Posts Tagged 'tomrv'

A foggy TOMRV Sunday morning

Dan Tucker asked me at the firemen’s pancake breakfast in Princeton, IA, if I was going to blog about some of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association guys along on TOMRV over the weekend.


I’m just going to post a few pictures from the start of Day 2 at Clarke College in Dubuque. Some thick fog came in about 6:30 a.m., reducing visibility to just a few yards shortly after these shots were taken. The fog soon lifted and the day was mostly sunny otherwise – a nice change from the rainy Saturday morning and gray skies that afternoon.

TOMRV 2009 010b

TOMRV 2009 012b

TOMRV 2009 017b

TOMRV 2009 020

TOMRV training over, it’s checklist time

Steve, Steve, Mike, Mark, Tim, Nancy and the rest of you TOMRV virgins, are y’all trained up, fired up and ready to go?

I’m about as ready as I’m going to get (seeing that it starts Saturday). I haven’t followed all of my own basic advice, but I’m 20 or maybe 25 pounds lighter than I was last time I took on this challenging ride, so that’s all on the plus side.

The few 50+-mile rides I’ve gotten in recently have included a pretty good variety of hills, so that’s another plus.

Road bike is in good shape. Tires even match now, not that the color matters. I replaced the back one a few weeks ago after flatting repeatedly, but figured if the front wasn’t “broke” I wouldn’t fix it. Good thing I checked it yesterday – a pebble-size chunk of rubber had gone missing – and that does matter. It was only a matter of miles until pshhhhhhhh. You don’t want to have to replace a tire on TOMRV. Replace a tube or two, sure, but not a tire.

New tires front and back now. New chain, too.

Along with getting a couple of additional rides in between now and Saturday a.m., it’s time to make a Final checklist:

Raingear or camera? I don’t really want to carry any of that and the forecast looks good for now. (Do need to work on the photography skills, though, and we’re going through some great scenery. Camera, maybe. Raingear? Decide that morning.)

Gel or Irish whiskey? Buddy John got us a couple of little plastic bottles that slip easily into a jersey pocket. He says they’re for energy gel – take a swig, then chase it from the big water bottle. Looks to me like one might be good for a little post-ride hooch. Hmmm. Tough call. Thinking….

Pack sunblock. Remember to put it on more than just Saturday morning. This will be two long days outdoors. Small bottle, another jersey pocket.

How to get there? Something on Twitter prompted me to check the TOMRV site for some timely info about driving to Scott Community College in Bettendorf.

Helmet? Duh. You ride a bicycle, you wear a helmet, right?

I’m probably forgetting something.

Oh, yeah: Pedal on.

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TFT* Part VII: A few more training ideas

A few more thoughts on training for TOMRV*, especially for first-timers like the Steves, Mike, Mark, Nancy and Tim:

Learn to stretch. Learn how to do it even on the bike. I’m not sure I’d do the first one you’ll see in this video, but you might be more coordinated than I am. (Just in case you’re not, please don’t do it right in front of me on the road. I don’t want you taking me down with you.) You will definitely want to stretch now and then throughout the ride.

Seek out headwinds. There will almost certainly be a headwind either all day Saturday (100+ miles) or Sunday (85 or so miles). Maybe both.

So, seek out headwinds during your training. Get used to riding in the drops if you’re doing the ride on your road bike. You’ll move along noticeably faster, and with significantly less effort, than if you’re sitting upright. If you’re taking a hybrid or your mountain bike, you are way, way tougher than I am.

Seek out hills. You won’t be able to avoid them on this ride, so go out of your way to find them now. As I think I’ve said before, you don’t have to attack them, but get used to them.

Find a gear you can use to spin up a long, steep hill at a pace that will leave you some energy for the next one. And the next one. And the next one.

It’s a challenging ride, but there’s good food at the end of the day Saturday in Dubuque, and lots of it.

And it looks like they still have Whitey’s in Davenport for the traditional post-ride ice cream before the drive home.

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TFT* Part VI: Not that kind of drinking, Steve

Can of Guinness Original, plus the beer in a glass
Image via Wikipedia

Steve, you may have misunderstood my previous post about training for TOMRV. I didn’t mean drinking as in beer. As a RAGBRAI veteran, of course you know how to do that.

We’re talking about hydration, man.

Bud Light or Miller Lite won’t cut it. Even Guinness isn’t that good for you. Which reminds me of another tip you may find useful:

On a century-plus bike ride, don’t stop too long in any one place. My rule of thumb for TOMRV is no more than 10 minutes.

Refuel at each rest stop on cookies, bagels, peanut butter – whatever works best for you – and fill your water bottles (2). Stretch a little maybe. Then get back on your bike and go.

Specifically, do not stop in Galena at a bar and grill for a couple of beers, a cheeseburger and fries, as some friends and I did on my first TOMRV experience.

Bad idea.

Really bad idea.

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TFT* Part V: For a good long-distance bike ride, learn how to eat and drink

So, Steve, you say you need more advice about getting ready for TOMRV?

Here’s my best, and most serious, advice:

Learn how to eat and drink.

I thought I knew how to do those things. After all, I’ve been doing them for a long time. Confession: I still don’t know how to do them as well as I’d like to get me through almost 200 miles of cycling on a weekend. It’s not like your everyday hydration and nutrition.

Here’s one link that might help us.

There are numerous others, and none will be exactly right for you. You’ll have to experiment.

There’s time to figure this out before June. Try different drinks, gels and energy bars on your training rides. Figure out what works for you – for eating and drinking before, during and after a long ride.

You don’t have to do a century to get ready for a century, but at least a few rides of 60+ miles will be a huge help. The longer the ride, the more fluids and fuel will make a difference.

