So, you wanna do the
"One of the 10 toughest in the country."
That's What Bicycling Magazine called it. but you don't have to be Jan Ulrich or Lance Armstrong. It can be done by mortals if you prepare yourself correctly. That's what these pages are about. First, let's start with preparation. You, your machine, and what to take....
The Climb To Kaiser (C2K) is a hard ride, I won't kid you. It's long, it's hilly, and many (O.K. most..) of the hills are steep. Very steep. So you need to train. You need to train on long rides, on hilly rides, on steep rides, and on rides that are long, hilly and steep.
Unfortunatly, with this ride, that may not be enough. Because the C2K has one more element to consider, altitude. Most of the tour takes place above 5,000' elevation. A good percentage above 7,000', and the highest point is over 9,000' above sea level. If your not used to riding at high altitudes, you will feel it.
Start with the long rides and the hilly and steep rides, at least 3-4 months before the ride. Earlier, if possible. When you can do them with confidence, combine the three elements. Try to add some elevation as well. Starting around the end of June, definatly add elevation. If there are any high mountains in your area, ride them. Use a mountain bike if you have to. Even hiking is a good idea.
The purpose is to get used to exercising in the thinner air.The Fresno Cycle Club recommends that "You be able to ride a hilly century in 6 hours or less."
Many first time riders tackle C2K with the false concept that just because their bike weighs under 17 lbs. that it will get them up anything.
Only if their father's name is Zeus.
Reality comes hard to these folks as I pass them on my 26 pound (without accessories) Schwinn touring bike. Sitting down, holding a good cadence, sometimes even singing a song (just to rub it in ;-3) ), While they walk their featherweight wondermachines. That is, until they discovered my "secret"...
That secret is a simple one. "An inch off your lowest gear is worth at least a pound off your frame" (sic).
Let's make the math simple. Your bike weighs 20 pounds, you weigh 180 (you're tall and muscular...). That's 200 pounds you have to drag up the hill.
Take three pounds off the frame. Now you only have to get 197 pounds to the top. But that's still less than a 2% reduction in weight.
Now let's say your lowest gear is 40 inches (about a 38 x 24 on a 700c wheel). Many cyclists think this is a low gear.
My lowest gear is 20 inches (26 x 34, 700c wheel). That means for each pedal stroke I'm only climbing half as far. so my effort is 50% less than theirs! This isn't exact, of course, but it's close enough. Check a physics text if you don't believe me.
So, A triple crankset is strongly recommended. A large rear cog (at least) should be considered mandatory. Unless you happen to have the afforementioned immortal father...
Of course, follow the usual advice for a long and hard ride, "Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty"
Because of the hills, I don't like to stay too long at the rest stops. or I start to get stiff from the lactic acid fermenting in my muscles. Grab a guick bite, stuff something in your pocket to eat on the road, fill your bottles and empty your bladder. About five minutes, more or less.
While we're on the subject of water, carry at least two water bottles, preferably the large size. I fill one with energy drink and the other with plain water (both are available at all the rest stops). Of course, you can use any combination you want.
Drinking is very important on this ride. Because of the thinner air, your body's evaporative cooling system (sweating) will be working better than you're used to. That and the fact that the temperature rarely get's above 75-80 degrees for all but the last 30 miles, your brain can be fooled into thinking that you're not sweating as much as you are. If you don't replace those lost fluids (and electrolytes), you will not make it. period.
Fill both of your bottles at each rest and water stop and try to empty both (preferably into your body) before you reach the next one.
How do you know if you're drinking enough? you should have to urinate at each rest stop. At the very least, you should be able to. Your urine should be a pale color. Deep yellow means your body is hoarding liquid.
You should also carry a basic tire repair kit and pump, and some basic tools. The C2K is a very well staffed ride (usually over 80 people in SAGs alone). But they can't be expected to be everywhere or have everything. All SAG's do carry water though. Don't be suprised if they slow down beside you as you ride and ask if you need anything.
Knowing the course is a good idea. Especially if you're a newbie. I recommend a trick used by champion racers. Go over the course the day before. (in your car), preferably with someone who knows the ride.
Not only will this prepare you for what's ahead, so you can pace your self accordingly, it will pre-warn you of any hazards on the course. Makes the downhills more fun that way.
I have prepared a "tour" so you at least have an idea of what to expect.
"The Tollhouse Cookie Man"
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