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The Ride of Your Life Aligning heart and mind for success in long distance cycling

Featuring a simple 8-step process that will get you to the finish line of the ride of your dreams.

Plus, six riders share the rides of their lives: Kitty Goursolle on Paris-Brest-Paris Jill Homer on the Susitna 100 Gregory Paley on the Portland-to-Glacier 1000 Kent Peterson on Raid Californie-Oregon Del Scharffenberg on the Elite PAC Tour John Spurgeon on Race Across America

Written by David Rowe | Designed by Evan Rowe

Ready To Ride Mind. Body. Bike.

Special Edition


The Ride of Your Life Aligning heart and mind for success in long distance cycling

Written by David Rowe | Designed by Evan Rowe ©2009 R2R. All rights reserved. Retail Price: $19.95 ISBN 978-0-9822948-0-2

This e-Book is available through the online bookstore at If you have received your copy in any other way, we hope you enjoy it and we ask that you mail a check for $19.95 to RBR Publishing Company at the address below. Or you may visit the online bookstore and order a legitimate copy.

Ready To Ride


Mind. Body. Bike.

Published by: R2R® PO Box 2184 Lake Oswego, OR 97035

Distributed by: RBR Publishing Company 1617 Kramer Road Kutztown, PA 19530 USA

HOW CAN A BUSY PERSON ACHIEVE REALLY BIG GOALS ON THE BIKE? Listen to what some of cycling’s most respected authorities are saying about The Ride of Your Life: “The Ride of Your Life will help get your head and heart ready to tackle any grand cycling challenge.”

—Selene Yeager, “The Fitness Chick” columnist for Bicycling magazine

“No matter what your goal is, this book will serve as a thoughtful and effective roadmap. Most impressive!”

—Georgena Terry, Founder and CEO, Terry Precision Cycling for Women.

“Impressively, Rowe shows a deep appreciation for ‘the big picture’—he keeps everything in perspective, encourages careful analysis of goals, rewards, and their cost, and never forgets ‘the fun factor.’”

—Chris Kostman, Furnace Creek 508 race director (1990 to present), Race Across AMerica finisher (1987, at age 20)

The Ride of Your Life is an organized approach to help sport-recreational riders prepare mind, body, and bike for the achievement of long distance cycling goals.

“ organized, analytical approach to basing your goals on your values so you can seamlessly blend cycling with the rest of your life.”

—Fred Matheny, cycling writer

“...The Ride of Your Life gives you a wealth of useful, practical material to set and achieve your extraordinary goals.”

—John Lee Ellis, RAAM and P-B-P veteran, UMCA and RUSA board member, Colorado brevets organizer

“During the final miles of a long ride don’t wish for fitness; wish for motivation. The Ride of Your Life is the kick in the pants you needto raise your cycling results to a new level.”

—Lon Haldeman, 8-time cross country record holder and RAAM winner

Order Your Copy Now Get On the Road to the Ride of Your Life Today

Copyright Notice


The material contained in this publication is the property of R2R® and is protected by United States and international and other copyright laws and conventions. Some material is derived from previously published works of David Rowe, or includes concepts previously written, described, or published by Charles Hobbs.

The author makes no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, with regard to the information contained in R2R® publications or in its web sites. R2R® does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, correctness, non-infringement, merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose of information available from its publications or its web sites.

The use of trade names in this publication is for editorial purposes only. There is no intention to infringe upon trade names. No endorsement or denigration of any product, service, or organization is implied, except where expressly noted.

Day-Timer is a registered trademark of Day-Timers, Inc, a division of ACCO Brands.

The author shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the furnishing, performance, and use of information, associated instructions, programs, and/or claims of results or productivity gains. Generalizations or applicability of information contained in this publication may not apply to any specific individual. R2R® will not be liable for any loss or injury caused by information obtained from its publications or web sites. In no event will R2R® be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance on such information.

This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from author or publisher.

The contents of R2R® publications and/or its web sites should not be substituted for the advice of a personal physician. All readers are cautioned to obtain medical consultation before entering into any athletic training program.

Polar is a registered trademark of Polar Scientific. The Polar 725Xi was provided for the editorial use of the author by Polar.

Dedication To my wife, Danette, whose support and encouragement has made it possible for me to reach for the moon, and when I did, to see her face in it.

We are paying it forward A portion of the profits generated from sales of this e-Book are shared with charitable organizations that are making a difference in our corner of the world. For a current list of charities that we have identified to receive contributions made possible by the money you spent to purchase this e-Book, see the More Info page at the Ready to Ride web site.

To Charles Hobbs, whose teachings have shaped my life and helped me to realize my dreams. This work is the modest attempt of an ordinary person who has accomplished extraordinary things, because he has been able to stand on the shoulders of a giant.

Contents Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7





Planning for cycling success . . . . . . . . . . . 14 The why factor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 The lure of long distance cycling . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Time Power is not measured in watts – but there is a connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Ready to Ride Interview: Gregory Paley . . . . . . . . 25 Clarifying, aligning and prioritizing your core values. . . . . . . . . . . 33 Think about your body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Think about your relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Think about your work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Step 1: Clarify your core values . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Worksheet I: Core Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Ready to Ride Interview: Jill Homer . . . . . . . . . . 52 Getting down to this business of goal-setting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Guidelines for goal setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 What do you want to accomplish on the bike? . . . . . 66 Step 2: Evaluate your past performance . . . . . . . . 69 Ready to Ride Interview: Del Sharffenberg . . . . . . 72 Picking the right rides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Step 3: Create your wish list . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Step 4: Rate the rides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Step 5: Use your value system to evaluate the rides. . 89 Step 6: Sort the goals list. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Step 7: Chunk it down to one-year milestones. . . . . . 92 Step 8: Make a plan to achieve each goal. . . . . . . . 93 Why I didn’t ride in the Paris-Brest-Paris . . . . . . . . 97 Ready to Ride Interview: Kitty Goursolle . . . . . . . . 100


Creating your annual plan . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Every rider needs a plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Choosing a calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 Your season at a glance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Ready to Ride Interview: Kent Peterson . . . . . . . . 120


Taking your dreams to the road . . . . . . . . . 131 Keep your plan visible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 Record and analyze your training program . . . . . . . 135 Where to get direction and feedback on progress . . . 137 Keep your plan (and attitude) flexible . . . . . . . . . . 140 When cycling stops being fun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142 Define your own limits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Ready to Ride Interview: John Spurgeon . . . . . . . . 147 Ready to Ride Worksheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154 Downloads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Print-ready templates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 About R2R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Our mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Our web site . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Ready to Ride® . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Our books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 A Rider’s Guide to Building the Long Distance Bicycle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 Ourselves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 David Rowe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 Evan Rowe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163

Cover image courtesy of Race Across America. Photo by Kayvon Beykpour.



