We are less than 90 days away from this year’s El Tour de Tucson. To help prepare you for this year’s event, GEC Coach Ken Montaney will be posting regular articles on the TEPC blog about preparing for Tucson’s biggest bike day of the year. Follow along with Ken on your way to your best El Tour ever.
“Grab a hat and hold the f--- on, cuz its going to be a wild ride.” -Tricat and part time TEPC employee Travis Burkel describing the El Tour experience
El Tour de Tucson is essentially a group ride with 9,000 of your closest friends. If you want this to be your best El Tour, you need to be prepared to ride in a group. Make sure you incorporate group rides in your training for El Tour so you are prepared mentally and technically for all the pack riding and pace lining you will do on race day.
Picking a Group Ride
Pick a group ride that will challenge you and match up with your ability level. If you have never ridden with a group before, Shootout is the last place you should go (they will eat you alive). Conversely, if you are an experienced cyclist with plenty of group ride experience, the 12 mph coffee shop group may not be the best place to end up.
Use the month of September to shop around group rides in town to find one that is both physically and technically challenging but doable. You want to be learning new skills and increasing your comfort level in a pack but always safely. Don’t over do your ability level.
Learn the Group Ride
Part of showing up on a group ride is knowing the etiquette of the ride. I say shop around for rides in September, but also use that time to learn the intricacies of different rides.
Learn what the rides objectives are and understand that you need to stick to the group’s plan. If a ride is all about keeping a steady rotating paceline and you disrupt it, you will be shunned. If they are trying to ride a more social double paceline and you keep attacking, you will be shunned.
Learn who the head honcho(s) is/are. Every ride has a ride leader, a man who is in charge, the patron. What they say is law. If they tell you to do something (whether kind or unkind) you listen. Chances are they are the nice and welcoming to new riders, but their number one priority is the safety of the group. Talk to them, ask them questions, learn from them. And when they yell at you, don’t take it personally, learn from it and talk to them later.
Know the route. No one likes being on a group ride and have to be constantly answering the question of “where are we going”. Know at least the general idea of the route and how to get home if you are separated.
Group Ride Skills
Here is what you should be trying to learn from the group ride while preparing for El Tour
Pacelines- different types, how to rotate smooth, execution
Nutrition- Learn to eat, drink, chew, open wrappers, etc. all in a group
All around smoothness- learn to stand in a group, corner, safely avoid obstacles
Get out, find a group to ride with, make some new friends, learn some new skills, push yourself. Remember, safety first, and whatever you do, stay out of your damn aerobars.
Retul Certified Bike Fitter
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