide to eat and drink. As your workout time increases, you will need to plan accordingly. Workout intensity, on the other hand, impacts what you can choose to eat or drink; the harder you are attempting to ride, the simpler your foods should be, and you rely on smaller, more frequent snacks. Here are the three time frames you should consider for your training and event ride.

Rides up to an hour – Fluid Replenishment is Your Primary Concern
These are your weeknight and recovery rides. Yes, even on these shorter rides, drinking is important, especially in warmer weather. It’s also good practice if learning to drink while rolling is a new skill for you. Your goal is bottle per hour, and for these shorter rides plain water is fine. Most people start with enough stored energy for a 60-minute workout, but carry one energy gel, which has about 25g of carbs, just in case, for example, if you are riding after work and before dinner. A tip from experience: eating a full meal within an hour of finishing an intense workout will help your recovery.

Rides up to 2 or 3 hours: Time to think about Carbohydrate Replenishment
You need be ready with a bottle each of water and sports drink, as your rides go over an hour. You may start the ride hydrated, but make sure to start into your first bottle during that first hour. While you can get some carbs from an energy drink don’t depend too much on sugary drink, your first solic snack should come after an hour. Fresh fruit or an energy bar a good choices her. Rather than calories, learn to think in terms of carbs, and your goal is to take 30-60g of carb per hour. Bars have more carbs, about 45g, but take more effort to eat on the go. Sport Gels are an easy alternative to bars, but be sure to try them during training; don’t add something new to your diet the day of the event.

Rides of three hours and longer: Keeping the Body’s Pantry Stocked
As your rides get longer, you have to keep drinking and keep snacking. It’s important to be adding both water and sport drink with both carbs and electrolytes, and be drinking at least a bottle an hour. You also need to 30-60g of carb per hour, from fruits, energy bars, and real foods. Digestion can get harder as rides get longer, so eat more solids at the beginning of the ride, and rely on gels for quick energy in the last third of the ride.

On these longer training rides and your events, your challenge is keeping up with the demand for energy. If you wait to long to “re-fuel”, it can take 30 to 45 minutes for your body’s metabolism to catch up. This is what experienced riders call the “bonk” or “hitting the wall”. In most cases, you just start to feel lethargic and your legs feel empty, at it’s worst, you may even feel light headed. With experience, you can learn to ride through the bonk, but if you find yourself feeling “out of gas” you may need to take a short break off the bike to let your body catch up. As little as 10 minutes off the bike will put back on an even keel and feeling ready to move along.

There are also a couple of good reasons to make eating and drinking a habit while working out. First, your event will be a change in routine with event day excitement, in surroundings and more riders, and this can leave your forgetting to eat or drink . And later in the event, you may just get bored with the warm drink in your bottle, or taking one more bite of energy bar. Freshen your bottle at the next stop, or hit a convenience store or sag for a different snack; but just know the consequence of not eating and drinking are much worse than boredom.

On a final note, as novice rider, don’t be too concerned with special energy drinks and food items. A banana is still one the best foods for cyclists while riding, as are most fresh fruits, and a quick shop bottle of Gatorade is still reliable drink for a thirsty, tired rider. Your goal for these first rides is to learn the basic eating and drinking habits that allow you to enjoy and finish your ride. Over time, as you may find the need for more sophisticated drinks and snacks, as you challenge yourself more or ride with more challenging goals.

Week 8 of the #10weeksto100. 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Saturday, February 25, 2017

#10WeeksTo100 - Week 7 – How to find the time

Depending on what else you have going on your life, finding the time for endurance training may feel like as big a challenge as your event. While the 10-week, 1,000+ mile training plan I have outlined can appear daunting to a novice rider, it is built on a balanced mix of distance and up-tempo rides that can be worked into the most hectic of schedules. You should also keep in mind that over training is that the most common mistake for many novice riders!   Here are some helpful tips for staying on track and dealing with the pitfalls of your endurance event preparation.
Riding into the Portsmouth TOSRV Mural - a TOSRV tradition
of mine.

