The Rise of the Gran Fondo

July 15th, 2010

Gran Fondo


The first I’d heard of a gran fondo was for Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo last fall. It along and the Gran Fondo Colnago San Diego last year were the first gran fondos in the US. This year more than a dozen are planned.

So what is a gran fondo? In Italian it means “big ride”. Like century bike rides, a gran fondo in the US is generally around 100 miles with shorter options for those that don’t want to ride that far.

If a gran fondo is 100 miles, why isn’t it just called a century ride? Unlike most century rides, gran fondos are mass start events and are timed. Gran fondos also generally have a cycling celebrity on the ride. Outside of Italy, the rides are also called cyclosportives

Although in Italy gran fondos are ridden as true races for the top riders, in the US many courses aren’t closed to traffic and state that they aren’t a race. Some give medals to riders that finish within a certain time or have a special times section. Of course when there’s a pack of cyclists, there’s nearly always at least some of them riding like it’s a race.

Although several gran fondos have taken place this year, there are still several coming up. Below is a list of ones later this year although a few are already sold out.

- UltraRob

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100 Miles of Nowhere Ride Report

May 24th, 2009

100 Miles of Nowhere

It was with some trepidation that I prepared for The Fat Cyclist’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. The nowhere in the name literally meant a ride going nowhere on a bike trainer. About 8 years ago I rode my trainer for 5 hours and said I’d never do it again. A realistic century with my current lack of fitness would mean 6+ hours on the trainer.

Given that I had said I wouldn’t ride that long on a trainer, you’d think I wouldn’t have had any interest in riding the 100 Miles of Nowhere. The thing that got me though was it was for a good cause.

It was a fundraiser with most of the entry fee donated to Livestrong. Fatty’s wife, Susan, has been battling cancer for a long time. Unfortunately most of us have also been touched by cancer. My brother-in-law lost his battle with cancer last year.

Since I was going to be on the trainer so long, I decided I’d do it on the CompuTrainer. It allows you to load courses and then it varies the resistance to simulate ups and downs. You can also use a pacer to keep from slacking off.

It was afternoon before I got started on the 100 Miles of Nowhere. It had been a while since I used the CompuTrainer and I failed to revive the old computer with the software.

During the first couple hours of my ride, there was quite a bit of rain. That kept it cool and also kept me from wanting to be outside. It also made it very humid for Colorado.

The time and miles ticked by faster than I thought they would. I did get a few strange looks from neighbors but no one came over. A cyclist rode by a couple hours apart and looked at me and gave a smile the 2nd time he went by.

I’d be lying if I said it was all easy. You don’t generally shift around on the bike as much while on a trainer. I was certainly feeling it in the seat and my legs seemed to get tighter. My left shoulder is also sore today.

It ended up taking me 6 hours and 12 minutes plus some break time to ride 100 miles on the CompuTrainer. That’s over an hour longer than I said I’d never do again. It was worth it though to raise money for the fight against cancer.

The entry fees raised over $20,000 and many of us are working to raise even more money. Please donate on my page for a virtual ride of the Seattle Livestrong Challenge. Even donating $5 will make a difference.

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100 Miles of Nowhere

May 23rd, 2009

A month ago I signed up for The Fat Cyclist’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. Just like it says in the name, it’s riding a bike 100 miles to no where. Amazingly 420 other people also signed up to do it.

Today is the official day for the 100 Miles of Nowhere. I’ll be spending a good part of the day sitting on my bike trainer in the garage. Others around the country and world are doing the same thing in their garages, basements and other places.

Riding on a trainer for around 6 hours will be tough mentally and physically but it is nothing compared to what cancer patients endure. I’ll be using twitter to update how I’m doing.

Since part of the entry was a donation to the Livestrong Foundation, over $20,000 was raised to fight cancer. In addition many of us have signed up for a Livestrong Challenge to raise even more money.

I just signed up to do the Seattle Livestrong Challenge virtually. Go to my Livestrong donation page to donate to the cause.

Other twitter users doing the 100 Miles of Nowhere

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Ride of Your Life eTour Interviews

February 26th, 2009

David Rowe
A couple weeks ago I had a great interview with long distance cyclist and author David Rowe. It was part of the eTour for his new book, The Ride of Your Life.

All of the eTour interviews are now online. They have different perspectives depending on the focus of the bloggers they were with. I’ve enjoyed all of them. The links below will take you directly to each interview.

