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    How should I train?  
    Cycle Oregon says to do at least 750 miles over the summer. Many people do 1000-1500 or more starting in the next month [March] or so. They do both short rides and long rides and go on several of the local centuries (both regular and metric). Some also ride to work and back and that adds up. It is amazing how fast you get to 750 miles!

People on this email list were advising last year to do at least one weekend toward the end of summer where you do 60+ miles each day to find what will hurt if you do 2 "longish" rides back to back. This gives you a chance to fix it before CO.

We were also advising riding lots of hills. Start with the little hills and get used to how you shift smoothly and work your way up to the bigger, steeper climbs. It just takes lots of practice. The little hills are very handy at first (even those only a block long) because if you make a mistake in shifting it is easy to try again. Eventually you get the hang of spinning and shifting as needed to do hills many miles long with varying incline. There are also some tricks involved in starting on hills if you are using toe clips (and some clipless pedals, too.) Since you are going to need to take the occasional break or a picture of that great view it is worth practicing stopping and starting on some steep hills.

The first year I did CO [CO 11] I spent a lot of time trying to get the bike and I working well together and getting it to fit fairly well. That CO went well, but I identified some clear problems - mostly very sore feet and lack of hydration. I had trained hard in the spring and gotten too busy to ride much in August and I noticed it - especially the first day.

The second year [CO 12] I started out by getting a bike body fit from Bike Gallery. This made a huge difference in comfort and strength. I concentrated on fine-tuning my comfort during bike rides - food, water, clothing, etc. I again trained hard in the spring and during the later summer I supplemented it by "torture-sessions" on an exercise bike where I would crank up the tension and work out for a half hour or so 3 times a week. (These were actually kind of fun because each session I could do more - It was fun to see the progress.) I could really tell the difference on that CO. I felt much stronger and more relaxed while riding.

One thing I found really helped was to evaluate each training ride I did both during the ride and after. Ask yourself what parts of you are comfortable and what needs improvement. Also, what needs changed with your bike and equipment (gears, hydration, snacks, clothing, etc.) to make you happy. Remember that if a part of you hurts just a little after 60 miles (such as a toe rubbing against the side of your shoe) it will hurt a lot more after multiple 60+ mile days.

I don't mean to make this sound impossible at all. After all, 2200 of us did it last year and many of us can hardly wait 'till next September (only 6+ months to go). I enjoyed fine-tuning my bike and it made the training rides more interesting to me. I also did the last 2 CO's [CO 11,12] as a 45+ year old mom who needs to lose 40 lbs. I did both rides on a hybrid bike and had lots of fun! Its amazing how much better I feel when I am fit enough for a CO.

Rox Heath

I agree with everything that Rox says, but consider it the recommended rather than the required. If you don't get 750 miles in, don't get discouraged and drop out. The first few days will be a little more painful but it's not impossible by any means, especially (possibly) this year. After all, we only have to make it to Tuesday night!

25+ years ago I owned a Peugeot 404 (auto)---don't see too many of those around any more either.

Candace Reed

Rox and Candace are correct about getting in shape, however it is a relative term. Three of us rode CO last year for the first time, also it was the first time for two of us for any riding over 10 miles! We all rode mountain bikes, and 2 out of 3 did no training AT ALL. However, those 2 with no training are young (18 and 30) and "in shape" to begin with. It was not easy, but we all made it, no it can be done but the more you train, the less the pain..

Robert Fox

To one raw novice from another,

Last year was my first Cycle Oregon [CO 12]. I hadn't ridden a bike for 9 years prior and really didn't know what I was up against. I started out in January running on a treadmill and began riding my bike in April when I bought it. I did the best I knew how, getting in the miles when I could. I was never on the bike more than 2 1/2 hours at a time, no more than 5 days a week (and that was end of July through August). My hills were probably no more than 3 mile long and none of them required the granny gear.

As you can see I was seriously undertrained in miles and experience for this ride. The problems I had were dehydration (day 2 when I bonked), outdoorsmanship (never camped in my entire life and did the ride alone) and lack of biking knowledge (I forgot a lot in nine years- especially not ever had ridden in any type of group situation until this past training year). I was neither the first or the last one in, BUT I survived AND enjoyed myself. You know where you stand in relation to this - age, physical shape, experience, etc.

I'm not saying this is all you have to do to train. What I am saying is that if Cycle Oregon is something you want to do and you have the time, you can do it. Don't get discouraged. Give it your best. Remember, this is a tour, not a race.

Sinthea Leatherwood

Last year [CO 12], Carl and I rode CO for the first time. My training advice is RIDE A LOT! And actually the more hills you ride, the better. Long hills. Steep hills. If you can ride 50-60 miles with hills, you should be ok. My biggest mistake was not riding enough hills. I had to sag on a couple of days last year. But don't get scared. This ride is a LOT of fun and there is more support than you can imagine. If you start riding and keep riding and increase your miles and hills over the summer, you'll do great!

Wendi Thornton

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Each of us has different requirements, sometimes what works for one as training methods can be detrimental to another. Experiment with all the tips you will get in this forum and find what works for you.

The number one thing is to get in base miles. If your schedule is such that long > 60 mile days are infrequent no matter. Frequent shorter rides (20) miles or so will get you there, you will have to do longer days when you can but don't let lack of time for a long ride prevent you from riding.

Usually the final few weeks before CO I will ride 20-30 miles a day for at least 5 days per week.

CO has a rather interesting concept of a hill, until you have done CO you just have no idea:-) 5 or 6 miles of climbing in a single ascent is what CO considers a short hill. This years ride looks somewhat easy in this regard but. Plan on doing frequent hills for your training. It pays big dividends come the ride!

There will be frequent groups doing Larch Mtn. this year I'm sure and this is a good fairly local to PDX simulation. Stay tuned to this forum.

Ride and *E*N*J*O*Y* your training, set attainable goals, socialize at times, work you buns off others, just remember this is truly for fun and don't burn yourself out or let our (veterans) mention of hills dissuade you from this event.

You will make new friends, see some truly spectacular countryside, overcome personal obstacles and finish the tour with a sense of personal accomplishment and awe at the raw beauty of this state.

Get the Oregon Cycling (or appropriate local newspaper) from you local bike retailer and look at the day rides calendar. These are excellent events and allow you to explore new areas on a marked course with food and water stops and support.

I highly recommend the Tour-de-Blast in June and the Pedal the Pinchot in Aug. Both feature good long climbs and spectacular views of the Mt St Helens blast freezer :-)

Don "that's the sound of the group shiftin' on the chain gang" Bolton

If you would like a re-hash of what they say with a slightly different spin (pun intended), look at the Cycle Oregon Forum posting #293.1.1 entitled "Training for Cycle Oregon = Riding Your Bike"

>From the sound of things, your biggest challenge will be finding the time to ride, given your 60-hour work week. My guess is that you can get in the miles and hills you need if you get creative. Bike commute if that is possible. Ride at lunch. Drive part way to work and bike the rest of the way. Get a practical back pack and run errands on your bike. Where ever you drive, do it in a way which facilitates a spur-of-the-moment ride. Any ride, no matter how short is better than no ride. As you get into the cycling season, ride longer and steeper hills. Get into as many organized rides as you can.

