The 10th Annual Coldwell Banker Denver Century Ride is happening on June 15th, 2019.
To help you get ready for the big day, we will be sharing tips and tricks for preparing for long-distance cycling!
Save 20% on your registration, use promo code DENBC20 !
Tip #12: Be Prepared the Day Before
(scroll down to see Tips #1-11)
The time has come as the Coldwell Banker Denver Century ride is only a few days away! Whether you've been training for months or barely much at all, there is a lot you can do the day before to maximize your abilities on race day. Below are some things to consider for your last-minute preparations.
What to Eat
The day before a bid endurance event, you will want to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates (like rice and pasta) along with some proteins and vegetables. Avoid the temptation to stuff yourself with one big meal the night before, instead try to eat continuously throughout the day.
Try, if possible, to eat your last ‘real’ meal 3 hours before the start of your event. This should still be relatively light and be almost entirely carbohydrates (avoid proteins as these will take longer to digest). Right before the event, eat some sugars in the form of fruit or a gel. Once you are on your bike, you will want to limit yourself to simple sugars.
Don’t introduce any new foods or products right before or during an event. What works for one person may not work for you, and you don’t want to be surprised by your body’s reaction. Your body will also typically be most efficient at processing the fuels it is used to getting.
The day before a race, familiarize yourself with the route and spend some time visualizing key elements. If possible, ‘recon’ the course by riding it in the days before, or driving it the morning of. The night before the race, you’ll want to get your kit together. This includes your clothes, your bike, food, and anything else you’ll need. This will help you get focused and have less to worry about the morning of (and probably help you sleep better the night before). If possible, try to get to bed an hour before your usual time to allow yourself as much sleep as possible.
If you’re feeling nervous, remember that you’ve already done the hard work, i.e. the training and preparation. Whatever happens on race day, for better or worse, will be the result of the work you’ve already done in the weeks and months leading up to it.
You don’t want to do anything the day before a race that will leave you feeling fatigued, but you also don’t want to be completely inactive. Aim for an hour or two of mostly light exercise, with a few minutes of high-intensity intervals to get the blood pumping.
If your event is a race, you’ll want to warm up immediately before the start so you can come off the line at your best. Ideally, you want your warmup to end only a minute or two before the race starts, even 10 minutes is long enough for you to cool down
Stretch the day before and the day of your event, particularly to make sure your hamstrings are loose. That being said, avoid painful ‘deep stretching’ as this can leave your muscles feeling as fatigued as a hard workout.
Tip #11: Time to Taper
(scroll down to see Tips #1-10)
You’ve been training hard, you’ve been pushing your body to and beyond your limits, and now the event you’ve been training for is coming up. You want to maintain the level of fitness you’ve worked so hard to attain, but you don’t want to show up to the start line fatigued.
One to two weeks before a big event is the right time to adjust, or taper, your training plan so you’ll be on your best possible form on race day. During this time you’ll want to significantly reduce your volume of training but be sure you’re still putting in some relatively intense, short efforts.
At one week out, you are as fit as you’re going to be for the event. If you’ve really been training hard, you might be surprised how much fatigue was affecting you, and how strong you feel after allowing your body some recovery time!
Here is a great article from CTS explaining the benefits of tapering. There is also some tips on how to do it so you can maintain the fitness you’ve worked so hard to achieve, but resist the impulse to over-train in the days leading up to a big ride: Tapering and What to Do the Week Before Your Race
Tip #10: Don't Just Prepare Physically, Prepare Mentally
(scroll down to see Tips #1-9)
Completing a tough ride is as much a question of mental preparedness as it is physical conditioning. Alison Tetrick set the course record for the Dirty Kanza gravel race in 2017, completing the 206 mile race across Kansas gravel roads in 11 hours, 40 minutes and 41 seconds. She had less success in the 2018 edition of the race, but will return this weekend to make another attempt. Some of her tips for dealing with the mental challenges of a long endurance race include having fun, not taking yourself too seriously, remembering to take care of yourself, and always moving forward because there’s beer at the finish line.
Tetrick goes into more detail about preparing mentally for races in a Q&A with VeloNews tech editor Dan Cavallari on the VeloNews Tech Podcast. We've compiled her best mental strategies she talks about below, but be sure to check out the full interview!
“When it hits the fan, have the flask or something to not take yourself so seriously. Remember to have fun out there.