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Interview with Long Distance Cyclist and Author David Rowe

February 6th, 2009


Today I have a great interview with author, David Rowe. I recently reviewed his new long distance cycling book, The Ride of Your Life.

I asked readers for long distance cycling questions for David. There was a great response so there were a lot of questions for David. I gave him the option of skipping some of them but he took the time to answer all of them.

5 readers that asked questions get a free copy of David’s eBook, The Ride of Your Life. With so many good questions, it was tough to pick the eBook winners. Congratulations to the following

David is a road bike rider who lives, works and rides in the Pacific Northwest.

His goal-centered approach helped him break the 100-mile-barrier and attempt routes in the remote Cascade Range and Columbia Plateau with cyclists called randonneurs. What he learned while riding with these highly skilled cyclists helped him complete some of the most challenging road biking events in the Northwest, including the Cascade 1200, the Portland-to-Glacier 1000, and the Rocky Mountain 1200.

With his son Evan, David created Ready to Ride® in 2005 with the goal of helping cyclists who, like himself, do not have a background in road racing, but want to excel at long distance riding. Ready To Ride® is a Web site for sport-recreational cyclists who want to balance the demands of career and family with the physical, mental, and equipment demands of long distance cycling.

UltraRob: How did you get into cycling initially?

David Rowe: I was going to school at UC San Diego in La Jolla, and living about 10 miles north in Cardiff by the Sea. I was looking for cheap transportation to school. One of my buddies sold me his rusted-out Peugeot. I had it sand blasted, and my Dad and I repainted it in the garage. I joined the bicycle co-op at school and built it up one part at a time. It was a great bike, very light, and very fast. I rode it to school every day, and I was blown away by my fitness. I was into competitive surfing at that time, and I noticed that my improved leg-strength was allowing me to carve much more aggressive turns in the wave. So I began to use cycling as cross-training for surfing. Cycling really got to be a part of my life from that point on. I guess it’s been more than 30 years now since I built that first bike. I’m still wrenching and riding!

UltraRob: Did you one day decide you wanted to ride a 1200k brevet or was it a slow progression of doing longer and longer events?

David: Riding the Cascade 1200 was a huge leap for me. I didn’t even know it was a randonneur event! I did what randonneurs recommend you don’t do, which is to ride your first Super Randonneur series (200K, 300K, 400K, 600K) and ride a 1200K during your first season in the sport.

But my confidence was way up, having just completed the Torture 10,000 (in the Oregon Cascade Range), but I really did not understand the difficulty of that ride when I sent in my deposit. I was 49 years old and wanted to plant a significant marker in my life during my 50th year. I was scouring the Internet for big rides and found it, right in my own back yard.

UltraRob: What has been your most enjoyable event and why?

David: Last year, I rode a 600K brevet in Washington called Four Passes. It was an epic ride. We rode out of Seattle in pouring rain, climbed through snow-covered roads on Stevens Pass. Mt. Rainier is one of the most dramatic rain shadows in the world, and the set-up was working perfectly. As we descended into Leavenworth, the sun broke out, we tore off our rain gear and enjoyed a warm, sunny day in dry, central Washington before heading back into the Cascade Range. By the time we were back in the Cascades, the rain-storm had moved out and we had clear skies and stars. We rode on two more passes on the way to the overnight control, which was just below White Pass. We got up to the lodge about 11:30pm, ate a big dinner, got a few hours of sleep, and were back on the road at 4:30am. We had to climb the rest of White and then Cayuse Pass to get to them, but wow – the descents were incredible. The final one into the Greenwater control was 30-plus miles!

UltraRob: Do you do long events because you enjoy riding, the sense of accomplishment when you complete a goal or do you enjoy suffering?

David: Looking back on what I’ve done are the proof-points, but not the rewards. I stopped buying the medals for all but the big events. I don’t keep my numbers, or the brevet cards.

Cycling is one of the few areas of my life where I can really live in the moment. When I am riding a brevet, I can truly shut-out the rest of the world. It’s the closest thing I can think of to the feeling you had as a child, when you were totally absorbed in play. There was nothing else – only that which you were experiencing – real or imagined.

I’m not big into suffering, though there’s plenty of it out there on the road. I’ve done what I can to marginalize it with my training regimen. But my weak points – Achilles tendons, knees, low back – eventually start talking to me. I gauge how much pain I’m in based on when I have to start taking 800mg Advil tabs. I don’t like to take them, because once you do, you can’t feel the pain so much, and that’s when you are likely to do the most damage.

