Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Training has begun!

Thanks to everyone who has already donated to the “Pan USA Challenge.” It has only been a few weeks and together we have already raised several thousand dollars. Please continue to share the Pan USA Challenge with your friends, family and colleagues to help us reach our goal of $75,000.

While discussing the Pan USA Challenge, we have had a bunch of people ask about training, our route and our bikes. Hopefully we can answer some of those questions here.

How are you training for this?
The three of us are pretty athletic and have always been very involved in various sports (including cycling) so training won’t require losing weight and/or shaping up too much. To maintain shape over the winter, however, we have revved up the weightlifting, doing body weight exercises/calisthenics, and riding whenever the weather has been warm enough (quite a few days thanks to global warming). Additionally, I have been doing my favorite quick and effective legs workout frequently while at school. Justin has also been doing some cross training with running and staying loose with yoga. Ben has been in Colorado working as a snowboarding instructor so he will be ready to rip it up once he returns to New York in about a week.

Now that the weather is improving we are also beginning to ride a lot more. We have done a lot of research with people who have undertaken similar cross-USA cycling endeavors in the past and the most common advice we get is how crucial it is to get time in the saddle and get used to doing long rides (i.e. 80-100 miles per day). In late April and the first half of May, we will start to do some longer, multi-day rides with all of our gear. These will act as dry runs and will help us to fine tune our riding and determine exactly what we will bring with us and what we can leave behind.

What kind of bikes will you be riding?
All three of us have road bikes. Justin has a Trek 2100 ZR, Ben has a Cervelo Soloist and, I have a Cannondale Synapse. These are all lightweight, carbon-aluminum road bikes that are not designed specifically for touring, but are often used for long distance rides. We are not going to modify the bikes very extensively; we will outfit the bikes with aero bars to increase our aerodynamics and also to give us a more comfortable position on the bike. In addition, we will tow trailers where we will keep all of our gear and clothing. Many people ask me why we chose trailers over panniers (saddle bags). Choosing trailers was based on the advice of others who have ridden cross country and the general consensus is that trailers are easier to load, do not require any proper weight distribution, and put far less stress on the frame of the bike. Hopefully this will also yield fewer flats because there will be less weight on the tires.

So what’s your route going to be?
Our specific route is still up in the air, although it will be from the West Coast to the East Coast towards the start of the Pan Mass Challenge. This is not because of the popular misconception that the prevailing winds blow from west to east (although that may be true in the Jet Stream but has little of no relevance on terra firma) but because it is better motivation to ride towards home and towards our ultimate goal of the PMC in August. We are in the process of procuring maps of cycling friendly roads across the country, thanks to the Adventure Cycling Association (http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/network.cfm). Additionally, Justin’s new bike computer has a navigation system that will help us find the way.

Well hopefully that helps answer some of the common questions we’ve gotten over the past few weeks. As far as specific training questions go, feel free to post a comment here or even find me on Facebook (Jamie Merolla), especially if you want to know my secret lower-body workout!

Thanks again for everybody’s support. Please continue to spread the word!

- Jamie

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