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Training Tips

I am planning on signing up for a JDRF Ride this coming summer. What should I do to start getting in shape even though it's still winter?

There are a number of things you can do to start getting in shape, even if the weather isn't great for riding where you live. First of all, you can try riding outside. If you live in a climate where winter isn't too harsh, you should certainly ride outside. There are all sorts of warm cycling clothing now to help keep you warm even down to about 30 degrees. Also, there are options to ride your bike inside. You can take part in a spin class at your local gym. These are a great way to get some good cycling-specific workouts in during the winter months. You could also purchase an indoor stationary trainer. These are designed to hold your bike and provide resistance to your rear wheel so it kind of feels like riding outside. It isn't quite the same as riding outside, but it is a whole lot better than riding your couch! But there are activities you can do other than cycling to help keep get you in shape. Activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating work your heart as well as your legs. Or, go for a hike in the woods, the hillier the better, to work your cardiovascular system and legs. Running is okay especially for your cardiovascular fitness but can be a little hard on your legs if you aren't used to it, so if you choose this option, begin slowly. Any activity that gets your heart rate up and causes you to breath harder than normal is a good option. Once spring hits and you can get out on your bike, most of your training should then be done on the bike. Bike riding is by far the best training for a JDRF Ride!

What type of bike do I need to do a JDRF Ride?

The simple answer is any bike that is comfortable and that is in good operating condition. When doing a JDRF ride, these are not races. These are charity rides with the objective being to complete a distance that you select. All you need to do is to be able to complete the given distance, within certain time limits. Assuming your body is in shape and you have done some training, then the bike really doesn't matter too much. Most people use a road bike, which is a fairly lightweight bike with narrow tires and anywhere from 18 to 27 gears. These are most commonly recognized by their downturned handlebars. Some people do these JDRF Rides on a 'hybrid' bike. These hybrids tend to be a little more upright and have upright handlebars. They have fatter tires and usually a wider saddle. However, they are also several pounds heavier than a road bike. Just because you sit more upright on these bikes, though, don't think they are necessarily more comfortable. A well-fit road bike can be more comfortable than a hybrid. The best advice is to get a bike that fits you well and on which you feel comfortable sitting on and riding for several hours at a time. Go to a respected bike shop in your community and have them help you try out several models. You don't have to (and don't want to) get the most expensive bike you can fine - it might cost more than your car! Today's bikes provide a very nice ride for a reasonable amount of money. Be sure to get fit to a bike properly by the bike shop personnel and make sure everything is working properly and in good working condition. One type of bike you probably won't want to ride on a JDRF Ride is a mountain bike. Mountain bikes have wide knobby tires and are designed to be ridden off-road. They are heavier than a road bike, although not necessarily any heavier than a hybrid bike. If this is all you have, or really feel comfortable on a mountain bike, then you can ride it successfully in a JDRF Ride, but be sure to switch to smooth, slick tires instead of knobby tires. Your speed will increase dramatically and your effort will decrease if you do so.

100 miles is a long way to ride a bike. How can I possibly get myself in shape to ride that far?

First of all, you don't have to ride the full 100 miles if you don't wish to, or if you don't think you can. The main purpose of the JDRF Ride is to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes. Any distance you ride helps accomplish this goal. The JDRF Rides are set up to allow for multiple distances, starting with distances as short as 25 miles. However, many people do complete the entire 100 mile course at each ride. 100 miles is indeed a long way to drive, much less ride a bike, but it can be done perhaps more easily than you might think, if you have never ridden that far before. Even non-experienced cyclists are able to attain this feat in their first year of riding with proper preparation. The main thing you need to do to prepare for a long ride is to do a lot of training miles. If you are new to cycling, you will start out just riding short distances, say 10-15 miles, but you will find that you can increase your weekly mileage quite consistently and rapidly (10 miles per week for your longest ride). If you just start off riding for a half hour at a time, you can increase your rides by 15 minutes, and pretty soon you will be doing 2 hour rides. Eventually work up to 3 then 4 hour rides and you will be able to make it to 100 miles! The key is to train consistently, several times per week if possible, and then increase your mileage steadily. Be sure to hook up with one of the JDRF coaches and they will help get you there.

