Everybody prepares for RAIN in his or her own way, and there is no right way or wrong way to do it! The web is full of suggestions on training. Do some searching and see what you can find that suits your fitness level and time availability. The key is to get out and ride!
Below is an article written for us by a club rider who has ridden RAIN multiple times. You’ll note that he considers himself an “average” rider! You can do it too!
Get out and ride!
As an average rider, who will be 61 on my next birthday, I have ridden RAIN five times, as well as multiple centuries and double centuries. I was asked to provide my thoughts on preparing for RAIN. This is not an exhaustive list of things to consider, but for someone new to an endurance event like RAIN, it may provide some insight into their preparation.
There are three areas I consider key for the rigors associated with any endurance event like RAIN:
- How you prepare your body;
- How you prepare your mind and; and
- How to sustain your effort during the ride.
How you prepare your body
After a long winter, getting back on the road and logging base miles is important. Start easy and work your way up to several long rides leading up to RAIN. If you can’t get in or have the energy for a full century, try to cobble together consecutive Friday, Saturday, and Sunday rides to reach 100 miles or more. Long rides get you in shape physiologically as well as mentally. Knowing that you have completed a century or more prior to RAIN gives you that added sense of confidence. Besides your legs, long training rides will train the muscles in your back, neck, and arms and help you figure out whether your current saddle is suited to a 160-mile ride.
How you prepare your mind
I have always looked at endurance events such as running or cycling not based on “I know I can make it” but rather “how good or bad do I want to feel after the event?” I may be a bit compulsive, but I try to plan everything I will need for the ride and go over my list multiple times. Do I have a mileage base that I feel comfortable with? As I stated above, confidence comes from knowing I will be able to ride 160 miles in one day. Is my bike tuned up and ready to go? During my first RAIN ride, my rear derailleur cable broke and I rode the final 50 miles with two gears. Lesson learned: check cables, brake pads, chain, etc. and replace if necessary before RAIN. Many of us have taken our bike to the local bike shop for a tune-up before an important ride only to discover a problem during that ride. If you are going to have your bike worked on, try to get it done a couple of weeks—not days—in advance and ride it several times to make sure everything is working properly.
If you have a PSV meeting you at the rest stops, have them carry several spare tubes, an extra tire, and tools you may need for a mid-course adjustment.
Knowing you have a good base and have a plan for RAIN will provide added confidence and help eliminate any undue stress.
How to sustain your effort during the ride
Nutrition and hydration are key to a successful RAIN ride. Some RAIN rides are extremely hot, others are windy—in either case staying properly fueled and hydrated is important. I have tried many different things over the years. Water, Gatorade, Gatorade mixed with Diet Mountain Dew, and Pedialyte. It is easy to forget to drink when riding. There’s the old saying that when you get thirsty it is already too late. Continue to drink throughout the ride. The night before, drink water, Gatorade, or something to make sure you start out hydrated. Sometimes we forget to drink when getting carried away with the ride. A rule of thumb I use is to take a sip from my water bottle whenever I see someone else take a drink. It doesn’t need to be a big sip, but it reminds you to drink.
Nutrition is also important and if maintained will help you get to the finish line. Remember you are going to burn a lot of calories riding 160 miles. I have tried GU, Clif Bars, peanut butter sandwiches, and other protein and energy-rich foods. At the rest stops, one of the best things I have had is watermelon. Eat something. Believe me, if you don’t eat because you just don’t feel hungry, you will pay for it later. The key is to experiment/practice this spring with what you are going to eat. See what your stomach can tolerate and what tastes good. What tastes good at the beginning of the ride may not taste so good in the later stages.
The RAIN committee provides a great assortment of food at each rest stop and a nice lunch around 90 miles.
Warm up, ride at your own pace—this is not a race. The goal is to get from Terra Haute to Richmond in one day, safe and sound.
The late Robin Williams was once asked why he loved riding a bicycle so much. His answer was wonderful and true: He said it was the closest you can get to flying.
Enjoy our ride. Prepare physically, mentally, and nutritionally and you will have a great day.