There is a benefit to the suffering, though. When things get tough for me at work, or in my personal life, I compare it to the level of stress or anxiety or pain that I might have felt on a ride like the Rocky Mountain and Cascade 1200s, and nothing can hold a candle to it. Thinking about a problem in that light gives me the confidence that I can handle it.

UltraRob: In your book, you focus on the mental part of long distance cycling. Do you feel the mental part is harder than the physical?

David: They are closely related, maybe inversely related. The greater level of fitness you attain, the less likely you are to encounter repetitive motion injuries, so you may not have to call on your mental powers to stay in the ride.

The problem most riders encounter, though, is mustering the motivation in a long training period, to adequately prepare for an event. You can take 10 weeks and be fit enough to handle a century. Getting ready for an ultra cycling event like a 1200K requires 26-weeks. If you’re training for an event in June or July, that means you are going to be getting to know your trainer, and most riders hate that. Or they hate the gym and won’t get in to do the core training.

In my book, I try to help riders load their goals with deep emotional pay-offs, so they literally pull them out of bed in the morning to train, when they’d rather be sleeping in. The process I share will also help you work through the opportunity cost in advance of the training, so riders can opt-out of a ride that sounds cool on the surface, but really isn’t a good fit with their life at the time.

UltraRob: There are the weekend
warriors that do most of their riding on the weekends. Do you think this is a smart way to train for a long distance event?

David: Distance riders have to get one long ride in on the weekend, sometimes, two, as the event draws near. But doing long rides without riding during the week is a recipe for failure. You’ll either injure yourself on the weekend, or at the event. I talked about a real-life weekend warrior in the book. He let me look at his training program. It was hard to see the problem, at first, because he sent me his monthly mileage and hours, and they looked great. I asked him to send me the daily detail, and there it was: the shock and awe approach to training. 95 percent of this rider’s miles were on Saturday and Sunday. He started to get sick on rides, and eventually, he quit the sport.

UltraRob: I have friends that say they’re hurting at the end of a century. They think if they’re hurting a 100 miles into a ride it’ll just hurt more at 200k or a double century. If you’re hurting half way through a ride, do you find worse at the end or have you not found that to be the case?

David:I think most long distance riders will tell you that the bliss (the cyclists’ high) begins at 100 miles. But most riders also find they have a pain-point they have to ride through. I experience the greatest discomfort at about 50 miles. Rarely does it come after 100 miles. By then, I’ve got it all dialed – food, pace, clothing. Repetitive motion injuries are a wildcard; and most Achilles issues show up on the second day. But if your training includes stretching and strengthening ankles, knees, and your core, I think you can avoid most of that. Those kinds of exercise are the ones that riders struggle with; they can be boring. But they are the key to success in “the back nine,” if you know what I mean.

UltraRob: If you’ve dropped out of a long ride, which ride was it and what caused the DNF? If you haven’t dropped out, What is the closest you came to quitting but continued on?

David: I’ve never quit or DNF’d – knock wood. I suppose it’s out there for me, but I want to avoid it if I can. But I have to be honest, there is a point on every ride where I question my motives. I wonder why I’m doing it. Sometimes that still small voice isn’t so small.

It was screaming at me on the Cascade 1200. I’ve written about that at length on my site, Ready To Ride, so I won’t recap that saga here. But I think you might find it good reading.

Suffice it to say that if some very experienced randos hadn’t encouraged me to eat, and then asked me the questions they did, I might have quit the ride of my life. Finishing it – or not finishing it – either option was going to be a life-changing event. I decided to finish. I got into the final control just 60 seconds before the cut-off – 60 seconds to spare in a 90-hour ride. Thinking about how close that was gives me the shivers, even right now.

Mike B.: I’m curious how one trains for ultra-distance events. In particular how does one balance the training time with family time?

David: Answering that question was the primary reason I wrote The Ride of Your Life. All I can say is that it varies, from year to year. You really need to square-off with how important your family is to you. I think one of the reasons you see older riders in ultra distance events is that they have the time to devote to it – that and the fact they’re not able to do the crits and the stage races any more!

There are lots of ways to creatively get the training hours in, though. Get up early and ride before the family is awake. Commute to work on your bike. On long weekend rides, have your wife drive out and meet you at some point in the course for a picnic. That works really well for events, too. You can integrate a family vacation into the weekend.

