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    Should new riders be apprehensive?  
    Allowing for the possibility that some of the apprehension of first timers (like this 67 year old desert rat from Arizona) is based on the fear of not keeping up with the "pros" I offer these words from explorer and successful (after two failed attempts) climber of Mt. Everest, Jamie Clarke. My wife and I had the great privilege of meeting him and hearing him speak earlier this month.

"Real winning has nothing to do with beating someone else or crossing the finish line first or standing on top. Winning isn't anything external at all. It is an internal satisfaction, a deep inner sense of pride and joy."

Denton Smith

Lookout! I'm on my soapbox again.

I have noticed several postings describing a sense of intimidation among newcomers to Cycle Oregon.

By way of summarizing what follows, some fear is to be expected; the advice you see should be either heeded or ignored - your choice.

You have chosen to take part in the challenging and rewarding adventure called "Cycle Oregon". As a newcomer, with no personal experience as a guide, you read forum messages posted by people with the "wisdom" of Cycle Oregons past - and you likely have a tendency to scream and freak out. For sure, most of these messages are valid, BUT, they are still only opinions. It is very easy for a newcomer to take on these opinions and pass some self judgment on his/her own ability to rise to the "standards" they set forth. Therein lies the trap. Watch out!

The important idea to keep in mind is to be yourself, all while asking questions.

There is a wide spectrum of Cycle Oregon riders, ranging from a total newbie who has not taken responsibility to find out what the CO animal is (and pays a suitable price) - - - all the way to the fine-tuned hardbody who consistently rides hard and fast, arrives at the next camp site energized and ready to take on the full evening.

The very fact that you are taking the time to become informed via this forum, and do what it takes to prepare, places you way ahead of the low end of the scale.

Believe it: There is a high percentage of CO riders who mozey along, smell the roses and sagebrush, stop for photo-ops, and arrive at camp just in time to pitch a tent, shower up, eat, and take in the announcements and part of the entertainment before crashing into a sleeping bag long before they close the beer garden. They are not into the technology. They do not leave a trail of flame behind their rear tire. They just ride.

New CO riders SHOULD have some sense of healthy fear. Fear is, after all, a good motivator. Understand the fear and decide what you need to do to minimize it. THEN DO IT.

Just because many of us ride a lot and call it "Cycle Oregon training", does not mean you have to ride as many miles. There are guidelines for sure, but it is up to you to decide if they apply to you. That said, be certain of this: The more miles you cover doing "Cycle Oregon type rides" (more on that in another posting), the better. Your choice.

Again, and for emphasis, it is up to you to decide what and how much is enough - and - how much you can practically accomplish prior to September 12th [CO 12].

Much of what you see in these postings can be ignored. For example, there was a recent thread describing a certain brand of pedals. If you don't have that brand, and are not considering buying it, ignore the thread. There are probably dozens of pedal brands and types (including pedals with toe clips) which will work just fine. If you are deciding about pedals, for gosh sake, DO pay attention - there could be something useful there. Disregard postings describing performance levels which are beyond your capability or desire. If you are a newcomer AND a so-called "hardbody", go for it. If a posting does not apply to you, don't waste energy on it. It is garbage. Toss it out.

Barring an heretofore undiscovered Cycle-Oregon-blocking physical ailment, YOU CAN DO IT.

Get informed. Ask questions. "The more you know . . . "

Focus on what you want to get out of Cycle Oregon, and do what you need to do to make it happen.

Curt Coleman

I would just like to add that with 2000 fellow riders, you can expect to find others in your position. In addition you will find those who will help you make the most of your experience. If you like to ride, and you appreciate natural beauty, and you enjoy companionship, then you are in for a treat.

Ron Zahm

Your 45. So am I. So what? Did you know that the average age on Cycle Oregon is 44? The only problem you'll have with riding 70 miles a day is that you haven't done it yet. Training, and mileage is important, but the experience of knowing, you can ride that distance, is the difference in most riders attitude. The group dynamics of organized rides is another invaluable experience. You will ride farther, faster, longer, and stronger with a group than you will alone. You have seven months to get this experience. Try to get in at least 2 or 3 well organized, long group rides or centuries in between now and September. It will do more to increase your confidence and attitude than anything else you can do. Where ever you live there are organized rides to participate in. Check the internet.

