About Being a Bicyclist in Training

The name of this website and the title to this article sounds like the information is mainly for the bicyclist just starting out. Actually, this website is for all bicyclists, since we are all technically bicyclists in training. Like many other endeavors, bicycling has a lot of technical details that can mean the difference between success and failure and make the sport more enjoyable.We all learn how to improve, either from reading books or articles on websites, from other riders, or from our own experiences. I’ve learned my hardest lessons from experience, from “doing it the wrong way”.

The first organized ride that I ever rode in was the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride. STP is a 204 mile ride that goes from Seattle Washington to Portland Oregon. You have the option of doing the entire distance in one day or riding about half the distance (to Centralia college) one day and finishing the next day. After starting the ride, I found out how ill-prepared and inexperienced I was. A few of my hard-learned experiences were:
  • I carried way too much stuff on my bike. Before the ride, I bought a rear rack that mounted to the seat post. On that rack I had a large bag that probably had enough tools to overhaul the bike. In addition, I carried quite a bit of food, even though the STP has regular stops for food and water, and my wife was following along in our car stopping at all of them. 
  • I didn’t do enough training before the ride. My lack of training showed up halfway through day one. The first 50 or so miles were fairly comfortable. The rest were drudgery. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to finish the ride. Two or three days before riding in this event I rode my longest distance ever - about 54 miles. I think my total training time was about 2 - 3 weeks, riding about 2 or 3 times each week. 
  • The bike I rode was an older but hardly used Nishiki International road bike that was brand new in 1987. My wife kept telling me that It needed new tires, however, I chose not to listen. On one of my training rides while I was waiting at a traffic light the front tire blew out through the sidewall. At that point it was obvious she was right, so when I started the STP I started it with brand new Gatorskin tires.
To say that I learned quickly from these experiences would be an understatement. I no longer have the rear rack and bag mounted on the bike. Instead, I carry a small seat-mounted bag with a couple energy bars, extra tubes, a tire patch kit, and an Alien II multi-tool. Due to my job I still have a problem getting enough training time, however I still manage to get in more time than I did for that first STP. I still ride the same bike, however it has been heavily upgraded since that first ride.

Hopefully this site can help other cyclists avoid experiences like mine by providing information to help them be successful. I’m still a bicyclist in training.

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