Training Scheduling Tips:
  • The first step to training time management is to add your workouts to your calendar. Adding them to your calendar shows you are serious, and lets you spot and adjust for conflicts.
  • Don’t forget to block out some extra time before and after each workout for getting ready and putting things away.
  • It is also a good idea to start your calendar blocking out the same riding time for the entire calendar period. If you finish early, you have spare time in your calendar to take care of the stuff that life throws your way.
  • If practical, schedule your long rides to start the same time as your event. As mentioned previously, this helps you know what to expect from your body the day of the event.
  • A regular outing in a fixed time slot will help you build consistency, and makes scheduling easier over time. Just remember you can be flexible when conflicts arise.
  • As you ride faster, your distance will increase for the same time on the bike. Getting a few extra miles in for the same amount of time can be very satisfying and show you’re making progress in your training.
  • If you have only 2 hours on a weekend where the plan called for 3, increase your intensity for the time you have. Here again, workout quality is just as important as quantity.
  • Save time by staying organized. When you put away things after your ride, leave them prepped for the next. Don’t loose workout time looking for gear or a taking care of a problem left over from the last ride.
  • If your situation allows it, bicycle commuting to work is a great way to find extra training time and miles. While you can’t always do your speed work out, commutes can be recovery or base miles days.

What if life gets too crazy? Here are some important thinks to keep in mind throughout your training and riding.

It’s supposed to be fun, not a chore. Yes, you have to ride, but time on the bike should be your reset time. Leave your troubles behind for an hour or two, and enjoy the moment. Another reason to not bring work along for the ride is to stay focused on your riding environment and staying safe. Riding in traffic or in a group is not the time to try and solve a work issue.

Your training can still be successful on 3 rides a week. Two weeknight rides and single long weekend ride can keep your preparation on track, especially if you make one of your weeknight rides an up-tempo ride, and you are still able to incrementally increase weekly long ride.

Quality can make up for quantity. When time is really tight, don’t under estimate the value of a short intense workout. At one hectic time in my life, I would take an hour before work and ride a couple of miles to a nearby river bluff climb, where I would just ride up and down the winding 3/4 mile hill 8 to 10 times, before heading home. This is just one way to pack a great workout into an hour or less.

Listen to Your Body. A stressful workweek can leave you just as fatigued as a series of hard workouts. This is again where learning to balance work, life and riding is important.

Be Realistic in Your Expectations. Where you need to cautious is when your schedule results in missing multiple scheduled rides or prevents you from incrementally increasing your long rides. The concern is that if you try your event with too little preparation, you risk an overuse injury that could have a long lasting impact on your riding. If you do find yourself cutting back miles week after week, consider adjusting your event goal accordingly. Remember, you are into cycling for a lifetime, not just the next event.

And finally, share some of your riding time with family. I have been fortunate to have a spouse who loves to ride, and we do lots of miles together, even though she does not like to ride the distances I do. Your rest and recovery days can be a great opportunity for relaxed riding with you non-competitive family member.

Learning to balance life, work and riding is all part of making sure you have fun. Learning these habits will prepare you for success for in your first event. And these are the habits that put you on path to a lifetime of fun, fitness and fellowship through bicycling.

Week 7 Riding Plan: 1 Distance Ride, 1 Brisk Ride and 2-4 event pace rides.
  • Monday-  Rest Day – or 10-12 miles easy
  • Tuesday - Pace Ride - 16 - 20 miles
  • Wednesday/Thursday – 1 Rest Day and Brisk Day - up to 25 miles
  • Friday – Rest Day or 10-15 miles easy
  • Saturday / Sunday - Both days at pace with a long day (55-65 miles) and a medium day (20 to 25 miles).

Week 7 of the #10weeksto100 series. 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017: It's Time to Light Up

It is more important than ever for bicyclists to take steps to be seen. On a daily basis, society’s tacit acceptance of distracted driving needlessly put bicyclists, pedestrians and other motorists at risk. Some trends in cycling, like all black clothing, and minimalist gear on lightweight bikes have also tended to minimize our visibility on the road. However, the latest improvements in bicycle light technology now make daytime running lights readily available for all cyclists. I want to encourage every bicyclist who rides on streets and roads to consider using daylight running lights for the upcoming riding season.

One of my Bontrager Flare R taillights.
Daytime running lights for bikes, both taillights and headlights, are designed to be visible up to half mile or more, in bright sunlight. The daylight taillight I now ride with provides an intense, focused light with an intermittent flash pattern (dot-dot-dot-dash-dash), visible of almost 2/3 of mile in bright sunlight. What does the mean for a car and bike interaction? A car driving at 50 miles per hour travels the length of a football field (100 yards) in about 5 seconds. If you ride with a taillight visible for 2/3 of a mile, that is almost 12 football fields. That means a driver may be alerted to your presence up to a minute before they overtake you. And after almost a full season or road riding with the Bontrager Flare R, I believe it is changing driver behavior. And other cyclists I have talked to have seen similar changes.

