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Let’s Get Started: Finding the Right Bike

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This is part one of a blog series for first-time riders written by first-time Empire State Ride road warrior, Jenna. Join Jenna in learning the ropes as you prepare to ride 500+ miles to end cancer. 

“In a lot of ways, the Empire State Ride is the exact opposite of the a race in that the people who are finishing at the end are getting some of the biggest cheers.”

I’m not a cyclist. But I have spoken with people who have done the Empire State Ride and heard many uplifting and inspiring stories. It has quickly become evident to me that the ESR journey is something special. So, I signed up as a first-time rider. Now, it’s time to get started.

As I prepare for my 500+ mile trek alongside new and returning riders, I know I have a long way to go. But I’ve started spinning regularly to build up to the beginner ESR training plan. I also swapped out my old Schwinn hybrid for a new-to-me road bike so that I can ride safely, efficiently and without injury.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned throughout my bike research:

There are many types of bikes out there: trail bikes, hybrids, road bikes, touring bikes; each one has a specific purpose. Road bikes are designed with speed and agility in mind, and their lightweight frame makes them ideal for tackling mileage when you don’t have to carry a ton of luggage (ESR takes care of that for you!). Touring bikes are built with a heavier frame and thicker tires to absorb the vibrations in the road. For long distances, a good endurance (not race) road bike is the best option.

Once you’ve figured out your bike type, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at bikes that are the right size for you. You can find sizing charts online to determine the right frame, but you should also think about your contact points (meaning your pedals, handlebars and saddle) and other factors like your top tube length.

If you’re new to the sport like me, you’re best to leave this part to the experts — which brings me to my next point.

Your local bike shops understand sizing better than anyone and can either a) get you set up with a new bike or b) make any necessary adjustments needed on your bike so that it fits you. on Content

Road bikes can be expensive. While it can be tempting to buy a cheaper bike from a department store, quality is important when riding 500+ miles. If you are looking to buy secondhand, make sure you’re doing your research and then take it in for a proper tune-up and fitting.

This one is especially important. Make sure that you have the right gear to go along with your new bike, specifically:

  • A CPSC-certified bicycle helmet. Make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions and replacing your helmet every few years, because materials degrade over time. It’s also important to ensure your helmet fits correctly, meaning that it’s low on your forehead, the straps are evenly adjusted, and it does not swivel.

    If your helmet doesn’t fit, is older or has cracks in it, replace it.

    You should also consider investing in a helmet with a Multidirectional Impact Protection (MIPS) system. This technology is relatively new and was developed by specialists in Sweden to absorb shock and better protect your head. You can also consider WaveCel technology as another advanced option.

  • Front and rear lights. Empire State Ride takes place on open roads and trailways. Having a front (white headlight) and rear (red tailgate) ensures that cars passing by you will clearly see you as you ride along. Make sure you use rechargeable batteries or bring extras, as well!

Individual registration.

More safety tips

If you’re just getting started with training or considering joining as a new cyclist, let’s get started together. Share your experience with us by email at empirestateride@roswellpark.org or on our social media pages.

 

 

Coach Charlie Livermore: Pedaling Efficiently

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

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.  

Coach charlie LIvermore on Pedaling

This is a short version of a much longer talk on pedaling that Charlie will present at the ESR. The aim of this blog is to give you a simple technique you can practice to improve your pedaling efficiency.

Training for 2023 ESR requires lots of time at an easy, conversational pace (endurance intensity). Athletes often find this important piece of the training puzzle boring and repetitive. It’s too “easy” to keep your mind focused on the workout execution and counterintuitive to the old “no pain, no gain” cliche. But there’s no better time to practice your pedaling mechanics and improve your cycling efficiency than during those 60’ to 6-hour endurance rides. The smoother and more efficient you can train your pedaling stroke, the less energy you require to maintain your power or speed — and who wouldn’t benefit from that?

Think of a pedal stroke in the same way you might think of a golf swing, tennis swing or swim stroke. It’s a complex series of muscle activation of the hips, gluteus and leg muscles to act on moving the crank in a circle to create maximum torque. The longer you can create torque around the pedal stroke, the better. This is referred to as the duty cycle.

In the image below, you can see what the duty cycle of an efficient cyclist looks like compared to the duty cycle of most recreational cyclists.

On the left, the efficient cyclist starts applying tangential force when the crank is behind 12 o’clock (green) and ends at about 7 o’clock (pink). On the right, the duty cycle starts at 1 o’clock (pink) and ends before 6 o’clock (green).