UltraRob: Along with balancing family time, most people have jobs that take up a big part of week days. You’ve said WebMD is supportive of your riding, but I’m sure as vice president of marketing you don’t get a free ride. How do you manage it?

David: The big one for me is commuting to work on the bike. I am able to get 30 miles and 2000+ feet of climbing in each day. I can increase the miles or the altitude by leaving earlier. On some summer mornings, I’ll increase the ride-in to 50 miles. The only morning you’ll find me on the main arteries is when I need to make an early morning meeting. Otherwise, I treat my commute like training ride.

I also make a point to let my boss and my team know about my riding goals and my events. We are a health services company, and I’m responsible for consumer engagement. So the fact that I’m eating healthy foods and exercising is consistent with our vision and values. It also makes me sensitive to the difficulties of sustaining a healthy lifestyle, and I think that makes our engagement efforts more effective as a result.

Allen B.: Before we had kids, my wife and I did a fair bit of long riding and some together, some by myself. Since our first daughter arrived, I have had an increasing awareness of their physical, emotional, spiritual – not to mention, financial – dependence on me as their dad. It is one of the greatest privileges in my life, however this awareness has led me to scale back my cycling to “safe” trails and roads with well-marked bike lanes, especially in light of the death of a couple of road bikers in our community. And, my brother – a very safe biker – has been hit by cars twice in the last 18 months. How do you deal with the inherent risks involved with road/long-distance biking when a family with small children is depending on you?

David: I have looked at the statistics and more people are hit by cars walking on the streets of their neighborhoods than cyclists are hit riding.

With that said, I realize that riding a bike increases the risk of injury. I have taken some time to my financial house in order, just in case I cannot work, or worse. I have disability and life insurance, which I think all of us who provide for dependents should have, if we can afford it.

It’s also important that you do everything you can to be seen on the bike. I know that reflective vests and ankle bands and blinky lights aren’t cool on a Saturday morning club ride. Neither are fenders and 28mm tires. But these are things we can do to increase our personal safety and we’ve got a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones to do use all of the geeky gear, even if it means we have to ride alone on Saturday morning!

Mike H. and Bob M.: What do you do to stay motivated during long-distance events (especially ones where you’re out there by yourself)?

David: First and foremost, you have to know why you are out there riding. I love the outdoors, so it’s a rare day that I’m not loving the feeling of riding. Even in the rain – with the proper gear – I’m loving it. Music helps me, a lot. I ride with an iPod; so do most of the guys I ride with. I think it’s safe to do so as long as you aren’t turning up the volume to the point you cannot hear cars approaching you from behind.

UltraRob: Ken H. has a somewhat similar question to the above but brings in how the physical affects the mental.

Ken H.: How do you battle both the mental exhaustion of kilometer after kilometer of repetition and stay focused, but also how to you stay mentally tough as the kilometers beat on your body. As fatigue increases I’m sure it only ge
ts tougher to stay motivated and focused.

David: The key is to chunk it down. On a brevet, you have controls. On an ultra, you have checkpoints. That’s where you focus – not on the entire ride. You just think about the next leg of the ride, and what’s in front of you.

You need to get your head up and look at the terrain. If the route will take me over a mountain pass, I try to make it out as far in advance as I can. If you are in the desert, you can see your route 30 or 50 miles up ahead if you’ve studied your maps. Then, you see the progress you’re making on the landscape and it’s a terrific feeling. I’m always amazed at how much ground you can cover on a bicycle. On a long ride, you will be shocked to keep seeing the same cars throughout the day, as they stop to fuel or eat, over and over again, while you just keep pedaling.

Ken H.: What methods do you employ to stay healthy and injury free? I’m sure the amount of cycling that you’re doing is doing a number on your body… Yoga? Regular massages? Just battle through the pain?

David: I have a physical therapist and during the season, I’m there two or three times a month. That’s been huge and has helped me to insure that my injuries heal without scar tissue. Long distance cycling has actually helped me to flush-out old injuries that didn’t heal right, and ‘fix them’ as a result of re-injury, then proper healing with physical therapy. But in the end, staying fit the year round is the key to riding with a minimum of injury. Nobody I know rides injury-free. This is an athletic pursuit and athletes manage injuries, they don’t avoid them.

Steve H.: What are your recommendations for leg issues, i.e. cramps, inflamation, etc.

