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I Want to Ride My Bicycle…

July 6, 2010

So you’ve got the road riding bug. Now what?

by: Daniel Curtin Bicycle Sport Shop Events and Promotions Coordinator

You’ve been to Bicycle Sport Shop and picked out a new road bike.  You’ve probably invested in some other gear too: cycling shorts or bibs, a helmet—of course—a comfortable, fashionable jersey, and maybe some other items as well.  You might have even picked out a target event or ride that you want to do, like the Ring of Fire in September, or the Wurst Ride in October. But you need to know how to get there.

Not literally how to get to the ride, but how to be as ready as you can be for the riding that you want to do.

Regardless of whether your goal is to ride your first 20 miles, first 100 miles, or to cover a given distance in a certain time, if you’re new to the road scene or new to goal-oriented riding you likely could use some guidance—and some camaraderie!

Figuring that I could use some help getting my legs back under me as my wife and I recently had a little girl, I jumped in on some rides with Austin Cycle Camp to see what the hubbub was all about with these folks.  Austin Cycle Camp offers some fee-based training for road cyclists of all levels.  They also offer a number of free weekly rides.  Here’s a little run down of AC2—as they are affectionately known—for you in the event that you’re looking to get going!

My first foray into Austin Cycle Camp’s world was their Sunday group ride.  Each Sunday, Austin Cycle Camp and their loyal followers meet up at the Torchy’s Tacos near William Cannon and Mopac.  For obvious reasons, this is a great location to end a ride.  But they also have ample parking for folks driving to the ride start back behind the building.  Each Sunday is a different route, with different distance options.  So far, I’ve ridden Southeast Austin, out towards San Marcos, the infamous Dam Loop, and the old Tuesday Nighter Course, and I’ve ridden anywhere from 35 miles to 60 miles.

What makes these rides different from other group rides is that they are mostly semi-drop rides.  What does that mean?  Well, a drop ride means everyone rides at their own pace and heads for the finish.  Not too fun for most.  No-drop rides mean everyone stays together, inevitably riding at the pace of the riders taking it the easiest.  Also not too fun for some.  A semi-drop ride, as I’ve called it, lets folks ride their own pace, but has strategic re-group points where everyone gets back together before continuing on down the road.  Now this does make a ride a bit longer time-wise, but it means that nobody feels like they were left in the dust.  This really ramps up the camaraderie and fun of the group.

Burgeoned by my enjoyment of the Sunday ride, I decided to attend Austin Cycle Camp’s fitness assessment clinic at the Veloway.  This was an interesting “test.”  The two or so hour session consisted of a field VO2 test, body composition analysis, a strength analysis, and a 3 mile time trial on the bike.  While I and the guys from Austin Cycle Camp use the Garmin Edge 500, Austin Cycle Camp also uses Polar heart rate monitors and software systems to gather much of this data, as well as a whiz-bang gizmo that calculates you body composition.  While there are a number of field testing methods out there as well as lab testing, just getting some baseline numbers and knowing what you’re training targets are is key.  This basic test is a good place to start, and provides more data than most recreational cyclists like me could ever want.  Post clinic, Austin Cycle Camp sends out a report that gives your “body” age versus your actual age, a VO2 max number, and more.  Interesting to say the least!

With some miles in my legs and a field test fitness assessment done, I decided it was time to pick up the pace. Each Wednesday morning the AC2 guys lead a paceline workout along South Mopac that starts and finishes at the Veloway.  This is a great way to add some speed to your repertoire.  And, since riders of all abilities come out to ride, there is always someone to share this early morning workout with!  It’s fast and fun, but also educational as pack riding skills and paceline etiquette are worked on.

I’m really happy with my riding since jumping in with Austin Cycle Camp.  If you’re looking to take your riding to the next level, catch up with Austin Cycle Camp.  They’ll help you with getting the gear you need to enjoy your riding, and get you out on the road riding confidently.  And join us in September when Bicycle Sport Shop will be partnering up with Austin Cycle Camp for a King/Queen of the Mountain camp out in Leaky and Utopia, TX!  More info on the Bicycle Sport Shop events page!

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