“Somewhere between Zen and masochism is long-distance bike riding” – Jackie Yerby
Like many who now identify as cyclists, Jackie Yerby got her start by deciding to sign up for Cycle Oregon with a group of friends (that’s her on the left). That was 2010, and she’s been a regular ever since. Going from novice to seasoned endurance rider in a matter of months is an incredible metamorphosis – particularly when setting out with little guidance or structure, which is how she, like most other novices, got her start.
But start she did. She logged an impressive 600 miles on her own and even made the transition to clipless pedals before reaching out to STRADA – Cycle Oregon’s training gurus – for the helpful education and plans that allowed her to take her fitness and skills to the next level. By September of that year, she was more than ready.
Now, as a seasoned veteran she’s got a lot to share with those who are beginning their journey:
- Put the required time in the saddle. I typically log 1,200 miles by September.
- Seek balance – be sure to make room for your friends and your life outside of training during the season.
- Ride your own ride – get into your own rhythm and ride at the right pace for you. If this doesn’t happen to be the same pace as your friends, don’t worry about it; you’ll all end up in the same place at the end of the day.
- Get good bike shorts.
- Use chamois lube.
- Use sunscreen.
- Hydrate – becoming dehydrated is no fun, and it takes a while to recover. Drink early and often, even when you aren’t thirsty.
- Carry food with you and eat constantly.
- Have the right attitude – if you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t.
- Be ready to meet new people – one of the coolest things about Cycle Oregon is the other riders and the friendships you form. Some friendships continue on into the “real world,” and some are rekindled every year on the event, but they’re all good.
- There’s little room for vanity on Cycle Oregon – spitting and performances of the “farmer’s blow” are fine – just make sure the coast is clear first. (Editor’s note: If you have a mustache, forgo the farmer’s blow. Clear coast or no, this move’s not for you.)
- Communicate with your fellow riders – when you pass, call “On your left” or, if appropriate, just say “Hello.”
- Take the layover day off and wear non-cycling clothes (I always wear a dress on the layover day).
- Carry ID or wear a Road ID bracelet.
- Even if you think you’re a master recycler, listen to the volunteers when they help you determine what’s trash, recyclable and compost – they have mad skills.
Jackie Yerby is the sustainability program manager at Cambia Health Solutions. She is on the board of the Community Cycling Center and volunteers for a wide variety of great causes. When you see her on the road this September, strike up a conversation; you’ll be glad you did.
Photo by Rohith Gunawardena.