David: Strengthening exercises are very helpful. So are stretches. Do these during the week, either at home or at the gym. I also recommend learning to stretch on the bike while riding. There are a number of yoga moves you can do while descending to stretch your lower back and your hamstrings while you’re descending. You can stretch your upper back while riding the flats. It’s good to make these habit, so when you get into the right terrain, you get automatic triggers to stretch.

Mike P. and Robb S.: For single day rides greater than 100 miles without a support vehicle, how do you either plan where you will stop for food (and how often) or how do you carry enough with you to keep the energy up. I just finished reading Ultramarathon Man and Dean eats 10,000+ calories during some of his 100 mile 1 day runs. While I’ve only managed a 55 mile ride last season, I have several planned century rides this year and keeping the energy / food levels up are one of my main concerns.

David: I am convinced that Hammer Nutrition has developed the ideal model and foods for long distance riding. It was a leap of faith for me to ‘put the Hammer down,’ but it works. On event days, I do not eat anything but Hammer fuels. I wrote a piece about that on Ready to Ride. It’s lightweight, and the proper mix of fuel, and electrolytes, keeps me from feeling hungry. The only time I bonk is if I fail to stay on my feeding schedule. It’s quite remarkable.

Another benefit of carrying your own fuel is you can minimize your off-the-bike time, which can be a killer. I ride a lot of brevets with Eric Ahlvin and John Kramer. All three of us are “on the Hammer.” It allows us to get into and out of a control in minutes. Other guys are getting in line at Subway or whatever and we’re riding away, putting serious gap on them. It’s a huge benefit if you can ride with others who use the same fuels.

UltraRob: Joel S. has a questions similar to the previous one but gets to how do you get the calories down.

Joel S.: I find that there’s no way I can consume enough calories while riding. What’s your strategy for eating and why?

David: According to the folks at Hammer, you can burn 600 to 800 calories an hour, but you can only ingest about 250 to 300. So that’s what they recommend you take in, in liquid form. The reason riders begin to feel queasy on long rides is they get too hungry, then gorge on a sandwich or whatnot, and it just sits there in the stomach. Liquid fuels got into the bloodstream in minutes. You can feel it happening. It’s borderline bizarre.

Steve H.: For long distances, do you prefer a true road ride or a MTB or touring or hyrid?

For unsupported brevets, I use a Titanium bike that’s been designed and built for this sport. It’s as light as it can be, but it’s also using parts that I can service on the road at my skill level, and with minimal tools on hand. In randonnuering you cannot accept any support accept at controls, and you’d be lucky to find tools at a control. So durability is critical, that’s why you will see Ultegra components and Mavic Open Pro rims on my rando machine.

In a supported race – like a UMCA event – I’ll be riding a Litespeed Tuscany with all the modern, lightweight parts. Of course, there’s a follow-van to help with repairs.

Lloyd L. and Steve H.: I’ve tried a lot of different types of saddles–spent a lot of money. What is your favorite saddle for long-distance events and why?

David: I have a few, but the most comfortable saddles I have are leather. The Brooks B-17, and the Selle Anatomica are fantastic. John Spurgeon (profiled in my book) rode RAAM on the later, and that convinced me to try it. It was as soft on my first ride as the B-17 was after a year.

Steve H.: Which is your favorite chamois cream?

David: I’m laughing … the stuff that’s really popular at the moment is something called Lantiseptic. It was developed for hospital patients, and others who must spend days on end in bed, and can develop rashes or worse. I began using it and I wouldn’t think of using anything else. You won’t find it at your LBS, or even at your drug store. You have to order onlne. It’s gotten so popular with randos that the company is advertising in American Randonneur!

UltraRob: Since most of your long distance rides have been in the Pacific Northwest, I’m guessing you’ve done much more riding in the rain than I have here in Colorado. What are some wet weather riding tips?

David: I wrote a series about staying dry in the rain on Ready to Ride. The most important one is about the rain jacket that I use. The other posts in the series are on feet and legs.

UltraRob: David, thanks for taking so much time to answer all the questions in this long interview. You’ve provided a lot of information for cyclist wanting to take on longer rides.

David has many more details are preparing mentally for your long distance cycling adventures in his book, The Ride of Your Life. If you want to find out more about the book before buying it, you can read a 34
page preview
or read my review of it.

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The Ride of Your Life Virtual Book Tour

January 28th, 2009

2008 Race Across America, David Holt
Update 2/6/09: I’ve posted the interview with David Rowe. His answers provide great information on long distance cycling.