What are some tips to help me be able to ride the distance and be comfortable doing so?

1. Don't ride too fast. The effort required to increase your speed on a bike increases exponentially with the speed, so to go a few miles per hour faster may take twice the effort. You want to ride these JDRF Rides at a steady pace, but not so fast you feel labored. The distance is too far to be pushing hard all the way, and you likely won't make it if you do so. The objective is to complete the distance and typically if you can ride at least 10-11 miles per hour steadily, you will be able to complete the 100 mile distance.

2. Be sure to stay hydrated during your ride. You exhale and perspire a lot of water when riding a bike. If it is cool out or you are riding where there is low humidity, you may not even notice that you are losing water. But you are. Therefore, you should take a sip from your water bottle often while riding, every 10-15 minutes at least, even if you don't feel thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated and it may become difficult to make up for lost water at that point. Bikes usually come with bolts to attach two water bottle cages to the frame, so be sure to make use of both of them. Get your bike set up to hold two water bottles, and then get the larger sized bottles. Once you get to riding 40 miles or more, you will want and need the larger bottles.

3. Stay fueled for the ride. Cycling requires a lot of energy, which is great if you are trying to lose a few pounds. However, when doing a long distance ride, you will need to keep eating during the ride to have enough energy to keep going strongly. You burn both fat and carbohydrate when riding. All of us have more than enough fat to fuel us through a ride, but it's the carbohydrates that can come up short. Two options to replenish the carbs are to drink a sports drink which contains carbohydrates and to eat solid food during the ride. It's neither necessary nor desirable to eat too much, you just need to take in about 200 calories of carbohydrate energy per hour during a several hour ride. Look for energy bars and gels, fruit and other easy-to-digest foods that are convenient to eat while out on the road. The JDRF Rides are famous for well-stocked aid stations along the way.

4. Train and ride with a friend. There are two very good reasons to ride with a friend: It's safer and it's more fun! When you are out riding, it's always a good idea to ride with someone else. If anything should happen such as a flat tire, it's always better to have someone along to help. It is also more enjoyable to ride with others. As you are training for a long distance ride, your training rides must get longer as time goes on. It's nice to have someone to keep you company. It's also motivating to have someone else along for the ride. The best person you can ride with is your JDRF Chapter Coach. He or she will be able to take good care of you so be sure to find out about your local Chapter training rides.

I registered for the Burlington Ride and just dusted off my bike! Is there anything I should do before I start training?

This one pertains to all of us, no matter what our ability. At the beginning of each riding season, it's a very good idea to go over your bike as well as your body to make sure everything is working well.

Although I would like to think that everyone continued to ride their bike either outside or indoors on their stationary trainer (what's that you ask? - we'll cover that in another issue), I realize that may not be the case. Things happen to your bike when it's sitting in the garage over the winter. You need to make sure your tires and tubes are still in good shape, your brake and shifter cables still work (they will invariably need adjusting at the very least), and the chain is lubed. It may need some additional attention. If you are handy you may wish to do the work yourself, but if at all in doubt, take it to your local bike shop where pros can go over it and make sure everything is in tip-top shape. You really don't want to be miles from home and have something break, believe me.

But don't stop there. Make sure your body is ready for the journey as well. It's a good idea to get a physical exam done every year, but especially important for you because you will be riding a lot and pushing yourself harder than normal and perhaps harder than you have pushed yourself in the past. Schedule a physical with your family doc and tell him/her what you are doing and make sure you are A-OK to do the training and the ride.

Once you get these two things out of the way, you will be ready to roll.

How often should I be riding?

