Why Ultra Distance Cycling?
People ask me how did I get into Ultra distance riding? Well it is one of those things where you reach a
goal and "say well that wasn't that hard" so you make another goal-and the next time it's a more
I started with club rides in the 50 mile range. Eventually, that didn't seem far enough so then I began
riding from my home to the ride start. My 50 milers became centuries because my home was 50 miles
round trip from the ride start.
Then I crashed and was off the bike for two years. My bike was toast, my work took over my life and
before I knew it two years had gone by. In two years I had gained 30 lbs. When I decided to get
back into riding I chose a goal 8 weeks away. That goal became riding a Double Century (DC). I had
no idea how I was going to train for one but all I had was this idea of completing one.
My first Ultra ended up being a Triple Century (I did the double and kept going) and I was hooked after
that. I love the long stuff now and am most happy when I am on my bike than anywhere else.
Three steadfast rules of Ultra Distance Riding (not necessarily in this order).
1. Stay on the bike
2. Stay fueled (includes hydration)
3. Stay on Course
Three things that make Ultra Distance Cycling extremely difficult.
1. Mileage- I tell people it's never the mileage --"you can do a century today if you want it bad enough."
2. Elevation Gain- The amount of climbing is what will make the event much more difficult.
3. Intensity- Finally, the intensity in which you ride the mileage and the elevation gain will compound
the pain and suffering.
Top Ten Things I check/prepare before an Ultra Event
1. Fresh rubber-- I always install new tires for Ultras- I rarely flat in an Ultra. I generally ride
10,000-12,000 miles per year. I wear my tires much sooner than most riders. I use GP3000s and am
currently evaluating GP4000s. They ride really nice. I also get my tires through pro-deals and so cost is
not an issue. Use common sense, on this one. Inspect your tires for cuts and wear and if they are in
good shape for at least double the distance of your event leave them on.
2. Lighting System-- How long will the event take me and then pad by 20% then decide do I need the
Niterider or Cateye. ALWAYS have two rear lights you never know when one may blow. Check them
regularly during your night riding.
3. Charge/fresh batteries for lighting system
4. Charge cell phone--pre-paid phone cards can also allow you to communicate with the rest of the
world when out of cell coverage. And don't forget to bring zip-lock baggies.
5. Tune bike- Tuning the bike not only ensures shifting and braking is working precisely but another
benefit is a fresh set of eyes will be looking over your bike and may find something that needs replacing
or worse, a cracked frame.
6. Emergency repair bag-- 3 tubes, patch kit, chain tool, boot, CO2, tire levers, a multi-tool with all the
common hex sizes, frame pump for the longer events. Keep a copy of your Driver License and your
medical ID card, along with an emergency contact in your saddlebag. Zip ties and bungie cords.
7. Layout clothing for possible weather conditions
8. Riding Wallet-- Cash and Credit cards, many places "in the boonies" don't take plastic. Choose a
sturdy waterproof wallet.
9. Route sheet-- If route sheet is available before the event, become intimately familiar with the planned
route. Use all means necessary i.e. mapping software, Thomas Guide, drive it, ask questions of other
experienced riders, plan nutrition according to controls. And don't forget to bring zip-lock baggies.
10. Nutrition-- Premix your preferred nutrition the night before. On the bike I carry ONLY two
bottles. I make one bottle of concentrated fuel and one bottle of regular strength. Then I make an 8oz
bottle of concentrated Carbo-pro into a homemade gel. Very little water and 10 scoops (five servings). I
use one of these bottles per century. I also have a bottle premixed of my recovery drink. When I get done
with my event, I have a bottle waiting in the car that has enough Carbohydrates and Protein to satisfy my
requirement for the first 30 minutes.