I reviewed The Ride of Your Life eBook on Monday. I’m happy to announce that UltraRob.com will host an interview with author David Rowe about his new book. The interview will be posted on Friday February 6th.

The Ride of Your Life is a book for sport-recreational cyclists who want to increase their mileage and their enjoyment of events of 100 miles or more.

Help Me and You Could Win

I need your help for the interview. I did my first ride longer than a century more than 20 years ago. Some things about long distance cycling that seem obvious to me, my friends tell me aren’t obvious.

Here’s how you can help me. Ask a question about long distance cycling or one of David Rowe’s ride experiences. (Edit: Please submit the questions by Wednesday 2/4). Most of David’s rides have been in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the Oregon and Washington Cascade Range

If your question is one of the 5 that David likes best, you’ll win a Ride of Your Life eBook. Either leave your question in the comments below or email me at rob@ultrarob.com. I’ll need a way to email you if you win the eBook or David needs clarification on the question.

If you don’t already have a burning question about long distance cycling, you can read my review of the book or read a 34 page preview of the book. If you want the book now, head over to RoadBikeRider.com to buy it.

If you haven’t read my review, you’ll find another way in it to win a free copy of the eBook.

Here are the dates for the rest of the virtual book tour

Date  
January 30 Quickrelease.tv. A podcast with Carlton Reid.
February 1 Fredcast. A podcast with David Bernstein.
February 4 PAC Tour. An interview with Lon Haldeman. (Click on the link to Lon’s Blog.)
February 10 Cyclelicious. Interview with Richard Masoner.
February 12 BikingBis. Interview with Gene Bisbee.
February 17 The AdventureCORPS Blog. Interview with Chris Kostman.
February 20 The Everyday Athlete. Interview with Heidi Swift.
February 24 BikePortland.org. Interview with Jonathan Maus.
February 26 BikeLoveJones. Interview with Beth Hamon.

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Guide to Long Distance Cycling eBook Review

January 26th, 2009

The Ride of Your Life Cover

Update 1/28/09: I’m going to be part of The Ride of Your Life virtual book tour. You could win a copy of the book for submitting a question for the interview.

Many recreational cyclists make doing a century ride their big goal. If you’re one of those cyclists and now you’ve become comfortable with century rides, what do you do next?

There are plenty of cycling options longer than 100 miles. There are organized double centuries and self supported brevets. Since brevets come from France they come in metric distances of 200, 300, 400, 600, 1,000 and 1,200 km.

Ok, there’s plenty of options for long bike rides but how do you prepare for one. If you’re a seat of the pants person like me, you just do some riding and then set off on your adventure. I first did a 160 mile unsupported solo ride when I was 15 and really didn’t do much planning.

That method isn’t the best way which is why I’ve used a coach for my racing. Now there’s a new book, The Ride of Your Life, by David Rowe of Ready to Ride to help long distance cyclists achieve their dreams.

David Rowe CyclingDavid has experience in what he’s talking about. Like many other long distance cyclists he’s never raced. Instead he started out doing centuries and then going for long distances. He has completed some of the most challenging road cycling events in the Northwest, including the Cascade 1200, the Portland-to-Glacier 1000, and the Rocky Mountain 1200.

You might expect the book to be mostly about how to train. Instead it focuses on how to set your goals and fit long distance cycling into the rest of your life. David talks about coming up with an overall plan for your rides for the year but points to other resources to come up with a day to day training play.

UltraRob at the Furnace Creek 508David talks about your goals need to be inspirational. Being inspired to do something is what has given me many of my adventures over the years. It doesn’t do any good to set a goal of doing a double century if doesn’t inspire you to get out of bed at 5 AM on Saturday to do a training ride.

On the subject of fitting long distance cycling into your life, David writes

Most of us love riding, and we are exhilarated by the thought of riding farther. We also connect the thought of physical activity with its many benefits, including weight loss, muscular strength, aerobic capacity, stress reduction, and overall physical and mental well-being.

But few of us stop to think about the impact that increasing the hours devoted to cycling and other exercise will have on our relationships with our friends, and family and loved ones. More hours on the bike means fewer hours at home. And that can create stress in our relationships. Will the people in our lives be willing to sacrifice time they would normally spend with us, so that we might achieve our goal? Will they wish us well as we ride out of the driveway? Or will our rides be under a constant shadow of guilt, because our spouse or partner does not share our goal, measuring our time on the bike as hours lost from the precious time we would spend together?