“All things are ready if our minds be so.” - William Shakespeare


I am amazed at the distances that people can travel on a bicycle. Even people who have never really practiced seem to be able to hop on a road bike and pedal 15 to 20 miles their first time out. As they begin to ride more frequently, they find they are able to ride 30 to 40 miles at 15 or 16 miles an hour with relatively little effort aside from showing up at a weekly club ride. And those who show up regularly will soon hear experienced riders talk about the century rides. And it won’t be long until they are encouraged to get the feel of a supported long distance ride, by following a route of lesser distance on the same day. Those who follow through discover the childlike elation that comes from spending a day on a bicycle, riding through town and country, free from the demands of the real world. They may also be introduced to the pain that comes from sitting on a bicycle seat for so many hours.


pleting a long ride are so very powerful and long-lasting. Some will begin to ponder the next milestone–the century –100 miles in one day. But now, with some experience under their Spandex, they recognize that riding a century requires some degree of cycling fitness. Those who crack a book or load a web page on the subject find that most of the literature focuses on mileage. Most riders (and many writers) equate long distance events to long distance training, and the basic formula for success is to add more miles, and hours, in the saddle. Most century riders train exactly this way, with long, steady distance rides and little else. For the most part, it works. Participation in organized century rides has sky-rocketed in recent years. Although the absolute numbers are smaller, there has been a similar increase in the number of riders who are participating in events beyond the 100 mile threshold. For

But for most, that will be outweighed and soon forgotten, as the feelings of accomplishment that come from com-

example, a record 5,312 cyclists from around the world traveled to France in August of 2007 to participate in the


5,312 cyclists traveled to France in June of 2007 to participate in the grand-daddy of all long distance events - Paris-Brest-Paris. More than 1400 did not finish.

9 grand-daddy of all long distance events–Paris-Brest-Paris, a 31 percent increase over the previous 2003 event.

I am convinced that mental preparation is the most important aspect of a successful long distance ride. No matter the distance, riders going beyond the century find themselves in an entirely new realm, and many riders are simply not prepared at one level or another. At an organized century event, riders who abandon the ride are quickly swept off the course and returned to the start in SAG wagons. The penalties are higher for riders in a brevet, as randonneuring events offer only limited support at the checkpoints.

So what is the best way to prepare for the longest rides? I am convinced that mental preparation is the most important aspect of a successful long distance ride. Visualizing the route months in advance will get you to the starting line with body and bike prepared. If nothing else, the time spent planning and practicing will pack your goal with a heavy emotional payload, which could be the thing that keeps you rolling when a failing bike or an aching body are signaling you to bail out. While it may not be possible to complete every ride we start, our chances are improved if we invest the time to identify a goal that has deep emotional value. Then, with the goal in mind, you need to develop a personal plan that will fit into your lifestyle. It must be tailored to meet your needs as a sport-recreational rider, someone who never raced a bicycle, but wants to grow in competence as a cyclist. This book is written to help the rider without a background in road bike training to prepare the mind first, before preparing your


Experts encourage cyclists who are contemplating a 200K brevet (124 miles) or even longer rides like double centuries to incorporate cross-training, resistance training, stretching, and diet and nutrition regimens into their preparations. While this advice is sound and important, the rider who is raising a family or managing a career often struggles to make a rigorous program fit into daily life. As riders grow older and their children leave the nest,

they have more time to train. But many assume that an aging body or health concerns may prohibit them from gaining the strength and endurance necessary to finish such an event.

10 body and bike, so you can ride with the best and achieve your dreams and keep the other important aspects of your life together in the process. This is the program that I developed over the years to improve my own riding, and to participate in challenging, recreational cycling events. These rides have been as important and motivating to me as a road race is to the amateur or professional. The achievement of one

anything taken to extremes, it can become a source of conflict. Endurance cycling, like endurance running, is addictive. It can consume your thoughts and all of your free time to the point where it can destroy relationships, careers, and virtually any other aspect of your life. Finding the balance between my goals on the bike and the other priorities of my life is important to me. In the Randonneurs Handbook, Bill Bryant warns riders who are new to riding brevets about the opportunity cost of

While it may not be possible to complete every ride we start, our chances are improved if we invest the time to identify a goal that has deep emotional value. milestone has led me to reach for another. Eventually, and to my own amazement, friends began to come to me with their questions about equipment, exercise, diet and weight management.

Success on the bike can make you more successful in other areas of life, if managed correctly. However, like

Preparing for 1000K and 1200K events has certainly tested my limits. In order to fit riding into my busy schedule, I am usually up before 5 a.m. on weekdays, riding or lifting at the gym. Saturdays are spent doing long rides, usually alone, in the farmlands and foothills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. As the season progresses, time spent training increases to as many as 20 hours a week, leaving


My goal in writing this book is to make your journey as rewarding for you as mine has been for me. The bicycle can serve as a means of realizing a very powerful sense of personal accomplishment. It can also deliver happiness, health, and a greater appreciation for life itself.

being a successful endurance cyclist. Spending weekend after weekend on the road training and riding brevets is bound to impact other aspects of one’s life, the condition of one’s home, personal finances, career, and of course, relationships can suffer.

11 just enough time in a day to eat, ride, work, sleep, and do it all over again. Chores around the house go undone. Mail piles up on my desk at home unopened. I may be achieving my dreams on the bike, but at what cost? Fortunately, I have learned over the years to view the whole year at a glance, before it begins. I typically do this in the month of December. I begin the process by reexamining my values, and reflecting on the past year in that context. Then I look to the coming year as an opportunity to do better, to experience more of what I deem important to me every day. I admit that I want a lot out of life. I don’t have to have it all, but I am determined to have what counts. For me, that is my health, my marriage, my career, and my riding. Thinking and acting on just those four things consumes every available hour of my day, leaving virtually no down time for watching TV, reading a book, or just sitting and doing nothing. But it is a choice I have made consciously, purposefully, and with the support of my family.

If you have never taken the time to clarify your value system, then you can’t really be sure what it is that cycling provides you. I certainly do not expect you to follow me down the same road. And that is what makes this approach to goal planning so very useful. Although the process that you and I will use to develop our goals will be the same, our outcomes will be unique. The plan that you develop using this system will be a reflection of your value system, not mine, or anyone else’s. You are 100 percent in control of identifying these values, prioritizing them, and balancing them in relation to one another. And you will live with the results. If you have never taken the time to clarify your value system, then you can’t really be sure what it is that cycling provides you, or what it is about the road that attracts you. If you don’t think about that now and get permission from those around you to pursue your goal, then it will be too late to circle back once you have ramped up the


I can’t say that I never have misgivings on those Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. as I roll out of my driveway, realizing that another day is passing when I won’t be sitting there at 8 a.m. having a cup of coffee with my wife. But I have made my peace with this decision, and with many other

trade-offs, I have had to make, in order to realize my dreams, to experience the rides of a lifetime.

