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Cycling Safety 101

We're counting on you!

Two riders practicing good safety

The Empire State Ride is counting on everyone, regardless of cycling experience, to ride safely. We ride in all types of traffic conditions – big city streets, mixed use recreational paths, rural roads, village streets and everything in between. Along the way, you’ll encounter pedestrians, other cyclists and all types of vehicles, including cars and horses and wagons. To avoid accidents and injuries, it’s vital to pay attention to your surroundings and follow safety procedures.

Here is a list of all required safety gear:

Bicycle - Free transport icons A properly fitted CPSC-certified bicycle helmet. Consider MIPS or WaveCel for added protection. If your helmet doesn’t fit, is older or has cracks in it, replace it.

Bicycle - Free transport icons Front and rear lights, specifically a front white headlight and rear red tailgate. Bring extra batteries!

Bicycle - Free transport icons Bike repair kit and extra tube. Though Empire State Ride provides professional bike safety checks and repairs at camp each day, it’s always important to have a bike repair kit with a pump or CO2 and extra tube, just in case.

Bicycle - Free transport icons A bike mirror to see behind you.

Bicycle - Free transport icons An ESR-issued safety triangle (right).

bike safety triangle

Here are safety highlights that we must follow.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Follow the rules of the road.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Learn and use hand signals.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Make your intentions known well in advance to avoid causing an accident from behind.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Call out your passes.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Ensure cars are not coming up from behind before you make any passes.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Use your head and taillights each day (charge them overnight).

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Wear bright clothing and your ESR-issued safety triangle.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Obey all traffic signs and lights. There are no closed courses on ESR.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Ride right – safely out of automobile traffic, on the shoulder, to the right on paths.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Take the lane with care to make turns against traffic.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Ride no more than two abreast, where safely possible, otherwise ride single file. NEVER ride 3-4-5 abreast. Do NOT hog the road to chit-chat.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Do NOT ride left of the center yellow line.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Do NOT impede traffic. Let cars safely pass.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic If you must stop, pull off to the right, out of traffic.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Pacelines are dangerous in mixed groups of cyclists and on mixed use paths.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic On trails, look both ways when crossing a road.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Beware of trail gates and/or bollards at intersections and trailheads.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Be courteous to other trail users and alert them to your approach.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Stay well hydrated.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Use sunscreen and/or protective clothing

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Earbuds and personal audio are dangerous if you can’t hear hazards. Use one bud only or use bone buds that do not go in the ears. Adjust your volume so you can hear vehicles and other people.

 

Check out this safety video, courtesy of the League of American Cyclists

Fundraising tips for first-time riders

Ready to become a road warrior?

When you sign up to ride with us across New York State, you’re committing to raising funds that pave the way for innovative cancer research and clinicals trials. Much like training for the 500+ mile adventure, becoming a fundraising master can also take practice.

The good news is you’re not in this alone!

Our Empire State Ride team is providing you with a wide variety of fundraising tools, including imagery ready for your social media feed, the ESR MyHub App and print materials like custom business cards. Read more about the fundraising tools available here.

As you’ll learn throughout your journey, your fellow road warriors can also be a great source of guidance. We asked registered riders in our private Empire State Riders Facebook group to share their advice for first-time fundraisers.

Rider on the road showing a sign of strength

Here’s a look at what they had to say:

  • Thomas F: “Start now by leveraging social and business cards!!!”

  • Shelley A: Start early … some will be happy to donate to your ride. Others need an incentive. If you can get a major prize, (TV, tickets to a game, etc.), then run a raffle. They love a chance to donate while having a chance to win something. Good luck!”

  • Dennis B: “Be creative – we are doing football squares, bowling. Some people are doing beer blasts. Key – be sure to tag people on Facebook when someone gives you a donation and thank them. That really helps your friends see it. Their friends see it, etc.”

  • Mark S: “A local brewery is letting me run a 50/50 during their trivia night!”

  • Steve M: “Some businesses will let you do a match event and donate a portion of proceeds to your ride. I did this twice with Chipotle. Invite friends/family on a specific night to get dinner at your local participating restaurant, and they donate 33%. Easy to do!”

  • Maria C: “My father said always just ask, 😊 You may be surprised, and I always keep my letters and cards with me. Ask everyone you know!”
  • Greg P: “March Madness contest. Get businesses to donate prizes. Then contestants make donations to ESR to get a ballot and play. We have a traveling trophy with names of winners from the previous 28 years.”

  • Chris H: “Don’t say their ‘no’ for them. If you don’t ask, then are you saying their ‘no’ for them. Don’t be shy. Don’t be discouraged by the no’s you get. But at least give them a chance to say ‘yes’ by asking.”