While riding with a daylight tail-iight for my commuting and recreational road riding, I have seen overtaking drivers giving a full lane when passing, and waiting to pass when the view is obstructed or when there is oncoming traffic. We have not had a high speed close pass since using these lights. And I have seen the same change in driver behavior while riding in rural and urban situations.

I have almost always had an LED taillight on my bike since they were introduced over 20 years ago. I did this because I do a lot of early morning and late evening rides. I would also ride with my taillight on when riding on tree-shaded roads, in fog and rain, or if traffic seemed heavy. (I have also tried to stay as up-to-date with my lights for my early morning and evening bicycle commuting.)

One experience that was a revelation about daytime running lights came while bicycle touring across Illinois in 2014. Road availability left me with a 10-mile stretch on a shoulder-less, 2-lane state highway. I had a typical AA taillight on my bike, but before I started rolling, I decided to take my “emergency” headlight, which had a strobe mode, and strapped it on my panniers facing overtaking traffic. I was riding ready for that close-pass, expecting it not out of malice, but just because that is what happens on rural highways.

But in those 40-45 minutes, almost every single car and truck, probably over 50 vehicles, gave me a full lane, or well over 3 feet in passing. Yes, that is what motorists are supposed to do; and I never let my guard down, but it was just a relief that I never had a mirror off my shoulder, a blaring horn, or felt the need to dive for the shoulder. Anecdotal, yes, but making an effort to be more visible seemed to pay off.

I will admit, I did not change behavior immediately after this experience, but I did start using the lights I had more frequently, though none I had were daylight rated (most LED lights for night use are a between 15 1o 25 lumens), and I looked into some upgrades. In early 2015, Trek’s Bontrager brand introduced the Flare R Taillight, designed specifically with a daylight riding mode. I purchased my first one in the spring of 2016. We began using it on our tandem and we soon added a second for our household of bikes, so that I wasn’t juggling between my commuter, road bike and the tandem, and to have two fully charged for longer rides (including RAIN and a fall century). I will probably add a third, trying a different brand, this spring.

I have also decided to now use a daytime headlight, for forward visibility; however, I am not riding with a simple strobe. I have a Bontrager headlight, the Ion 700, which has a daylight mode with a dot-dot-dot-dash-dash pattern like their taillight. The impact on driver behavior is not as dramatic, but as we approach intersections, cars are giving us a second look. Living in Carmel, we ride a lot of roundabouts, and I believe the headlight helps us safely navigate our way through those.

While there is not yet an industry definition of a Daytime Running light for bikes, the characteristics to look for include:

· At least 50 lumens, with red for taillights
· An irregular or varying flash pattern
· A runtime of 3 hours or more in daylight mode

Expect to pay $40 or more; the Flare R is $60. Most are USB rechargeable, and in daylight mode, the Flare R will run over 5 hours on a full charge.

I mention the Bontrager line, because that is the light I currently have experience with. One other note is that John Burke, the president of Trek Bicycle, tasked his engineers to come with better daytime visibility solutions, and that is discussed on the Trek website ( Trek/Bontrager is offering both urban and rural/road daytime running lights.

Two other lights that receive good reviews for daytime taillights are the NiteRider Solas 150 Rear Bike Light, and the Cygolite Hotshot series.  The website Bicycle Light Database (  is a pretty good starting point if you are looking for more information on other lights that will work as daytime running light solutions..

I know that many will be skeptical, and not see the need, or want another complication to the joy of simple riding. However, alerting drivers that we are out there, and taking serious steps to be visible, will be good for all cycling. I was also reminded about another group that was skeptical about making changes for safety. In the late `60’s, just a few years before I started riding, I recall my Dad complaining about having to add the first Slow Moving Vehicles triangles to all his farm and construction equipment; but almost immediately, there were a fewer tragedies in the local news, and if anything, farm equipment uses even more safety lighting today.