A graph that shows the pedaling range of advanced and everyday riders.

It’s clear that there’s much more time in the duty cycle of an efficient cyclist. If you think about what’s happening on the other side of the crank of a short duty cycle, there’s a whole lot of time where there’s no force on the pedals at all. This results in the bike decelerating, forcing you to reaccelerate with every pedal stroke. If you have a hard time keeping your speed in a headwind or on a climb, you most likely have a short duty cycle.

So, how do we practice and change our pedaling efficiency? It’s really easy in theory, but it will take some time to adjust. Human are programmed to walk not pedal, and we are essentially applying walking biomechanics to pedaling, which looks like this: push down, wait for the feedback when our foot feels the floor, and then begin the process with the other leg.

To change that, we have to avoid reaching the floor and stop thinking about pushing down. Instead, think about pushing across the top and sweeping back before you feel the bottom. You don’t have to think about pushing down. That will happen naturally.

A graph that shows the pedaling range of advanced and everyday riders.

Quick tips

Things to think about and work on while practicing efficient pedaling technique:

  • Pedaling in the saddle is a two-joint action: hip joint and knee joint. No need to act on the ankle joint. No ankling.
  • Walking is a two-joint action: knee joint and ankle joint. We are not walking.
  • Think about pedaling from the hips, not the feet. Unless you’re sprinting, you should never feel much pressure on your foot against the pedals.
  • The push over the top starts by activating the muscles that extend the hip — the gluteus and rectus femoris.
  • The bottom sweep starts by activating the hamstring to close the knee joint. Try to feel your heel pulling back against your shoe.
  • To begin this technique, first focus on getting the sweep right. Try pedaling exclusively with the hamstrings (posterior chain) to activate and program this part of the stroke.
  • Imagine staying close to the top and the bottom of the circle. Do NOT overextend your leg on the downstroke or lift it too far over the top on the upstroke.
  • You are not pedaling in full circles! The pedal stroke is from 11 to 7 on a clock. Don’t overuse your hip flexor to “lift the leg.”
  • The advanced version of this technique is to synchronize the push over the top with the sweep through the bottom.

Thanks for reading!

Coach Charlie

Coach Charlie: How to train for your first century

Charlie Livermore on the 100-Miler

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

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.  

Your first 100-mile ride can seem like an intimidating task, but with the right preparation, anyone can develop the fitness, skills and confidence to ride your first century. This is a basic overview of important topics that will help you get to that first century finish line.

Training the body to meet the demands of a century is multidimensional; it’s not just about the bike workouts. Put it all together, and I’ll see you smiling at the end of your biggest day at Empire State Ride.

Pre-Training Preparation.

Bike Fit — You’ll be spending significant amount of time on your bike. Make sure you’re sitting correctly on it. Book an appointment with a professional bike fitter to ensure that your body is in the most optimal position on your bike.

Prepare Your Body — In a previous blog, I wrote about mobility. The time you spend preparing your body during the winter off-season will pay off when bike training starts in the spring.

Training.

There are training plans coming soon on the ESR website for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders. Choose the right one for you, and once you start, focus on consistency. Getting on your bike regularly is the key to success.

Recovery.

Adequate periods of rest are essential for adaptation to training stress. Rest days and weeks are built into the training plans. It’s important to adhere to them even if you don’t feel like you need a day off or an easy recovery week.

Nutrition.

You must consume enough energy (food) to support your activity level. Your focus should be on improving your fitness, not losing weight. A major component of recovery is replacing the energy used in a training session so you can repeat it. Visit the ESR website and read some of my past blogs on nutrition for a deeper dive into this important topic.

Skills.

From learning to ride in a group, eating and drinking while moving or pedaling and shifting your bike, skills are an important part of being a good and safe cyclist. The best way to learn skills is with a local cycling club that has good mentorship leaders. Go on group rides and ask lots of questions. I will be writing about shifting and pedaling in my next blog.

For a deeper dive into training and preparing for your first century ride, here’s an article I recommend you read from my friend, Chris Carmichael.

CHRIS CARMICHAEL

See you all in July!

Coach Charlie

Coach Charlie: How to prepare your body for #ESR23 Training

Coach charlie LIvermore on Mobility

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

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 days are getting shorter and for many ESR riders, the outdoor riding season is coming to an end. Fall and winter are typically the best times to begin an off-the-bike program. This period of low to no riding is when you can switch your focus to preparing your body for 2023 ESR training.

