For five months out of the year, I spend every weekend (and many week nights) either training for or participating in century rides for road cyclists. From May through October, I and several thousand other cycling enthusiasts hit the pavement to ride endless miles and climb hills on our two-wheeled beasts.

denver-century-ride

Over the years, I’ve tried out different nutrition, gear, accessories and even bikes. As a Colorado native, I live in a state that world class athletes (Tejay van Garderen and Lindsey Vonn, among others) call home. While I am not a world class athlete, I live and breathe cycling. I get a lot of questions from friends hoping to get into cycling, or ones who want to get into endurance cycling events. Here are some of my favorite things that I share with my friends:

What I Eat:

Pre-race I nosh on fruit, Clif Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal and KIND breakfast peanut butter bars. Both are filling and nourishing enough to get me through the miles before the first aid station. During the ride, I use GU Salted Carmel Energy Gel.

How I Hydrate:

I add Skratch Labs Hydration Mix to my water bottles.  The sports drink contains simple sugars, electrolytes and uses only real fruit for flavor. A favorite flavor is Matcha Green Tea with Lemons and loaded with caffeine for that extra boost.

In my bottle cages, I use two 20 oz. Polar Bottles and favor them for their double wall insulation and foil liner that keep my beverages colder twice as long than regular water bottles. The addition of the new ZipStream caps prevent leaks -even when open- which is a useful feature for me, since I have experienced several leaks in the past due to my haste to hydrate. I literally turned the bottle upside down with the cap open and no fluid was lost! After how well the Zipstream cap did during the last couple of cycling events, there is no going back!

What I Wear:

I have tried out different brands of cycling clothing for fit, price and comfort. I have a closet full of cycling clothing, and I recently noticed that I always come back to Pearl Izumi for fit, comfort and performance.

This season, I have favored the ELITE Escape Short (my favorite feature is the V shaped waist band that isn’t tight and doesn’t restrict breathing) for comfort, cooling and sun protection; the ELITE Escape Tank for its long torso and reflective details; Sun Sleeves with UPF 50+ sun protection and Ice-fil® that fit perfectly and don’t bunch up; SELECT glove with gel foam padding that provide just the right amount of thickness. I also ended up alternating between the super comfortable Women’s All Road III road shoe and the W-XALP Launch II. Both provide excellent arch support during long, grueling rides but the Boa support of the W-XALP Launch III and off bike traction. I use the latter primarily for mountain biking, but I have used them in road cycling events as well.

For eyewear, I use the feather light Smith Pivlock Asana. I appreciate how the minimalist design provides maximum coverage and how closely they hug my face (historically, I have had a difficult time finding eyewear that fits due to my shallow nose bridge and high cheek bones).

Giro’s Savant utilizes MIPS technology and offers style and protection. Its strategic ventilation (25 Wind Tunnel™ vents) keeps my head cool and fits snugly to my head.

How I Transport My Ride:

The hassle of loading a bike on a car can often be frustrating.

Over the years, I’ve used different types of bike racks for cars: roof racks, rear racks with straps, etc. My hands down favorite is the Yakima Hold Up 2  tray carrier. No longer do I have to use a stool to reach my bikes, deal with frustrating rubber straps that sit higher than my head, worry about damaging carbon frames, or spend precious time trying to strap in and secure a bike. I like the Hold Up 2 because it is user-friendly (even for technically challenged people such as myself) and takes seconds to load my bikes. Tangled bikes, bungee cords and straps are a thing of the past.

centuryride-yakima-hold-up

Final Thoughts:

To me, the price of a decent helmet, sun eyewear, footwear and comfortable performance clothing are worth it. There’s nothing worse than a piece of ill-fitting clothing, or a helmet that doesn’t offer much ventilation on a long ride.  Scientifically-backed nutrition gives energy and enhances performance. Forget the distractions and enjoy the reason you’re outside – the ride.