Free Training = Pedal the Cause!

By Jim Thibault, Team CareFusion

Free training! With real cyclists! While helping a great charity – Pedal the Cause!

With the usual reasons for riding in the Pedal the Cause event – worthwhile charity, to remember those lost to or battling cancer, support local research involvement and the many other benefits of participating – the outstanding training opportunity can be easy to overlook.

Jim ThibaultAs an avid cyclist for the last 5 years, some real training was long overdue. I started riding again for the exercise. A friend showed me some beach routes one day and told me about the bicycle maps online.

That was it for training! And off I went. Somehow, I managed to log over 7,000 miles in 5 years, graduating from a beach cruiser to a road bike.  Also completed some local group rides. Reading Bicycling magazine and searching the net for pointers helped some, but I still had no idea what I was doing.

What are the best strategies for hill climbing? Gear shifting? Bike maintenance? Indoor trainers? Hydration? Clothing? Riding with other cyclists? How do I know what I don’t know?

During the PTC event sign up at work, I met several cyclists – some that I did not know were cyclists. Before the formal PTC training rides started, group rides were organized. The experienced cyclists stepped up and answered questions, offered sage advice, rode slower than they were used to, and kept it fun. New routes were experienced, some even had hills. I also learned some flat tire fixes and bicycle maintenance tips.

The formal PTC training rides offered even better training opportunities! Since the training rides have a ‘no drop’ policy, my sinister plan to ‘drop off the back’ of the group (maybe not so planned) forced the last trainer to ride with me. This affords an opportunity for some 1:1 training with triathletes, Ironman competitors, professional trainers, and real cyclists. What a gold mine!

This opportunity provided breakthrough improvements in many areas of my cycling, such as nutrition, hydration, conditioning, bike setup, bike maintenance, shifting, hill climbing, group riding, strategy, and the mental approaches needed to be successful.

The best tip so far: keep the cadence low and comfortable and grind up those hills. I was attacking the hills and spiking the heart rate toward the red zone. A slower, more relaxed approach is easier and works better. Never would have figured that one out on my own. Thanks, Paul!

My riding has vastly improved – average speeds are up, fatigue is down, and hills are no longer cause for dread. I wonder which side of Mt. Soledad to climb this weekend…

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