• Thu September 02 2004
  • Posted Sep 2, 2004
[Check out the portion about RAGBRAI and voodoo Steve and Dana] CRAIG HILL; The News Tribune It takes a certain kind of person to wake up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday so she can sit on a bike seat for two days. Dana Tilton-Anderson, a 49-year-old long-distance bicyclist from Shelton, is clearly one of those people. She was one of 450 riders who spent the weekend biking in the first RAPSody Ride, a 165-mile loop around the Puget Sound. Dana met her husband, Steve Anderson, at a burrito stand during a ride across Iowa in 2002. Steve proposed to her a few months later during another long ride. Last year, at 7:45 on a summer morning, they were married next to that same burrito stand. Then, still in tuxedo and gown, they hopped on a tandem bike and pedaled across Iowa again. Dana and Steve's example might be a little extreme, but long-distance bicyclists say they have the right idea. You have to be dedicated to do this sport. Most long-distance bicyclists put in more than 2,000 miles per year to make sure they are ready for long rides. Some, like Bryan Wooldridge of Olympia, put in 1,000 miles per month. The dedication required for long-distance riding, is the primary reason many people don't get into the sport until their children are grown. Wayne Vander Pol, a 57-year-old Spanaway resident who covered the RAPSody course in 12 hours, started bicycling five years ago. Sharon Johnston of Shelton also started five years ago, when she was 61. "When I ride in the STP (the 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland ride), once you get into the second part of the race with the one-day riders you see a lot of gray hair," said Wooldridge, 39, who finished RAPSody in a day with his wife, Robin. "You have to have the time to be committed." Your life doesn't have to revolve around the sport, but if you are interested in trying a long-distance ride like RAPSody or the STP next summer, cyclists suggest getting started now. Preparing your bike As a novice rider rolled his mountain bike into REI last week and announced his plans to ride RAPSody, the repair specialist eyed the bike and gave a look that said, "It's a good thing you came in." After about 60 seconds of examining the well-worn bike, Devin Schweikert offered this analysis: Half of the gears aren't being used, the handle bars and seat are too high, the wheels aren't straight and the cables are frayed. He also suggested replacing the nubby off-road tires with slick road tires for a more efficient ride on a long road course. It took two days to get the bike ready for the ride. "Before a long ride like that, you really should take your bike to have it looked at," Schweikert said. Schweikert says the most common problems he sees are stretched chains and worn bearings, both of which make the bike less efficient. "A lot of times, people don't know they have problems until they bring their bikes in," Schweikert said. "A bike should ride smoothly. No clicking, no noises." Tune ups range in price from $50 to $100. Dressing the part Riders don't wear bicycle shorts because they're flattering. The right clothing on long rides can keep you from being rather uncomfortable. Padded shorts are vital for two reasons. First, it makes sitting on that narrow seat bearable. Second, the shorts help prevent chaffing. Schweikert says the right footwear can also be important. Shoes with stiff soles can make long rides more comfortable. Then there's the most important piece of equipment: A helmet. Almost every organized ride won't even permit you to roll across the starting line without a helmet. Cyclists say there are seven essential items to take on every long ride. A pump and an extra tube to repair flat tires. A repair kit and a multitool for minor repairs. And identification, at least $30 cash and a cell phone in case of an emergency. Warming up the engine Carla Gramlich, a 44-year-old ride leader for the Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club, got into biking 17 years ago by pedaling about 15 miles per day. "Now I can pedal 50 miles and not think too much about it," said Gramlich. She says a good way to get into cycling is to start biking to work. That's how Tim Payne, 49, got into riding about eight years ago. Now he's the TWBC president. Last year, he pedaled for 850 miles around Montana. "I got bored in the gym," Payne said. "I wanted to get some fresh air and some scenery." He puts in about 4,000 miles each year, and he knows that sounds intimidating to folks who are thinking about taking up the sport. "Even if you can only go about five miles, you can add another five miles after a while, then another five miles," Payne said. "Slowly, but surely you can build your way up to one of the big rides." Payne says joining a bicycle club is a good way to get some variety in your rides. The TWBC offers 20 to 35 rides per months ranging in size from five to 30 riders. Payne suggests keeping track of the distance and time of your rides to stay motivated. Others say there are plenty of reasons they stay motivated. "I feel great after going for a long ride," Johnston said. "Bicycling is the only thing that keeps me going." "I think we all do this for the fitness," Vander Pol said. "If I didn't do this, I would be fat." Craig Hill: 253-597-8742 Source:

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