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.
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

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