You need to work on your mental strength. Know that when you’re out there, you’re going to feel really bad sometimes, and you’re going to feel really good sometimes, and no matter what, that’s not going to last. Those waves of emotion are going to come and go, and it’s a long day.
"I’ve stolen this in my life now to figure out relationships and work, but Selene Yeager gave me this mantra the first year I did Kanza: “Forward progress, take care of yourself.” You get out there and you need to make sure you’re having a bad time or good time, you’re like, what am I doing? Is it going forward? Maybe you’re walking your bicycle. Am I moving forward? Okay, check.
"Sometimes when you feel really good, you think, I don’t need to eat or drink, I feel great! That goes back to the second part, which is take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating calories every hour, drinking water every hour, and taking care of your emotional, mental, and physical needs at the time. And keep pushing forward. Because there is beer at the finish line and you’re only going to get there if you keep moving forward. Whatever motivates you, find it.
"You go through all sorts of dark places out there. You become a nut. I’ve hallucinated out there. I saw Storm Troopers, tropical oases, I heard weird music coming from nowhere. Mentally when you’re out there in training, you can practice visualization, you can practice being in all those places of hurt, but I think it’s about mentally preparing for the challenge and staying calm.
"For me, I still feel impending doom. What version of Allison am I going to meet out there? I’m trying to pump myself up because it’s dark and lonely out there. But that’s part of the reason why I love endurance sports. I find it fascinating. I learn so much about myself. And I’m looking forward to meeting whoever’s out there.”
Tip #9: Train Like the Pros (Or At Least Take Inspiration From One)
(scroll down to see Tips #1-8)
American mountain bike racer Kate Courtney delivered a dominant performance in the first UCI Cross-Country World Cup race of the season, crossing the finish line 49 seconds ahead of her closest competitor to become the first American, male or female, to win any World Cup cross-country race since 1999. Take a look:
Notice the World Champion rainbow stripes on her jersey? She earned those with another major victory at the 2018 World Championship MTB race (a one-day race completely separate from the 7-part World Cup series) in Switzerland last September.
Courtney attributes her success on-bike, in part, to the work she does off-bike to develop balance and core strength. In addition to training on her bike 7 days a week she also exercises in the gym 3 days a week, with the last 30 to 40 minutes of each gym session devoted to core work.
She shared some of her favorite exercises here: Kate Courtney Balance Core Strength Exercises
If you attempt this workout, don’t try to do all of these exercises in a single workout, or learn to do one and just stick with that. Doing a variety of exercises and changing it up from day to day will do more to develop balance than setting a routine and sticking to it. “It’s about keeping your brain engaged,” Courtney says.
Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with these exercises. Remember that you’re watching an elite-level professional athlete, and even she had to try some of these exercises multiple times before she mastered them. “I feel like with all of these, it’s a lot harder than you think it will be the very first time,” she says.
The race she won on Sunday was the first of a 7-race series; Courtney will defend her World Cup lead racing in the Czech Republic next weekend. The women’s short track race, which determines the seeding for the cross-country start grid, takes place on May 24. The cross-country race is on May 25.
Tip #8: Know How and When to Hydrate
(scroll down to see Tips #1-7)
Drinking water is an obvious necessity when doing any sort of physical activity. For cyclists, knowing when to hydrate is very important. The golden rule with drinking water is that if you are thirsty, it’s already too late to keep up with properly replacing your body’s fluid levels. That is why knowing the specific times to drink water for best absorption will really help you during your rides.Outlined in this article from Bicycling Magazine, it is suggested you drink 12 to 16 ounces of water four hours before you start pedaling, and again two hours before. As you ride, you want to drink enough water that best suits the intensity of your exercise. It’s stated the average recommendation is to drink one, 16 ounce bottle of water per hour in cooler weather and as much as four, 16 ounce bottles per hour in extremely hot weather. After the ride, continue your drinking regime just as you were depending on your body’s weight and the intensity of the ride to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
As you train, paying attention to what your body needs will help you find the best times to drink water for best absorption. Since everyone sweats at different rates and exerts different amounts of energy, you want to make sure you are matching fluid loss by drinking water at the same pace. One expert even says to weigh yourself before and after rides. Weighing less after a ride could be a sign you should drink more water, while weighing more could be a sign of overhydration.