I'll let you in on a little coaching secret, if you promise not to tell anyone else. If you want to get better at riding, do this: Ride your bike, a lot and often. There you have it. The number one way to get better at riding. Seriously, until you get a good number of miles in your legs (e.g. 1000), you don't need to worry about doing more complex workouts such as intervals, hill repeats and fartleks (say what?). As a matter of fact, if your only cycling goal this year is to make it through the Ride to Cure, all you need to do is just get out and ride, a lot. Nothing fancy, just put a lot of miles into your legs and butt. Of course if you want to ride faster than you have in the past, then you should up the speed and do more hill riding, but for now at this time of the season, just concentrate on getting on the bike as many days of the week as you can and start building up those miles.

How do I know what a good pace to pedal is?

One of the most common mistakes I see novice riders making is to pedal too slowly. Our legs are programmed to move about 60 RPM - that's about how many steps we take per minute. When we hop on a bike, it feels natural to pedal at 60 RPM. However, that is not the most efficient cadence to pedal. It is actually easier on the legs to pedal faster but in a lower (easier) gear. By pedaling faster in an easier gear, the leg muscles don't have to work as hard each time you pedal. Yes, they have to go around more and you would think that would even out, but it doesn't. When you pedal slowly, you have to push harder. This requires more of your muscle fibers to fire and requires them to work harder because they are doing more work. Keep this up and they will fatigue fairly quickly. If you spin faster, you need less strength per pedal stroke and your muscles will last longer before wilting on you.

You do need to practice pedaling faster and train your legs to do that. That's what training rides are for. So check out your cadence the next time you go for a ride. Some bike computers allow you to monitor your pedal speed, but assuming you don't have such a computer on your bike, try this: Count the number of times your right leg completes a complete revolution in 6 seconds and then multiply by 10 to get your leg RPM. If it is below 80, work at speeding up your leg turnover. Ideally you should be in the 85 to 95 RPM range.

Your bike has gears on it. Use them. That's what they are for. When you get to a hill, gear down and try to keep your leg speed the same, in that 85-95 RPM range.

Do this and your legs will last longer and you will enjoy your Ride more.

When I ride, I try to avoid all hills. Is this ok?

Don't forget the hills! Many cyclists dislike (okay, they outright hate) hills. The reason for this is because riding up hills is hard. But, avoiding hills because they are hard won't make them any easier. The real difference between a casual rider and a cyclist who is training is the cyclist who is training seeks out hills and works on them to improve. Greg LeMond once said that riding hills is the fastest way to get in shape. And I agree. It isn't real easy or fun, but if you want to get better on hills, then you need to ride them, not shy away from them. So next time you have the choice, get out and ride the hilly course. This is especially important if you are doing one of our JDRF rides that have hills (all of them do).

How many miles should I ride in training for the Ride to Cure?

How many miles should you ride in training for the Ride to Cure? This is a commonly asked question so I'll give you some guidelines. While it's ideal for your longest training ride to be as long as the distance you will be riding at the Ride to Cure, that isn't always possible and it isn't even necessary. Here are two guidelines I give people:

1) Your longest training ride should be 75-80 % of the distance of your ride goal. Why not 100%? That's because if you can ride 80%, or 80 miles if you are aiming for a century ride at a JDRF Ride, then you should be able to make it the last 20. In training, people typically get the ride over much quicker than at the JDRF Ride, because we all have other things to do at home on weekends. Remember, at the Ride to Cure you have all day (almost) to ride the distance. Now that doesn't give you permission to dawdle and spend a half hour at aid stations, but if you pedal along averaging 11 MPH, you should be able to make the distance even if you haven't trained that much.

2) Your weekly mileage should equal or exceed the number of miles you plan to ride at the JDRF Ride. So if you are planning to ride 100 miles at your JDRF Ride, then your weekly mileage should average 100 or more miles. All miles count and accumulate as far as your body is concerned. If you can consistently put in 100 miles a week in the final few weeks approaching your Ride to Cure, you will be fine. So 5 days of 20 miles will work if that's all you can manage. However, you should still be working your way up to a progressively longer ride each week, as described in #1 above.

Riding a lot and riding consistently are the keys to a successful JDRF Ride.