12 training and you are 1000 miles down the road toward achieving your dream. At that point, there will be no way to turn back without feelings of disappointment or resentment toward whomever or whatever it is in your life that is calling you home. Using the system I describe in this book, you will work through those decisions before turning the pedals one rotation. It really is not difficult to do, but it will take some effort and a few hours of your time. In fact, the more time you can invest in the process, the better results you can expect. I have been using this approach for many years, and I can say with absolute certainty that it has played an instrumental role in many aspects of my success. It has helped me to understand and to learn from my failures; successes and failures are facts of life, both make us who we are now and who we are becoming.

I also remember being surprised, maybe even put off, when I learned that the key to time management success was getting very clear about what one writes in the day planner before it is ever written down. As it turns out, logging tasks and appointments is the easy part. Whether we actually complete those tasks and keep those appointments is a function of how well they fit with our beliefs and values. This practice of evaluating what we will focus on and what we will ignore is as constant as the ticking of the clock, though for many, it is not a conscious process. These decisions can be made on the fly, on a foundation of shifting sands. Or the choices can be evaluated consciously, carefully, on a foundation of stone. The difference in the way life unfolds is profound. Cycling is very important to me. It becomes more important as I grow older. The reason? Riding bikes is aligned with my values of health, physical fitness, personal growth and achievement. Yet success in cycling demands my time and my attention, which is a limited resource. My objective when using this approach has been to crystallize my thinking about what I want to accomplish on the


I am in indebted to Dr. Charles Hobbs, developer of the Insight for Time Management System. Hobbs developed and refined an approach to time management which became a mainstay for managers working in corporations across America during the 1980s and 1990s. As a young magazine editor working for a Fortune 500 publishing house, I attended one of Dr. Hobb’s time management seminars. I remember being excited when, at the beginning of the two-day workshop, Day-Timer day planners

were distributed to each attendee. After all, I had come to the workshop to learn how to be a better manager of my time and my work. Now, I had the tool in my hands to do it‌ less than one hour into a two-day workshop!

13 bike and other vital areas of life, and eliminate everything else. Establishing this kind of clarity helps me say “no” to opportunities that come up throughout the year. These things often sound like fun, even rewarding. But the time requirement still has to be evaluated. Saying “yes” to an invitation to join my college buddies on a weeklong surf trip in the Indian Ocean would be a blast, but it would also mean I would have to eliminate something, somewhere, in another important area of my life.

Success on the bike begins in the mind. Make your goals real by creating a clear picture of them. Understand their importance by evaluating them in terms of your values, not mine, not anyone else’s. As with everything in life, knowing where you are going on a bike before you roll out of the driveway can make the difference between returning from a 45-mile training ride feeling burnt, or totally stoked, because you just put another brick in the wall of your dream ride.

How do I make these choices? The answer in a word is “values.”

I hope this book will help you create the road map for the ride of your life. Use the tools in this book for three consecutive cycling seasons, and I doubt that you will be able to say you still have unfinished business on the bicycle. At the very least, I am confident that you will have accomplished great things on the bike, and the rest of your life will be enriched because of it.


At 52 years old, my hope is that I retain my health so I can continue to pursue my dreams and the opportunities that arise in life. I cannot possibly anticipate what these will be, but I am confident I’ll be able to choose the right ones and see more through to completion because I have the physical and mental strength that has come from establishing a clear set of values, and putting them to work on the bike and in other areas of life. My values and my beliefs will give me the strength to do everything possible to ride over the next mountain pass, across the next plateau into a 20-mile-an-hour headwind. I may not cross every finish line, but at least I will know that I am in the right ride, for the right reasons, and that I will have done everything humanly possible to finish.

Planning for Cycling Success

“Where your attention is, there is your destiny.” - Emmet Fox

Planning for Cycling Success



Image courtesy of Race Across America. Photo by Kayvon Beykpour.

Chapter 1: Planning for Cycling Success

There are two points on the calendar each year where millions of Americans renew their commitment to physical fitness and to cycling. One is in January, when people set goals of losing weight and becoming fit and trim, following a month of holiday parties, eating, and drinking. The other is in summer, when the sun comes out and the days grow long and riding a bicycle seems like the most natural thing to do.

The why factor Most of us have no trouble coming up with inspirational goals. Centuries and challenge events are common. So are

long, multi-day fast cyclotours. Most of us know that in order to be successful, we need to prepare for these long distance events. And that is where many people’s dreams fade, or worse, turn into nightmares. Ask a road bike rider to describe his or her goals for the year, and you will often get a statistic like total miles or average speed over a 100 mile course. While these may be good measures of fitness, and indicators of one’s potential for success, they are not inherently motivational. Stating that your goal is to ride 5,000 miles this year is analogous to stating that you want to lose 20 pounds. They are respectable goals, but odds are most who set them won’t achieve them. Somewhere along the road, commitment wanes. The bike sits in the garage. Chips and dip and beer find their way into the shopping cart. Despite our best intentions, goals like these lack the “why” factor. • You want to ride 2,000 or 10,000 miles this year… why?

Planning for Cycling Success

Both points on the calendar stimulate a burst of activity and resolutions to lose weight and get fit and healthy. Gym memberships soar. Bicycle sales spike. Yet as the weeks and months roll on, interest and commitment dwindle. It isn’t that people lose sight of their goals. It is because they have set their goals on the wrong things. They have set their goals on the process, rather than the outcomes. For the most part, process is pretty boring. It is the outcomes that bring true and enduring feelings of accomplishment.


The 100-mile century ride is a pivotal milestone in cycling. It is the distance that millions of recreational cyclists hope they will one day be able to reach. • You want to be able to maintain an average speed of 15, or 18, or 20 miles per hour for five hours… why? • You want to lose 10 or 20 pounds by June… why? Even if you can quickly state the benefits of these objectives, if these are the types of goals you have set, the deck is stacked against you. Goals stated this way simply do not have enough emotional content to pull you through to their achievement. But they do not have to be thrown overboard. They simply need to be restated as measures of your progress toward your goal, rather than the goal itself.


Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before he finally invented a light bulb that would be commercially viable. With each attempt, he became more knowledgeable of the likely requirements for success. If his goal was to create a filament that would carry 30 amps of electrical current for one hour, he might have given up. But this wasn’t the goal – it was only a measure of his progress. What if Thomas Edison had focused solely on process measures – on sustaining 30 amps for 60 minutes – and had thrown in the towel when after 500 attempts, he had only achieved 15 amps for 45 minutes? The key is that Edison’s goal arose from his dream to light entire cities. He believed that a light bulb was the thing to do it. He visualized a future state and he worked to make that vision a reality. That vision of the future was the magnet that pulled him through 1,000 failures to a success that not only changed his world, but ours as well. Not every one of us is an inventor, but as cyclists, we too can dream about achieving goals that may seem impossible. What are your goals for cycling? Have you thought about riding in a century event, or a multi-day cross- state ride? Have you ever pondered what it would take to achieve such a goal, and concluded it was out of your reach?