As far as knowing what to drink, we found that keeping it simple by just drinking water is best. While it’s not a bad idea to reach for a sports drink for rides that last longer and are in hotter weather, you don’t need fancy or complicated drink products to give you what you need during basic training rides. You essentially just need fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, all of which water provides. For all the other stuff, use nutritional food to supplement. Whichever method you choose for your hydration regime, just make sure to test on training rides and not waiting until a big ride to try a new sports drink or to try and pace your water supply.
Tip #7: Ride. Every. Day.
(scroll down to see Tips #1-6)
Most cyclists find that they simply don’t have time in their schedule go on as many ‘serious’ training rides as required by their chosen training programs, many of which are adapted from programs developed for professional riders. As such, they do not take into account real-life constraints like work and family (or a simple lack of desire to spend 30-plus hour a week suffering on a bike!). However, you don’t have to kit up and go hard to benefit from riding. If you get into the habit of riding a bike every day, even if it’s just for your commute to work or grabbing a B-cycle for a quick lunch outing, you’ll find that daily riding will lead to better performance on your more intense rides. There are also countless benefits for when you get off the bike, as well.
Not only does daily riding has been shown to improve cognitive function, confidence levels, quality of sleep and overall fitness, it’s also a great way to get around and may even help you live longer. Read more of the benefits of daily riding here!
Getting on a bike may be the last thing you want to do the day after a hard ride, but you will often find that after a few minutes of gentle spinning your achy muscles actually feel better rather than worse. Low-intensity exercise can speed recovery by stretching muscles and promoting blood flow. Once you have some baseline conditioning, pushing through that initial fatigue and putting in consecutive days of hard training, when possible, can really lead to serious performance gains. Just be sure to listen to your body and take low-intensity recovery days as needed.
Spending a little bit of time in the saddle every day will greatly improve your bike handling skills as well, as your brain gets conditioned to biking as a routine activity and your bike begins to feel like an extension of your own body.
If committing to riding every day seems unrealistic, try for as long of a streak of consecutive days riding as you can manage. Once you reach goal, get back on and try to break that record! The most important thing is to keep it fun. Too many cyclists commit to grueling training routines which they don’t enjoy. If this takes the pleasure out of cycling for you, it probably won’t be long before you give up entirely. Find out what types of riding make you happy, and do more of those! For some people this will mean sunrise-to-sunset solo rides in the mountains, while some people will get more pleasure riding through the city from bar to bar with their friends. Both are equally valid--and many cyclists enjoy both--it’s just a question of finding the right balance.
Tip #6: Don't Forget to Stretch!
There are a lot of different routines and variations you could try, but this guide from Bicycling magazine might be a good place to start: Stretches and Strength Exercises
(scroll down to see Tips #1-5)
Stretching before and after your rides, and even a little on non-riding days, is one of the most important and one of the most often neglected components of a good training program. Without stretching, you can throw off your pedal stroke, and put yourself at risk for injury.
In addition to reducing soreness and possibility of injury, stretching before rides can help you deliver more power and stay more comfortable on your bike for longer. You don't want tight muscles to hold you back, so a good stretch session will help balance them. Stretching after rides will also help with muscle development and improve recovery times, so you can get your next big ride in that much sooner.
Tip #5: Adjust Your Saddle to Save Your Knees
(scroll down to see Tips #1-4)
Some knee pain during the first few rides after you’ve been off your bike for a while is normal for a lot of cyclists, but if those early-season aches persist or if you’re experiencing sharp pain in your knees, you should take some time to consider the fit of your bike.
Saddle height is the easiest fit adjustment to make on your bike, and even a very small adjustment can have a huge impact on your knee health and overall comfort. This is especially true as you start spending more time and putting in more intense efforts on your bike.
Ideally, your knee should still have a slight bend (20 to 25 degrees) at the full extension of your pedal stroke. This will equate to a perfectly straight leg when sitting on the bike with your foot flat and your heel pressed into the pedal. Make sure to have good form when pedaling, you should be pointing your toes and engaging your calves at the bottom of your stroke.
This will give you a good starting point for your seat height, but getting it just right may require some experimentation and saddle time. Remember, even a very small adjustment of a centimeter or less can make a huge difference if you’re riding a lot of miles in that position. If you’re experiencing pain in the front of the knee, try raising your saddle just a bit. If you’re experiencing pain in the back of the knee, try lowering it. Keep an Allen wrench or whatever tool you need to adjust your saddle handy when you ride; what feels comfortable at the start of a ride might be decidedly less so midway through a long ride.