Daytime running lights will not replace the need for vigilant, common sense riding skills, or the need for every driver to respect the rights of cyclists. But they certainly are a tool that helps. This is NOT to say we, as law abiding cyclists, are responsible for these incidents of careless or reckless driver behavior; however we need to take every step we can to protect ourselves, our family and friends. Please consider riding the roads and streets with daytime running lights this season.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 - Week 6 - Training Aches and Pains

It is true, you are likely to experience some aches and pains during and after a long (2-3 hours or more) ride. Anyone’s perception of pain, of course, is a subjective, and can be influenced by your prior experience. If you have been actively athletic in your past, you may recall joking (or not) about “feeling the burn”, or “that hurts good” after a workout.

Linda and I at the finish of the Wabash River Ride century, 1986.  
If you are new to all this, consider the pain in endurance riding as falling into three categories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That is the easiest way to thing about aches from exertion and fatigue, pain at your body contact points and (possible) repetitive injury pain in your joints

The Good
: Muscle aches from exercise and fatigue is the “good” pain. Post-exercise aches are a natural part of your muscles being used and getting stronger. It is also good sign that you are challenging yourself. Some of these aches will be immediate, but don’t be surprised after a long or strenuous ride, you don’t feel the ache in your muscles until the next day.

Relief can come from rest, light stretching, or even an easy recovery ride. A recovery activity will warm tired muscles and increase blood flow, whch in turn removes fatigue agents and speeds your recovery. The good news is that with consistent exercise, your body will improve in condition, and your easier rides are less like to cause post-ride muscle aches.

The Bad: The pain from contact points, saddle, hands and feet, while not debilitating, can take the fun out or your riding. While minor issues are another part of the training cycle, recurring or persistent contact pain all relate to bike fit, riding technique and gear.

If your bike does not fit you properly, it will be hard to be comfortable on longer rides. The wrong seat height or seat angle, improper foot position or the wrong stem length, can all contribute to aches and pains. The modest investment in a basic profession bike fit can make a very big difference in your riding comfort.

Riding technique comes next after fit. Would you sit in an office chair for 2-3 hours with changing position? The same goes for cycling. Regular lifting off the saddle (every 10 minutes or so) is a good way to alleviate saddle pain, and is important for any style of bike or saddle. Moving your hands around the handle bars as your ride change both your seating and contact on your hands.

And of course, the right gear makes a difference. A few good pairs of cycling shorts will help you stay comfortable in the saddle. A cycling specific shoe, even without retention system,  will help prevent foot and ankle issues. Padded gloves and additional handle bar padding makes a difference too. (More gear details were covered in Week 5.)

The Ugly: Pain from Repetitive Motion is your greatest concern. The knee joint is the most common cycling complaint, but some riders may experience hip and ankle issues. These can occur with improper fit, poor technique, or from riding to far or too hard too early in your training. If you feel a sharp pain in the joints with motion, your body is telling you something is wrong, and should be taken care of immediately.

You should not ignore or ride through severe joint pain, since the only real recovery is time (and possibly specialist prescribed therapy).  Persistent joint pain after extended rest should may also require a visit to the doctor, especially if it interferes with your normal movements and activities.  The good news about all this is that today there are many more resources for active athletes of all ages when it comes to finding knowledgable, medical resources.

One of the beautiful things about bicycling is it's potential to be life long, injury free activity.  It will be perfectly normal to have some aches and pains during your training and events.  What is important now, and has you gain experience each riding season, is learning  to "read" your body has it adapts to longer rides and your improving fitness.  And has you gain experience, you will learn to get the most out of your body, so that you are always riding in comfort and pain free. 

Week 6 Riding Plan: 1 Distance Ride, 1 Brisk Ride and 2-4 event pace rides.
  • Monday- No Ride – or 12-15 miles easy
  • Tuesday - Pace Ride - 18 - 22 miles
  • Wednesday – Rest Day
  • Thursday – Brisk Day – 18-22 miles, 2-2.5 mph faster than pace ride
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday / Sunday Both days at pace with a long day (40 - 55) miles) and a medium day (25 to 30 miles).

Week 6 of the #10weeksto100. 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Thursday, September 8, 2016

#10WeeksTo100 - Week 5 Getting Your Riding Gear In Order

For my first years of cycling in the early `70's, while growing up in rural Michigan, figuring out where to find cycling gear was as big a challenge as learning what you needed.  I started with magazines and books on cycling, where they touted the value of wool (for everything, it seemed) and the need for a quality chamois (whatever that was?).  Nearby Ann Arbor had a few shops with the good European stuff; thankfully, for my paperboy/dishwasher budget, Cool Gear came along to offers some good (and not so good) shorts and jerseys in cotton and nylon, that I used for my first few seasons.