Ride on!

How do you know what gear to use when climbing hills?

Ideally when you ride a bike, you should be pedaling about 80-90 rpm. When the road tilts up you have to start working against gravity and your cadence will slow down naturally. Either you have to push harder to maintain your ideal cadence or you will have to shift to a lower (easier) gear, usually both things happen.

As you go up hills you can expect your cadence to drop a little even if you shift to an easier gear. If you normally ride at 90 rpm on the flat roads, you may drop to 80 on the hills, for example. But don't let it get too low. By too low, I'm talking about slower than 75 rpm. This means you should still be spinning more than 1 rpm per second. Pedaling too slowly will make your legs feel heavy and work your muscles too hard. The faster you spin up hills, the easier it will be on your legs.

So your bike has gears, don't be afraid to use them! Don't be macho and be afraid to use your granny gear (the smallest chain ring in front). That is on your bike so you can go up hills easily. Even the pros use fairly small gears when racing in the mountains, so if they need them, you probably do too. You've got them, use them.

Keep on spinning!

I just registered for the Lake Tahoe Ride. How do I train to be ready for the altitude at Lake Tahoe?

Lake Tahoe is about 6200 feet in elevation, that's higher by almost 1000 feet than Denver. You will likely notice the altitude when you get there, especially when riding your bike. If you aren't one of those lucky folks who live at elevation (e.g. in the mountains), then you are forced to do your training at low elevation. But that's okay. At higher elevation there is less atmospheric pressure so less oxygen is driven into your lungs and blood. The result is that it takes less effort to feel winded or out of breath. When you go up in elevation, you feel like you are in less good shape than at lower elevation due to the reduced amount of oxygen in your blood. So here's what you can do if going to the JDRF Lake Tahoe ride. You need to train your body to pull in more oxygen and deliver it to your working muscles. This is largely what training does. By riding with an elevated heart rate, you are training your heart, lungs, muscles and blood to be more efficient at absorbing, transporting and using oxygen. So in addition to riding lots of miles, throw in some faster efforts which get your heart pumping faster and your breathing harder. These harder efforts further train your aerobic system to be better as utilizing oxygen.

There's actually an advantage for training at lower elevation. Because oxygen is more plentiful, you can train harder because oxygen isn't as limiting as it is at higher elevation. So take advantage of this fact and go out and push yourself a little harder than usual. If you get to where you are breathing hard, several times per ride, then you are improving your cardio-respiratory system and becoming more efficient at using oxygen. This will pay off in Lake Tahoe. But if you are going to one of our other rides, you should still throw in a few harder efforts from time to time. This will help you climb hills better and ride a little faster even at low elevation.

When you get to Lake Tahoe, work at staying hydrated and take it easy the first day to help your body acclimate. But if you are in good shape from your training, you may not even notice the elevation very much.

So get out and train so you can have an enjoyable Ride!

What should I be eating and drinking during my training rides?

This is a huge topic so I am just going to give you the very basic rules of thumb that I use to determine how much and what to drink and eat while on a training ride.

Always take a water bottle with you even on short rides. On rides less than an hour, you can typically get by with one 16 oz water bottle unless it is very hot or dry, then you may need more. Aim to drink 16-24 oz of liquid per hour while riding. A 16 oz bottle is the regular smaller sized bottle. The 24 oz bottle is the taller bottle.

On rides 1-2 hours you should take two bottles with you. If you don't have two water bottle cages on your bike, go ahead and get them. You will need them for your JDRF ride as well as longer training rides.

I use a sports drink in one of my bottles when riding more than 1.5 hours. For rides less than 1.5 hours, I just use water. We have enough stored energy to get us through a 90 minute ride. I prefer one bottle with a sports drink (I use Heed), and one of water. The main thing is to find one you like and that doesn't upset your stomach.

For rides longer than 2 hours I usually take a gel or some other type of food with me and eat it by the halfway point so it can get into my system and help me on the way home.