The back of a rider in an excelsior jersey at #ESR22
  • Marah C: “Tell everyone about the incredible event!”

  • Alan K: “You and your donors should check with their employer to see if they offer a company match for any donations made to ESR. My company will match up to $1,000 to any 501c3 charitable organization.”

  • Michelle Lynn B: “Always ask and give people the opportunity to give!”

  • Mark S: “If you do a 50/50 event, be sure to add a Venmo or QR code.

  • Jason M: “Be assertive. Lives depend on this mission.”

Want more fundraising tips? Check out last year’s advice to first-time riders.

Need more guidance?

Please contact the Empire State Ride team at 716-845-3179 or via email at empirestateride@roswellpark.org.

The Road to Empire State Ride, brought to you by Port X Logistics: Behind the Scenes

Presented by

Solid Yellow Port X Logo

Meet the Team

As you’re getting ready for your 500+ mile trek across New York State, so is our Empire State Ride operations team.

Every facet of Empire State Ride is mapped out months in advance, though ever-changing details require operations to pivot as the journey demands. The team thinks of all the elements, big and small, so that when you’re on the road, you can focus on the ride rather than the logistics.

Meet Megan, Ashley, Katie and Tom — the operations crew that works year-round to make this adventure possible.

This is a photo of the Empire State Ride Operations Team

“It’s like a big puzzle, like math. You’ve got to go in and figure out solutions to the problems,” said Senior Special Events Operations Coordinator Megan Maslach.

And to make sure the puzzle that is ESR is put together by July, it takes planning — a lot of planning.

“It’s a yearlong process. Even as we’re at a camp, I’m already talking to the venue about next year,” said Production Manager Katie Menke.

Once the team returns home to Buffalo, weekly meetings pick back up in full force to prepare for the upcoming ride. Still, when the weeklong event actually arrives, flexibility is key.

“Our team is really good at working on the fly and troubleshooting. We do an incredible amount of planning, but so many things happen when we’re out there, and our team is just so good at improvising,” said Katie.

Operations Manager Tom Johnston says the biggest obstacle is keeping an eye on all the moving parts.

He added, “Every site is different, and every site has its own flavor and challenges.” 

Camp Life

This is a photo of Katie on the ops team speaking at Wagner College during #ESR22
This is a photo of several rows of tents, featuring the camp life at ESR.
This photo shows members of the ESR staff at #ESR22

In addition to the route itself, camp life is a key part of the ESR experience. Each camp has a rider reception and services hub, tenting area, dining and program tent.

Among her various duties, Katie handles campsite logistics. This includes “everything that goes into rolling into an empty field and building a small village for us for that day,” Katie said. She emphasized that it’s a team effort, with collaboration from members of the ops team, vendors, caterers and more.

While the existing infrastructure varies from one site to the next, riders will always have access to portable restrooms and a traveling shower truck. Booking those amenities is one of Megan’s many tasks.

“I enjoy figuring out what we need to make a space habitable for 350 people,” said Megan. “My favorite part is creating a one-day home for people at each spot.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the camp life at ESR is that each site is set up and taken down daily as the group rides across the state.

“After the riders leave at around 7:00 a.m., we pack up everything. The tent company packs up 300 tents individually. They roll them up, put them in their trailers, drive an hour to the next place and unload them all,” said Katie. “They even use a leaf blower to dry them out. They inflate air mattresses, they put a camping chair next to each tent and, somehow, they’re ready to go by 2 p.m. or so when the riders arrive after a day on the road.”

Adjusting to Scale

The first ESR took place back in 2014 when founder Terry Bourgeois rode solo from New York City to Niagara Falls on a pursuit to raise critical funds for cancer research at Roswell Park. Over the last nine years, his passion project has inspired hundreds of people to get involved.

Today, there are more than 200 people who join ESR on the road each year — and counting!

“As the event has grown, we’re always thinking about adjusting to scale so that we don’t lose that family-feel, but we also are able to deal with the larger numbers and be more efficient,” Tom explained.

Despite the size of ESR, riders, staff and volunteers alike often use the word “family” to describe the experience. Maintaining the special sense of community that is unique to this ride is essential. “It’s a big production, so much planning goes into it. There are lots of nuts and bolts and moving parts, but somewhere in there is that personal connection,” said Tom.

In recent years, the team has managed all operations in house for ESR. While there’s always room for growth, they say the process has been incredibly fulfilling and successful — creating a kind of synergy with everyone involved.

“I think what’s unique to our event is that it’s not just a bike tour. It’s very much about the cause and about fundraising and about everybody’s stories,” Katie added, “And our team is able to bring those concepts together for our week-long ride.”

