Our 2016 Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival Ambassador Jimmy Clere is preparing for his FIFTH ERock ride!  In this post, he shares his experience from the past several years for riders new to the event this year.

In 2011, the Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival was the first bike ride event that I paid for. The 27-mile route was my hardest ride ever at the time but after completing the ride, I was hooked. This year will be my 5th ride at Elephant Rock and, in fact, the new Century route has become my favorite ride. From the start line to the town of Elizabeth to the city of Elbert is the fastest section along the ride. The Metric and Century riders should stop at the Palmer Lake aid station where a live band plays.  When you leave that station, you are 3/4 done with one more big climb, a long fun decent to the frontage road along Interstate 25, and then the last ten miles to the finish with cheering crowd and the post ride meal.

Elephant Rock 2016 is just two weekends away, I’m pretty sure I’m ready.  I’ve trained… What training? Ok don’t panic, let’s see I needed to start at least a month ago… maybe two.

My thoughts on training for the event:

  • Ride miles to wake up legs and lungs.
  • Remember to breathe deeply from the diaphragm, specially on long climbs.
  • Ride against the wind because there will be headwinds. Hey, this is Colorado.
  • Saddle time, yes saddle time, so your bottom won’t be sore after the ride 😉
  • Drink on training rides so it becomes habit during the ride. I tend to not drink enough when the weather is cooler so that habit is not there. Re-learn!
  • Eat during the ride, because I don’t want to bonk again.

Make sure to train with what you plan to use during the event ride, like the products from Clif Bar a sponsor of the eRock event. My favorites are the Bloks, and for the longer rides I carry a Builder’s Protein Bar.

  • Pedal like you’re scraping mud of the pedal You want to use both legs at the same time, right? Less work overall.
  • Practice on similar terrain, rolling hills should work. If you’re from the lower elevation, then practice riding the big gears.
  • Practice group riding – it is more fun and takes some getting used to.

Pace-line riding works great on long rides and headwinds

Here are some other thoughts to prepare for the ride:

  • Registered for E-Rock
  • Tune-up the bike or at least check to see if wear items need to be replaced:
    • cables
    • tires
      • Make sure your existing ones are in good shape and the tread is alright. Amazing how many riders you will see get a flat within the first five miles
    • brake pads
    • inner tube
    • chain lube
    • maybe new chain?
  • Tail lights – new batteries or charged?
  • Mirror – have one? need one?
  • Hi-vis rain jacket since it will be a brisk morning and possibly rain in the afternoon. (Again – this is Colorado.)
    • Hi-vis is very helpful to optimize being seen by motor vehicles and other cyclists.
  • Helmet – ready and in good shape?

Two weeks before the event is also the time I start to wonder if I am ready and if I am I prepared to ride the miles that I signed up for.  I’m sure everybody else has been riding 100 plus miles a week, right, even during the winter and spring snow? 🙂 I know, I know. For those that haven’t been, including me, it’s not just about the miles; it’s about  getting any saddle time you can get. Remember you need to get your tush used to sitting on that small seat for hours.

Maybe you haven’t been on the bike for months, and the spin class or riding on the trainer was too hot or boring to enjoy.  Maybe you just started getting your base miles in.  Maybe you signed up for your 1st event ride of the year and you feel you might not be ready to ride the miles you signed up for.  Don’t Panic.  You will have most spectacular day on the 5th of June. Elephant Rock is the most supported ride you will ride in Colorado. There are lots of friendly people at the aid stations with local bike shop support. Police and Medics who patrol the route. There are amazing scenic views of the country side and mountain peaks.

On the day of the event, I try not to focus on how many miles I signed up for. I focus on riding to the next aide station or to the next turn. I breakup the ride into smaller rides, 10 or 20 mile segments or just the next turn or intersection. When I am on a long steep hill climb, I focus on the person in front of me that is going about my pace. If I catch them, I might pass them and focus on the next person or just stay behind them and enjoy that pace to rest. I also tell myself to breathe, take deep breaths. It is great to ride with friends. You help each other loose track of the time and miles and if you have ridden together a lot you can actively use that pace-line riding that you practiced before the event.

The most important things to remember: Be safe.  Be predictable to motor vehicles and to other cyclists.  Use hand signals and also point out hazards. Enjoy the scenery. HAVE Fun and say Hello as you pass me along the route.

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