However, my first true cycling gear came only after I survived an 80-mile charity ride in cut-off jeans and a tank top.  That tank top left me with second degree sunburn across my neck and shoulders,  and shedding skin for weeks.  As for the cut-offs,  I bought my first pair of cycling shorts my next trip to a bike shop, and never did more than ride to work in jeans again.

Many of the challenges you face on longer rides are made easier by gear designed for the job.  The right cycling gear keeps you comfortable for hours in the saddle, protects you in changing weather conditions, and is light enough to always have along.   You will course want the the basics, like cycling shorts,  jerseys and gloves.  However, over the years I found a many other items that I consider essential for my longer events.  The right gear requires a moderate investment, however it can be acquired over a couple of seasons.  You will also find that with proper care, quality cycling gear will also give you many seasons of service.
You have to be ready for any weather on event day.
TOSRV 2014

Body and Bike Contacts Points:  Most novice riders concerns about aches and paints on long rides are from the bike/body contact points, and this the gear you should look into first.

Hands: Start with a quality cork style handle bar tape, and add gel pads underneath.  Most cyclist will will also use a quality pair of padded cycling gloves.  (Bike fit and technique also make a difference in hand comfort.)

Saddle:  As you ride greater distances, a firmer saddle may be more comfortable.  If you are riding a road bike, a wide padded saddle may actually be worse for comfort and interfere with efficient riding. If in doubt, a bike fitter can help you with a saddle choice.

Shorts: You should have at least a two pairs of quality cycling shorts. Since you need to wash them regularly, it is good idea to have at least 3 or 4 pairs. Plan on wearing our your best pair for the longest days (and you can also use your older and “economy” shorts on your shorter work out days).  If you buy a new pair for an event, be sure to wear them for a couple of workouts prior to the big day to avoid any surprises.

Shoes: Novice riders frequently overlook the importance of cycling footwear, which provide both support and proper alignment.  Even if you are not ready to "lock-in" with a pedal system (SPD, Look, Speedplay, etc.) for proper position, an entry level cycling shoe offers more support than a running shoe.   The more you plan to ride, the more important your foot position on the pedal and pedaling technique will become.

Eye Protection: All day exposure of your eyes to bright light and wind will leave you a feeling tired before your body is physically tired. A quality pair of wrap around glasses will also protect your eyes from sand and insects while you are riding.   If you wear prescription lenses (like me), you will find options  available for you.

Dressing for event success:  Along with cycling shorts, you should consider the following:

Jersey:  A good jersey has it all, handy pockets for snacks, breathable fabric, a zipper that let’s you adjust for climbing (and descending!) and a cut designed for riding comfort.

Wind Jacket/Wind Vest / Arm Warmers / Knee Warmers: Ideal for a cool morning start, these lightweight accessories turn your summer wardrobe into 3-season wear.  The can be easily removed and will fit in a jersey pocket or a generous seat bag or rack trunk.  Tip: Dress your core for conditions at the rides mid-point, and then add easy to remove layers for the early hours, especially in cool weather.

Rain Gear: If you are on a point-to-point ride in temps below 65 degrees, hypothermia is a very real concern if you are caught without proper rain gear.  You can find lightweight rain jackets that will pack in jersey pocket, ideal for traveling light.  A touring cyclist on extended trip may want something little heavier that can be use both on and off the bike.

Protect Your Skin: Any time you ride longer than an hour you should use an "sport" rated sunscreen, and re-apply at least once during the day.  Be sure to protect your arms, the back of neck, the top of head, and your nose.  And don't forget having sun protection for your lips form the sun and wind too.

While not required, the right gear will make much easier to enjoy the event, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.   It can also help to insure your event is memorable for the right reasons, and ready to prepare for your next big ride.

Week 5 Riding Plan: 1 Distance Ride, 1 Brisk Ride and 2-4 event pace rides.
  • Monday- No Ride – or 10-12 miles easy
  • Tuesday - Pace Ride - 16 - 20miles
  • Wednesday – Rest Day
  • Thursday – Brisk Day – 15-20 miles, 2-2.5 mph faster than pace ride
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday / Sunday Both days at pace with a long day (35-50) miles) and a medium day (20 to 25 miles).

Week 5 of the #10weeksto100. 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. The being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Friday, September 2, 2016

#10Weeksto100 - Week 4 - Your Bike is Your Training Partner

Anyone can do 100 miles on any bike – once.