Join the ESR Community

Of course, everyone plays an important role in Empire State Ride, including you!

Whether you want to get involved on the frontlines of the adventure as a rider or behind the scenes as a volunteer, members of the ops team say it’s a journey you truly have to experience to understand.

“It doesn’t take seven days to cross New York State. It takes seven hours, but you stretch it out and you see things. You see small towns. You see families who come out to help us. You connect with the community,” said Tom.

And after a year of planning, pivoting and preparing for this one-week-event, the result is an unforgettable journey, with memories to last a lifetime.

This is a group photo of several riders at #ESR22

From rider to volunteer, Janice Hetrick embodies the spirit of ESR

Janice Hetrick of Lancaster rode in her first Empire State Ride back in 2017. She says her friend proposed the idea and, at first, she was skeptical. After all, cycling 500+ miles across New York State is no easy feat. But after that first ride, ESR became a part of Janice – and Janice became a part of ESR.  

“It’s a time to concentrate, to think, to enjoy the beauty of New York State while you’re riding.”

The ride appealed to Janice for two reasons. First, she is a runner and athlete. ESR was a challenge she was prepared to tackle. Second, the mission to raise funds for cancer research resonated deeply with her.

Janice is a breast cancer survivor and several other family members have also battled cancer. In fact, her brother is currently being treated at Roswell Park for pancreatic cancer. She says ESR is her calling to give back.

Janice Hetrick at ESR

A community of thrivers

Janice Hetrick and her mother at the finish line

Of all the memories Janice has on the road at ESR, crossing the finish line for the first time is one that stands out.

“I saw my mom there. My mom is also a breast cancer survivor, and she was really leery of me doing the ride for the first time,” said Janice. “But then when she saw me at the finish line, she was crying away, saying, ‘I’m so proud of you. I’m so glad you did it.’

And in the process of getting to that finish line — Janice found community.

“We’re a family,” she explained. “Each year there’s more and more of us who have defeated cancer and are fighters, or if you want to call them thrivers.”

In 2022, a knee replacement kept Janice from being able to return as a rider. Still feeling compelled to be a part of the adventure, she decided to take on a different role at ESR.

From rider to volunteer

For #ESR22, Janice returned to the road as a volunteer for all seven days of the adventure. Along with her desire to give back, she brought an energy that kept the riders going.

“I still knew a lot of people who rode. So, each day, I would wear a different outfit for the different types of cancer.”

Janice took on a variety of tasks while volunteering, from manning one of the rest stops to squirting riders with a water gun when they needed a cooldown and assisting at the HUB (Hospitality Updates and Beverages), which is the central spot for rider information. With each job, she made it fun!

Although through a different lens, she even got to relive that moment of crossing the finish line.

“By volunteering, you are still capturing the moment of everyone arriving at camp just like you arrived at camp. You can see them pedaling and cheer them on. We all had bells and whistles. We cheered them on just as the volunteers cheered me on as I came into camp.”

The experience was so impactful that Janice plans on returning as a volunteer for #ESR23.

For others interested in volunteering, Janice said, “I would explain to them how emotional this is to volunteer. It’s captivating. It’s an uplifting experience.”

Group photo at ESR

Charlie Livermore’s 2023 ESR training plan

Charlie Livermore talks during orientation for the 2022 Empire State Ride

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.

The Training Plans.

Hi, everyone. Coach Charlie here.

I’m happy to announce that the 2023 ESR Training Plans are now available.

As a coach, I’ve been challenged to provide the right advice for a wide a range of riders. The training load necessary for an advanced rider is too much for a beginner and the correct dose for a beginner will not help an advanced rider. To make it easy, I divided the ESR rider community into categories and created three versions of the training plan.

Advanced Training Plan

The advanced rider plan is designed for cyclists who ride all year around, and cycling is their primary sport. These cyclists can easily tackle the distance of the ESR. Their goal might be to ride the 540 miles at the highest average speed they can achieve every day or use the training stimulus of a big volume week to prepare for another event goal. The average speed of this group is generally 18-20 MPH.

Intermediate Training Plan

The intermediate rider plan is also designed for cyclists who ride all year around. These riders won’t have a problem tackling the distance, but it will be a significant challenge. The average speed of this group is generally 14-16 MPH.

Beginner Training Plan

This group consists of riders who are either brand new to cycling or start training in the spring and summer months just to prepare for the ESR. Average speed of this group is generally 10-12 MPH.

The biggest difference in these plans is the start date and the length. For beginners, I stayed with the original 22-week plan since most of those in this category don’t have an indoor training option and can’t ride outside until spring due to weather conditions. The intermediate and advanced plans assume you have an indoor training setup or can ride outdoors.

Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the terms below. Understanding your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and breathing rate are especially important to ensure you’re working at the correct intensity. Read more about how about how to follow the ESR training plan below.

Whether this will be your first ESR or you are an experienced multi-day event rider, you’ll benefit from following one of the structured training plans.

Preparing your body for the challenge of riding 500+ miles isn’t just about riding more. You’ll achieve a better level of preparedness with quality training over quantity. Anyone can do the Empire State Ride; even a time-crunched athlete can feel confident at the start line if they train right.

Start every workout with a warm-up.

Warm-ups can vary, but you want to do at least 15 minutes of conversational pace riding before you start any high-intensity-interval workout. Focus on the execution of the intervals rather than time. After you warm up and complete the intervals, complete the remaining prescribed time of the at an easy endurance pace. Workouts will be listed with a total duration that is longer than the total time of the actual intervals to account for this. 

I prescribed all workout intensities based on Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a measure of workload to determine how hard you feel you are exercising. In a training setting, the RPE scale is from 1-10 (1 being no exertion and 10 being a maximum effort). Each workout in the training plan has an RPE associated with it to help guide you to the prescribed intensity. Below, Table 7.1 Workouts, RPE and Breathing Rate lays out what you’re trying to accomplish with each workout to understand the scale.

Chart of terms

Recovery Miles (RM)

Recovery miles need to be very easy to allow you to recover from previous workouts. They’ll range anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes and should be substantially easier than endurance miles. It should be 2-3 on an RPE scale and have a frequency of 2-3 times per week.

Endurance Miles (EM)

Much of your riding time will consist of endurance miles. Many people refer to this as their forever pace, but it’s also the time around your interval sets. These rides should be a 4-5 on the RPE scale and range from 90 minutes to 6+ hours. Your speed will vary with hills but remember to keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) the same. Going uphill at the same speed requires more work, which can turn your endurance miles into steady state quickly.

Tempo (T)

Tempo workouts are faster than endurance miles but not all out (at your “lactate threshold”). These workouts help develop a stronger aerobic engine by maintaining an effort outside of your comfort zone. They should be a 6 on an RPE scale and range from 15 – 45 minutes for each interval. Be very careful that you don’t let your intensity level get into your lactate threshold. It’s easy to let it creep up, but faster doesn’t always mean better. You need to be able to sustain that pace for longer periods of time to get the best adaptation.

Steady State (SS)

Steady state workouts are probably the most well-known of these workouts. They’re an important part of training and very strenuous. They should be done at or slightly below your lactate threshold at an RPE of 7-8. These intervals are shorter than tempo because of the intensity involved. Each interval ranges from 8 to 20 minutes and has a 2-to-1 recovery ratio. A typical workout may look like 3×10 min with 5 minutes of active recovery between each interval.

Power Intervals (PI)

Power Intervals are short, extremely strenuous intervals that help develop your VO2max. They last 1 to 5 minutes at an RPE of 10. Warming up before these is even more important, so make sure to get in 15-30 minutes of conversational riding before you start the intervals. The recovery period is 1 to 1, so 1-minute intervals have 1 minute of active recovery.

Fast Pedaling (FP)

This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road or on an indoor trainer. The gearing should be light, with low pedal resistance. Begin slowly and increase your pedal speed, starting out with around 15 or 16 pedal revolutions per 10-second count. This equates to a cadence of 90 to 96 RPM. While staying in the saddle, increase your pedal speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking.

Concentrate on pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top. After one minute of fast pedaling, you should be maintaining 18 to 20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108 to 120 RPM for the entire amount of time prescribed for the workout. Your heart rate will climb while doing this workout, but don’t use it to judge your training intensity. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the fast pedaling workout with as few interruptions as possible.

 Rest Between Intervals (RBI)

This is the rest time between each interval. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBI period.

Rest Between Sets (RBS)

This is the rest time between sets of intervals. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBS period.

Here is a typical steady state (SS) interval workout:

 60min w/ 3x6min (SS), 3min RBI

 All workouts start with the total time. In this case, it’s 60 minutes. Within the overall time, there is a specific interval set of three intervals. Each interval is 6 minutes long at the Steady State (SS) intensity and the rest between each 6’ interval RBI is 3’. The total amount of time of the interval set is 24’. So, what to do with the remaining 36’? Use some of the time before the interval set to warm up and ride the remaining time, less 5’, for a cooldown, at endurance miles (EM) intensity.

Interested in a personalized plan?

For those of you who are looking for a plan customized to your specific schedule and goals, contact me for a free coaching consultation at clivermore@trainright.com.

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