So here's the simple formula:
0-1 hour: One water bottle
1-1.5 hours: Two water bottles
1.5-2 hours: One water bottle and one sport drink bottle
2+ hours: Two bottles, at least one being sport drink and some additional solid food.

If you ride permits, you can also rely on convenience stores to get food, water and sport drinks for longer rides.

Bottoms up!

Help! I am worried about not having time to get long rides in during the week!

Worried that you won't get enough long rides in before your big Ride? Well here's some good news. The most important thing to focus on is getting in as many miles as you can, any way that you can. Just because you may be aiming for 100 miles at the JDRF Ride, not all your rides need to be long rides. As a matter of fact most of them shouldn't be. I tell people that if they can work their way up to their longest ride being 70 miles prior to the JDRF Ride, they should be able to finish 100 miles on ride day without too much difficulty. But you really only need to get in one long ride every week or two, as long as you progressively increase the mileage of that long ride by 5-10 miles each time. The rest of the week you can ride shorter rides. The total number of miles you ride in a week also add up and build your endurance. So if you only have time some days to get out for 10 miles, do it. A few days of 10 miles adds up to considerable mileage each week.

You aren't only training your endurance but a number of other things as well. You are training your seat to tolerate sitting on your bike saddle for a long time. You are training your arms and shoulders to get used to that position. You are training your legs to be more efficient going around in circles. It all adds up and every mile counts. Even if you can't get a long ride in during a week, if you can ride 70-100 miles during the week in total, that's a great way to build fitness.

One more thing to consider. When doing shorter rides, especially those less than 15 miles, pick up the pace and challenge yourself to ride at a faster than normal pace. Because these are short rides, you should be able to handle the increased speed. By riding faster on your shorter rides, you will be able to ride more comfortably at your normal pace on longer rides.

Ride on, bit by bit.

Help! I am worried about not having time to get long rides in during the week!

Worried that you won't get enough long rides in before your big Ride? Well here's some good news. The most important thing to focus on is getting in as many miles as you can, any way that you can. Just because you may be aiming for 100 miles at the JDRF Ride, not all your rides need to be long rides. As a matter of fact most of them shouldn't be. I tell people that if they can work their way up to their longest ride being 70 miles prior to the JDRF Ride, they should be able to finish 100 miles on ride day without too much difficulty. But you really only need to get in one long ride every week or two, as long as you progressively increase the mileage of that long ride by 5-10 miles each time. The rest of the week you can ride shorter rides. The total number of miles you ride in a week also add up and build your endurance. So if you only have time some days to get out for 10 miles, do it. A few days of 10 miles adds up to considerable mileage each week.

You aren't only training your endurance but a number of other things as well. You are training your seat to tolerate sitting on your bike saddle for a long time. You are training your arms and shoulders to get used to that position. You are training your legs to be more efficient going around in circles. It all adds up and every mile counts. Even if you can't get a long ride in during a week, if you can ride 70-100 miles during the week in total, that's a great way to build fitness.

One more thing to consider. When doing shorter rides, especially those less than 15 miles, pick up the pace and challenge yourself to ride at a faster than normal pace. Because these are short rides, you should be able to handle the increased speed. By riding faster on your shorter rides, you will be able to ride more comfortably at your normal pace on longer rides.

Ride on, bit by bit.

Is it ok to ride in the rain?

If you ride your bike enough, you will eventually get rained on. (Or if you are hard core, you will go for your training ride rain or shine). And there is a chance you may run into rain at the JDRF ride, but we've ordered good weather. So just in case, here are a few tips for riding in the rain.

Dress appropriately: You might want to invest in a lightweight rain jacket. If it's below 65 degrees (F), rain can be chilly. A rain jacket will retain some of your warmth. Be sure to bring a long sleeve jersey and tights in case you do run into a cool rainy day.

Above 65 degrees you are typically warm enough when you get soaked without a rain jacket. Avoid wearing anything cotton when it's raining - cotton holds a lot of water and will not keep you warm so save your t-shirt for another day. Also, be sure to wear bright colors when it's raining so other cyclists as well as motorists can see you. Visibility isn't as good when it's raining.

