MS Ride Prep/Training
July 11, 2005 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Last Thursday I found out my brother has Multiple Sclerosis. This morning I found out that New Mexico is having The Atomic Tour MS 150 Bike Ride in just under a month. I signed up for it. Now what?

I'm not in the best shape, but I've been working out for almost a month now, 6x a week, including duration and interval cardio training and circuit training. Before that I was riding my bike to and from work several times a week, but that's only about 3 miles each way.

Other than the obvious (ride, ride, ride) what are some things I can do to prepare. What can I expect on this ~75 mile each way/2 day ride?

I assume if I totally tank the organizers will make sure that I get back safely, is that a safe assumption?

Any tips for fundraising beyond hitting up friends/coworkers?
posted by FlamingBore to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a runner, not a biker, but I'm sure the same advice holds: slow and steady completes a race, though it might not win. Besides, this is a "bike ride", not a bike race, so there's no need to knock yourself out. Congratulations on taking initiative and being supportive and all that- go out there and aim to complete the thing or come as close as possible to it, and work on speed for next year.
Fundraising: Hit up friends and coworkers- if you'd REALLY like to go crazy, set up a website accepting donations and try and get the word out through myspace or something similar. Good luck!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:00 PM on July 11, 2005

I did a 435-mile, 6-day ride about two years ago, having never completed, until that point, a ride longer than about 50 miles. On the very first day of the ride, I pedalled for a greater distance than I ever had on a single ride, and then did it again, five more times over the next five days. I just didn't have the time to do proper training in the months before, but was able to complete the ride (well, save about 20 miles on a 106-mile day), anyway. I guess what I'm saying is that you'll be surprised what you can accomplish once you get out there. However, I found spinning classes (in addition, obviously, to actual bike riding) to be excellent practice.

Get yerself some bike shorts with nice padding. Your ass will be sore; best to take precautions.

You will definitely be picked up by a support vehicle if you can't make it. Don't worry about this, or be embarrassed by it. On my ride, about a third of the riders got in a support van at one point or another. (Though this was partly a product of the ride being badly routed: through the southwestern part of Wisconsin, aka "the part that the glaciers missed." Speaking of which, if you can learn the route ahead of time, get out there and familiarize yerself with it, or at least find similar terrain and do some trial rides there.)

Soliciting pledges is the worst part of the whole thing, since no one likes to ask their friends and family for money. My recommendation: go right to your boss, and your friends' bosses: companies are often the biggest donors (tax write-offs), and/or will often have a "matching" program, whereby the company will contribute as much again as the sum of all your coworkers' pledges. Worth asking about.

Also, if you're riding through friggin' New Mexico in summertime, learn all there is to learn about self-hydration and sunscreen.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:16 PM on July 11, 2005

Get your bike serviced if you haven't already. If you feel uncomfortable riding, talk to the service people about a bike fit. I assume you have a couple pairs of padded shorts.

While cardio does help a great deal, running/stair machine/elliptical trainers don't cross-train to biking very well---the muscle groups are different. Stationary bike helps somewhat, as does the rowing machine, but nothing really simulates bike rinding excpet the thing itself.

Your best preparation is just to ride. As a rule of thumb, you can do twice your training distance for a single ride fairly easily. You want to get at least a couple weekend rides of 35 miles. Fifty to seventy mile prep rides would be ideal, but that's going to be tough to work up to in less than a month.

When riding, a sore backside is normal, but a sore back is not. Don't strain your back. Also, prickles and tingles in your fingers, hands or wrists are indications that you're putting pressure on a nerve. Too much for too long leads to numbness and ultimately to permanent damage. Padded gloves can mitigate this, but the best prevention is to change hand positions during the ride. Drop bars have the most options, but if you've got flat bars consider adding bar-ends to give yourself a second hand position.

On the night prior, eat a meal of pasta or other simple carbohydrates. On the tour day, be sure to carry lots of water. On a ride like that, I'd expect to go through four to six litres each day depending on temperature.
posted by bonehead at 6:19 AM on July 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

>Get your bike serviced now if you haven't already.
Turnaround time at your bikeshop may not be fast this time of year, and you want a generous cushion of time between getting it serviced and having to depend on it.

Also, during the period you're training for this thing, I recommend thinking in terms of time on the bike, not miles. See if you can work yourself up to at least one 4 hour ride before you go for the MS150. I think you're going to find the third hour can be pretty tough. If you're not accustomed to long rides, you may find that your back, neck, and arms have to adapt as much, or more, as your legs do.

Learn how much you need to eat and drink while you're on an extended ride. It's probably more than you'd guess, but I can't tell you how much is right for you. On a long summer ride I'm usually eating around 300 calories and consuming a bottle of gatorade every hour to ninety minutes.

You could ride 75 miles cold, without training much at all. But it wouldn't be fun. Allocate some time on the upcoming weekends for a few long rides and when the time comes you'll be able to enjoy it, not just survive it.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:31 AM on July 12, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks to all. I expect to hurt a lot after this, but it's important to me to give it my best with at least a good effort at preparing for it to mitigate as much hurt as possible. And Wolfdog, I do appreciate hearing that I *could* do it cold, though I really wouldn't want to.

Looks like I have at least some gear to pick up. Keep the tips coming!
posted by FlamingBore at 7:26 AM on July 12, 2005

Learn how to repair a flat if you already know how too. I don't think padded shorts are an absolute must, but a good seat is. Make sure yours has a valley in the middle. Nothing hurts like not having that groove.
posted by drezdn at 8:36 AM on July 12, 2005

I don't think the distance is going to be the difficult part, but rather the time in the saddle. In other words, your ass will hurt. So your practice rides should be done mostly on the saddle you'll be using on the ride. A good pair of bike shorts will help, but not eliminate the pain. And don't be too scared - the pain isn't excruciating. It will only hurt when you sit. And even then, it will only feel like a bad bruise. So work on your "ass callus".

Ditto other stuff - drink and eat during the ride, don't wait until you're thirsty or hungry. Know how to change a flat - or at least be familiar in case someone helpful comes to your aid, you can assist. If a wait at the local bike shop is an issue, tell them why you need the rush job - maybe a quick turnaround will be their "donation".

About fund-raising... Don't feel bad about it. My experience is that 95% of the people want to give. When I do the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure, they give us a web site. Emailing friends, family, et al with the link makes it easy for them to donate. Or as BIAB says, make your own site. But ask - you'll be pleasantly surprised by people's generousity.

Good luck!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:09 AM on July 12, 2005

One final point: make sure that you have smooth tires. Not bumpy on the edge, with a ridge down the centre, smooth like a baby's bottom. Bald. Your hands, your butt, and your back will thank you.

Also fat. Get them at least 38mm/1.75" wide. Pump them up to the top of the recommended pressure range (probably 50 to 70 psi). Go to a bike shop if you have to---don't use a automobile garage air supply.

You're going to be on the bike for at least 10 hours total, probably more like 12. Absolutely the most important piece of equipment to you comfort is your tire choice.
posted by bonehead at 11:25 AM on July 12, 2005

Response by poster: Are inverted tread tires enough or should I go with slicks?
posted by FlamingBore at 2:45 PM on July 12, 2005

« Older Des Moines, Iowaaaa   |   Do I want "limited tort" or "full tort" auto... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.