And above all when ever you can, ride with someone, especially if that person is planning on Cycle Oregon this year. You will wind up improving each other's training. If you have not yet noticed, there is a group on the mail list which refers to itself as Team Bag Balm. TBB is composed of CO riders with a broad range of abilities and experience. You will see that they frequently set up rides. Just join in the mail thread, and ride with them. Last year, we tied a short length of plastic orange surveyor's tape to our bikes to help people identify mail listers. We all found a whole new group of friends.

As to your ability to get into the ride, not to worry. Over the years, CO has filled up in as few as three days, and one year, if I am correct, there was room up to one week prior to the ride. The registration process they use now is not likely to exclude anybody who really wants to do the ride. It is very fair, and eliminates the uncertainty of a lottery - which they have successfully avoided, unlike some of the other big rides in the country. Be sure to send your registration on or after the earliest registration date - but do not delay - there is a very real possibility you could be shut out if you delay into the summer. It happened last year to at least one person I am aware of.

Cycle Oregon will typically allow bookings to rise over the 2000 limit, with the thought in mind that throughout the summer, there will be some withdrawals. If I recall correctly, there were about 2200 riders last year. So, you see, the 2000 limit has been somewhat soft in the past. However, that said, don't count on it. Register early. This year, Cycle Oregon is adding the capability to register on-line. Check their web site for details.

Curt Coleman

[In answer to a spouse’s worries…]

Does your husband have anything to worry about. No.

He will not be left on the road for the vultures to pick on.

Ride your bikes as much as possible. Do not short change yourself. Ignore the temptation to assume that 500-1000 miles is enough. It is not if you want to truly enjoy the ride. Unless your both Lance Armstrongs or Greg Lemonds types, I recommend more mileage. Adequate training will protect you from injury, pain and fatigue.

The hills of Pittsburgh may be steep, but they probably are not 10+ miles long. You should ride them often however.

I would not worry about the hills. They really are not that steep, just long. That is where the stamina comes into play. You need stamina.

So your husband should spend a lot of time enhancing his capability of sitting down and pedaling. Endurance is what I call it. With a triple, he will be pedaling a lot and going nowhere fast. So again, stamina and endurance are what is required.

I'm from Indianapolis, Indiana. We jokingly call the overpasses hills here in central Indiana. We have to ride 50 miles south (one way) to get any hills. These hills are steeper than the ones that were on the CO XI. However, they are very short.

An earlier message from Oklahoma indicated that they don't have hills but the winds make it feel like your riding up hills. It is the same here in Indiana during the spring. Your mental attitude will be greatly enhanced if you ride for an hour into the wind. Gradually you can ride further into the wind. It does wonders for increasing your physical and mental stamina. It is much like ascending a long hill - relentless.

If you and your husband are very active people who participate in regular exercise on a daily basis, then perhaps, you can get by with low mileage. But if you're more "normal" then the muscles specific to cycling will be developed by cycling a lot of miles. These muscles and associated tendons are what hold your bones together in the proper manner so your joints don't hurt.

I saw a lot of people on the CO XI with knee wraps after a few days popping pain medication. Were these people having fun ??? I wouldn't consider that fun. Perhaps a different training strategy would have allowed them to avoid the pain medication.

You and your husband should ride a lot and you won't have these problems.

Remember, the CO is a party on wheels. You need to have some energy left when you finish the ride to take advantage of the party at night.

Bob Mueller

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I think Bob's advice is very accurate! On the previous COs where I was only able to train 500 or 600 miles, I felt really worn down and tired at the end of most days. I didn't feel like doing anything but crashing in my tent after dinner :-(

However, in the years where I was able to put in 1500 - 2000 miles, I felt like I breezed over the hills and had plenty of energy left over for the nightly entertainment. I should note that my wife & I have lots of 6% - 15% hills to ride on here in the Bay Area, and CO has yet to throw us a tougher hill than we were prepared for (although the option on day 1 last year was awfully close ;-)

As Bob said, anything you can do to improve your stamina will make your first Cycle Oregon memorable AND enjoyable! Some things you can try are: ride up lots of short, steep hills; ride into a headwind; even carry 30 or 40 extra pounds on a rack (or childseat)! Find some things that make sense for you and gradually work them into your training.

By the end of August you'll be prepared and in great shape for the ride!

Ron Scheldrup

The 1500-2000 miles was over the summer (roughly May through August). If you're putting in 350 miles per month, that's about 90 miles per week and you have 18 more weeks to train... that looks like over 1600 miles! Wonderful!

Don't stress out about the actual mileage, just try to ride consistently and build up the length and frequency (if possible) towards late summer. When you're really in the training groove in July or August, you should try to put in back-to-back rides of 60-80 miles on the weekends, with a couple shorter rides before or after work during the week.

I think the biggest challenge of doing a ride like Cycle Oregon is riding 50-100 miles a day EVERY day for a week! Its not the kind of thing that you can really understand ahead of time, but with all those miles under your belt and the great support and comraderie of everyone on the ride, you'll get to really experience Oregon at its best! As an added bonus this year [CO 12] there will be TWO *optional* riding days where you can choose to ride dozens of mile into Hell's Canyon and around the Wallowas OR you can just hang out at camp! (inside joke again - "It just doesn't get any better than this!")

Finally, I'm not a tandem rider, and your body probably doesn't care where you get in shape, but I would want to spend at least some quality captain/stoker time climbing and descending a few hills ahead of time. Legend has it that of the 4 couples that have gotten divorced while on Cycle Oregon, 3 of them were riding tandems! ;-)

These thoughts are based on my own experiences, and I'm sure that the other veteran riders will have plenty of additional advice and encouragement - that's one of the best reasons for belonging to this forum!

Ron Scheldrup

Getting in shape depends on how out of shape you are. You have a long time to get ready. It takes at least 750 miles this summer and twice that is better. A significant portion should involve hills. It is amazing how fast this goes once you get started training.

Since you are strapped for time you might do better doing some of your training at a gym. I rode an exercise bike a lot last year in the summer when I was short on time since the good hills are several miles (usually an hour) from my doorstep and that gave me an "instant hill" to build up muscle and heart/lungs. You still need to get in 750 or so miles just to get adjusted well to the bike and to adjust it to you. Some of this should be rides of 60+ miles and do a couple of these back to back. Remember, CO is a multi-day event and you want to be sure nothing is going to hurt like crazy when you sit on that bike seat all day every day.

Rox Heath

The key to success on any tour is preparation. If you've done your "homework" so to speak, you can enjoy the scenery and the people so much more than if you're just trying to survive. I've found that using the schedule that Bicycling magazine publishes each year for working up to a century ride works, with the exception of doing long rides two days in a row on weekends so that you get used to riding consecutive days. If you can work up to doing a 70-75 mile ride, followed by one that is 40 to 50 miles the next day, you'll have a fair idea of what it feels like to ride day after day. Other people have different methods of preparation. This is what works for me.