If you’re experiencing persistent shoulder, neck or lower back pain you might need to adjust the position of your handlebars. Unfortunately, this usually means replacing your stem which makes experimentation with small adjustments somewhat less practical. That being said, most riders who have tried a professional bike fitting have found it well worth the time and expense.
For more information on achieving proper fit and the effect it can have on your riding, check out this article from Bicycling magazine.
Tip #4: Intervals May Be the Key
(scroll down to see Tips #1, #2 & #3)
"Wanna know the secret to developing a really strong sprint? Spend more time sprinting."
Conventional wisdom holds that, just as the only way to prep your body for pouring on the watts at the finish line is to practice doing just that, the only way to prepare your body for longer rides is by putting in long days in the saddle. Unfortunately, for most of us, spending six or more hours on our bikes multiple times each week is simply not a realistic possibility, even if we wanted to. Luckily, there is both scientific and anecdotal evidence to suggest that the same sorts of interval training that help sprinters develop that short burst of speed they need to drop their rivals at the finish line can help time-crunched weekend warriors develop the endurance to complete a longer ride, without having to quit their jobs or abandon their families to go train.
According to this article from Bicycling Magazine "busting out two minutes of really hard work can give you the same fitness benefits as slogging through 30 minutes at a steady, moderate pace."
Loosely defined, interval training is anything where short periods of high-intensity exertion are interspersed between periods of lower-intensity exercise. This can be done in a structured manner with a timer, either while on your bike or while doing cardio at the gym or at home, so you know when to lay it on and when to ease off. Trainers recommend a wide variety of timing for interval, anything from 30 seconds of all-out effort followed by 90 seconds of lighter effort repeated as many times as you are able to, to five minutes at highest level of exertion you can maintain for that time period followed by an equal period of easy spinning.
While out riding, you can also take a less formal approach and get very similar results. One way to do this is running repeats on a short hill. Charge as hard as you can up the hill, coast to the bottom, repeat. Or find a route with rolling hills and let the hills determine the frequency of your intervals.
Aside from the fitness benefits of interval training, the adrenaline spikes brought on by short bursts of speed may be just be the thing to bring the fun back into a monotonous training routine. And being able to drop all your buddies at the end of the last climb on a group ride is deeply satisfying.
While interval training can help you make the most of your limited training time to develop the cardio and muscle conditioning you need for longer rides, it is not a complete substitute for long training days. Make sure you are still making time, when you can, to spend extended periods of time on your bike.
Tip #3: Train Inside When You Can't Outside
(scroll down to see Tips #1 & #2)
Bad weather derailing your training schedule? Dreading another spin class or gym session even more than another rain-soaked ride risking your health to ride on slick roads with limited visibility?
Stay home and work on your core strength instead. Having a strong core is as important to delivering strong on-bike performance as having strong legs and lungs is, as it is essential to have a stable platform from which to pedal. Unfortunately, while spending time in the saddle will do plenty to develop your legs, lungs and heart, it falls short on developing critical core muscles. Check out this core workout from bicycling magazine. Once the weather turns sunny again, continue to set aside a little time each week to work on your core.
When you’re back on your bike, pay close attention to your form to make the best use of your stronger core muscles. Try to minimize any movement in your hips and shoulders, especially when you get fatigued. When you’re out of the saddle sprinting, focus on keeping your back level, even as you’re throwing your bike side to side underneath you. This will help you translate more of that power from your legs into forward motion, rather than wasting precious watts bouncing your body around.
Tip #2: What to Eat and When to Eat
(scroll down to see Tip #1)
It’s accepted wisdom amongst all types of athletes that you should eat carbs before a workout and protein after – carbohydrates are what fuel you through a ride, protein provides raw material for the muscle development you want to happen after you ride.
Many riders, though, find they perform best if they eat little or nothing immediately before a big ride. This makes sense, digesting food draws blood into your stomach when that same blood needs to be transporting as much oxygen as possible to your overtaxed muscles.
Start fueling up for a big ride the night before by eating a large, carb-heavy dinner. Something like potatoes with pasta, rice and bread would be ideal! The morning of your ride eat a small breakfast of some easily digested complex sugars, a couple of pieces of fruit would be perfect.
