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Preparing for Our Bicycle Rides

Many cyclists that plan to participate in the Oregon Bicycle Ride (OBR) for the first time will probably wonder whether they are fit enough to make it to the finish. As a regular participant of the OBR over the past 17 years, I have been amazed that young and old, thin and thick, healthy and previously not, seem to have the capacity to meet the challenge of riding these 7-day rides. When I first started participating in this ride, I wondered - how fit does a person need to be to ride 470 miles in one week? Now I recognize that the fitness required to complete this ride is far less that the fitness required to thoroughly enjoy the ride. With a bit of determination it appears that a wide range of fitness levels can complete the distance. However, those with consistent cycle training leading into the ride definitely increase the likelihood that they will enjoy the experience (e.g., decreased risk of injury, illness, and severe fatigue). Additionally, those that have prepared themselves for the OBR will find their energy level bounce back quicker and feel "normal" within a day or two vs. a week or two.

It is important that each rider consider health and safety issues. Get a good physical by your doctor before you start your training program. Organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine have created guidelines for individuals considering rigorous exercise (see below). The basic idea is to gradually refine your exercise program so you become specifically prepared for the OBR.

What are you training for?

Total Distance 475 miles
Total Days 7
Daily Distance 70 miles
Daily Climbing 1000 - 6000 ft per day
Daily Ride Time 3-8 hrs per day

What should you do to get ready?
How to train for this ride depends on your age and your goals. Let's assume you are around forty, in reasonable shape, and that you want to have a comfortable ride. You could use the following recommendations to guide your training:

  • As a minimum start 8 weeks before the ride, ride about 6 hours per week and work up to 20 or more hours two weeks before the Ride.
  • Drop your mileage and intensity the week before the ride.
  • Try to work in two 50-60 mile rides on two consecutive days in the last three weeks prior to the ride.

I have found that it can be difficult to follow a progressively increasing mileage chart. So work around what you can do, even 10 miles per day is a great help.

Enjoy your training and we will see you at the OBR.

-- Bill Martin, OBR
-- Reviewed by Dave Martin, Australian Institute of Sport

Check out the American College of Sports Medicine website for more information on health and training:

1 - Most people can and should exercise!!

  • Who should NOT exercise
    • anyone with an unstable medical condition should get their doctor's OK first
    • injury may require waiting for healing -- listen to your body and your doctor
    • if you have cardiac, pulmonary, or metabolic disease you may exercise, but only after seeing your doctor and then starting in a supervised environment

2 - Getting Started (two ways)

  • A - start slowly in moderation:
    • endurance exercise: simply walk a little further than you normally do and progress to walking further and faster as the weeks and months pass
    • strength exercise: lift a weight that you are used to lifting but do it more times than you normally do and gradually progress to lifting the weight 15 times
  • B - start aggressively:
    • with endurance or strength exercise at a vigorous level; see your doctor first and then an exercise professional for screening tests and program advice

3 - Listening to Your Body

  • you should always be able to catch your breath and speak comfortably while exercising
  • you should sense effort, maybe some discomfort, but never pain
  • learn to use the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (see the *NIA Guidelines)
  • always remember to warm up (start slowly) and cool down (stop gradually)

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