The goals of an off-season preparation program are injury prevention, improved muscle recruitment patterns and improved efficiency on the bike. There are many approaches. For example:

  • Cross train with running
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hiking
  • Start a strength resistance/weight training program
  • Take yoga or pilates classes
  • Mobility training

I’m a firm believer that mobility is what we all need most for our long-term health and wellbeing. When you change the way you move and correct the imbalances caused by our modern habits, you will get better results for all other off-season options and the spring cycling season itself.

Mobility is defined as the active control of a joint. It is the combination of strength, flexibility and control. Mobility training involves conditioning or priming joints at their end range of motion which then expands the joint’s workspace and contributes to long-lasting changes.

Flexibility is defined as the passive control of a joint. Flexibility training or stretching creates temporary changes to the tissues. Flexibility is the muscle’s ability to passively lengthen. Flexibility, therefore, is a component of mobility, though mobility and flexibility are not interchangeable.

The great thing about mobility training is that you can do it at home with minimum to no equipment, and most sessions are in the 12 – 30 minute range.

Here are my two favorite programs that you can stream and follow at home.

FOUNDATION TRAINING (FT) :    https://ftstreaming.com/

TRS VIRTUAL MOBILITY COACH: https://thereadystate.com/trial/

Start moving right and have a great fall and winter season!

See you on the road,

Coach Charlie

Join us at the finish line!

Our ESR road warriors have committed to a 500+ mile journey across the state. Over seven days, they’ll tackle long distances, hills and exhaustion to honor everyone affected by cancer. Help us celebrate their accomplishment by cheering them on at the finish line! All enthusiasts welcome. 

Saturday, July 30 @ 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

There will be food trucks, music and programming to honor our road warriors and congratulate them on completing their adventure. Our road warriors will cross the finish line around 4 p.m.

Here's what you can expect

  • Food trucks
  • 42 North Brewing Tap Trekker
  • Live music
  • Programming on our riders’ impact
  • Opportunity to purchase ESR gear
  • Awesome signs and plenty of cheering
  • Smiles as hundreds of road warriors embrace that finish line feeling

What to Bring

  • Enthusiasm
  • Inspiration and willingness to create a sign
  • Spending money and appropriate gear for the weather

Parking

Map showing parking in Niagara Falls

Camping at ESR: What you need to know

Empire State Ride is just around the corner, and riders are in for the journey of a lifetime. Not only are we advancing cancer research from the seat of our bikes, but we’re also taking on a unique cycling challenge. If you’re anything like Maria Thor, you’re going to learn a lot during your week on the road.

“I did my first Empire State Ride, hopped on the bus and off I went. I’d never camped. I was a Holiday Inn girl, but I learned to camp, and I’ve learned a lot of things about myself that I never thought that I would do or could do,” says Maria Thor, veteran rider.

If you’re a first-time road warrior or thinking about becoming one next year, you may be wondering what to expect at camp. After a long day of riding, there’s no better feeling than freshening up and getting settled in for the night. By familiarizing yourself with the schedule and resources, you can make the most out of your camping experience. Here’s a quick snapshot of what you can expect.

🚲Your experience Includes:

• No-hassle tent camping, including tent, chair, air mattress, clean towels and daily delivery of your luggage
• Shower truck, restrooms, , bike truck and mechanics support
• A HUB with rider information, beverages, snacks, first aid supplies, sunscreen, and cue sheets,.
• Wellness support, including first aid and physical therapists as well as optional for-cost massages
• Catered breakfast and dinner with consideration for dietary restrictions
• Charging stations for devices
• Nightly mission-based programming

🚲Schedule

Daily routes close at 3 p.m. each day. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. with nightly programming at 6:15 p.m. that unites everyone around our shared mission to end cancer. Then, you have free time until 10 p.m. when quiet hours begin. You can use that time to enjoy our evening reception, chat with other riders, or just unwind while reflecting on the day.

🚲 Location

Map of ESR with orange colors fading it to show each camp.

Day 1 (July 23): Wagner College, Staten Island
Day 2 (July 24): Somers High School, Somers
Day 3 (July 25): Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Rhinebeck
Day 4 (July 26): Shaker Heritage Society, Albany
Day 5 (July 27): Donovan Middle School, Utica
Day 6 (July 28): Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport
Day 7 (July 29): Ferris Goodrich American Legion, Spencerport

Here’s one last note from veteran rider, Richard Noll.

“At the end of the day, it's not about the ride. It's about the funds raised. And it's about hanging out at camp when you get there. Trust me, the beer tastes really good after a day of riding.”

Two riders embrace in a side to side hug at the finish line of Empire State Ride.

