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Winter Preparation – Get Your Body and Equipment Ready for ESR

ESR rider on the road

Charlie Livermore is back for the 2020 Empire State Ride! Not only will he be joining us on the 500+ mile adventure, but he also lends his expertise to our riders to help with training and preparation.
He will be guest-posting on our blog from now until July. First up, he’s taking us through how to prepare for ESR during the winter.
Happy New Year 2020 ESR Riders!
Let’s get your Empire State Ride training started on the right path from the beginning this year. Riding 500+ miles is a big undertaking for any level cyclist. Whether your goal is to have fun and finish in a healthy state or you’re out to smash the road every day, preparing your body, mindset and equipment prior to, the 2020 Empire State Ride Training Plan will improve your chances for success.
The ESR training plan is available to everyone registered for the ride here. Starting on February 24 and progressing through July 26, the plan is designed to prepare you to have a great ride. Use these next five weeks to get everything ready to go.
Here are some tips to get you ready to train.

Your Bicycle

The greatest piece of advice I can give you here is to make sure your bike fits you well, and is maximized for your comfort and good biomechanics. You’re going to spend a lot of hours on your bike. Over time, small discomfort issues resulting from poor biomechanics can lead to overuse injuries. If you’re one of the smashers, put a limit on your performance. Please do yourself a favor and get a professional bike fit. The industry standard and benchmark for quality bike fitting is Retul.
There’s been a lot of discussion about tire and gear choices for ESR. The trend in these two subjects is clear. From the very best pro riders to the weekend warrior, it’s wider tires and bigger gear ratios. 25-28 mm width tires is the new skinny and 30-38 mm tires are often seen on the road with the advent of gravel bikes. In gearing, a subcompact crankset (50×34) with a 11-30 or 32 cassette is the way to go. I rode last year’s ESR on a gravel bike with 30 mm (slick) tires and a 50×34 with a 11-32 cassette. Whatever you choose, use this time to set it up.

Indoor Training

Due to weather constraints, many of you are going to have to do much, if not all, of your February through April training indoors. Once you have your bike and fit dialed in, it’s time to choose a trainer. There are two basic types: normal and smart.
A normal trainer makes it possible to ride a bike while it remains stationary. A smart trainer adds the benefit of allowing the resistance to be controlled by cycling apps, such as Zwift. If you’re going to train indoors, use this time to research the trainer you want, purchase it, set it up and learn how to use it.

Cycling Computer

A cycling computer is essential for both training and the Empire State Ride. A computer with mapping and navigation functionality is your best bet. If you use your smart phone for navigation, a simple computer that tracks cadence, speed, distance, time, heart rate and power (if you have a power meter) is all you need for training. Use this pre-training period  to learn how to use the one you choose.


To make your bike go forward, you apply a percentage of your body’s energy to produce a mechanical force on the pedals. The interaction between your foot/shoe and the pedals is extremely important. Your best choice is a cycling shoe with a cleat that snaps into your pedals, making the shoe/pedal into a single unit.
If you don’t feel comfortable locking in to your pedals, a MTB cycling shoe is still your best option due to the stiffness of the sole. Soft soled shoes are going to absorb much of that mechanical energy. Fit is extremely important. Comfort is the key here. Get your shoes and cleats dialed in at your bike fit session.


I touched on the importance of comfort in the bike fit and shoes advice, so allow me to give you my advice about cycling shorts. The padding in cycling shorts is designed to add a protective, comfort layer between your body and the seat. The pad should feel like an extension of your body and not a seat pad. What do I mean by that? The pad should move in sync with your body and stay in place when you’re moving on the saddle. If the pad is moving on your skin, it’s causing friction and over time that will become a problem. Your shorts need to fit snug and stay in place. Shorts that are too baggy or old shorts that have lost elasticity are trouble. Make sure your shorts fit tight and stay in place.

Your Schedule

Take a look at the training plan and start to figure out how you’re going to fit it into your busy schedule. The weekday training sessions range from 45’-60’ twice a week through April. Start with that. Make the time by putting it in your schedule. Ask your family for the support. Print out the training plan, stick it on your fridge and rally the whole family behind you. The more people you have cheering you on the better.

Your Body

I can go on forever on this subject. But I’ll keep it short with this: your body is a miraculously smart machine. It can be strong or it can be weak. It can function beyond comprehension or not function well at all. It decides which of these based on input signals. We control a lot of those signals. Nutrition, exercise, mobility and mindfulness are some good examples of the signals we can control to maximize our physical and spiritual state. Before embarking on your ESR training, use these next weeks to prepare your body (mobility), improve your health (nutrition, sleep) and anchor the commitment to achieve your own personal goals for your best Empire State Ride experience.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I will go in depth on the 22 week training plan that begins Monday, February 24.