This post originally appeared here on the blog of the Capital City Cyclists, who kindly invited us to write a piece for their blog about getting ready for the 30th Annual Spaghetti 100. We strongly encourage that you join your local cycling club (where ever you may be). It’s a great way to meet people, they host lots of rides, and they do a ton of advocacy. Plus, they’re really nice people, and it’s only like $15. You can afford it. Thanks to CCC and Jack Tomasetti. The Spaghetti 100 is a great and long-standing event in the Florida Panhandle/Big Bend with multiple ride options (century and metric century road, 40 and 65 miles dirt). Both road routes travel the rolling hills east and north of Tallahassee, and the dirt options take you down some fantastic red clay fire roads (no technical stuff, though the sand can sometimes get treacherous). Here’s the post that I wrote:
Getting Ready for Spaghetti
Brady (of Science of Speed) already did a great job letting you know how to prepare your body for this year’s Spaghetti 100 (or whichever distance you’re doing), but there are a few other concerns as well.
Your bike: How’s it working? Most bike shops will freely take a minute to put your bike in a repair stand and check it over. At The Great Bicycle Shop we inspect your rubber, squeeze the brakes, change the gears, look at wheel trueness, etc. If everything looks good, we’ll put air in your tires and lube your chain and send you on your way free of charge. Often, however, we find that some tuning is required or would help the bike perform better and we can make recommendations to that end (think, for a moment, about all of the physical and mechanical forces at play when you ride your bike). We want to make your bike be the best machine it can be, because when your bike works well, you can enjoy your ride. Don’t wait until November 6th to bring it to your favorite shop (whichever it is). They’ll be slammed with trying to get everyone ready for the weekend. Best do this sooner rather than later.
Your gear: Don’t be that person who’s always bumming a tube or CO2; get a flat kit and know how to use it. Many riders like to use a bike computer of some sort. Maybe there’s a smartphone app you like. That’s great. Otherwise, there are inexpensive basic computers that will tell you how far you’ve gone and how fast. And then there are amazing tools like the Garmin Edge series GPS devices that track speed and distance, plus heart rate, cadence, elevation, and more. Talk to someone who’s using a Garmin to track their progress, and you’ll find someone who’s enthusiastic about it and the data they can track.
Your kit: I hope I’m preaching to the choir here, but own and use good quality (padded) cycling shorts and jerseys. There are numerous benefits to good cycling clothing, which I’ve already written about here. Read the post and consider. Plus, as I stated in the article, “when you are comfortable and look good, you’re going to feel good and ride better.” Given the later date of the ride this year, November 9th, there’s a chance that you might want arm warmers or knee warmers to knock the chill off in the morning. That’s something you’ll be able to assess when we get closer to the weekend of the ride and have a reliable forecast. Two words: chamois cream. Also check the date on the sticker on the inside of your helmet; if it’s older than 2008, it’s time for a new skull bucket per industry and manufacturer standards.
And finally, your nutrition: the nice folks at Science of Speed might be better equipped to answer questions here, and I do not claim to be a nutritional expert, but some of the principles are simple. 100 miles is a long way to ride your bike and you’re going to burn a lot of calories doing it; it’s important to replace those calories, lest ye bonk (I’ve been there; it sucks). Most endurance athletes have a mix of tricks and products that get them through hard efforts. Drink a lot of water in the days before the ride. Throw a couple Gu’s or whatever you like in your jersey pocket so you’re not totally dependent on the (quite excellent) water and food stations provided by CCC. I like electrolyte replacements like those by Gu and Scratch Labs. I do not like the more popular sports drinks like those available at most grocery stores and convenience markets because of their super-high sugar content. But that’s just me. I know a guy who ate a McDonald’s cheeseburger and drank a can of Coke during the transition from bike to run in an Ironman, and he swore that he felt like a new man afterwards. To me, that sounds horrible, but everybody is different. Best to try different things and figure out what works for you. Never eat or drink anything on event day that you haven’t been consuming during your training because you don’t know how your stomach and body will respond. Most importantly, eagerly anticipate that big delicious pasta dinner waiting for you at the community center, and all those friendly smiling faces of the folks serving it.
I hope this helps. Visit your favorite local bike shop, whichever it is, and chat with the staff about your needs and concerns and let them show you some things that could help you enjoy your training and ride. Maybe you don’t need anything at all, but it’s good to learn from people who spend time studying this stuff. Plus, we actually enjoy answering your questions, believe it or not. See you on the ride, if not before.
The Great Bicycle Shop has two locations, at 1909 Thomasville Rd. and 3624 Woodville Hwy. GBS is also available on Facebook, Twitter (@greatbicycle), and WordPress. For more information visit www.greatbicycle.com.