Debi Toews

Well, as I understand it, intervals are this yucchy thing (oh, I said that, did I?) where you go gangbusters for a minute or two or three, rest (go easy) until fully recovered, and then do the whole thing again five or six times. I've seen intervals discussed in the context of a loop that has a Hill on it, so you can power up the hill.

The repeated stress & recovery is supposed to incorporate many of the essential elements of both endurance and strength training. I absolutely detest it, which is the other thing that trainers warn about--overuse of intervals (evidently) causes a very high dropout rate from competitive training programs.

Jason Penney

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I find that if the route is pretty flat I ride between 12-15 mph. That is an _average_, over a couple of hours.

When I'm attacking a hill, I'm pretty slow, I don't have Dave S's big leg muscles (yet). Slow but steady. I'll do the Thompson Rd climb (west side) up to Skyline at about 7 to 9 mph.

I think a 59 mile long ride this weekend is an excellent basis for a training program! I'm lucky if I can get more than about 115 miles per week in. I'm _hoping_ that I can get more miles in as the summer months go by... Hey, next time go another 3.1 miles, so you can say you did a metric century!

Keep in mind I'm not one of these racing 20-something hardbodies, either. I'm almost 42 years old, 15 pounds overweight (I was 30 pounds overweight nine weeks ago <grin>), with more enthusiasm than genuine miles behind me.

The last time I rode seriously (back in 1992), I just hopped on my Peugeot P-10 and did the miles. It weighed as much as a Sherman tank, but I was interested in strength and stamina, so I considered that a plus. I rode as much as I could, as hard as I could, as often as I could.

I made a lot of mistakes! Here are the important things I think I've learned:

1. Start at your level, in terms of the maximum length of any single ride and your number of miles per week. Keep increasing the length each week by a modest amount; I've heard the 10% figured bandied about quite a bit. If you overtrain or injure yourself, you're definitely behind in the long run.

2. Do many _different_ kinds of rides. Don't just do endurance rides. Do a shorter hill ride one day. Or, take that flat training route you do as fast as you can, as hard as you can. Or, do some intervals (yucch). Plan a long ride on the weekend that's about twice as long as your training rides. _Variety_ is the key. Consider taking a rest day after that long ride.

3. Pay attention to your water and simple sugars. Even if you want to lose weight, your glycogen metabolic rate is not significantly increased by how hard you exercise. What happens instead is that if you run out of simple sugars, your body will continue to process fats at its maximum rate and look to other sources (i.e., muscle mass) to make up the deficit. Ouch! And, of course, everything goes better with water.

4. Be sure to stretch. I wish someone had rapped me hard on the side of the head when I was twelve and told me to stretch out my body every day. I would be in so much less pain and discomfort today if I'd heard that.

5. Average speed is a function of strength as well as endurance. It pains me to say this (literally), but some strength training at a gym will go a long way to improving your power, on the flats or on the hills. I really detest the perky cute woman who is my trainer at the gym (no, not really <grin>), but I can't deny that I'm getting results there.

6. Enjoy yourself! Those of you who aspire to categorized bicycle racing can ignore this advice. The rest of us: be sure to seize the moment. The baby llamas nursing on Phillips Road, the spectacular beach view as you finish the summit before Oceanside, the four volcanic peaks that loom from north Skyline, the rich smells of trees and flowers as you pedal through Jackson Bottom--these are things that make bicycling worthwhile for me. Don't forget to have fun.

Jason Penney

It sounds like you are well positioned to do well on CO. Probably the most important thing you can do is do back-to-back 60-plus mile rides which are a challenge to you. You want to simulate day-to-day-to-day rides as much as possible.

Others on the maillist have encouraged you to do centuries, etc. Good!. It is to your advantage to have the experience at long haul rides.

The idea is to get your endurance up. For the most part, any given day on the average CO is not that hard, but they can be long, and with sustained hills of 2000 - 3000 feet elevation gain in 6 to 10 miles, it can get to be a grind. This is especially true in hot weather, which is what you can expect in September in N.E. Oregon. Find some long hills to do in the heat. Do them more than once so you can see progress from one time to the next.

If you do some "short-steep" hills to get an idea what that is like, and come up with an acceptable way to deal with them, so much the better.

There are several good ways to deal with short-steeps, including standing up on your pedals, or, as I do, sit back on the bike and spin up. I'll bet others on the maillist have their own opinion as well.

Curt Coleman

Also, I am trying to gauge my CO readiness [for CO 13], and am wondering what good measures are. Is it average speed (~17.5), total miles ridden this year (1200), overall comfort level after riding x miles? What do you use as a yardstick to gauge your readiness?

Any help would be appreciated.

Peter Rowley

I'd say your stats are great. I haven't ridden nearly that many miles and I certainly never achieve 17mph (unless I'm going downhill!).

Wendi Thornton

Just out of curiosity, what sort of training distances are you doing in the course of a week? Personally, I don't have much of a chance to ride on weekdays (maybe 15 miles once a week), but I've been getting in long rides on the weekends. For instance, I did 50 miles today, and 58 yesterday. Is this typical?

Randy "your results may vary" Dodge

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I have been doing Cycle O since V and have done different training distances each year because of other commitments. To me the biggest issues are

1.Getting used to riding long distances, day-after-day...doing back to back 50+ mile rides..three day in a row once a season is good.

2.Building up the stamina to ride 80-100+ miles at a whack. If you haven't done this before it can be very daunting but after a few long rides it seems to become a non-issue.
3.I seem to have weeks where I ride less than 100 miles and then others where I exceed 300. It is probably good to have a couple of the exceed 200 number weeks in a season.

Other factors are your age, do you get going early on rides (this can be an issue on hot days), relative strength, how much fun you had the night before, blah , blah, blah.

I have trained as little as 750 miles pre-Cycle-O and more than 3500. After a while, if you maintain some semblance of muscle tone it becomes less relevant...except for butt tone which I have resolved with my saddle.

My goal has always been to be in good enough shape to ride all day, drink and dance all night and enjoy getting up and doing it again the next day...remember, this is a vacation.

Jim "I'll take my philosophy to bed now" Bombardier

This group contains a number of CO veterans who have tons of tips that work for *us* what works for *you* is what you will need to find.

Because many of us have banded together via this mailing list we represent a vast cross section of riding abilities and speeds. Don't feel intimidated by our tales of our exploits and feel free to join us on some of our local area rides which we will post here. When you're here, you’re family.

First piece of advice... Get fitted to your bike. River City Cycles had the best cost option on fittings this year, however you will have a group that swears by Michael Silvester at the Bike Gallery. Proper fitting is *critical* to you being able to enjoy long mileage days.

Ride often! Long rides are important but sometimes life intervenes, frequent 15 to 20 mile outings will still go a long way toward getting you to the finish line.