And what about the impact increased riding can have on your job? If you are a career professional, you are very likely working 45 to 60 hours a week. If you are one who is known to arrive at the office at 7:30 a.m. every day, how will your boss and co-workers react when you start showing up at 8:30? Some work cultures would be supportive of any effort one makes to improve personal health. Others simply do not care, and will measure that lost hour as lost productivity, lack of commitment, or both.

David steps you through prioritizing your goals so it’s easier to make decisions to keep your life in balance. One thing is to be flexible and know mentally up front that adjustments will be needed to keep balance with the rest of life.

In addition to the planning for long distance cycling, David included interviews with 6 recreational cyclists that have achieved inspiring long distance feats. The interviews with Greg Paley, Jill Homer, Del Sharffenberg, Kitty Goursolle, Kent Peterson, and John Spurgeon will make you want to head out for a ride now.

I highly recommend The Ride of Your Life if you want to make the move from century rides to longer rides. Even if you’re doing shorter events, you’ll find valuable planning information. You can read a 34 page preview of the book or you can head over to RoadBikeRider.com to buy it.

How you can win a free copy of The Ride of Your Life

David is collecting stories from readers who overcame physical, mental, or equipment challenges to finish a challenging ride. You can win a free copy of the Ride of Your Life, simply by telling you story in 200 words or less.

David is going to publish a compilation of the best stories in an eBook, which he will make available free in the Spring of this year. If your story is selected for publication, you’ll win a free eBook. It’s that easy.

You can download an entry form here: http://www.rideofyourlife.biz/my_ride.zip. Be sure to mention that you learned about the eBook giveaway on UltraRob.com

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Ride Through Colorado National Monument

November 8th, 2007


I intended to write about my ride through the Colorado National Monument last week but didn’t get it done. Things were hectic with Halloween, a dinner for work and replacing my personal computer. My computer was 9 years old and I was having too much trouble running new software on it. Oh and I spent the beautiful weekend working on my garage. There’s been something else big but I can’t post about it just yet.

On a related my stuff is too old note, a new cell phone showed up a couple weeks ago in the mail because my current one isn’t going to be supported. It’s the only cell phone I’ve had because I just don’t use it very much. The good news is the new one is smaller and won’t take up so much room in my jersey pocket.

We decided to go over to Grand Junction to see my aunt and uncle almost 2 weeks ago. Mountain biking in Fruita as appealing but I hadn’t done my monthly century yet and it was the last weekend of the month. I decided I’d ride through Colorado National Monument. I’d ridden part of it and driven through it but I’d never ridden the whole way.

We drove to Grand Junction after work on Friday and got there late. I was already pretty exhausted from a stressful week at work.

Colorado National Monument from Grand JunctionSaturday morning I got a late start but that allowed it to warm up enough to wear short sleeves and knee warmers. One thing to note about the road through Colorado National Monument is that it runs along the top of the cliffs. Whether you start from Grand Junction or Fruita, it means you have a good climb ahead of you.

Tunnel in Colorado National MonumentI started from Grand Junction and had a bit of an easy spin before I hit the climb. Along the Colorado River, the cottonwood trees were still really pretty. I knew I had a long climb ahead of me so I just settled into a nice, steady pace. The views are really cool as you climb up to the cliffs and then go through a tunnel.

Glade ParkSince my uncle was working at the post office trailer up in Glade Park, I rode up there which added about another 1,000 feet of climbing. The turn off is about the top of the main climb on the main Monument road. There’s really not much to see up there other than the hills around.

Grand Junction from Glade Park RoadAfter getting a tour of the post office trailer, I had a fun descent back to the main road. There’s one sharp left corner where you’re just looking at the valley far below. I took a picture but it doesn’t show it the best. At least at 40+ mph, it looked like if you didn’t make the curve you’d launch into free fall.

Colorado National MonumentBack on the main road, the road follows the tops of the canyons. Although there’s no big climbs, there’s still a lot of up and down. Riding on a bike, I realized the road is closer to the edge than I had thought when I drove it. There’s one spot near the Fruita end where the wall for the road starts on the top of the cliff before it gets totally vertical. I normally like heights but I felt safer riding in the middle of the lane through that section.

Once I got to the Fruita end, I had a great descent down. That end has 2 tunnels. In a couple minutes I was done what had taken me an hour to climb on the other end.