Planning for Cycling Success

There is a paradox in goal setting. In order to be fulfilling, goals need to be inspirational. In order to be inspirational, they need to focus on the things you want most dearly in life. Yet, many of us are reluctant to set goals for the things we want the most, because we do not believe we can achieve them. Or, we are afraid of the disappointment or the embarrassment we might feel if we strive for a goal and fail. So we never start. Better to live in a mild state of constant disappointment than to risk the major disappointment on a failed attempt at something great, right?


17 The 100-mile century ride is a pivotal milestone in cycling. It is the distance that millions of recreational cyclists hope they will one day be able to reach. And for those who go beyond that distance, seeing “100� on the odometer remains a key indicator of progress, whether it measures how far we have ridden in a week, in a day, or in the last five hours.

rides, and look forward to the warmer and drier months of the year, when I can commute to work. As my cycling progressed, I began to set goals to ride centuries during the summer months, and I typically made it to two or three. In an average cycling season, I logged between 1500 and 2000 miles. Given that I was raising a son, coaching soccer, and trying to become established in my industry, I was quite pleased with my accomplishments on the bike.

Can you imagine riding two centuries in a single day? Hundreds do it in the annual Seattle to Portland double century. How about riding five back-to-back centuries, going without sleep, so it can be done in less than 48 hours? Scores of accomplished riders attempt it every fall at the Furnace Creek 508, an ultra marathon cycling race held in Death Valley, California.

The lure of long distance cycling I have been riding road bikes for more than 30 years. Like a lot of roadies, I belong to a club. I participate in weekend

Beautiful, as long as you are physically prepared to enjoy it. Many simply are not. They, too, shared the goal, but did not prepare adequately. Seeing riders sprawled out

Planning for Cycling Success

Just a few years ago, the thought of participating in events like these seemed out of reach. Now, I realize they are all within reach physically. But the question is, is the payoff worth the effort?

About three years ago, I decided that I wanted to step up my cycling, not just in terms of miles ridden, but I had begun to think about event rides that would challenge me. The one that caught my attention was the Torture 10,000. Produced every August by the Portland Wheelmen, the Torture 10,000 was arguably the toughest century in the Pacific Northwest. Originally, it featured 10,000 feet of climbing across 100 miles of winding roads in the Mt. Hood wilderness area, hence the name. Over the years, the total altitude gain crept up to more than 13,000 feet. The event attracts hundreds of riders from California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho who come to test their fitness, endurance, and climbing abilities in an alpine landscape that is almost too beautiful for words.

18 on the ground at rest stops is a common sight. Seeing so many SAG wagons rolling down the road, their racks full of bikes, made me wonder what these riders were expecting when they signed up. As one of my cycling buddies says, “I like to stay away from any ride that has the word ‘torture’ or ‘death’ in it.” Completing the Torture 10,000 became the focal point of my year. I began commuting to work on my bike four days a week, which gave me 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing during the week. I joined a group every Saturday morning for the Torture Training Series, run by Mike and Dee Real. I assumed that these two very experienced cyclists had designed the 14-week series to prepare riders to finish the T10K. But after riding with them and getting to know them, I learned later that the Torture Series

pre-dated the T10K, and it was a form of “enjoyment” all of its own. In fact, the Torture Series did prepare me for the Torture 10,000. The training ride that the Reals planned for us two weeks before the event had 90 percent of the miles and 90 percent of the climbing that we would encounter on the event day. When the event day came, those of us who had devoted our Saturdays during the spring and early summer to rides in the mountains with Mike and Dee sailed through the course together, and agreed it was easier than the training ride we had done two weeks earlier. The benefits were far more than physical. The emotional payoff was huge. And because we weren’t struggling, we were able to enjoy one another’s company as well as the landscape.

Planning for Cycling Success

19 We crossed the finish line together, put our bikes on the rack, and walked to the table where volunteers gave us T10K decals to put on our helmets, and a commemorative poster for our walls. Then another volunteer put a bowl of ice cream in my hands. It was strawberry–my favorite– and not the low-fat version, either. I remember the bunch of us, sitting there on the edge of the sidewalk, eating our ice cream. I don’t know if it had ever tasted so good. Of course, not every one who started the Torture 10,000 finished it. Some of those who did not finish (DNF) had problems that could not be corrected by the mechanics, who were out on the course. But the majority were riders, just like me, with one exception: they had set the goal but had not prepared for it. They hadn’t taken the steps that are required of anyone who hoped to finish.

and wind up complaining every time the road turns uphill. Some just turn around and head home. They aren’t mentally ready, so when their bodies began to ache, they quit. Either they haven’t connected the Torture 10,000 with the physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual benefits of a successful finish, or they have decided that the hard work of getting there simply isn’t worth it. In other words, they haven’t placed enough value on finishing the ride. It doesn’t have enough meaning for them. If it did, they would feel less pain, or at least, they would accept it as the price tag for making their goal a reality. Fortunately, I had done my own calculations for the Torture 10,000 and I knew that I would have to prepare on my own simply to get ready to ride with Mike and Dee on their training series. I trained on my own for six weeks before I joined my first Torture Series training ride, increasing my mileage and altitude gain until it matched the profile of the rides they were hosting.

Planning for Cycling Success

What Mike and Dee Real had done with their Torture Series training rides was to provide the structure that is necessary to accomplish the goal. They understood the physical requirements, and they developed a training regimen that would prepare our bodies for the challenge. They did the math so the riders wouldn’t have to. They knew precisely how many miles their rides had to cover, how many feet they had to climb, and at what pace. Many riders are surprised by the training requirement. They show up to the training rides mentally unprepared for the day,

Riders show up mentally unprepared and wind up complaining every time the road turns uphill. They aren’t mentally ready, so when their bodies began to ache, they quit.

20 Individuals with a highly defined set of core values are able to marshal their own energy and the support of others to accomplish their goals.

If you have trained for and completed a century, then you already know what “concentration of power” means, even if you haven’t heard the term. According to time management expert Charles Hobbs, concentration of power is the ability to focus on and accomplish the most vital priorities of your life.

So what is the trick to accomplishing big riding goals and keeping your life in balance? Hobbs teaches us that success is on a surer footing when goals are grounded in what he calls “unifying principles,” which he defines as personal truths or values used as a guide in goal-planning and living. Though I subscribe to his method and have had great success with it, I find it more natural to refer to unifying principles as “core values,” and that is how I will refer to them throughout this book. I have developed about a dozen core values, and I use them as both compass and barometer to set goals, and to make sure my pursuit of them doesn’t overwhelm everything else in my life that is important to me.

Planning for Cycling Success

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed every minute of it, because I placed so much importance on finishing the Torture 10,000, and finishing the Torture 10,000 was in complete alignment with my values. There weren’t any conflicts of interest, which meant that I had the support and encouragement that I would need from all the stakeholders in my life, the people that are either helped or hurt by how I decide to invest my time and resources. The fact that my family, my friends and neighbors, and my boss know that I love to ride and are supportive of my goals on the bike, allows me to focus all of my energy with all of their support on my goal. This concentration of power has been the key to whatever success I have achieved on the bike.