Starting in May there are a series of organized day rides where you pay an entry fee and ride on a marked course with food stops. Also these feature some form of course support (along with several hundred other riders that can stop to lend a hand).

I would recommend you learn basic bike repair (at least flat tire skills) so that you can feel free to pop in a short ride by yourself here and there.

There is a local club, Portland Wheelmen Touring Club. They do have "welcome to" rides that are fairly low key. As many of their group are hill climbing knuckle dragging beasts, going on one of their outings is best if you go with a partner and plan on seeing the whole group at the start only. (They will give you a map).

The Wheelmen have a newsletter "Riders Digest" that can be found at most bike shops in the area and at the flyer rack at the local REI stores. This will contain a listing of their rides. They also have a web page with this info.

I would recommend you also spend time climbing hills to get you used to some of the terrain Cycle Oregon may go through. We can show you some 6 to 10 mile climbs that we find helpful in getting ourselves in shape for the tour.

Again welcome! Looking forward to riding with you someday soon.

Don "getting there is more than half the fun" Bolton

The Portland Wheelman Touring Club offers an abundant source of rides around all quadrants of Portland. You need not be a member to go on any of the rides. Their schedule can be found at

As for training: do lots of miles and lots of hills. Some train the minimum 750 miles recommended by Cycle Oregon. I talked to one person on the ride who trained only 250 miles. This was my 1st CO. I rode all the miles and didn't sag, but I'm 40 lbs. overweight and trained for 2700 miles. Age and aerobic conditioning are major factors as well. You will find lots of advice from members of this list.

Peter 'been there, done that' Goodkin

The previous advice is excellent. Keep watching this list and you'll see activity picking up next year with rides.

In the spring and summer you'll find more timely advice too. For instance, encouragement to ride back to back long days so you're ready for that entire week in the saddle.

Usually the spring rides start out shorter and easier and build to longer and more challenging as CO draws near.

As a member of the Portland Wheelmen, I would encourage you to join in on their rides too. There is a lot of variety offered, especially in the summer.

Riding with others is a good way to gauge how you're doing. Especially going into your first CO, there's always that doubt that you have ridden far enough, fast enough, high enough. By riding with others (even members of Team Bag Balm!) you can go into CO with confidence that you're able to complete the week's ride. Not to mention, you'll have a bunch of new friends. That makes it lots more fun.

Good luck and keep in touch. We're all eager to help. We've been where you are. You can do it and you'll always be glad you did.

Ann Morrow
Stoker, Team Tangerine Scream

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Here is our one training tip:

Plan your training rides. If you plan to ride a 1000 miles ( 650+ recommended). Get out the calendar and start plugging in the days and weekend now to get to your number. Missed rides stand out easier and squeezing in another 45 to keep the week on schedule is workable.

Seeing those numbers on the calendar with a big black line drawn through it... goal set and completed...

We trained too light in the early spring and got clobbered by 100+ days in August. This year our goal is to ride over 1000 miles before mid-august. We will be flexible and continue to add miles up to CO.

We also are planning on riding entire segments of past CO's. We have three rides that crossed this area and several more that are close.

Chris and MaryAnn
cycle nu

I am a novice at cycling, but I have big dreams. I want to cycle Oregon next September. I have tried to find some good research books on training and have failed.

I want to make sure I train correctly, like how many hours on the bike, how many training miles, all that "stuff". I don’t what to be on the ride and then have to be a pansy and ditch because my knees hurt, or my shoulders ache... :)

I would love some direction, thanks so much.

Lee Anne

Good question.
If you have been receiving emails from the list since July, then you have seen much go by that could be interpreted as training tips. However, I don't recall anything that starts from scratch.

Lets give it a try.
The most important thing to remember is to ride, ride, and ride. Where else can you do something fun that also helps you condition yourself. If the weather is bad, get thee to a health club that has exercise bikes, or better yet if you have a trainer, set your bike on it and ride while you watch the news or your favorite sitcom, etc.

Start with short easy rides (you will know what is "easy" for you.) And then, as the year progresses increase the difficulty and length. You will know what is "Difficult" for you. Shoot for at least one full century prior to CO. Do as many organized rides as you can. That is invaluable experience for CO.

There are many techniques and tricks to learn along the way. The more you ride with experienced riders, the more you will learn. Also, as the next season gets rolling, watch this list for hints. I'm sure you'll have questions, aches, and pains as you train. Ask the list for help. There are a bunch of Team Bag Balmers out there just waiting to help.

Your objective is to get in at least 750 miles by the time CO starts in September. Being an ol' fart, I try to get in around 1500 prior to the ride. That's my goal, not often met in recent years, I admit. However, I have always done around 1200 or more in preparation for the ten CO's that I have ridden. Outside miles are better than inside miles; inside miles are better than none.

If you are lucky and the weather is nice, ride outside. Find a friend to ride with. If you are in the Portland area, just ask around on the mail list, and I'll bet you get some takers. The list will work for other areas also, but the response volume will be somewhat less.

At the end of your training, you should be able to ride at least 60 mile routes on consecutive days. Those routes should each have some sustained (read that "long" - 2 or more miles) hills. Those hills should be in the 4% to 6% range.

If you start now, and gradually increase to the point where you are doing 100 miles per week, you will be buff indeed.

I'll bet there are lots-o-riders out there that will add their two cents to this.

Hope to meet you some day.

Have fun tuning up!!
Curt Coleman

The last few years, Bicycling Magazine has had articles on training for a century (100 mile ride). These articles give you some of the basics about how to train: limiting mileage increases to ~10% per week, rest days, big rides on weekends, etc. They are very good primers.

Also check out their website and the websites of Performance and Colorado Cyclist...there are occasionally good things there as well. Happy training! You can do it!

Mark Ramsby

Ride. Then ride some more. Do LOTS of hills. I had a hard time on my first CO because I hadn't trained enough hills. Don't be scared, you can do this. I am female and a good 50lbs overweight. Doesn't matter (ok, it does, I have more to carry uphill), but you can do this ride.

Watch the list a lot. There will be advice, bad jokes, good jokes and lots of opportunities to ride with us. We have HUGE differences in our speeds and abilities, but we still manage to have a great time together.

Welcome again to the most wonderful egroup ever!

Wendi Thornton

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I have been riding almost 3 weeks now, I walked for 12 weeks to strengthen my knees and now I have been doing 3 weeks, 6 days a week. I live in Yakima, so the weather is getting a bit chilly. I am riding hills, today I had a easy ride just 20 miles with slight inclines. I have done a 36 mile bike ride with a 2 mile hill.

Tomorrow if the weather holds up, I am going to take a 40 mile ride with two large hills.

Big question, next fall, to do the CO, then the following June to Bike America, LA to Boston, too lofty a goal? I dream big! and I love riding.

Thanks so much for the input on training.

