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    Why train?  
    For those of you who have ridden Cycle Oregon in the past, what are the benefits of training? I know, at the end of day 1 I will have a sore butt, tired legs, and an embarrassed look on my face after having 16 people point at me and say "There's the guy that asked the dumb question, 'Why train?'".

If anyone is interested, I'll delve more into my background and my thoughts on getting ready. But, my real question is this: Are there activities every evening such that I will want to arrive early and with plenty of energy left? Or, are the majority of people content to take their time and enjoy the gorgeous Oregon scenery from the inspirational perspective of a bicycle?

Well, what do you experienced CO riders have to say?

Ron Zahm

Train so you'll feel more comfortable riding, and be able to focus on the beauty of nature, rather than the pain of riding and the agony of wondering when (if) you'll ever get to camp, especially on the long days.

I feel that getting to camp at a reasonable hour and not feeling rushed with tent setup, shower and dinner is important. Otherwise Cycle Oregon will go by so fast because all you'll feel like you're doing is pedaling and eating and sleeping, nothing else. I encourage you to train appropriately to be able to ride well, enjoy the scenery, and also have time to enjoy all the other fun activities Cycle Oregon has to offer. For me, I like to ride all day, and dance for at least an hour each nite.

You absolutely will have the time of your life... CO is amazing... many believe it is one of the top 5 or 10 rides in the U.S. Some of us know better: CO is #1. Get ready to enjoy it for sure!


You make several mistaken assumptions.

Just because you train doesn't mean you are locked helmet to tire in a paceline at CO. Training means we can get up the hills without walking, that we have time to check out the small town museums, that we can linger at lunch, that we don't have to leave before dawn, that when we roll into camp we're not dead, and when the weather is looking bad, we can get moving and get over the pass before the rain starts.

The journey to be ready for CO is just as important as riding CO. The destination isn't as important as the trip to get there.


I don't know... maybe I'm weird, but I always choose to do Cycle Oregon because I like to ride. Perhaps it's because I've always liked to ride (well, at least since I was about 10 or so) that I've never understood why non-riders would ever sign up for an event like this.

To me, I'm not really "training" for CO... I'm just riding with more purpose than I would normally. I still ride a bunch on years that I don't do Cycle Oregon. I pick my routes a little differently, choose organized events more carefully than on non-CO years to try to make sure I'm feeling my best for that week in September..., but I'm still riding to be fit and to enjoy myself.

My first CO was #9... I had something like 2300 miles under my tires since the beginning of that year. I had a great time doing every century option (three in four days that year) and not being troubled by any hill on the route.

Last year was different. I was still recovering from an accident the previous year and was just hitting my stride when September rolled around, so I started off with only a little over 1000 miles done. Yes, I felt the difference. I wasn't hampered badly by the lack of miles, but I really would have benefited from more.

Every year I hear tales of folks who don't ride at all before September and get through "just fine". I'm always happy to hear they're having a good time, but I always wonder why they sign up in the first place if they don't like to ride.


Back to the training issue (for Ron)... being physically prepared does not mean that you must go fast during the event, but it can give you the choice should you decide you want to. And yes, it can leave you with enough spare energy to take part in other activities during or after the day's riding without feeling like you're on a forced march. It's nice to be able to have camp set up and your shower taken and still have time to laze around and read or nap or amble through town and meet the locals all while not dreading the next day's riding.


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My reasons for doing CO are much like Scott's. I like to ride. And, I like what CO is. I truly enjoy the journey.

My reasons for training are directly related to my reasons for doing CO. I want to have a good time.

For a guy who never exercised a significant second before the age of 55, training for CO is even more important.

The bottom line on training for me has two parts:

First, I like to ride, so "training" is another name for going for a bike ride.

Second, I find that if I train, I enjoy CO much more. There is so much there to experience. As to those who do not train and yet enjoy themselves I say three cheers!! At almost 65, I could never do that.

To paraphrase a commonly heard comment: "I LOVE that ride" - and - will do what ever I can to enjoy it more.

Curt Coleman

I appreciate all the feedback. It cleared my mind. Certainly, the whole point to training is because I like to ride. At 46 with a family and many things I like to do, long rides are few. But signing up for CO helps motivate me in many activities. Now, I will bicycle to work 5 days a week (instead of 3 or 4) because I am TRAINING! Actually, I am just having more fun.

Similarly, when I hike I will look for steeper trails and when I jog I will look for longer routes. So signing up for CO provides that extra push when I WANT it. In return, I am sure the CO adventure will be more fun, too. It truly is mind conditioning.

To me, the ride is the thing. If I arrive late and tired, no problem. If I get caught in the rain, well heh, some of my most sensual rides have been in the rain. Just can't say I ever managed to find pleasure from a strong headwind!

Ron Zahm

There's another reason why we train (go on lots of rides) that I haven't seen mentioned here. Each ride teaches us something about ourselves and our bikes - especially at first. When I first started I experimented and changed things constantly - seat placement/shape, clothing, food/water, height of the bar ends - you name it! Usually 5 or 10 miles was enough to see if the change was an improvement. Over time the changes have become more subtle and take a much longer ride to evaluate. For instance we did the Spring Metric Century (67 miles) last weekend and I was paying attention to how my feet felt afterwards with the new footpads I am trying and whether or not I want a slightly narrower seat. It seems to take at least 40 or 50 miles right now to tell if a change is for the better. We try to do a ride of at least 60 or so most weekends. I also want to do some experimenting with handling hot weather (I have a poor internal thermostat) if hot weather ever hits the Portland area consistently. I think most people go through this process of change and evaluation, although as time goes on the process drops off somewhat, then you get a new bike and there you go again.

If you are new to the game be sure and ask yourself after every ride what hurts a little or is uncomfortable. Imagine riding the same distance or more the next day - would that slightly sore patch turn into something major? Would the twinge in your knee drive you crazy? Try to make the changes to take care of these things now. Right now, if you guess wrong you can take a day off and recover - guessing wrong on Cycle Oregon can cost you a lot of pain and some wonderful scenery.

This does bring up another point - the last month before Cycle Oregon you should not need to make major changes. Get a major tune up for your bike in early August and make major gear changes and so on by then. Change shoes and cycling shorts by then. This gives you a month of steady riding to see what is going to go wrong - what parts were defective, what seam on the shorts wasn't stitched quite right, time to get used to any big changes you make. That way if things don't go as well as you had hoped you still have time (and local stores you know) to try and make it better. Make sure you try out all the clothes you buy for cycling by actually using them. Sometimes sizes are subtly off or the coat is too long or something is not made as well as you thought.

Rox Heath

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
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