I have written about my annual pilgrimage to Ohio for TOSRV many times (here, here and here). It a ride that started in the early 60’s, and its peak, drew close to 6,000 riders. It became the standard on which so many other Midwest bicycle events were based. While it is struggling now (like many similar rides), it still draws 1,000 to 1,500 riders every year.

Spring Training in Michigan
One of the most amazing things is to see riders who have returned year after year on the same bikes they road in those early years. You will still cold steel Schwinn World Travelers, and similar “bike-boom” bikes from Peugeot, Raleigh, Motobecane, Fuji or Nishiki, to name just a few. And these are bikes that have been maintained, not restored.

Of course, you will see hundred’s of riders, both old hands and novice, riding the latest and greatest carbon super bikes. What ever you are riding now, the important thing to keep in mind is that almost any recent entry-level road bike is likely to be equal in every factor but weight to any pre-1990 pro racing bike. And if your bike was in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, they are probably even better than what a pro rider had access to just a couple of decades ago.

Your success (and fun) in endurance riding requires a well-maintained bike, that shifts reliably, and with wheels and tires in good condition.  Your bike should be properly fitted to you for riding efficiently and in comfort. If you have those basics covered, you have a bike for your century ride. While there is no denying the benefit of a lighter bike, the marginal differences are not great enough to prevent you from having a great ride on the bike you own now.

And just like preparing your body, be sure your bike is ready for both your training and your event. During a 10-week training plan, you will easily cover 700 to 1,000 miles, so your bike will require some routine maintenance (lubing the chain, and airing the tires), as well as the possibility for new tires and other service parts, before your event.

Here are the basics you should be sure of:

Tires: Any time during the training plan is good time to check your tires. Check for wear, cuts and stone chips in the tread. Have you had flats before with your current tires? If you have had more than a couple of flats, you may want to consider replacing them in the weeks leading up to your event. (Frequent flats could indicate worn tires, or a rim strip problem, both issues you want to resolve.)

Wheels and Brakes: Do both your wheels spin smoothly between the brake pads, without side-to-side movement? Wheel problems can magnify over time, so if you suspect a problem, have it taken care of by a professional. Wheel issues can also lead to braking problems, and this is a good time to have that resolved.

Shifting: The more you ride, the more you will shift. The more varied the terrain you ride, and the more varied the weather, the more you will shift. Using your bikes gearing to maintain a steady, constant effort is critical part of successful (and fun) endurance training and riding. A bike that does not shift smoothly will hamper your developing a smooth riding style, and will be even less fun to ride when are fatigued.  This is especially important if you heading to hilly terrain. Be sure to test the entire shifting range of your bike, to know it is ready for those hills you can’t find near home.

The Fit: Bicycle fitting the art and science of positioning the saddle, handlebars and shoes for proper comfort and pedaling efficiency. While you will have some aches and pains, riding should never be consistently painful. Look for more on that in later in this series.

If aren’t sure about the condition of your bike, or how to judge it yourself, a bike shop is your best resource. Take you bike by your favorite shop (or ask riding friend for recommendation), on a weeknight evening (not a Saturday in the Spring) and ask their service department to evaluate the condition of your bike with an eye on your big event. Be sure to mention you preparing for a distance event; a good service department will listen to your questions and point out things that could create issues for you down the road.

Week 4 Riding Goals: 1 Distance Ride, 1 Brisk Ride and 2-4 event pace rides.
  • Monday- No Ride – or 10-12 miles easy
  • Tuesday - Pace Ride - 14 to 17 miles
  • Wednesday – Rest Day
  • Thursday – Brisk Day – 15-20 miles, 2-2.5 mph faster than pace ride
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday / Sunday Both days at pace with a long day (25-35 miles) and a medium day (15 to 25 miles).
At the park in Portsmouth - 1 century down, 1 to go - TOSRV 2013

Week 4 of the #10weeksto100. 

 The series is intended as mentoring, rather than athlete specific coaching. That being the case, these are broad, general guidelines of a riding style and philosophy. You can find the series intro here - Preparing for Your First Long Ride or Century

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016: My latest RAIN by the numbers

My official results from RAIN 2016: 296th (out of 1282) at 9:52 (HR:MM). Riding time was about 9 hours. And the most important part, I had fun!