The advice I would give to you regarding long climbs is much the same. The gearing on your bicycle is probably more than adequate, and so probably is your fitness. If you've never ridden uphill for several hours, you don't know what to expect. It's usually not the grade that gets you. It's the length, and the anxiety of, "how much farther?" Conquering a mountain pass is a great feeling. Go out and do it. There's no clock or time limit, it's about you getting to the top. Take as long as it takes. Stop to check out the views. Just get a few under your belt. The routes and climbs that you are going to experience on Cycle Oregon are some of the most incredible rides in this country. With a little experience, and the right attitude they will list among the greatest things you've ever done. Without some experience, and a level of expectation, it's just a damn long day on the bike.

One of the reasons Cycle Oregon has such a high returning rider rate is that people amaze themselves at what they can accomplish. You will too. Its a great feeling.

Dana C. Ham

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I tell people it takes two things to get through a Cycle Oregon day: the ability to withstand the discomfort of sitting on a bicycle saddle for 6-8 hours a day, and some way to deal with the boredom. Do as many long rides as you can during the summer before the ride to get that area between your legs good and callused, and do a few long solo rides so you can practice all the songs you'll sing to yourself while riding alone (kind of like in the shower at home). Bringing a partner, or meeting someone during the ride, who will apply a salve to those tender spots you can't quite reach yourself is a good idea too!

The distinguished J. Nicholas proved last year [CO 11] that one can finish Cycle Oregon with less than five miles of preparation in one's butt, um, I mean legs (with enthusiasm to spare). And last year's route was no slouch - this year should be even easier in that we've got TWO different days to let our saddle sores heal, not just one.

Cycle Oregon's really not THAT difficult, IMHO, but whoever said it was all in your attitude hit the nail on the groin.

Mark Vanderford

My first year I was "Mr Panic" about getting through the course before it would be closed. I would wake up at 0-dark-thirty pack up everything (in the dark), stumble to the truck with the bag, line up for breakfast and exit camp. It would be daylight by then.

I've learned to ready the stuff in the tent (roll up the bag, mat, pack up the clothes) and then go get in the breakfast line just about when they open. Enjoy the food while shivering :-) then go back and pack up the tent...

This gets me on the road probably a full 15 minutes later than the prior method. With the advantage of being able to see what I'm doing when packing. And the option of changing out of the clothing I just covered in breakfast residue :-) This also allows for social interaction in the AM at breakfast and on camp teardown. If your bustin' camp in the dark ya best not be talkin' to anyone. :-)

Given this year's [CO 13] route and from what I've seen of all of you I've ridden with of late, you've no need to break camp in the dark.

Don "you guys shave? I thought this was vacation" Bolton

We will camp in remote places far from the city lights and air pollution. Late at night you can sit outside and enjoy a sky full of a rich carpet of stars, the gentle night breeze, and the sounds of nature obscured by the symphony of over two thousand people snoring.

From a nearby corner a mood piercing slam will come from someone departing a blue room and as if some unseen conductor has called the orchestra to order, the snoring will cease momentarily then resume in synchronized chorus till the soloists eventually spin off and the cycle begins anew....

Things to do at night when you can't sleep and you're bored :-)

Don "coming soon to hayfield near you" Bolton

For you first timers...

In just ten short days you will embark on a journey of a lifetime. Each tour is unique. For some of us this is just our vacation, for others its an affirmation of self. On this journey some of you will accomplish things you don't believe you could have. You will see natural beauty beyond that which you can imagine. On that last day you may be filled with mixed emotion not ready to go home but so tired that you will be glad its over.

It's a traveling army of around 2500 people, a fleet of trucks hauling showers, water, mobile kitchens, soundstages, your luggage. Dozens of support vehicles including medical personnel, bike parts and mechanics, route staff, hundreds of porta pots, even state troopers assigned to the tour.

Hidden from view are the site coordinators that travel ahead of us and have the sites prepared for our arrival or stay behind to erase the signs of our passing thru, the route crews that dismantle all traces of our presence from the day prior and set out the markers for us to follow in the morning, the staff that generates the newsletter we have waiting for us at breakfast in the AM.

All the local people that pitch in and help prepare and serve our meals and deal with the mountains of trash this entourage generates.

It's a marvel to experience. So much works so well but every so often something doesn't go quite right. Try to keep it in perspective and not let it become the focal point of your tour.

