Alas - Cycle Oregon 2011 is now 31 days away. The final sprint is now ON!
This last month you may find yourself doing a lot of frothy pacing - just eagerly awaiting the time to arrive! These last thirty days will travel quickly, so it is time - today - to put together the "must do this month" list so that come the morning of September 10th, all there will be to do is toss your bag into the car, strap the ride to the roof, hit the local coffee place for a jolt, and get thyself to Sutherlin STAT.
Over the years my list has evolved a bit, but here are 10 critical items that need attention in the next 30 days (some sooner than others):
1. Preview the weather
Yes, I realize predicting this a month out is near impossible around here, but you can take a look at the years past for a sense of what to expect. Look for patterns of weather in each town around the time the ride takes place. Use this information to narrow down/expand your packing/shopping list.
2. Make a shopping list and get 'er done
Need a new duffle? Need to pick up a wool jersey? New arm warmers? Leg warmers? Make a list now and start shopping. Buying online? Do it soon to ensure the gear you need arrives on time and you have a chance to exchange if needed.
3. Go over your ride of choice for mechanical issues
If you do your own maintenance, now is time for the 100% go-over. Fine tooth comb your steed. Check the tires for embedded glass, etc that can cause a flat. Need new tires? Get 'em now. Mechanically check everything. Check headset tension, pedals, fasteners, cables, etc. Better to do it now than have something fall out and cause a failure on day 1. Clean and lube your chain. If you don't do your own bike maintenance, get your bike to the local shop for a full tune ASAP as they can be busy this time of year.
4. Replace your patch kit(s)
If your patch kit is old, get a new one for the week - just in case.
5. Do a "test pack" of your gear
Bought a new duffle? New tent? Sleeping pads, etc? Make sure it will all fit in your duffle. Get together all the gear you want to take and pack it. Still not sure what to bring? Cycle Oregon has a great packing list you can print out. Edit it as you see fit for your needs. Weigh your bag to make sure you are not over the 65lb limit.
6. Make your duffle unique
There will be hundreds and hundreds of duffle bags in camp each day that all look (or are) the exact same. Yes, you will have your rider number tag on the end of it - but so will everyone else. A better way to play the daily "I spy with my little eye" duffle hunting game is to attach something colorful and/or garish on the outside handles like ribbon, duct tape, etc. Have a ridiculous looking tie you will never ever wear? Cut it in half and tie one section each to the ends of your duffle in tight knots.
7. Visit the bank
In camp there will be locals selling things. There will be handy local kids willing to carry your bag for a tip (Sherpas). The beer garden. Pizza. Local eateries, shops, and tours. Smoothies. Etc etc. Bring some cash in small bills for these things. Particularly for the sherpas - tip well. They pool tips for things like school equipment, etc. Plus getting up a 6AM to haul many 60 lb bags among a lycra clad crowd deserves a handful of bucks!
8. Assess your training
Time to face the mirror about your fitness. Are you there yet? Time is just about out. You do not want to do a lot of heavy riding and tearing up your legs the week before the ride. That is the rest week. Your fitness is not just about "I rode hundreds of miles" on a bike. Anyone can ride along for a lot of miles. What about other training you have (or planned on being) engaged in? If you are "there" with your fitness, great - you will do fine. If you are not - well believe it or not you will do fine too. Maybe not as "fast" but hey - this is vacation and not a race. If you feel the need to step it up a notch - you have three weeks left. Don't hurt yourself in the final week.
9. Stock up on spare tubes and maybe a spare tire
Run a special tire size other than 700c? Get a spare and bring it in your duffle. If you are riding ISO 349 or 406 or 650c size tires - or anything other than the "typical roadie" size - spares will probably NOT be available to you on the ride should you need one. Ditto that for tubes. Recumbent riders - unless it is a 700c wheel equipped recumbent you are likely ON YOUR OWN for spare tubes and a tire should the need arise. Plan accordingly.
10. Schedule your massage
A real treat while on Cycle Oregon - getting a massage. You may not know, but you need to schedule this NOW if you want a massage. If you think you can do it once you arrive in camp - think again. Take a look at the maps and decide what days you really might want the luxury that is a Cycle Oregon massage - then go here and send a few emails to set up a time. You can always show up and maybe someone will have cancelled or you can get in for a no-show... but it's a gamble.
Well, those 10 cover the main ones. Here's to counting down the days!