From Fruita back to Grand Junction is ever so slightly uphill but seems flat. Since the loop from my aunt and uncle’s house was only about 65 miles, I was going to ride at least an extra 25 files on Highway 50 towards Montrose. That would have given me the minimum 90 miles to count as a century for the UMCA Year Rounder.

I got thinking about it. I was really tired. Partly from the ride and partly from the week. About the last hour of riding would be after dark, although I had my lights with me so it didn’t really matter. I still decided riding almost a century wasn’t that important and there was no reason to turn a great ride into something I didn’t enjoy. Of course once I turned around and was about a mile from the end of my ride some rednecks had to throw a pop bottle at me.

Colorado National Monument Bike Ride ProfileI ended up doing 71.3 miles with 3937 feet of climbing in 5:11 of ride time. It wasn’t as much as I had planned but Highway 50 is pretty boring and hanging out at the house as more enjoyable.

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Flat and Windy

October 5th, 2007

Riding South of Ellicott, CO

Last Saturday I headed out for my long September ride. I really wished I was in shape to ride up to Cripple Creek since the aspen are turned now. Up to Cripple Creek and back hurts even when I’m in shape.

Instead I did the Ellicott/Hanover loop. It’s a ride I do in the winter since it stays low and is generally warmer. It’s certainly not what I call scenic.

Normally I go down to Fountain, go out to Hanover and then ride up to Ellicott. This time I did it in the opposite direction since possible rain showers were forecast for the afternoon there’s no place to get shelter between Hanover and Ellicott and from Ellicott back into town.

It turned out I only got a few rain drops so rain wasn’t a factor. My choice of direction left me battling a fierce headwind up to 65 mph the whole way down the Peyton highway where there’s absolutely nothing to block it. From that point it would have been better to go my normal direction. Although if I had gone my normal direction, I may have been breathing smoke from a grass fire that broke out around Squirrel Creek when a hay truck caught on fire. I saw the plume of smoke when I looked back at one point but I hadn’t seen anything when I went through that area.

The last part of my ride was to pick my girls up. I rode 7 miles with an empty trailer and 7 miles with them in it. Even with it empty, it’s noticeable that it’s more work. With both of them in it, I think it’s close to 90 lbs so I really feel it.

I felt much better than I did on my long August Ride but was slightly slower even before I picked the girls up. I think it was because of the wind. I was out in the open when I had a headwind and cross wind and was more protected by trees when I did have a tailwind. Once I picked up the trailer, my average speed dropped even more.

Bike Ride Profile of Ellicott/Hanover LoopOnce didn’t get a full 100 miles in but I got in the required 90 miles to count toward the UMCA Year Rounder. I got in 92.2 miles with 27.17 feet of climbing. It took me 7:09 of ride time.

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Doing a Long Ride on Empty

August 31st, 2007

Cycling near Larkspur, CO

Last Saturday I headed out to do my century ride for August. Although I did a little better in July, once again for August this would be about as much riding as I had done the whole rest of the month.

Larkspur Renaissance FestivalIt had been a few months since I had ridden to Sedalia so I was thinking of going there. Once I got to Palmer Lake, I thought it was late enough in the summer that the Renaissance Festival would be over so I could take a little different route and go through Larkspur instead of just going out and back on 105. I’ve never been in Larkspur during the Renaissance Festival but I’ve seen traffic jams on I-25 from traffic backing up at the off ramps so I can only imagine what it’s like. Fortunately I was right about it being over and it was just a small quiet town.

Last week was very stressful at work which had left me drained. It had affected me enough physically that I felt drained even on the bike but it was good to be riding. I’ve also been on antibiotics for 2 weeks for a sinus infection. The antibiotics were really messing my stomach up which also didn’t help energy levels. Since then I came to my senses and finished up the bottle of iFlora that I had and I’m taking Digest Caps until my order of more iFlora comes. My stomach and energy has been better the last few days.

I was moving slow and I needed to be back to meet my family on the north end of town so I didn’t make it all the way to Sedalia. There’s no where to get water along 105 so I usually need to make it to Sedalia. Since I had gone through Larkspur, I had filled up with water there so I was fine turning around.

Ride Elevation ProfileI didn’t get a full 100 miles in but I got in the required 90 miles to count toward the UMCA Year Rounder. I got in 90.3 miles with 3960 feet of climbing. It took me 6:17 of ride time. I did finish my ride a few hundred feet higher than I started but it was still slower than it should have been. It was still better than not riding.

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