Ready to Ride? A Must-Read eBook for Long Distance Cyclists
Last year, I picked up a randonneuring habit.
A new cycling-related hobby was probably the last thing I needed, but that didn’t stop me. Natalie Ramsland enchanted me with the idea of riding further-for-longer, so we set off together to dip our toes into this brave new world.
For me, it was the tip of a very large and very daunting iceberg. A 200k brevet was a sweet little baby in the arms of a randonneur. It was cute and cuddly and downright do-able. And though my official brevet cards have been signed and stamped and authorized by every important Rando official from here to Paris (they really did go all the way to Paris!), a 200k brevet does hardly a true Randonneusse make.
This year, I’m after a bigger fish. A 300k, a 400k and, if I play my cards right, a 600k. All this in the name of possibly riding in the biggest Rando show of all time – the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris.
Can I really do it? Is it really possible? Can I really ride 1200 kilometers in less than 90 hours? (For anyone slow with the metric conversion math that’s about 745 miles in a little under 4 days).
I’m going to be honest with you. I have no idea.
In fact, as of about two weeks ago, I had no idea how I would even attempt such a feat. And then along comes “The Ride of Your Life“, an eBook written by long-distance specialist David Rowe.
I’ll be honest with you (again). eBooks aren’t my thing. I like to hold a book. To damage it, dog-ear it, and spill wine on it. I like the physicality of books, the texture against my thumbs, the precise stacking of pages, one against another.
But Rowe’s electronic tour de force is something different altogether. It’s more than a book. It’s a tool. And therein lies its beauty.
The book is actually useful. In addition to being inspiring, motivational, informative and well-written, it’s applicable and practical.
Rowe doesn’t just theorize about the beauty or mystique of long-distance riding, he makes it accessible by breaking it down and laying it out. It takes a dreamlike goal like PBP and puts it into perspective – neither denying the inevitable challenge of the endeavor, nor discouraging anyone from daring to think about the possibilities.
What Rowe does in this book is reveal paths and calculated courses of action to help dreamers bridge into reality.
And it’s not just about the training.
In fact, Rowe spends most of his time addressing the mental preparation and life-planning necessary to pull of such incredible feats of endurance. He lays out step by step instructions for analyzing how your goals align with your core values, and how to prioritize over time.
In short, he addresses the whole rider, not just the rider as physical being made of blood, flesh and vascular systems. Who are you? What do you want? What’s going on in your life? What is really important to you? Most importantly, how are you going to make this happen?
Answering these fundamental questions is a critical step that many people miss when they begin to think about going long.
Beyond all this super-useful practical stuff, however, Rowe’s book includes interviews with several athletes whose stories are simply inspiring. Gregory Paley bagging 1000k in 58 hours, 2 hours ahead of the support crew who was supposed to meet him at the finish. (Double bonus: he rode the impressive distance and elevation gain – more than 25,000 feet – on a carbon BMC, carrying only a Camelbak and an under-seat wedge-pack.)
Or especially inspiring to me: an interview of Kitty Goursolle who rode more than 7500 miles and climbed more than 400,000 feet in eight months as part of her preparation for the 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris (which she finished despite some of the worst weather on record). Kitty also has won the California Triple Crown stage race, which is essentially three very fast double centuries stacked back to back.
If nothing else, the book is worth reading just for these interviews, which are as awe-inspiring as they are informative. (I was fascinated by Gregory and Kitty’s meticulous detailing of what they brought along, how they packed it, and what they rode.)
The lure of ultra-long-distance cycling is strange and twisted – and it’s not for everyone.
But perhaps ultra-cyclists Jill Homer says it best in her interview for the book:
There isn’t a choice in the world I could make that would allow me to go out and run a four-minute mile. But I can go out and ride 100 miles, 200 miles… maybe 1000 miles…. because I decide to.
It’s the mental toughness, determination, preparation, planning and downright borderline insanity that separate these people from the rest. And I look forward to my foray into their world.
For their part, David Rowe and his son Evan (who did the layout design), have brought me several solid steps closer to knowing how the hell I am actually going to pull this off. (Downloadable spreadsheets included!)
In the next few weeks, I’ll be participating in Rowe’s virtual book tour as well as hosting questions about the book and/or his cycling adventures. There will also be an opportunity to snag a free copy by submitting a 200 word version of your own “Ride of Your Life”.
Details on that to come. For now, you can flip through a cool Everyday Athlete Special Preview Edition.* (Woah, cool!)
Stay tuned. And ride hard.
*Just a note – there’s no affiliate or other kind of financial relationship between EA and ROYL. Rowe and his son are passing royalties along to charities focused on providing and distributing food to the needy. I’m pimping this little number because it’s damn good – that’s it!