Pedal on.

*Training for TOMRV

TFT* Part IV: Climbing’s easier with smaller beer belly

Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich
Image via Wikipedia

We’ve got about three months to get ready for TOMRV weekend, Blackjack Hill, The Wall and all those other hills. Time to get serious.

It has been scientifically proven (by me) that the less you and your bicycle weigh, the easier it is to climb hills.

“Elementary,” you might say.

“Duh,” you might say.

“Everybody knows that,” you might say.

True. But not everyone knows how to lighten the load.

I do.

Problem: Say you’ve got a big beer belly. Depending on your size, that could easily be good for 20 pounds or more.

Solution: Cut your beer consumption in half.

Yeah, that sounds pretty drastic, but you don’t really need to go through a case a week. Even if it’s not really beer, like Bud Light, it adds up. Reduce that to two six-packs a week. Feel free to reduce further.

You don’t drink a case of beer a week? Cut it in half anyway.

Not a beer drinker but still have that big belly? Cut something else in half. Instead of pizza four days a week, reduce to two.

Have a thing for grilled cheese sandwiches? Limit those to one per week. (No one should have less than one grilled cheese sandwich per week.)

Best tip? Ride, ride, ride, then ride some more.

It works and it’s fun.

Pedal on.

*Training for TOMRV. Feel free to use these tips to prepare for other bike rides. Check with your doctor first.

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Training for TOMRV: Part III

As Yogi Berra might say if he knew about it:

TOMRV is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.

This is why getting psyched is so important (see TFT: Part I).

You have to really want to do a bicycle ride like this and accept that it is going to be fun. Otherwise, you shouldn’t bother, and you probably won’t.

Some other keys to having a successful TOMRV, or any other bicycle ride that involves people other than yourself:

Mind your manners. Don’t be blowing snot rockets within 50 yards of me. If you do and I get hit, you are probably not going to like what happens. Remember what the Team Cinzano guy did to Dave Stoller’s wheel in Breaking Away? I do.

Play well with others. Let’s say these guys – we’ll call them Bernie, Steve, Steve and Mike – are riding along in a nice, steady pace line. For the sake of argument and fantasy, let’s say they’re going 23 mph into a stiff headwind. (I did say “fantasy,” didn’t I?) Bernie finishes pulling these other guys along for a quarter-mile or so, then drops back for a break and tries to catch Mike’s wheel. Steve should not crank the pace up to 26 mph and drop Bernie’s tired ass and then expect to ever ride with him again – at least not on that particular bicycle. (Remember Cinzano guy.)

Keep your hands on the handlebars. Don’t be showing off like that kid who pedaled his mountain bike up Blackjack Hill with the “look, Ma, no hands” attitude.

Lucky for him I wasn’t able to catch up.

Training for TOMRV: Part II

Sun Valley has a nice ring to it.

It’s just a couple of miles from the Smith place in SE Cedar Rapids. As the name indicates, it’s a low area surrounded by higher places.

Cottage Grove Avenue and Indian Creek run through this valley. So does East Post Road.

Once you’re in, there are several ways out. The one way that’s easy on a bicycle is following the Sac & Fox Trail along the creek. (Update 2/26/09: I should have said easy once the flood damage is fixed.)

Some hills to climb repeatedly to help you prepare for TOMRV in June:

  • Indian Hill Road north from Cottage Grove Avenue.
  • 34th Street SE, going south from Cottage Grove Avenue.
  • Cottage Grove Avenue, either west past Goblins Gully Drive to Country Club Parkway or east to East Post Road. Going west is steeper; east, a bit longer but more gradual.

To better simulate the first day of TOMRV, though, first ride or drive your bike from SE Cedar Rapids to Troy Mills and back (about 50 miles). Then ride in and out of Sun Valley until you’ve pedaled about 20 more miles.

That’s the “short” route, by the way.

Good thing we’ve got some time to get ready.

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Training for TOMRV: Part I

“Tour of the Mississippi River Valley” sounds like a leisurely drive along scenic highways, or maybe a relaxing riverboat cruise. When translated to its meaner-sounding moniker TOMRV (tom-rahv), you get a good bit closer to the truth.

It’s a challenging, 32-year-old bicycle ride – challenging for most of us humans, anyway.

I speak from some experience, having done the long route once in a mediocre fashion on a hybrid bicycle, the “short” route more comfortably once, and two other Saturday portions – the last one a miserable 106 miles that included about 45 miles of leg cramps and self-loathing.

So, of course, it’s time to go again.

It’s June 13 and 14.You can register by mail, like I’m doing, or online.

After the last time a few years ago, I swore I wouldn’t try to do it again being so overweight and out of shape. I’ve made some progress on the fitness thing, with TOMRV out there in front as motivation and ultimately, I hope, a great, rewarding ride. Spinning classes four or five times a week have me looking forward to getting outside on a real bicycle more and attacking real hills for a change. And looking forward to TOMRV and my 10th Century Ride overall.

Some of the guys from spinning class are going for the first time. For them and for others who might be interested, I’ll throw out a few training tips between now and June.

A few starter tips:

#1. Begin to get psyched now. It’s going to be fun, especially when you finish each day and say, “I did it.”

#2. Get your priorities in order. Don’t waste time on household chores and other stuff like that. Work if you must, but remember: You’re in training.

#3. Find the hilliest route around and ride it as many times as you can between now and TOMRV. You don’t have to do it fast, but you’ll be glad you did it.

Soon, some ideas about the hilliest route around these parts.

For now, I have to go do some work, followed by spinning class.

Pedal on.


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