In the process of accomplishing your cycling goals, you may also have learned about “incongruity.” According to Hobbs, we experience “congruity” when there is balance, harmony and appropriateness with the events in our lives. Long hours on the bike, week after week, may get you to the finish line of the Death Ride —or even Paris-Brest-Paris—but it may also create serious incongruities with your job, your partner, even with your own health. Like anything of value in life, it requires an investment of your time, and since your time is limited, you will need to take it away from something or someone in order to give it to cycling.

21 It is easy to set your mind on a goal like a century ride and forget that to finish a 100-mile ride feeling strong, you will ride 2,000 miles preparing for it. Unless you are living off the fat of the land, there is going to be a job, a yard, a bank balance, or a loved one that is going to get ignored for long periods of time. Maybe that’s okay with you. Then again, maybe it’s not. Core values will help you work through what is really important before you ride headlong into conflicts with those you love, or those who pay you to do great things at work.

Once you’ve thought them through and written them down, core values give you the resolve to do what’s necessary to experience the things that are most important to you, while you’ve still got the legs to do it.

Time Power® is not measured in watts – but there is a connection So who is Charles Hobbs and what does he have to do with long distance cycling?

Hobbs and Outlook share a common bond in the calendar. Most of us who came to rely on the Insight System discovered Hobbs after purchasing a “Day-Timer®.” Most anyone who is old enough to have cut our time management teeth using the Day-Timer® have been forced to give it up in favor of Outlook or Lotus Notes some other PC-based calendaring tool.

Planning for Cycling Success

Either a great deal or nothing at all, depending on your orientation toward the practice of goal setting and time management. Dr. Charles R. Hobbs is the creator of the “Insight on Time Management System,” which was used by millions to improve their personal productivity in the days before Microsoft Outlook and other shared online calendars.


I recall that I even yearned for the day that my calendar would be linked to others on a network, until the time came when the networked calendar became so efficient that I had to defend a decision to decline an appointment during a one-hour time slot that was clearly “open” in the eyes of colleagues who wanted me at a meeting. That was about the time that I decided to pull my Day-Timer® binder out of mothballs, order a fresh paper refill, and carve out

Core values will get you out of bed early and to the gym, or riding into a dark winter morning, when your neighbors are inside warm and dry, enjoying their coffee. time in my day to make sure the most vital priorities of my work and my personal life were getting accomplished. Of course, before you can write those priorities down you have to know what they are, and that is a problem of a different order. I knew, for example, that I wanted to increase my hours on the bike. But I needed a way to insure that the hours I chose to invest in riding and other forms of training didn’t rob the time from other priorities. I recall sitting in a Charles Hobbs seminar in 1992. Having just plunked down hundreds of dollars and expecting to learn how to use the Day-Timer® to become proficient in time management, I was more than a little surprised when the instructor kicked off the meeting by talking about values, and the important role they play in goal planning and time management. The basic idea is that our core values are personal truths that form the foundation on which we make most of our

Planning for Cycling Success

Online calendars have streamlined the process of booking appointments with our colleagues. But these calendars have no checks and balances to determine when you are over-scheduled, or overwhelmed, or out of time to focus on the project work that all of us have in our jobs. There is at least one thing that a paper-based calendar can do that makes it superior to its online, networked counterpart, and that is its ability to determine how you will manage your time in advance. Hobbs called this process “time management,” and defined it as the act of controlling the occurrence of events, so that one’s most important goals can be realized. I was a committed user of the Day-Timer® system for many years, but I was also an early adopter of just about any PC-based software tool that made me more efficient and effective at work. So, in the early 1990s, when companies like After Dark and NOW introduced calendar tools, I was an early adopter. I found those tools extremely useful and fun.

23 decisions in life. Individuals with a highly defined set of core values have a strong footing and are able to marshal their own energy – and the support of others – to accomplish their goals. In fact, most productivity experts agree that successful time management is dependent on first having clarified your values. Goals follow, and are derived from those values, as you begin to describe the circumstances you want to experience that will bring your life in alignment with those values.

Want to retire comfortably at age 65? A financial planner will help you determine how much money you need to set aside from each paycheck and how it should be invested to achieve your financial goal. The value of having financial security in the future is more important than the value of the dollars set aside today.

Want to get an advanced degree? To do that, you need to study for the standardized entrance exams, and once admitted, complete the coursework until you have satisfied the degree requirements. It usually takes two years or more, but for those who do it, the value of the degree and what it will bring them professionally in the future is greater than the value of hours they must invest today.

Another aspect of accomplishing a cycling goal, which makes it unique, is that its payoff is intangible and somewhat fleeting. We have all heard it said that we should enjoy the journey. Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn puts it this way: “The major reason for setting a goal is what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be of greater value that what you get.”

Planning for Cycling Success

What you do each day, and what you write down as “to dos” in your calendar, are the small steps you must take in order to make that future state a reality. Most of us understand and accept this process, when it is laid out for us by someone else.

Want to complete a double century in 12 hours? Unfortunately, achieving a goal in cycling isn’t quite as straightforward. There is no career or professional counselor available to the recreational cyclist. Unless you are on a cycling team or hire a personal coach, it will be up to you to clarify the objective, to analyze the requirements for accomplishing it, and to chunk them down into monthly, weekly, and daily actions that you will take to prepare your mind, your body, and your bike for the event of your dreams.

24 Eric Ahlvin, Rocky Mountain 1200.

In fact, it is the ride up to the starting line that is the greatest challenge, not the ride to the finish line. For every rider that starts a century, there are 10 that wanted to be there at one time or another. But the work that must be done and the sacrifices that must be made in the weeks of training which lead to a successful event ride are the acid test of our commitment to our dreams. If the dream is out of alignment with our core values, we simply won’t start, or if we do, we may not finish.

Planning for Cycling Success

Conversely, it is your core values that will help you to get out of bed early and head to the gym to lift weights, or ride into a dark winter morning, when your neighbors are sitting inside warm and dry, enjoying their first cup of coffee. And it is your core values that will pull you through when the going gets tough. And the going can get very tough on a ride of 100 miles or more, if that is your goal. Of course, if it were easily done, more people would be doing it.


Ready to Ride Interview: Kent Peterson Age 49 | Issaquah, WA Photo by Jonathan Maus,

Kent often describes himself as someone who is “not a nutritional role model.” Given the volume of Slim Jims, Pay-Day bars, and quad-espresso’s he consumes on a ride, he is, as always, telling the truth. But on just about

every other count, Kent serves as an inspiration to cyclists of all shapes and sizes. Cyclists from all over the world follow his blog closely for advice on all aspects of bicycling. After discovering the sport of randonneuring, Kent began riding with the Seattle International Randonneurs. In his first year in the sport, he completed the Super Randonneur Series and went on to ride Paris-Brest-Paris. To that list he has added some of the longest and most challenging brevets in the world, including London-Edinburgh-London, and the Rocky Mountain 1200 in western Canada.

