Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Dallas area, Texas
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Stretching is optional (depends on the person, if you don't normally stretch before riding, no reason to start now). Some people swear by it, I've never seen the need, myself.
Gu is optional. Normally, at organized rides, they'll have bananas and cookies and stuff, and that's all you really need.
Water varies. If it's hot, try to get plenty of electrolytes to help avoid cramping, rather than just water. If it's not hot, just drink when you get thirsty. (Stopping to pee every half hour won't help you any.) At the organized rides around here, they tend to have Poweraide that tastes like it's really watered down, so consider taking your own electrolyte powder or tablets if you have muscle-cramping problems.
I drink coffee at work all the time, but never had any reason to take any with me on a ride. Maybe if I was riding 24 hours straight or something.
Skip the headphones. I don't want them, I assume everyone is like me, so therefore, you shouldn't want them either, that's how the logic goes there. Actually, some people use them, some don't. If I was riding an unfamiliar ride with a lot of people, I'd probably skip 'em so I could hear the occasional "Car back!" or "On yer left!" or to carry on conversations with other riders, which does happen on occasion.
On the hills, it can be tempting to power your way over them, which can give you toasted legs in short order. So just keep pedaling at a comfortable speed, downshift as required so you're not working much harder than on level ground, and you should be okay. If you get into your lowest gear and can't move, it's time to walk up the hill- but that very seldom happens on public roads. If you're going uphill and your legs are just getting too tired or you're getting too out of breath, just stop and rest a minute and then ride on again, slower, as opposed to walking up the hill.
Consider your weight and average speed as well. If you're in reasonable shape and zipping around on the flatlands at 18 mph average, you probably won't have any issues doing 55 miles in hillier country, although it might be slower. If you're overweight and averaging 12 mph on the flatlands, be prepared for some challenges out there.
On a lot of the 1-day charity rides, they will have multiple distances, but nobody cares if you switch halfway through. Look at your route maps; they may allow you to get 20 miles out before you have to decide on the longer or shorter distance. If they have different maps for the 2 courses, just ask for one of each.
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."