Lee Anne

The advice you are receiving although correct, may sound intimidating. Please don't think that you have to go out and ride, ride, ride until you hate it, hate it, hate it. You are hearing from hard core addicts who, given the opportunity would... ride, ride, ride given half the chance. I'll admit I too am one of those however, when I started rode riding about 3.5 years ago, the shop owner gave me a good bit of advice. He said, in a heavy Irish accent, "Steve, when you go for a ride always carry an extra five bucks in your bag 'cause sure as shoit your gonna find yourself two hours from home when you only meant to go for an hour and half ride."

Lee Anne, cycling can be like that. I've done it often as has everyone else you've heard from on this site. First and foremost, ride for the enjoyment. Start small, build your miles gradually. It won't be long before you'll begin to think that if the ride is any less than 50 miles, it's not worth suiting up.

PS Welcome to Team Bag Balm, the worlds most wonderful, eclectic group of cyclists on the face of the planet.

Steve "I was a newbie once too" Heim

My wife just started biking the first of this year. We set her up with a progressive training program, based on mileage. Her weekly mileage goal was set to increase by 7% per week. Being from Boise, we usually can't start comfortably riding outdoors until Feb. sometimes March. She worked on hills, but not until establishing a good 'base', consisting of around 800 miles. When CO rolled around in Sept., she had around 1600 miles under her belt. She finished the ride, and did her first century ever. I think the plan worked well.

Looking back, I can't help but think that rather than basing on miles, maybe hours would be a better unit. Hills take time, but don't rack up much mileage. Either way, I think the key element is a program. Keep a log on your fridge, or wherever handy, so you are constantly aware of your weekly goals, and progress. It actually can be a lot of fun. Good Luck!!


One thing nobody seems to hit on and it works for me as a "quality" check. I have set routes to ride in addition to my rides with others, etc. I keep a log of my rides and when I make one of my "quality" checks I compare it to how I have been doing on that same route on previous rides. My "quality" rides go from fifteen up to forty miles and ALL of them entail hillclimbing. I also am doing the same logs on my new road bike. It is a very good way to find out how your training is coming along. Also, you might want to practice some of your rides in gears which make you work harder. I find out it works very well for strengthening your leg muscles. Also, practice your breathing. It sure made my Rocky Mountain Ride easier this last June and it helps on hillclimbing. And, as some have said, it has to be fun!!! I have a very good moral support group with the kids at the High School I sub at-they ask me every time they see me how I am doing with my new cycle. Keeps me pedaling.

Donald Lockridge

I live in Walla Walla, so I know what you mean about it's getting cold!

Something that I have found very helpful is strength training. That has really decreased my soreness in my neck/shoulders on long rides, and has made my legs stronger for those long hills. It also has increased my "cruising" speed. A good "Y" or health club will have a certified trainer who can set you up with a program. Now that I'm aware of how to lift correctly I just go to the trainer once a month for a change for my "routine." I found out how helpful this whole thing was when I had knee surgery, and the surgeon sent me to a trainer as I was finishing my p.t..

Spinning classes can also be helpful in the winter if you have a good person running the class.

Lots of luck

Lee Anne writes: << Big question, next fall, to do the CO, then the following June to Bike America, LA to Boston, too lofty a goal? I dream big! and I love riding. >>

Certainly not a lofty goal at all. Sounds like a good idea. I have no doubt your CO experience will be successful and wonderful. This will provide confidence and additional enthusiasm for your cross country trip. Any shortcomings you may think you have on CO (for example, wanting to be a better hill climber) can be overcome in plenty of time for your big dream!

Reading this e-mail list on cold stormy nights will also help you reach your goals!

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!

Ann Morrow

This group has tons of great stuff for CO.

Another list of touring Cyclist is at   [Searchable archives are at ]

Here you are able to follow bikers on cross USA tours, around the worldtrips and the like. Lots of activity to follow, lots of experienced long range bikers to solicit advise from.

Cycle Nu

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is bike fit. If you haven't been fit to your bike by a professional, do so. The gains in comfort, as well as pedaling efficiency will surprise you. I believe Yakima has a bike club. You should get in touch with them as to where the fit specialist that knows what they are doing can be found. You should be able to find the club thru your local bike shop.

Chilly weather is no excuse BTW. ON CO XII we were greeted to a balmy 16 degree morning. With the exception of CO 2000 (XIII) I remember below freezing mornings on all the tours I've done. Today in the Willamette valley we had a beautiful sunrise, 37 degrees, no winds, the sun appeared as a bright orange orb over the foothills in the east. Patches of fog made my glasses so damp I spent most of the ride looking over the top of them. I headed out in total darkness and was greeted to the magnificent sunrise on the return leg.

Don "Cold OK, wet OK, winds not OK" Bolton

Don, you are much more studly than some of us. I don't mind cold, but hate to be wet! I don't mind if it rains once I'm out, but I won't go out in the rain. No, I'm not made of sugar! Just a weenie...

Wendi "don't like no winds either" Thornton

"studly" don't you mean stupidly? As in Whatcaydoinridininthefog? Are you nuts? :-)

Don "the answer by the way is yes" Bolton

No, Don, I am very respectful of anyone who actually rides in the rain. I'm with Curt, I don't like to get wet. That’s one of the (many) reasons you all pass me on hills!!! You train more than I do!

Wendi Thornton

I hate the rain, too, yet once out these have been some of the best (and worst) moments riding I've had. There is the childish glee of slooshing along throwing rooster tails of water and muck. Timing your drop in on the line to hurl that muck from the road edge all over the rider behind you :-) been there done that both as a contributor and receiver :-)

Interactions with non riders at restaurants and roadside pull outs are warmer, they seem interested rather than annoyed your are on their roads that day.

The adventures build better stories to tell later too. Especially those bad moments, like the snow falling on you up on Larch, and coming down in full arctic gear and wondering if your nose is going to break off from the icy cold.

Or the deep freezing cold on your ankles and forehead as you jet down the Toutle River highway from Mt St Helens, your front wheel shooting water on you like an icy fire hose, being pelted by little ice crystals, battling crosswinds while covering your face with a free hand to keep some semblance of warmth and prevent the stinging from the ice while wondering if you'll get below the stuff before the road gets too slick. Did I mention the fog? :-)

Riding out to Mt Angel on a chilly winter’s morning only to find your route is closed due to ice on the roads on the sheltered sides of the hills, heading back on a different route only to find yourself going downhill on frost covered roads and having to ride on the shoulder where the cars haven’t polished it slick.

As long as the winds aren't too bad you can have a good ride most any day but once in awhile you'll have an adventure and those just don't fade from memory.

And no I didn't set out to have an adventure those days, they just happened.

Don "not enough sense to stay indoors on those days I guess" Bolton

I guess you're right. Now that I think about it, my one and only pedestrian/bike crash was while raining (we're both ok). And I remember having a great time with Julie Kay squishing slugs. She and Kendall Kic said that it was less slugs for their gardens.

Wendi "I still won't START OUT while its raining" Thornton

Nope, I don't mind riding in the rain as long as I can stay warm. As I mentioned last week, the creek beside the trail I take to work became a Mississippi Wannabe one morning. The water was as deep as 18" in areas. I got wet, I laughed and then praised myself for putting a shower in our new company building.