Planning for Cycling Success

Few riders know as much about long distance cycling and take the time to freely share what they have learned as does Kent Peterson. Road racer, ultramarathon cyclist, randonneur, adventure tourist, mountain bike racer, commuter, Kent’s life is steeped in just about every form and function of bicycling. A nutritional role model he is not, but on every other count, he sets a standard that is sometimes aspirational, other times practical, always ethical.

26 While these rides are difficult and attempted by only the most intrepid road cyclists, his most audacious cycling feat is his successful completion of the Great Divide Race, a self-supported, solo competition following the 2,490-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Kent will tell you without hesitation that he considers none of these feats to be his greatest achievement on the bike or in life. Long distance riding, he says, is something anyone can do. Much more difficult has been his own attempt to live “car free” for the past ten years or so, he has devoted his life and his career to helping others spend a few less hours in a car, and a few more turning the pedals. Ready to Ride: How many years have you been riding?

R2R: What was your first long distance event? Peterson: My older sister got to go to school every day, and I was eager to go to school too. I thought that would be fun (I was wrong about that, by the way). Anyhow, I knew the school was down the road and I had a trike. A neighbor busted me and brought me back home. I think I was three years old at the time…

It wasn’t until I moved to the Pacific Northwest that I started doing the longer distance rides. I still had the mentality that 100 miles was far. But I came out here and I did STP (Seattle to Portland) in two days. I thought, “Wow, that was really easy!” So I did it in one day. Then I found out about Redmond Cycle Club. They run a couple of long distance events from Seattle to Spokane. One is 275 miles, and the other is 285 miles, and both are one-day events. That is how I found out about the randonneurs. These guys go out and ride long all the time … the training rides are long. My first training ride astounded me. It went from Issaquah down to the Black Diamond Bakery and back. I’ve done rides down to the bakery before but … I remember Terry Zmrhal (Race Director, RAAM), was the ride leader. The pace wasn’t super fast, but it wasn’t slow, either. But the thing is, no sooner do we get to the bakery than Terry is saying … “Okay, let’s go!”

Planning for Cycling Success

Kent Peterson: If you count my trike, 46 years. A little less if you start counting from where I learned to balance.

“I’ve been riding 46 years if you count my trike, a little less if you start counting from where I learned to balance.”

27 I am thinking…hey, we’ve been here a only minute, and this is a bakery! But he’s saying, “We’re outta here … grab a donut and go!”

Joel said, “We’re going to meet at Golden Gate Park on Labor Day. You pay $20, and everyone who finishes gets a t-Shirt.”

That was my first exposure to one of the keys of getting fast on long distances is minimizing your time at the control stops. That is one of the things that everybody who has done the rando stuff figures out. But it was a revelation to me at that time.

Joel took a map and drew five or six horizontal lines between San Francisco and Portland, splitting the area up into zones. He said, you need to get a proof of passage in each of these zones…an ATM receipt or a mini-mart receipt. Other than that, you choose your own adventure. The big choice was the route to Portland. Some went up the coast; some went up the central valley.

R2R: What is the most challenging event you have ever participated in?

R2R: Why did you decide to ride this event? Peterson: The Raid Californie-Oregon was organized by Joel Metz in September 2003. What I like about it is that it really strips everything down to the essence. Joel looked at a map and said, let’s ride from San Francisco to Portland. That’s about 750 miles so it is on a par with a 1200K.

I looked at this and said, “This is great! This is the kind of stuff that I love to do!” R2R: How did you prepare physically for this event? Peterson: I don’t train, I practice. For the Raid, I went out and I practiced a lot. I knew I had to get more climbing in. Mt. Rainier is one of my spiritual centers of power. So I rode some around there and up Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie

“No sooner do we get to the bakery than Terry is saying…‘Okay, we’re outta here…grab a donut and go!’”

Planning for Cycling Success

Peterson: I guess that would be the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race. It’s just under 2,500 miles, running from Canada to Mexico along the spine of the Rockies. On a road bike, though, I would have to say it was a race called Raid Californie-Oregon.

28 “The tricky part was getting the aluminum parts off. The seat post melted down into the frame.” Pass, and a little loop right here in the neighborhood that we call the Issaquah Alps. I probably took it more seriously than I did any other event. R2R: What bike did you ride in the Raid?

Naturally I called up Wayne: “So what are you going to do with your old frame?” I asked him. “It’s yours,” he answered.

Together with my buddies at the shop, we built it up. Parts just came out of nowhere for this. I was walking by a thrift store. I saw a guy walking in with a set of wheels. I had never seen bicycle wheels in a thrift store … by the time I reached the store, the guy was coming out … with his wheels. He saw me, dressed in my biker duds, and he approached and said, “Do you want some wheels?” I ended up using the rear wheel from that deal on the bike. Later, my friend Bob Brudvik walked into the shop and offered me an old front wheel. So I built it up and I rode the hell out of it. R2R: Did the bike perform well? Peterson: I have to say that it is probably the best bike I have ever ridden for doing these long distance events. The geometry is relaxed; you can be tired and the bike still keeps rolling straight. It can haul enough gear for a brevet. The bike that I’ve ridden that rides most like the

Planning for Cycling Success

Peterson: That year, I had just made the transition from the software industry to full-time bike geek. I was working for Mark Thomas at Sammamish Valley Cycle. In the back room at Sammamish, I found a black frame in a box. I was told it was Wayne Methner’s old Litespeed. Wayne had a fire in his garage and all of his bikes had burned up, including a Litespeed Blue Ridge titanium touring bike. The insurance people came and saw it and just wrote him a check. He’s got a new bike.

I did a little research on the Internet. I found out that a garage fire can get up to around 3,000 degrees, and that it takes about twice that to do any real damage to titanium. The tricky part was getting the aluminum parts off. The seat post melted down into the frame. But we got it out, and the frame was still dead true. We left it black.

“There is a saying: you should always beware of old guys and locals. This guy wasn’t local. But he was old.” Blue Ridge is the Surly Cross-Check. Being a steel bike, it is a couple of pounds heavier. Titanium really does the road-shock-absorption thing like nothing else. R2R: Tell us about the ride. Peterson: My plan was to finish this ride somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 hours. It was about 1200K. I tend to do 1200s in about 80 hours. I’m not super fast. I’m not super slow. I was sizing up the competition. I am looking at the messengers and they are very fast, they ride a lot, but they don’t ride continually over long distances without a break. So I really didn’t know what to make of those guys.