Consider getting a taillight for your bike: These are small, lightweight and extremely bright. They are great for riding at dawn and dusk and very useful when it's raining. These lights can either be set to be on steadily or to blink, which increases their visibility for both other cyclists and vehicles.

Be careful when the roads are wet: Wet roads are slippery. Be especially careful around painted lines and metal manhole covers - these are especially slick when wet. If you have to ride over these objects, go in a straight line and don't brake. Also be very careful crossing wet railroad tracks. Avoid quick and sharp turns when riding on wet roads. Also be on the lookout for sand and gravel that may wash across the road during a heavy rain. This typically occurs on hills where water runs across the roads.

Don't ride too closely behind other cyclists in the rain: Your brakes don't work as well when wet and your stopping distance is greater so give other riders plenty of room. When you need to stop, don't be surprised when at first you don't slow down. Your brake pads need to squeeze off the water before they start grabbing. Also, if you follow too closely the rooster tail coming off their back wheel will hit you right in the face. You may also want to wear your sunglasses to keep the water and grit out of your eyes.

Obviously if it is a downpour or if there is a thunderstorm, riding is not advised. Find shelter until the worst of it passes. Do not stand under trees if there is a thunderstorm either. Try to find a building.

After riding in the rain, be sure to wipe down your bike. This is best done when it is still wet as it will clean up more easily than the road grime dries on. If nothing else, dry off and lube your chain. It will rust overnight and your bike will squeak the next day and you don't want to be 'one of those riders'. Be sure to check your tires. Wet tires pick up sand and grit and glass so be sure they are in good shape after a wet day. Stuff wadded up newspaper inside your shoes overnight to help dry them out. There's nothing worse than putting your feet into cold wet shoes first thing in the morning.

Ride on, and try to stay dry!

Is there a particular time I should spend on resting and recovery?

I, like all coaches, tend to dwell on training methods. However, an often overlooked aspect of training is rest and recovery. In this article I will discuss the importance of resting adequately as well as ways to be sure you are fresh and rested for your big Ride day.

There are two parts to training, and both are equally important. You can't improve without both. These two aspects are riding and resting. The riding provides the training stimulus - in other words it fatigues and slightly damages your muscle tissue. Rest following exercise heals your body and brings it back even stronger than before. All work (riding) and no play (rest), and you will eventually grind yourself into the ground and you won't improve and may even get sick. As I like to say, Riding tears your body down; Resting brings it back stronger. Too much rest and not enough riding will also not get you the gains you wish. So here are some rules of thumb for riding and resting.

- Aim for 3-4 good quality rides per week. More than this and you aren't giving your body enough time to recover from the riding. This is especially true if you are over 35 years of age. Recovery takes longer for us old folks.

- For every day you ride, you should spend a day resting. If you do ride two days in a row you might consider taking two subsequent days off, depending on how hard your rode. Try not to ride three hard days in a row. By the third day you will be tired and won't be able to get a high quality ride in.

- If you start out on a ride and after the warm up your legs feel lethargic, you may wish to just ride easy that day. Listen to your body. Try to determine when it's telling you it's fatigued and you shouldn't push it farther. Sometimes you may feel tired but after you get out and ride, you get a burst of energy and can have a good ride, so make sure you give yourself a chance. Don't bag your ride just because you feel tired before you start.

- Active rest is preferable to sedentary rest. Rather than laying around on the couch on your day off from riding, go for a short (30 min) spin in an easy gear. This will get your legs moving and loosen them up after a hard ride. You don't want to push so hard that you further fatigue yourself, just get out and move. A walk will also work.

Preparing for your JDRF Ride: As you approach one week from your JDRF ride, you are done training. Any training you do during the last week will not increase your fitness (you can't cram for bike training). It will only get you fatigued and take away from a great ride experience. So during the last week, by all means get out and ride, but keep it easy and don't worry about riding long distances. An hour or two max is enough. All you are wanting to do this final week is make sure your legs are fresh and feeling great so you can use 100% of the fitness you've created through your previous training. Also, be sure to stay hydrated and eat well the last week so your body is fully fueled and ready to go.