I'll ride to work in sub zero temps, (Celsius zero) and I don't mind that. What I hate, what I really, really hate is cold wet. The type that burns through your clothing and skin and reduces your brain to a puddle of half frozen jello.

I rode in the snow once. Once. By the time I got home my middle name was hypothermia. My wife and kids laughed while I writhed and screamed in agony on the bedroom floor.

So the moral of the string is... enjoy the ride, don't be afraid to experiment with weather conditions and call Don a stud, you're sure to get a reaction.

Steve "Duts, (stud spelled backwards)" Heim

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Hello, I'm new to this group and cycling as a whole, but last summer I got out and rode around 200 miles. I know that this is not a lot to most of you who went on CO2K, but for me I felt really good about myself considering I dropped around 20 lbs, and felt like I was in pretty good shape.

Now that I know how much fun it is to get out and ride, I have been looking into some of the organized rides around the Portland area, to find others who like this great sport. I do know Scott S, who was the one who got me interested in the first place, so that is how I found this group. I am interested in getting in a lot more miles next year and hopefully going on next year’s Cycle Oregon. Do any of you have any suggestions on good ways to keep in shape over the winter and getting ready to ride more next year? I would appreciate any feedback I can get.

Thank you

I've had good success in the past two years with combining regular road riding, when the weather makes it possible (I'm located in western PA, where the winters get sort of nasty at times), with spinning classes at the local health club, and weight training, running, and tae bo video tapes thrown in for cross-training. Any type of cardiovascular training will help you build and maintain a base of fitness, then the cycling-specific stuff can be thrown in with increasing frequency as the weather permits.

This year I'll be doing spinning classes and weights to keep up my cycling muscles, while my cardiovascular fitness will be kept up by training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, which is held on the first Sunday in May. My marathon training group is up to 7 miles on our weekly long run this Saturday, so at the very least, my heart and lungs will be in great shape come spring :-)

As an aside, I led a ride for my Western PA Wheelmen bike club last Friday night for Light Up Night -- this is the night when all the big buildings downtown leave all their lights on, which makes the skyline very nice, and there are lots of gatherings, music, and fun stuff to kick off the holiday shopping season. We only rode about 10 miles total, but we rode in 17 degree weather (no clue about wind chill, but there was one!), and there were 10 of us who had a great time.

It gave me hope for continuing my riding through the winter here, even though it will mean LOTS of layering for riding on frigid days. We've already had four days of snow here, so it's looking like a rougher winter is on its way this year (last year we got off easy with only two major snow events).

Longing for the rains of PDX, but experiencing the snows of PGH,

Kerry Krueger

It's about time you piped up!

Kerry's advice is pretty good for the winter... work on general cardiovascular fitness any way you can. Take advantage of days like today when you can for riding. (FYI, Kerry, it was crisp but generally pretty darned nice today.) (FYI, Jeremy... Kerry's the only person on the list I've known longer than you, even though I didn't know her very well in high school.)

If you're at all prone to exercise-induced asthma (as I am), avoid really strenuous workouts outside when it's cold. Last week's race just about did me in after the fact. When you do get saddle-time this time of year, concentrate on spinning easily and generally getting your seat acquainted with your saddle. Make sure your Frogs are properly adjusted (you still have those, right?) Do you still have your mountain bike? If so, playing around on Powell Butte (especially if you spin up from the north entrance) will serve you well. If you can't make it all the way up, make that your first big hill goal. Once you get it down on the MTB, do it on your roadie. Then, work on getting strong enough to make that climb easy for you. It's steeper than most of the hills you'll find on CO, but it's a lot shorter than some. (This last bit was Jeremy-specific, because I know where he lives... everybody else can pick a steep hill that's convenient to them.)

If CO is your primary goal, don't get hung up on mileage at this point. You could be setting yourself up to burn out just when you should be hitting your best riding days next summer. Just make sure you're comfortable on the bike, make sure you're properly equipped, and be ready to start getting serious come March or so. If you have other intermediate goals (like RACC, Tour de Blast, or any of the other great rides in the spring and summer), you might want to start cranking up the intensity a bit earlier.

Take part in some of the TBB rides as they come up... I think you'll like the people, and you'll get a lot of encouragement.

Scott Saulsbury

Since I am a more "fair weather" rider than most on this list, I say go to the gym. Ride the bikes there, take aerobics, do some weights. Anything that gets you moving is good. Anytime you can ride outside, do it. You've got LOTS of time to train, so don't think you have to go out and do 40-60 miles every day right now. Come summer, that will seem like a short ride!

Wendi Thornton

Here's my random bits of advice for a newcomer...

Before you put much time in on your bicycle, I strongly recommend getting a bike fit from the Bike Gallery. When was the last time your bike was serviced? Properly functioning and fitting equipment will make the difference on whether you actually ride or not.

You should definitely start working on your body. If you're a total couch potato (like I was at first), you should aim to take a brisk 45-minute walk every other day for a couple of weeks. From there, move up to other types of cardio exercise, aiming toward being ready to start biking when the weather relents somewhat.

If the weather is nice, by all means take a ride. (I'm afraid I'm a fair weather biker. Right now I'm trying an off-season training regimen at the gym, as an experiment.) You need to get your body used to spending long periods of time in the saddle before the trip. Plan on completing a century or two by the end of August.

Hey, there's a great ride coming up in a couple of months, the Salem Bicycle Club's Monster Cookie. Not hilly, only 62.8 miles, anyone can survive this ride. It's a great way to open the riding season. Just be prepared for chilly weather. You'll hear us talk about it as the day approaches.

As far as weight training--I can't recommend it enough. It's made a tremendous difference in my ability to mash the hills. That's one thing you need to be aware of: CO 1999 was hilly beyond belief (what was Day 2, Don, 5000 feet of climbing at 7000 feet of altitude? I forget. A little like childbirth, I suppose <grin>) To contrast, CO 2000 _looked_ nice and flat ( least compared the previous one <grin>), but there were a few days of absolutely unbelievable headwinds. In terms of training for Cycle Oregon, it is imperative that you put in the feet (of elevation) as well as the miles.

Don't forget to stretch after every workout. As well as building and maintaining flexibility, it improves strength, reduces injuries, and reduces soreness.

Finally, don't be anxious about what the experience will be like. That was probably the _biggest_ mistake I made, worrying so much about how I would do. In terms of my physical and mental well-being, CO has been the high point of my last two years. Sure, you can _never_ train enough, but however much you do, you'll have a blast.

Jason "Xena just changed my workout, and I _hurt everywhere_" Penney

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I can vouch for Jason's weight work and its value. I've ridden with him on numerous occasion and have always been impressed with his ability to take a double chain ring bike (not that low of gearing) into places that had me fighting in my third ring (granny).

I could at one time leave him behind on the flatter stuff as he hadn't built up the aerobic endurance I had. Now however he has a strong aerobic base and could leave me a receding spec in the mirror should he so choose.

