Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You Can Do It!

How do I prepare for this? Can I do this? Why did I sign up for this?
These questions might be running in your mind here after signing up for your first long distance event like a Cycle Oregon or other long cycle ride. Even something like your first century or a metric century will seem daunting. A week on Cycle Oregon will seem like riding to your doom for non-riders. “Hey, I signed up for Cycle Oregon!” you will say. Your non-riding friends will reply “Crazy!” and they will think you are insane. Many will find your sign-up for riding a 100 mile century as a psycho move. But with the right preparation you can tackle it no problem.
A challenge for most people is finding time to ride. Unless you are a cycle commuter, you might only have the weekends to hit the road. Thats fine - the key is mixing it up. Add in workouts where you can keep the legs moving and build muscle. Racking long miles is important but not the end-all be-all. Don’t let it be a complete bummer if you cannot log thousands of miles on your bike. 
If you are on a recumbent and you have your bike dialed in, the miles on longer and organized rides will come so smoothly that you will lose track. Are you at mile 20? 40? 60? It won’t matter because you will be quite comfortable at any mileage. 

If you are on a diamond frame road bike - you will typically find advice on easing into long miles - probably because your ass will be hurting like a mother. Even if you have a professionally fitted road bike - which I would assume most people do not - riding long miles will be more uncomfortable for you than recumbent riders. Just a fact. So ease into it and don't try a huge ride out of the chute.
When you cannot ride due to weather or other circumstances, pick up the slack on a fluid trainer at home. I personally don’t like riding a trainer, so I use a workout DVD that focuses on leg and core work. I also do a yoga DVD that is quite intense to help build core strength. A strong core is particularly important on a diamond frame road bike where you will be relying more on upper body strength over long miles. I like the core workouts for taking insane corners on my tadpole trike where I really need to lean out of the seat.
If you have a recreation center nearby, take a spin class or pop onto the stationary bikes. Put it in a good resistance where you can spin at 80 RPM or so for a long time. See how long you can go. When Fox News comes up on the tele in front of you, use that as inspiration to spin harder and angrier. Imagine trying to run over those talking fools kind of like attacking a hill. Mix this cardio with other leg muscle workouts to bring your overall fitness up and you will do fine.
Keep diet in check as well. Everything in moderation, except candy bars and soda pop. My advice: Send a big “F-You” to the soda manufacturers and corn syrup pushing corporations by just not buying their crap ever again. I know Coke likes to sell its product as a happy land of weird creatures living inside an alternate universe soda machine, flinging out their 12 ounces of bottled happiness to humanity, but its time to get real about soda. Its bad for you, period. “Hey, Coke and Pepsi Corp: F-YOU and your soda!” Say this loudly - it will make you feel good inside I guarantee it.
Use a log for keeping track of your workouts and miles ridden. A great one is Bike Journal where you can keep track of your riding workouts. A great thing about keeping a riding log is that you will see your mileage rack up over time. Before you know it you will have hundreds of miles logged. Maybe some of your rides are short, but they all add up. Do the same for when you do weights or other exercise. Keep notes. It might sound crazy, but if you don’t know where you have been you cannot know where you are going. The record lets you know what you need to do to up the intensity. Measurement is good and it inspires you to go longer and harder.
When you do go on an organized event, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish. Being in a larger group of cyclists - all having a great time at the start of a ride - will bring out the best in you and you will be amazed at what you can do. It is an increased atmosphere of “We can do this!” that is really catchy and very addictive.
Ride on!

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