But the guy I was really worried about was this older guy. There is a saying: you should always beware of old

guys and locals. This guy wasn’t local. But he was old, and by old I mean he was just a little older than me. He was named Lindsay Gauld. Lindsay had been on the 1982 Canadian Olympic Cycling team. He wound up breaking his collarbone just before the Olympics and he didn’t compete. He was on a Trek with aero bars. I remember thinking that he looked like he really rides a lot and would do well. It turns out that on the first day, as we took off through the Golden Gate Park, the messengers are going like hell. I tend to be one of the most law-abiding cyclists, ever. But I hadn’t actually mapped out how I was going to get out of San Francisco. I was thinking, well, I will just follow people. Lindsay and I wound up riding side by side. I had a little camera and I am snapping pictures. But we are trying to just hang with these guys and get out of the city. At one point Lindsay turns to me and says, “I have never run so many red lights in my life.” “Yea,” I say, “but if we lose ‘em, we are doomed!” So we make it out over the bridge, and then it’s the big split between the riders going up the valley and the riders going up the coast. Lindsay pulls out ahead. I come upon him a little bit later and he’s looking a little bit shaken.

Planning for Cycling Success

I met Ira Ryan there. The finish was at his house. In terms of the way his bike was laid out, I could see he was intelligent. He had a Surly Cross-Check, and it’s one of my favorite bikes because it’s cheap and it’s reliable. He had that set up with front panniers that I thought were kind of big for what we were doing.


30 He’d just slid off of the road and into the gravel. It turns out that he had broken his collarbone. It didn’t put him out of the race; he wound up finishing third. He is one absolutely tough guy. A little bit later, Ira Ryan and I wind up riding together. Of course, we have no idea where anybody is. At a stop at a mini-mart to get a receipt, I was talking with Ira. We wound up helping each other out. Even though we are racing, there was camaraderie among the riders; we are all in this together. I asked Ira, “Where are you cutting in?” We were both heading north on the Coast Highway, but eventually we would have to cut in to the valley. I told him what my plan was.

We ride through a small town, and I spot a small town post office. I point that out to Ira. “Hey Ira,” I said. “Late at night if you need a place to stop for a few hours that is warm, these small town post of-

A little while later, I turned to him again: “I got to ask you, though … what are you carrying in those panniers?” “Oh, I have clothes. I have a little stove, and a small espresso machine.” “What?” I said, in disbelief. “I need my coffee!” Literally, at that moment, we go by a roadside coffee stand. And I say, “For God’s sake, man! They sell coffee! We are racing here!” Awhile later, Ira said, “How far are you planning on riding tonight?”

“Late at night if you need a place to stop for a few hours that is warm, these small town post offices tend to be warm and open.”

Planning for Cycling Success

Ira said, “I wouldn’t do that. Cut in over here … it is a better climb up over the ridge of the Oregon Coast Range.” I filed that away and thought, when I get up there and I see it, if it looks good, I’ll take Ira’s advice.

fices tend to be warm and open. You can pull in there and sleep.” I learned this trick from riding with the randonneurs.

31 Photo by Jonathan Maus,

“I don’t know. I figured I would go until I am tired.” Ira added, “I am planning on sleeping only 6 hours a night.” I couldn’t help myself. I burst out laughing. “What?” Ira said. “That is way too much, man! You don’t need to sleep that much.” “Well, how much are you planning?” “I don’t know for sure. I will pull over when I am tired. I don’t use an alarm clock. I sleep awhile and then I get back on the bike.”

I wound up riding until about midnight or 1 a.m. I pulled over in this little section of beach and wrapped myself in a space blanket. I made what we call a “rando burrito.” I slept for a few hours and then kept going.

Planning for Cycling Success

About that time, we began climbing. Now, Ira is a stronger rider than I am, and he pulled ahead, out of sight. I didn’t see him any more for the rest of the race.

32 “I am coming into Portland and I am being passed by girls on 3-speeds. I’m definitely slowing down.” I was convinced Ira was ahead of me. I would see things along the way that convinced me of it. I recalled that Ira had a banana in his jersey pocket, and then I saw a banana peel on the road; it convinced me that he was up there, somewhere. With these long events, you have a lot of time where you are just in your own head. You better be pretty comfortable with that.

The woman at the espresso stand says something like, “It’s a nice night for a ride. Where are you riding to?” I answered, “Well, that depends on how good this mocha is! I’m headed for Portland.”

It was just the perfect evening for riding. Everything just seemed to make perfect sense. Just as I start to get tired, I see a campground. It has a sign that says it is closed for the season. “A closed campground–perfect!” After all, who is going to be at a closed campground at 1 a.m.? I roll in. I sleep for a few hours. I get up and I ride. I’m coming into Portland, I’m starting to get tired–no, actually I am way beyond starting to get tired. When I look down I notice that I am in my biggest gear: big ring up front, small ring in the back. When I get tired, I tend to do that. Instead of spinning, I just pound. I am coming into Portland and I am being passed by girls on 3-speeds. I’m definitely slowing down. We were supposed to call the finish line before we get in, to make sure somebody would be there. It’s around 5 o’clock on Thursday. We’d started on Monday. I find a pay phone about three blocks from the finish line. It was 5 o’clock. I figured somebody would be around.

Planning for Cycling Success

One evening, everything is just absolutely perfect–the weather, the light, everything. I pull up to a little roadside espresso stand and I order a quad-shot mocha. The one thing that is great about randonneuring is they don’t do testing for caffeine, and that’s good.

She looked at me like I was insane.

“‘Ira, where are your panniers?’ His bike was totally stripped of them. ‘Oh, I mailed those back,’ he answered.” I dialed the number. “Hi, this is Kent Peterson, I am one of your riders, and I just wanted to make sure somebody was there.” “Yeah, yeah, we’re here,” answered the voice on the phone. “Where are you?” I tell them. “That’s like three blocks away!” “Yeah, I’m coming in.” I ride in and there is this big banner and people are cheering.

This just astounded me. Ira had called in a few hours earlier and he was told that he was in the lead. The look on his face when he came into the finish and saw me; he was thrilled to be done but he saw me and he had this look on his face that I will never forget. I could see that he was thinking…“Oh, shit… it’s the guy from Issaquah!” “Ira, where are your panniers?” His bike was totally stripped of them. The clothes he had were now stuffed down into his jersey.

R2R: What an incredible story. But you weren’t done riding yet, right? You said you had planned to ride back up to Issaquah after the Raid. Did you follow through with that plan?

“He’s not here? Well, who won?” I asked. “You’re it!”

Peterson: I slept for a few hours, and then I had to head back up to Issaquah because I had to work on Saturday. So I pretty much spent all of Friday riding up to Seattle.

Planning for Cycling Success

“Oh, I mailed those back. I took your advice, I slept in a post office. Then I realized, what am I doing with all this stuff? So I boxed it all up and mailed it home.”

“Where’s Ira?” I asked. “He called in a few hours ago from Eugene,” someone answered.