His words of advice are good and well founded. There are a lot of really good people on this mailing list and we'll adopt into the "family". Take our advice for what its worth however, all of us are different and what works for some may be hell for others. Try things, see what works for you and if you need help, advice, or just someone to give you that needed voice of encouragement to keep on there’s a great bunch here to help.

Don't be intimidated by our tales of conquested hills, fast average speeds etc. As a group we run from some blazingly fast folks to self confessed slugs. I guarantee there’s someone in this mass that’s likely to riding at your speed.

On our weekend impromtu rides we always make sure nobody gets lost or left for buzzard bait.

You are in for one glorious ride here. Not only will you come out of this with a better sense of self accomplishment but you'll end up with a host of new friends as well.

Don "welcome to one of life’s greatest adventures" Bolton

Riding hills can be duplicated by riding into headwinds and adding weight to your bike (by using bike bags). Leg strength and aerobic conditioning are key to hill climbing. As a runner and being at your elevation I think that you will do fine as long as you continue to train on a bike seat. Key words here are miles on a bike seat. Make sure your bike fits well.

What are the roads like where you live? If you read the mail archives you will find many threads on road bike verses mountain bike or hybrid bike on CO.

Welcome to the list
Lonnie Wormley

Welcome, Laurie! I'm going to second what you've already heard, that hill work is indeed important. This will be my third CO, and what I saw on the last two was this: there were a tremendous number of people who were in better overall shape than me, especially in terms of cardio fitness, but when these people met an uphill, it was like they hit a wall. I saw some real animal-jock kinds of people who ended up slower than me (a real turtle, especially my first year) simply because they didn't have the resistance training in the lower legs.

To give you an idea of what I've seen, a climb of six to fifteen miles at four to six percent is merely expected fare on a Cycle Oregon. Many of us would feel cheated if we didn't have at least one of those a day.

At the risk of stating the obvious, another way to get resistance training in is through a gym. Do you have access to a gym, weights, or one of those universal weight machines? Leg presses, lunges, and squats are terrific medicine. Abdominal work is also important because body core strength is essential in the long climbs. Optionally add leg curls and leg extensions, and you'd have an excellent balance to your hours in the saddle.

One other thing--women need to be more cautious about putting a lot of force on their joints. Disregarding any uncertainty you might have about hill work, I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you make sure that your bicycle has a "third chain ring." My friends all think I'm a gnutcase for doing CO on a double, but then again, I'm stronger than most people in the legs. (Lonnie Wormley, you _still_ scare me, I'm _not_ talking about_you_ here...)

I look forward to meeting you in September!
Jason Penney

Hey that was then, this is now. Ask Andrew and Don how I looked on the Holcomb loop ride on 1/1/01. I will confess that when I'm in shape I will never ride without a triple. I have been known to push myself to my physical limit on rides. It is only after feeling that my muscles will explode that I'm glad I have a granny gear.

Remember it is called a granny gear because granny was wise enough to use it and she is still riding. Ride so that you can ride tomorrow.

Can't wait until I turn 50 so I'll have a real excuse for not keeping up with you young folks. (;-)

Lonnie 'I'm still trying to catch my breath' Wormley

A good book to pick up is The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel. Another thing to look into is the Leukemia Society's Team-in-Training. It's a huge group, nationwide. You'll get good training from them, but you have to do your part as well (i.e. fund raising).


You have already gotten some great info from other members on this list. I highly recommend a bike fitting (done by a pro). Many of us on this list discovered hidden luxury on our bikes after having done so.

Do get in a lot of seat time. Get used to that hard little wedge being firmly attached to your backside. A seven day tour is a bad time to get used to the seat :-)

Do as much hill, headwind, max gear crawls as you can stomach (interspersed with sheer fun riding. Don't let your training kill the fun). Weight work really will help here too.

Runners tend to cross over well to cycling so in many ways you are ahead of the curve many of us started with.

You are embarking on a great adventure with this. It will be challenging. Most first timers come out of it with an increased sense of self accomplishment.

Use the internet to locate local bike clubs (as local as you can find). They can direct you to the best bike fit experts in your area. Also they can get you clued in on ride schedules and happenings that may be right in your backyard.

Enjoy the journey getting ready for the tour!
Don Bolton

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"When my heart rate hits 145..."

145! That's my 'cruising' heart rate, and I'm 44 yrs young.

By-the-way - my HR monitor 'zeros' out when I get near power lines. I have a Sports Instruments Circuit 5. Any one else have that problem or can recommend a better monitor?


Cathy, perhaps you're just a bit electric? Or, why are you spending so much time around high voltage power lines? [Insert California electricity joke here...]

Seriously, I've heard it said that Polar makes the best monitor straps in the business. Allegations in the trade rags are that reception problems as you describe can be fixed by upgrading to a Polar strap.

I, personally, don't ride underneath high voltage power lines that often ;-) I have a very low-end Sports Instruments myself, and I get plenty of pain as it is.

Uhhh...145? I don't even feel like I'm working unless I'm in the mid 150's, and I'm 43.

Jason Penney

That's not that abnormal. I remember it happening quite often to me while crossing under the heavy duty power lines on the last Cycle Oregon [CO 13]. I was using my less than 1 year old Polar Accurex Plus/NV. I also remember, quite vividly, the very loud sizzling and crackling while by those wires. I'm SURE GLAD the power companies' have found out that those things aren't harmful to our health. ; ) wink wink wink

Orest Kawka

Many HRM's stop displaying when in the vicinity of power lines - especially high voltage lines or 3 wire power lines that are not properly load balanced. Most of the time with my Polar, it happens with the latter. It's a pain.

Curt (I hate it when it does that) Coleman

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It's Official...I'm Off Off-Season

I was gonna bicycle to work on Wednesday; Amy Ream lent me her cycling sandals on approval the day before, and I figured the jaunt to work would be a simple test of whether they'd work for me.

I've got bird feet--here I am buying sandals from a woman no more than 2/3 my size...

Wednesday morning I got up and I was just full of excuses. It was raining, it was cold, I didn't feel particularly rested or healthy, and...Oh! I've got it! I have to go up to St. Vincent's for allergy shots this afternoon, and I'm not allowed to exercise before or after that. Phew. A good excuse.

But it nagged at me, ya know. I've been off of the bicycle for months now. Two years in a row, I've had that Cycle Oregon burnout. It's a major decompression, coming back to civilization. Unpacking all of the camping gear, cleaning the equipment, including the bike. Driving a car. Spending time indoors. Sleeping in a real bed. Most of all, it's hard for me to deal with climbing back on the bike. I need a break...

This year I tried something different--I decided to rigorously train off-season. In addition to the weight lifting I've done for a couple of years, I've been doing serious cardio training.

For the cardio training, I did some research and came up with a training plan. I wrote this group last fall, but I've received requests to repeat that information.

First of all, a heart rate monitor (HRM) is absolutely essential. Mine is a cheap Sports Instruments model; it has a single zone with audio/visual alarm and a chest strap. Perhaps I'll ask Santa Claus for a more advanced model some time, but it's not essential. One neat thing about a Sports Instruments or Polar chest strap is that most of the equipment in my gym receives and interprets the heart rate data, so I can get good measurements during a cardio workout without having to grip any sensors.