Everyone says it's not about the miles...what does that mean?

JDRF Rides are some of the greatest rides on earth! I've ridden in a lot of cycling events, some competitive, some not. None of them have the emotional pull that JDRF Rides have. Part of it is knowing that we are doing this to help other people. Part of it is being with all these people sharing the same purpose. Part of it are the neat places you get to go to and ride a bike - Vermont, Wisconsin, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, and of course Tucson in November!

JDRF Rides are life-changing events. I've seen the JDRF Rides have amazing effects on the participants, people who just thought they were doing a fund-raising ride ended up doing a life changing event for themselves. I am a perfect example. I was asked to be our Chapter Coach 8 years ago. I went out to Death Valley my first year and when I saw people break down into tears as they crossed the finish line, that's when I figured out what this ride was about and what it meant to people. I remember going home after that ride wondering why my job couldn't be as fulfilling as what I just did there at Death Valley. A few years later I had the chance. I was laid off and decided to become a full-time coach and trainer. I most likely wouldn't have done this if it hadn't been for the great experiences and positive feedback I've received as a JDRF Coach. So thanks to all the riders out there who helped me to realize and pursue my dream.

JDRF Riders are the greatest people on earth! I really, really mean that. There is such community among the riders, all gathered for a common cause, and almost all are volunteering their time, efforts and funds. I've never seen a more charitable bunch of people, not just of their money, but of their time, effort and enthusiasm.

JDRF Rides are helping us move faster towards better treatments and cure for type 1 diabetes with every mile pedaled. This is what we do this for. It's the common denominator of everyone out there riding away, from the fastest racers to those who are riding 30 miles for the first time in their lives. We are making a difference! It's this common goal that gives these rides their special feel. It's about more than the miles.

What's the best piece of advice you can give me as a first time rider?

Allow the JDRF Ride to change your life. One of the most rewarding parts of working as a coach with JDRF riders like yourselves is that I get to witness how many get hooked on riding and adopt a healthier lifestyle. As Tim St.Clair loves to say, each JDRF Ride can be a life changing event. This is so true in many ways. Obviously we want to change the lives of everyone with Type 1 diabetes. Think how it will feel when we can say we have found a cure and to know that we all helped in some small way. But the JDRF Ride can be a personal life changing event for you as well. I've seen a number of people who started out doing the Ride as a fund raiser or because a friend or family member was recently diagnosed, and then discovered that they really enjoyed bike riding, and have kept it up year after year. The telltale sign that someone is hooked on cycling is when they buy a bike for the JDRF ride and the next year they upgrade to a better bike! They start training in some fashion throughout the winter and start riding more and earlier the next spring. Does this sound like you? I hope so. You can use the JDRF Ride experience to change your life and become more active, more fit, lose weight if you need to, and become more healthy. Exercise is the real fountain of youth, so by creating a more active lifestyle, you can literally act and feel younger than your years. So while our main purpose for doing the JDRF Ride is to fund and find a cure, go ahead and use it turn help turn your life around too!

About Coach David Ertl
David Ertl has served as the Ride Coach for the JDRF Greater Iowa Chapter since 2004. David is a professional cycling coach who coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and several individual recreational and competitive cyclists. He is author of the book, "101 Cycling Workouts". David has been a competitive cyclist since 1973. For more information about training for cycling, see his website.

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Rider Spotlight

Brian Coffey

Brian has been involved with JDRF for many years. Find out what got him to Ride.

Featured Destination

Burlington

July 24 - 27, 2014

Burlington Rider Spotlight

The Burlington, VT Ride offers "classic New England" cycling on some of the most scenic roads that the state has to offer.  The JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes course travels through historic villages, featuring covered bridges and flowing rivers.  Take in spectacular views while cycling through the pristine Champlain Valley.

Learn about the Burlington Ride

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