On the way to Plainfield, with Nathan Dinges on my wheel.
I want to start with a very warm thank you to Nathan and Kristin Dinges. They were my ride to and from RAIN, I rode a portion o of RAIN with Nathan, and Kristen was our on the road support. It was really great being able to grab my prepped bottles from the cooler, and to save my lunch for post ride. And Kristen did a great job with cowbells and vuvuzela horn along the route.

And of course, a big thinks to all the volunteers and law enforcement that make this event possible. The Bloomington Bicycle Club and others again did a great job.

My actually riding RAIN for 2016 was an on again, off again thing. While I was riding all spring with RAIN in mind, it was a last minute decision to sign up and commit. So I am pleased with both my preparation, and the results.

Not your typical taper week
My taper week was was a little out of the ordinary; 5 days off the bike due to an unexpected business trip out of state. After a quick ride Sunday morning, I would only have a a couple of miles Friday night before RAIN to test gear. I wasn’t too worried, having already ridden 4 centuries this year, along with multiple 200 mile plus weeks since April. And luckily, my longest travel day was Thursday, so I was able to have a normal Friday to rest and prep for the ride.

Riding old school, no computer
My Domane,  ready to roll.
My plan all along was to ride RAIN using the Wahoo RFLKT, Ticker HR monitor and Blue SC that I have used on my trainer bike the last two indoor seasons. Unfortunately my unplanned trip meant that was a task for Friday, rather than Monday. Of course, this meant that things were going to go wrong.

To start, both the RFLKT (a shared display, that allows your iPhone to be stowed during the ride) and the Blue SC (speed and cadence) needed new batteries. That in turn broke the Bluetooth synch for both, and the wheel size. With the new batteries installed in both, I then ran into an App conflict, and I thought I had that resolved Friday night.

That proved not to be the case on Saturday morning, when the Rflkt decided not to synch with my phone. As a result, I had only an error message for the next 10 hours*. While I was still able to record the ride with RidewithGPS, I was left riding old school, just relying on my watch, mile markers, rest stops, other riders and my “dialed-in” cadence experience. After all, I rode for almost a decade before electronic speed, cadence and distance were even available. (*Turns out I was just one step away, and it has worked perfectly since.)

On the road
For the most part, this was planned as solo effort year. I did join some packs and pace lines when I could, but not for anything planned or sustained. (That is something I would like to change for next year.)

The first 40 miles were at 20mph, with most of the downtime for traffic lights while riding through Terra Haute. I was passing a lot of riders, and probably would have done better to have started about at the 9 10 hour start seeding, rather than the 10/11. It seem’s minor, but that also delays your start time by 4-5 minutes waiting for the big group of riders to start.

The rest of the day was only slightly slower. The most challenging section for me continues to be the “Indy miles” between Plainfield and lunch; the stop and go, on narrow high traffic roads make it hard to keep a rhythm, but for my third RAIN, I handled it better mentally.

The final 70 went well, and it felt good to be rolling along on 40, and I was able to fall in with some good groups, and ride a nice consistent pace to the finish.

Total off the bike and non moving time was about 50 minutes, including stop lights.

The Weather
The weather this year was about as good as you could get for a Hoosier July. We woke to a partial overcast with a light breeze out of the north. It was almost cool enough for a wind vest, but I decided for go it at the last minute. Tithe collier start also meant I could for go the a CamelBak, knowing my two 25 oz. bottles would be enough for the intervals between stops. Along with having a sag vehicle with my 4 spare bottles, it was a relief not having to wear the CamelBak.

Food and drink

Bottle prep the day before.
Personally, I have had very good results on endurance rides when minimizing heavy foods and relying drinks and gels. This RAIN was probably the most extensive (for me) of this strategy.

  • 6 Servings of Hammer Gel (Apple Cinnamon)
  • 5 25oz(CamelBak Podium Big Chill) of Gator Ade
  • 1 32 oz of GatorAde (pre-ride)
  • 2 Clif bars (1 for breakfast)
  • 1 bowl mixed fruit (1 1/2 cups) for breakfast
  • 1 roll of Rolaids (to fight cramps, and it worked!)
  • 3 oz cup of mixed nuts
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 2 oz of potato chips. (I was really craving some salt at lunch!)
My next big event is Carmel’s Rollfast Gran Fondo in September, which I plan to ride for time. I feel real confident I have a dialed in nutrition and hydration distance riding. Over the next month I hope to do more speed work, and keep my distance edge.

All for that key ring and big grin!

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