Riding with CF since January 2008
RideWithGPS: Stan's RidewithGPS.com Ride Library
Strava: Stan's Strava Profile
Favorite Ride (to this point): Mt. Diablo / Morgan Territory
I started riding with Cycle Folsom in January 2008. I was new to the area and worked out of my home, so I wasn't meeting people or getting much exercise. I had always enjoyed recreational cycling and recently purchased a road bike when I decided I wanted to take it more seriously and get involved in a club. After reviewing several clubs in the area, CF seemed to fit my objectives.
It was a pretty loose-knit group back then with only a Peloton Group and a Performance Group. Most of the existing members had had been riding for a year or two and had moved into the Performance Group, leaving the Peloton Group as a small group with very few regular members. Within a month or two of starting, the Peloton Group was about to disband due to lack of ride leaders, so Steve Ward said, "If you want that group to continue, you may have to become a ride leader." I figured there was no better way to stay committed, so I signed on as a ride leader (an extremely inexperienced one). I showed up consistently and slowly but surely built a core group that was coming out regularly. I picked up tips from our other ride leaders, as well as our more experienced members.
When I started, I weighed 227 lbs. A ride around Lake Natoma at around 14 to 15 mph was a significant workout for me (worthy of a latté after the ride, or a beer, depending on the time of day). Within a few weeks of riding with Cycle Folsom, I realized that I needed to straighten out my diet and nutrition. I also learned that a good night's sleep and prepping for the ride the night before also helped. It wasn't long before I was riding the 60 mile loop down to Discovery Park and back at around 16 mph, average. I remember when Joel Brandt, Kevin Harris and I rode down to William B. Pond Park and back and were thrilled that we held a 17mph pace. That was SO fast at the time.
These days, I float around 197 to 205 lbs, depending on the time of year. I pretty consistently ride between 100 to 150 miles each week. I do my best to tackle the hills, in spite of the fact that gravity insists that I should not. Depending on who I'm riding with, I can now hold an average pace of 18.5 to 19.5 mph for the ride down to W.B. Pond Park and back.
I credit Oz for teaching me how to pace myself up Beatty Rd., Krysta for demonstrating the benefits of a consistent pace, knowing the route, and taking hills at your own pace, and Brian for his master route-planning tips. Of course, there were many, many others who pulled me back to the pace line after I had fallen off. I most remember Phil and Gary doing it on several occasions.
I've really enjoyed seeing people join the club and experiencing some of the benefits of riding with this group. I hope to keep riding with CF for a long time to come.
If you're new to cycling this info might be useful. I picked up a lot of this stuff from others I've ridden with.
Get all my gear, apparel, nutrition ready to the night before. It's too easy to forget something when you're running late in the morning.
When I first started riding with CF, I used to wake up at about 7:30 for an 8am ride start. I'd have a cup of coffee and head out. Joel Brandt mentioned that he wakes up at 6am and shared his pre-ride meal with me. I looked into it and became aware of how important your pre-ride prep and nutrition is. Now, I wake up at 6am and immediately make myself a bowl of High Fiber Instant Oatmeal. I throw in 3 prunes, which are high in potassium---good for the ride, and help "move things through" in advance of the ride (if you know what I mean ; ). I also have a glass of grapefruit juice. If the ride will be more than 65 miles, I'll add one egg white to the meal. If I don't have a full 2 hours before the ride, I would eat something more easily digestible, like perhaps a banana, a bowl of rice crispies, or both. For me, the key is to know your timing for digestion of breakfast, which comes through experience. I dialed in the timing for these meals a while back and would be reluctant to switch for fear of surprises before or during the ride.
Pre-ride checklist: I ride to 98% of our ride starts, so I'm almost sure to have everything with me. If I had to drive, I would definitely have a pre-printed checklist handy as I packed my things up into the car. I can't tell you how many times I hear of people driving half way to a ride before realizing that they forgot their shoes or helmet, or maybe water.
I use NUUN elektrolyte tablets in my water. I usually do one water with a NUUN, and one bottle without. If needed, I'll bring additional tablets. I like the taste of all the flavors, and they've worked well for me. In hotter temps, I'll suplement this with Hammer Endurolyte capsules.
For on the bike nutrition, I'm no expert, but I have a few favorites that work for me:
• Whole Wheat Fig Bars (individually wrapped in plastic; won't melt or freeze; about 2-1/2 times the size of a regular Fig Newton; available at Winco in bulk bin #2139 for about 25¢ each; )
• BRUBAR (won't melt or freeze; loaded with nutriants for rapid digestion and use, and sustained energy; I like the Malt Flavor and Apricot; no refined sugars). I use these for mid-way nutrition on rides of 45 miles or more.
• Honey Stinger Waffles (bottom line, I just love the way these taste and the honey gives me a jolt of the carbs when needed)
• Various gel packs. As I have figured out which foods seem to sustane me longer---like those listed above, I found I began using less gel packs (my favorite is probably the Cliff Ras® flavor; Rob Pucci got me hooked when he said, "It's just like sucking the the inside out of a jelly donut." Dead on Description. Gu Vanilla is another one that I like)
• If I'll be doing 65 miles or more, I'll mix up a couple of small flasks of Perpetuum, by Hammer. I like to do it in their recommended "pancake batter" consistency, as opposed to in the water bottle. I find this to be an excellent choice for me for maintaining my nutrition while riding, say for a fast-pace century ride. This gives good nutrition with needing to unwrap or chew.
I have not dialed in or educated myself on post-ride nutrition (I told you I'm no expert!), but I plan on learning more about that from now into the Spring. I'll try to update it when I find something that seems to make a difference.
Consistency is key. I can easily lose the fitness level I've built within 2 to 3 weeks. In spite of travel and other commitments, it's worth it to get my butt back out there a.s.a.p.
Cycling fitness is cumulative; each Spring, I look at my stats and see slightly more speed and strength.
Roads are more interesting than the bike trail. Frankly, they now seem a lot safer to me, too.
There will always be unexplainable peaks and valleys in my fitness level; the key is to keep riding each week until I have a "magic ride" again. That ALWAYS reignites my passion.
Come to every ride prepared to be dropped (know the route, have a spare tire, nutrition and water, etc.). If I do get dropped, I no longer let it frustrate me. It actually fuels my commitment to get in some extra rides in the weeks to come.
"Mark" someone in the group who is better than you, but who is within your reach in terms of performance. Work hard to keep up with them. Eventually, you will. (Of course, there are many who used me as a target and have surpassed me. To them, I extend my sincere congratulations. I'm happy to be a part of their success.)