Thinking about tackling this summer adventure in 2023? Follow along on social and join our mailing list!

 

Packing pro tips (from riders who’ve been there)

Tackling a seven-day, 500+ mile cycling adventure takes preparation. One of the best steps you can take to prepare for the Empire State Ride is to pack appropriately. From there, check out the tips below from our veteran riders for inspiration on some of the more unique items you might need.

🚲 Terry Bourgeois

ESR founder Terry Bourgeois suggests packing:

  1. Flashlight for navigating camp
  2. Vitamins, focusing on magnesium and potassium supplements for recovery
  3. BioFreeze or a topical pain-relieving product
  4. Earplugs to use in the tent
  5. Desitin for skin irritation

🚲 Maria Thor

Six-year rider Maria Thor is always prepared with:

  1. Performance bars
  2. Packs of nuts
  3. Pedialyte for hydration
  4. Toilet paper with a plastic bag for use in between rest stops
  5. Tube, co2 cartridge and bike tool

🚲 Joyce Ohm

Four-year veteran rider Joyce Ohm can’t leave home without:

  1. Gallon Ziplock plastic bags – she packs her kits (jersey, bibs, sports bra, socks) in plastic bags for each day, with clothes for the evening, as well. Dirty clothes go back in the plastic bags. If it rains, suitcases can get wet, and the bags protect her clothing from rain.
  2. Lightweight, fitted sheet to cover the air mattress
  3. Battery-operated fan for the tent
  4. Recovery shakes and a reusable water bottle
  5. …. and most importantly: A sense of humor!

As part of the $3,500 fundraising commitment, riders are provided with a tent, air mattress, camp chair and towel service each day. Each rider is allowed two medium-size bags, plus a sleeping bag and pillow that we transport each day. The weight of any single bag may not exceed 35 pounds. Pack strategically to have everything you need to enjoy the week! 

                                                                                                                        

Finding the right wheels and gear

Empire State Ride is the adventure of a lifetime for many types of athletes. This unique challenge proves that, with two wheels, you can change the world and save lives. We have the answers to frequently asked questions about your two wheels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of bike can I use? 

A road bike is the best type of bicycle to ride during Empire State Ride. Road bikes are light weight, have a shifting system to take on distance and hills, narrow tires for pavement and precision braking systems. 

Some riders opt for a touring bike, which is heavier but built for long distance riding with gear.

Regardless of the make and model of your bike, we highly recommend you take your bike to a local bike shop for a fitting and tune up before setting out on this adventure.

Can I use an e-bike?

For Empire State Ride, we allow Class 1 and Class 2, pedal-assist road or touring bikes. We cannot accommodate throttle-assist e-bikes. E-bikes will need extender batteries to achieve the daily 70+ miles per day. E-bikes are charged each night at the campsite. Owners are responsible for charging the batteries. Before registering, please call us at 716-845-3179 to confirm your type of e-bike and charging requirements. 

Do I need clips and cycling shoes?

Many of our riders prefer to clip into pedals with cycling shoes, which allows for power on both upstroke and downstroke. Riders have completed Empire State Ride on touring and fitness bikes with clip-in or flat-pedal shoes. 

What do I wear?

High visibility gear! We suggest packing a fresh pair of cycling shorts and jersey for each day. Registered riders receive an Empire State Ride custom cycling jersey to wear on the first and last day of the weeklong ride. Don’t forget to pack cycling socks, cycling cap, shoes, gloves and a rain jacket. Empire State Ride happens rain or shine!

What do I need for my bike?

Riders need a seat or handlebar bag for their bike. Bike bags should carry a patch kit, tire levers, spare tubes, inflator and co2 cartridges (threaded or unthreaded dependent on type of inflator) to inflate tires and a multi-tool for quick repairs. A GPS unit is necessary for navigating our route, and we suggest carrying two water bottles for hydration. Certified helmet (CPSC or ASTM) and flashing front and rear bike lights are required for safety.

To be prepared for an average of 80 miles each day, riders should train to ride 20 to 30 miles outdoors at a brisk pace without stopping. Riders need to be comfortable while riding on bike paths and with traffic. Getting plenty of “seat time” will help your body adjust to the feel of long-distance cycling. It’s important to start using anti-chafing personal care products early in training to figure out what works best for your body. We suggest using chamois butter and Desenex proactively. 

The Empire State Ride is an experience for any cyclist who can commit to take on the adventure of a lifetime to end cancer. If you have additional questions, contact our team at empirestateride@roswellpark.org .

Proceeds directly benefit