34 “Instead of looking at the goal, I look at myself, and say, ‘What do I have to change in myself in order to accomplish it?’” Boy, was I a space cadet riding out of Portland! I intended to ride the Seattle to Portland (STP) route backwards. I hadn’t ridden STP in a couple of years, and I wound up taking a wrong turn. I realized it when I went by the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center. I was thinking, “gee, I don’t remember this much climbing on the STP route.” Then it dawned on me, “I’m not on the STP route. I am on the Tour de Blast route!” So I wound up backtracking to I-5, and just rode the shoulder until I got to where I knew I could navigate home.

Peterson: Pretty much all of them. My main goal has been to ride rather than drive. I enjoy riding, I never enjoyed driving. Therefore, I resolved to live in such a way as to maximize my riding and minimize my driving. I consider living car-free with my wife and kids for the past twenty years to be my greatest accomplishment. Another goal has always been to help others enjoy their riding.

Peterson: I take big problems and bust them down into smaller problems. You figure out how to solve those smaller problems and you have the building blocks to tackle the really big thing. Take something like riding Paris-Brest-Paris. I don’t look at PBP and say, “That’s really hard. This is an elite ride that only a few people do.” I look at it differently. So I start by saying, “This is doable. There are lots of people who do this. My God! Thousands of people ride PBP.” I do have guys that I look to as role models. Not that I emulate everything they do, but there are guys like Ken Bonner or John Stamsted, who just make it look easy.1 For someone like Ken, riding PBP is easy because of what he has done. I say, OK, what has he done? How did he go about it? How did Ken Bonner become Ken Bonner? 1. Ken Bonner, at 62 years old, is considered to be one of the fastest, most accomplished randonneurs in North America. He holds course records at the Colorado Last Chance 1200k, and the Rocky Mountain 1200K. John Stamstad, now retired from competitive cycling, has been called the Michael Jordan of endurance mountain biking. He set the original Great Divide Route speed record in 1999 when he blazed it in a seemingly impossible 18 days, 5 hours. Most riders take two months or more.

Planning for Cycling Success

R2R: What areas of your life do you set goals for?

R2R: What is your approach to setting goals?

35 My goal in riding PBP or riding The Great Divide or whatever is, to be the kind of guy who can do this kind of riding. So instead of looking at the goal, I really look at myself, and say, “What do I have to change in myself in order to accomplish it?” R2R: What advice would you offer to someone just getting started in long distance cycling?

Some people come into a control or the finish of an event and complain they had a really hard time, because they aren’t used to riding in the dark. I want to say to them. “It gets dark every night! You have an opportunity to practice this every night! If you don’t think your lights are adequate, figure that out prior to the event.

Finally, I would say, never quit until you’ve eaten something. You are not out until the time limit has passed and you aren’t at a checkpoint. Any distance is biking distance if you have the time, food and water to get there.

Planning for Cycling Success

Peterson: You never know what is going to happen to you on these events. I try and be incredibly pessimistic about what could happen. So that makes my practicing quite intense. For example, if the event will have a lot of climbing, then I will do a lot more climbing prior to the event than I think I will do in the event. If I think it might be raining in the event, I go out and ride in the rain. Some people see that it is raining and they won’t ride. When I see that it is raining, I see a great opportunity to practice.

It’s like music, or martial arts. It’s practice, practice, practice. When you are actually doing the event, or earning a black belt, or playing a symphony, you go in prepared. If you have this base of practice going in, you will be able to say, ‘this isn’t as bad as that rainy night I went out to train.’”

About Ready to Ride


Our Mission

Our Books

Along with my son Evan, I created Ready to Ride® with the goal of helping others achieve their dreams through cycling. The focus of our concern is the road bike rider, who wants to use the bicycle as a means of creating health, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment. We believe that what we learn out about ourselves riding the bicycle can strengthen us, and that sense of confidence will spill over into every aspect of our lives.

A Rider’s Guide to Building the Long Distance Bicycle

Our Web Site

To find answers, distance cyclist David Rowe hosted a panel discussion with four leading experts at the 2007 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in San Jose, California. Sharing their wisdom were randonneur and ultracyclist Terry Zmrhal; Shimano’s top mechanical technician, Matt Eames; Independent Fabrications president Matt Bracken; and frame designer/builder Steve Rex of Rex Cycles. Their discussion took place before a live audience. The edited transcript forms the foundation of this e-Book, giving roadies an insider’s view of the most vital aspects of the long distance bicycle, including the trade-offs among weight, durability, serviceability and speed. A Rider’s Guide to Building the Long Distance Bicycle is available exclusively from the online bookstore at

Planning for Cycling Success

Ready to Ride® Ready To Ride® is a web site for sport-recreational cyclists who want to balance the demands of career and family with the physical, mental, and equipment requirements of long distance cycling. If you are looking for ideas on how to increase your mileage and your enjoyment of the sport of cycling, you will find scores of articles packed full of useful ideas you can put to work immediately.

What are the essential elements of the long distance bicycle? And how does this type of bike differ from those designed for racing or touring?

37 Ourselves David Rowe David Rowe is a road bike rider who lives, works and rides in the Pacific Northwest. Like a lot of cyclists, David was comfortable riding 30 to 50 miles with his club. Then he was bitten by the century bug. That’s not unusual, but he found that his approach to the sport helped him to ride the longer distances feeling great, completing centuries with the notion that it would be fun to just keep on riding.

Evan is also a contributing photographer to, and his photo essay coverage has been featured on the RBR premium site in 2006 and 2007. Evan designed the book, A Rider’s Guide to Building the Long Distance Bicycle.

Planning for Cycling Success

David’s goal-centered approach helped him attempt longer and more challenging routes in the Cascade Range and on the Columbia Plateau with distance cyclists called randonneurs. What he learned while riding with these highly skilled cyclists helped him complete some of the most challenging long distance events in the Pacific Northwest, including the Cascade 1200 (2006), the Portland-toGlacier 1000 (2007), and the Rocky Mountain 1200 (2008). With his son Evan, David created Ready to Ride® in 2005 with the goal of helping cyclists, who, like himself, do not have a background in road racing, but want to excel at distance cycling events of 100 miles or more.

Evan Rowe Evan Rowe is a graphic designer living in Portland, Oregon. Evan began his career at Oregon State University as an engineering major, but quickly discovered that the field didn’t offer him avenues to explore his creativity. He had long kept photography as a hobby that he spent a great deal of his personal time with, but he wanted to find something on the cutting edge of the artistic world. A few short months later, Evan found himself in a competitive group of 38 hand-picked students in pursuit of a BFA in Graphic Design, a program which allowed him to marry his hobby of photography with his newfound loves for typography, page layout and brand/identity design. Evan is currently working at a branding firm in Portland.

Profile for David Rowe

Bike Portland - The Ride of Your Life  

A free, 37-page "Preview Edition" of The Ride of Your Life, featuring the Table of Contents, Introduction, Chapter One, and interview with K...

Bike Portland - The Ride of Your Life  

A free, 37-page "Preview Edition" of The Ride of Your Life, featuring the Table of Contents, Introduction, Chapter One, and interview with K...