Seven days in the saddle sleeping on the ground can drain you. People's temperaments can be somewhat short by day seven. I've been there, stuck for several hours in a coastal drizzle in icy winds after a gonzo climb, shivering while waiting for the course to be reopened. Having the fear of falling on the mossy slick roads literally beat into you by the course officials before releasing us to continue on said mossy slick roads.

Stuff happens... Over the past four tours I've seen awesome sunsets, incredible vistas, amazing lightning storms, flying tents, Crater Lake for a first (and second) time. I've met many fine people, shared many experiences, climbed hills I thought impossible, whooped it up down 30 mile long descents. Its why I keep coming back..

If you get to that point where you are getting tired and cranky, step back and look at what you've accomplished and what amazing logistics have gotten you to where you are. Its like nothing else anywhere. You follow some basic common sense guidelines, take care of your stuff and just ride between meals!

Try to keep it all in perspective... Believe in yourself and your abilities and have fun. You can catch up on sleep later.

Don "Are we there yet?" Bolton

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Everyone has a first time. You can do this, and each milestone (30 miles, 40,50,60 etc..) will feel like a really big thing, and after a few times, it'll get easy. I trained and went on CO X alone the first time, met plenty of people there; rode an hour or two or three with someone I'd meet on the road and then split off if our paces were divergent. This was usually because I'm slow on hills (a brick- slow up, fast down), but even so, I finished every day and felt better at the end than when I started. It is such a rush and sense of accomplishment. You find what works for you each day. And that alone is worth the effort. I went to a spinning class a week ago, and man, that would be dynamite training in condensed form. I lift weights with a trainer and that is a huge help, great whole body cross training, good injury prevention, too. (I am not a gorilla, just a female trying to stay fit.) I must say that for my first CO, that spring I ate, slept, worked, and rode. (oh yeah, and bathed) Also went on a 5 day trip in August with a commercial company, so I knew I could do it. I trained on a hybrid because people had said there were all kinds of bikes, but after that August trip I knew that a decent road bike was going to happen. I didn't care for the Terry two-size wheels aesthetically, and the 51" was a tad too big, tho I really liked the feel. So I am very happy with my Trek 2120, and a friend is very happy with her less expensive bike, too. I think REI sells Terry. Fitting your bike is both subjective and objective, a mix of science and art. So try em out, start with the cheaper basics, work your way up, see what feels good, and ask lots of questions. Read a recent Bicycling magazine article on fitting. Bike Gallery is the shop that comes along on CO, so they're tuned in, and there are many other good shops around. Decide how much you want to spend, then sigh when the one you love is more, and try to buy the best you can afford. This is fun, so don't worry, be happy!!

Amy Ream

While reading the chat from the newbies and the advice of the veterans, I couldn't help but recall my favorite memories of my 1st Cycle Oregon journey, CO V. The feelings I had then stand out because I was about to embark on an experience that I had always dreamed about as a kid. I remember the anxiety clearly, wondering if I was riding enough in preparation for the longest ride of my life. Those "first time feelings" you’re feeling now, "my newbie friends" will always be the ones that you'll cherish the most. Enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing for sure what to expect, and the tour will reward you for your preparation.

Be yourself, make new friends, and embrace the surroundings, for it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. I KNOW - because I have friends and acquaintance's I only see once a year at Cycle Oregon from all over the continent. I have ridden with a high school classmate of 30 years ago in CO IX. I came across "a best friend" of a past secretary of mine, I hadn't seen in 15 years in CO VII. Cycle Oregon truly can be a "6 degrees experience" for some and you never know what the ride will bring your way that will change your future. For me it was the marriage of my son and daughter-in-law who meet on Cycle Oregon X. Yes, there is a little guy who will eventually be in the saddle doing Cycle Oregon someday with his Grandpa, Mom, and his Dad. All and all Cycle Oregon HAS changed my life permanently, so "look out" Newbies, you may not return home the same, after Cycle Oregon XII.

Capt. Dink

I'm glad you said that! I do feel my life already changing because of CO. As not only a CO rookie but virtually new to the sport of cycling, I have been amazed at the upbeatness, friendliness, and willingness to help of everyone I've met or read about in this discussion list and on the forum. It seems to be a contagious feeling that affects everyone involved. I'll be turning 40 just after the CO tour and it just doesn't seem so threatening now...turning 40 that is....because I'm riding my butt off, getting into great shape and meeting positive people.

Julie Kay

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > Insights > New Riders  

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