Second of all, you need to measure your resting pulse rate (RPR) and maximum heart rate (MHR). Your RPR is your lowest pulse rate, typically before you stir in bed in the morning. Your MHR can either be calculated or measured. The calculation, which will probably be within 5% of your true value, is

MHR := 220 - age_in_years;

The empirical measurement is an exquisite form of torture: Get on a stationary bike and warm up, keeping your cadence in that optimal 80-100 bpm range. After you're warmed up, crank up the resistance gradually, spending three to five minutes at each increment, making sure your cadence doesn't drop. At the point when you can't up the resistance any more, SPRINT SPRINT SPRINT for 30 to 60 seconds and see where your HR is. Attention (middle-aged) children: don't attempt this if you have any concerns about heart disease, because after this test you're gonna want to die because you feel so bad.

The next step is to determine your training zones. A general description of the zones:

Zone Percentage Description
1 60-65 Easy riding, recovery
2 65-70 Endurance base
3 70-80 Aerobic Capacity
4 80-85 Lactate threshold
5 86+ Max aerobic, max VO2

The calculation for a given percentage p is

heart_rate := RHR + p * (MHR - RHR).

In other words, to one's resting heart rate, one adds a percentage of the difference between your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate (also known as the heart rate reserve, HRR).

To give a brief example, suppose RHR==60 and MHR==182. Then HRR=122, and Zone 3, between 70% and 80%, would be between (60 + .7 * 122) and (60 + .8 * 122) or between 145 and 157 bpm).

So, this morning I ran out of excuses. I wandered around looking for my gear (now where did I put those gloves?) I poked around, did the crossword puzzle. No immediate excuses arose. I got dressed. My god, I'm actually going to ride a bicycle again? What if I don't like it?

As a general rule of thumb, about half of your cardio work should be in Zone 2. Yes, I know, we'd all like to go for the heart attack stuff, but the premier sports physicians and trainers (Edmund Burke, Chris Carmichael, and others) all emphasize that this Zone 2 work is the Real Stuff That You Need. It builds your aerobic base, training your body to efficiently and completely process the long-standing energy sources that you need for endurance.

As for how to structure your cardio workouts, the suggestions for different workouts are extremely wide and varied. What did I do? For the first several weeks, I just did steady-state stuff, keeping in Zone 2 with occasional forays into Zone 3. Later, I started doing interval work, where I would sprint for two or three minutes, letting my HR get into Zone 4, and then drop back to a recovery pace (1 to 3 minutes). Repeat until you scream. I started my workouts at 45 minutes; currently they are 50 to 55 minutes.

No, I didn't do these on a bicycle. I particularly cannot stand a stationary bicycle; I just want to scream when I pummel myself for several minutes and I'm still in the same place. And I'm a fair-weather biker; I wasn't into dealing the the weather in November, December, and January. I'd go to the gym and use all different kinds of cardio equipment: rowing machine, step machine, cross-machine...I even use the treadmill, but I don't do that more than once a week because it's hard on my/your joints and I want to keep my knees, thank you very much. But I like running now; it's kinda cool to be able to run for the bus yet a) feel coordinated and b) not feel sore or out of breath when I get there. I just make sure not to overdo it.
I also started doing some Spinning(tm). It's offered at gyms nationwide, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea (I have mixed feelings about it), I think I'll work harder in there than I usually will on my own. I say, give it a try, it might work for you too.

My cardio goal this winter was wattage. Joules per second. Calories per minute. How can I get my body to increase its maximum sustainable energy output rate? Did it work?'s hard to say. The numbers on the cardio machines looked encouraging, but it's hard to trust that.

I go out to the garage and fish the bicycle off of its rack. I'm not up to facing the racing bike yet, I opt for the commuting warrior (the Police Evidence Special I picked up a bit over a year ago).'s all clean and the chain is lubed. Tires...yucch. I pump them up. Oh, the pedals...I left the Look pedals on there when I put the Frogs on the Lemond. Guess I'd better tighten them on.

It's getting down to the wire. No excuses. I go back into the house and load up my gear. Backpack with a change of clothes. Water bottle. Helmet, eye protection, and eyeglasses mirror (no comments, please, Don Gross <grin>). Am I too cold? Too warm? Naw, this will be fine. I've done enough riding now to judge the weather. It just seems so weird. It's time to go. Kiss the wife.

I've got a choice of three basic routes to go to work. The direct route is so short it's plain annoying; it's less than five miles. I have serpentine that's about ten miles; it's a nice ride without too many hills. There's also the psychotic route, about twenty miles, that has some elevation. In spite of my good intentions this morning, I don't feel psychotic. Anyway, I procrastinated enough this morning that I don't think I could spare the time Excuses excuses. I opt for the ten-miler.

So my workout schedule this winter was essentially three days of weight training (Monday Wednesday Friday) alternated with three days of cardio work (Tuesday Thursday Saturday). I had at least one day a week I'd rest; sometime I'd skip the third day of cardio and give myself an extra day off. Every day I work out, I spent at least twenty minutes stretching. Hey, my legs are really tight; after nearly two years of stretching it's still a bit of work to grab the outside of my instep. Considering I couldn't touch my toes when I started, I'm pretty proud of myself. But everyone should stretch; in addition to flexibility, it helps build strength and you gain extra protection against injuries.

I feel discouraged on the ride. I feel just as tired as I ever did. The hills are still there and I am just as winded (or even more) when I get to the top. Man, am I going to be in trouble for the Sunday ride. At least I'm warm enough.

Weight training is also valuable. If you really push yourself, you get some anaerobic and aerobic benefits from it. Just remember, bicycling isn't just about the legs. You use a lot of core muscles (pectorals, abdominals, latissimus dorsi, spinus erectae) to stabilize yourself and move the pedals around. Even the arms get involved (especially the triceps).

After about twenty minutes, I remember just how much I like to bicycle. Boy, this gets in your blood. It's just a real trip being able to muscle yourself down the road. And you see so much more of the world than you do from inside a motorized cage.

I see the elapsed distance on the cycle computer, and I try to force myself not to pay attention to it. I don't think I could stand the disappointment. Why did I take the mountain brick? The Lemond would have been so much faster.

I notice the new shopping center going in across from Mad Greek Deli. Sigh. What's the point in having an Urban Growth Boundary if they're going to move the boundary? I'm so out of touch with reality, I guess I'll never be an elected politician.

Finally, I'm at the door to my office. Distance is 10.0 miles, about right. Dare I look at the elapsed time? Shudder. Guess I should, see where I'm at in terms of my strength. I feel okay, but I certainly didn't feel fast.

Oh...Is that right?


I just bested my personal record by 20%. That's even more than I'd ever hoped for. Not that I'll ever be a categorized racer, but I'm convinced: cross-training really does help.

Jason Penney

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