To a non-cyclist, the numbers add up to something intimidating, possibly Herculean.
Eight days, 550 miles.
Seven days, 430 miles.
Five days, 240 miles.
Two days, 150 miles.
Dai Flake thought her friend “was crazy” for wanting her to sign up for a charity ride from Joplin to New Orleans last year.
But a few months later, Flake, 45, of Joplin, was among 28 riders of varying fitness levels who completed the more than 700-mile haul.
Flake said that during last year’s JOMONOLA, it became apparent that there’s power in numbers — an observation that could apply to both training and actual rides.
“It was somewhat scattered at first, but people quickly learned that when you’re by yourself, it’s tougher,” Flake said after her ride last year. “So we got closer, and the next thing we knew, we were doing a double pace line going 20 miles per hour.”
Although the ride from Joplin to New Orleans has been cancelled for 2014, there are still a number of long-distance, multi-day bike rides in the region, and Roger Lomshek said most of them are doable with training.
“I think a cyclist of any ability level can do it. You just have to prepare,” said Lomshek, owner of Tailwind Cyclists in Pittsburg, Kan. He also is a long-distance cyclist and leader of weekly group training rides.
With longer daylight hours and higher temperatures on the horizon, now’s the time to begin to prepare for rides scheduled for summer and fall.
Bike store owner offers advice
• Realistically evaluate where you’re at right now. Figure out what you’re capable of and work on increasing difficulty.
• Increase mileage on a schedule to build endurance.
• Use indoor training during bad weather or when your job or other commitments take away most of your daylight hours.
“If you can ride five miles, but you get worn out, then do five-mile rides until they are no big deal,” Lomshek said. “Then you do 10 miles until that’s no big deal, then 15. You want to make sure you never do such a hard ride that you can’t ride the next day. If it takes you days to recover, you’ve done too much too soon.”
Indoor training can be done via a stationary trainer on which a road bike or mountain bike can be attached; they typically retail for $200 to $300 and, when folded, can be tucked under a bed or inside a closet.
Cyclist John Robb, 71, has completed numerous distance rides, from the 60-mile Missouri Bike Federation Fall Ozark Tour to several century rides, which are 100 miles in a day. This year, he’ll ride Bike Across Kansas for the seventh time.