As your rides get longer, you’ll find that no matter how much you carbo load before your ride you will need to replace some calories while you ride. While on the bike, you should stick mostly to simple sugars – any energy your body expends digesting something more complex is energy that could be better spent turning your pedals. Many companies sell expensive products –gels, drinks, bars etc. - designed explicitly for this purpose but there really isn’t much difference between these and a bag of candy. The major difference is the glucose to fructose ratio. Glucose and fructose are absorbed through different mechanisms, and your body can absorb glucose about four times faster than fructose. Most candies have more fructose than glucose, but if you check the ingredient list and choose a candy that has ‘glucose syrup’ as the first ingredient you’ve got a great choice for on-bike nutrition. A classic example are Haribo Gummi Bears; the Trader Joe’s brand Gummy Tummies are also mostly glucose and not only are they a little cheaper but they are softer and easier to chew! Augment this with a little potassium – bananas are great source – and a little salt, and you’ll be almost exactly replicating the nutritional properties of expensive products for endurance athletes.
After a big ride, you’ll want to eat some protein so your body has the materials to build muscle. Research has shown that you want to start putting protein into your body as quickly as possible after a big workout – ideally you want to start eating protein within 30 minutes after the end of your ride. Beans, nuts, eggs, meat etc. are all great sources of protein, after a particularly hard ride you may also want to chug a protein shake as soon as you get off your bike to ensure your body can immediately start growing muscle.
Many riders enjoy a post-ride beer, but if you’re serious about getting the most benefit from all your hard work you should consider skipping this – research shows alcohol impedes muscle development, so if you drink after a hard ride you’re cheating yourself from getting the most from your exercise. Lastly, all these carbohydrates, sugar and protein may not leave much room in your stomach for other important food groups, so make sure that on non-training days you’re focusing on vegetables and other healthy foods.
Tip #1: Start Early, Start Gradually
If you haven’t been on a bike in a while, this is the time to get started! Whether you’re training for the Denver Century Ride, the Triple Bypass, or just want to get in shape for bike commuting this Spring or Summer, it’s never too early to start putting in those base miles. If you haven’t been riding over the winter don’t worry yet about pushing your limits or going big, the important thing is to just start spending regular time in the saddle.
It’s very common for cyclists to push themselves too hard as soon as the weather starts to get nice, then wind up with an injury which keeps them off the bike and delays the start of their season even further. Knee injuries are especially common, as joints sometimes take longer than muscles to build back up and are particularly susceptible to damage in colder weather. Remember that while ‘toughing it out’ and pushing through muscle pain is often the key to developing stronger muscles and better speed and endurance, pushing yourself to ride hard through joint pain might just be damaging your body. If your knees start to hurt mid-ride consider switching to a lower gear and maybe taking a rest day the next day.
If you haven’t been commuting by bike over the winter, consider starting by riding to work one or two days a week at first, then adding extra days as that feels comfortable. If you’re already commuting by bike but want to increase the intensity of your commute to help build up your conditioning, consider choosing one or two days each week to go as fast as you can, then keeping a more leisurely pace on other days. A mix of low-intensity and high-intensity rides can actually be more beneficial than just ‘going hard’ all the time, as your recovery rides get the blood flowing but still allow your muscles time to recover from your last hard ride, which will allow you to bring more intensity to your next hard ride. If you’re doing training rides in addition to your commute it might be best to take it easy during most of your commutes and treat those as your recovery rides.
Looking for good routes for spring training rides? Lookout Mountain, near Golden, offers a short but tough climb, with options to keep climbing if you’re feeling good, and with some gently rolling hills to warm up on if you start your ride in Denver.
Lookout Mountain/Genesee Park: If coming from downtown Denver, take 15th St to 29th Ave and turn left. Take a right turn on Pierce, then left on 32nd Ave. Ride 32nd Ave all the way to Golden, where it becomes 13th St. Continue straight on 13th St then turn left onto Illinois, then right onto 19th St, which will become Lookout Mountain Road! Once you pass the stone pillars at the base of the hill you’ll you’ll have a 4.6 mile ride with an average 5% grade, some much steeper switchbacks, and a breathtaking view looking down on Golden and the surrounding countryside! Once you reach the Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum you’re at the official top of Lookout Mountain, but there’s still plenty of climbing left if you want to keep going! Continue on Lookout Mountain road until you see the entrance to the Mount Vernon Country Club, then turn right on to Mt Vernon Rd. After a steep climb and a brief descent you’ll cross Highway 40 and I-70, then turn right on to S Genesee Mountain Road. This road will take you all the way to the top of Genesee Park. It dead-ends into a gravel road which is closed to cars, and if you’re brave enough to face the gravel you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the surrounding foothills!