Pedal thru the Pines questions

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Old 02-04-11, 09:34 PM
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KillerBeagle
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Pedal thru the Pines questions

Anyone who's familiar with the Pedal thru the Pines ride in Bastrop, I'm hoping you could give me some help on a few questions.

First, I'd like to ride it with my 16-year-old niece, who's been riding weekly with me since September. She also runs and works out with her ROTC group, so she is in decent shape. We have done up to 30 mile rides recently, but we don't see long or steep hills and only do about 800' elevation change in 30 miles. She sometimes struggles on our small hills; I don't think her cycling muscles are well developed though I don't worry too much about her overall fitness level. Is the 50-mile route going to be too much for her? I don't want her first organized ride to be a bad experience.

Also, I see that part of the return route is along Hwy 71. That's a 70-mph highway; do they close off the right lane or otherwise make it feel a little safer than it sounds?
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Old 02-05-11, 08:02 AM
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StephenH
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I haven't ridden that ride, but will pass along some general advice.

First off, look at the route maps on the website. The shorter route than the 50-miler is the 27-miler, and it's part of the 50-mile route. So if you get to the turn-off for the 50 mile route, just make the call then as to which route sounds good and how tired y'all are. Then also notice that the last several miles on the 50-mile route is an out-and-back on the same road, which means you could turn around at any point on that route if you wanted to. On these charity rides, you're never obligated to ride the whole 50 just because you signed up for it, and the organizers would rather have you switch off to a shorter route than to have to haul you in with the SAG wagon anyway.

Secondly, everyone "struggles with the hills". Even Lance Armstrong slows down and works harder on the mountains. So that's a pretty elastic term. I would guess that in this case, "struggling with the hills" means she's having trouble keeping up with you. And the first lesson there is that she doesn't need to keep up with anyone. She needs to downshift until she can ride on up at whatever speed that gives her, and if that's way slower than your speed, that's okay. If she needs to stop and rest a minute half-way up, that's fine, too.l If she's trying to keep up with you or with a group, or trying to ride up in too high of a gear, it may do her in, otherwise, she can probably make it through okay.
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Old 02-05-11, 11:36 AM
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rainycamp
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I haven't ridden Pedal Thru the Pines, but I have ridden the MS 150 which travels much of that route - it goes through the state parks with their hills. The hills are fairly steep, but not too long. I'd recommend finding some hills in your area and doing repeats on them to build your climbing muscles.
The shoulder along Hwy 71 is generous; traffic wasn't a problem for me.
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Old 02-05-11, 02:45 PM
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I've done this ride the last two years and plan on being there this year. It's one of my two favorite rides (the other being river road).

First thing to keep in mind, the 50 mile route is actually 46, so the mileage isn't as bad as it might sound. Second, as mentioned previously the shoulder on 71 is very wide and given the number of riders on the road, drivers are very conscientious about not passing too close.

Again, as mentioned before the hills aren't very long but can be very steep. It's not a big deal, as you'll see many people walking their bikes up them. Some of the nasty ones you'll likely see more people walking up them than riding up them. The overall elevation gain isn't ridiculous, only 1500 feet or so, but it's pretty much all in the first 20 miles. After that it's basically flat as a pancake and the roads spread out significantly.

One of the big negatives I've always had with this ride is the placement of the hills. They're so early on, this prevents riders from naturally spacing themselves out. The roads are quite crowded in the state parks and you can expect to see people do some dumb things. Common sense would dictate that faster riders would stay left and slower riders to the right, this doesn't hold true. There will be people hopping off their bikes all over the road, you'll need some skill to pick your way through them. Also riders often are in too tall a gear and stall out right in front of you, my first year I even saw a guy lose so much momentum he fell over to the side on one particularly nasty hill. Every year I hear talk that the route will change next year to include more distance before the hills, but it doesn't seem to happen.

I would say being comfortable on crowded roads and squirrely riders would be your and your nice's limiting factor. There's plenty of time for you to train for the length and grade of the hills, just be sure you both are comfortable around other riders. Go on some group rides and get used to being close to other riders and you'll be just fine. It's an awesome ride and don't let anything I've said scare you off. They payoff for completing the ride is very high. The scenery and the pine trees are beautiful. If you can tackle the hills in Bastrop you can pretty much survive anywhere.

Good luck and let me know if you need any other information.
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Old 02-05-11, 08:37 PM
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What types of grades are the steepest? Are they something that a 30-25 gearing would be good for? We both have that same setup - though hers gives lower gear inches because she has 650c wheels.

We already have an agreement that we do the hills at our own individual pace and wait for each other at the top. I can't always wait for her, because if I try to match her speed in the lowest gear that puts me around 60 cadence which is too much stress on my knee. I only say she struggles on the hills because her hill/flat speed ratio seems much lower than mine. When we ride together I always let her dictate the pace and I normally do all the pulling into headwinds to equalize things as much as possible.

I did notice that they are trying to get people to start in groups by speed, fastest first, so perhaps that will ease the congestion in the park.

Thanks all for the feedback!
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Old 02-06-11, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by KillerBeagle View Post
What types of grades are the steepest? Are they something that a 30-25 gearing would be good for? We both have that same setup - though hers gives lower gear inches because she has 650c wheels.
I'm not quite sure I understand the question, but Ascent's error corrected elevation had the biggest climb at a maximum grade at 16% and overall length of that climb appears to be a little less than 3/4 of a mile. There's a lot of ups and downs throughout the hilly section, but if I remember correctly there are really only 5 particularly nasty climbs. So you're not going to be constantly assaulted with 20% grades. As to whether 30-25 is enough, only you can answer that (and likely when you're on the hills). There will be plenty of people with triples walking up the climbs just like compact and standard crank sets. For reference my first year of riding I used a compact crank, and this year I used standard gearing and was able to make it without too much issue. My training rides are very similar to yours, about 30 miles and 500-700 feet of climbing on average.

We already have an agreement that we do the hills at our own individual pace and wait for each other at the top. I can't always wait for her, because if I try to match her speed in the lowest gear that puts me around 60 cadence which is too much stress on my knee. I only say she struggles on the hills because her hill/flat speed ratio seems much lower than mine. When we ride together I always let her dictate the pace and I normally do all the pulling into headwinds to equalize things as much as possible.
This is a great way to do it, and what I usually do with my girlfriend. However, we typically regroup at the rest stops during the hilly section and ride the last half together when things flatten out. It's too difficult to change your climbing rhythm to match someone else's'.

I did notice that they are trying to get people to start in groups by speed, fastest first, so perhaps that will ease the congestion in the park.

Thanks all for the feedback!
This is what they usually do - when you line up in the circle at the high school they ask faster riders to be in the front and slower to the rear. However, it doesn't seem to work out too well with the first hills just 3 miles away from the start.

I've found a friend's Garmin elevation data from the ride This is the 60 mile route. The first 20 miles are in the state parks. Hope this helps:


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Old 02-07-11, 07:06 AM
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What I have found, when I was 200 lbs, was a 28/28 was good enough for Boulder Canyon (Boulder Colorado). I say now at 250 lb. that a 28/28 will get me up a 6% grade but I need to stop to keep my heart rate down.

A 28/28 gives me about 4 mph at 60 rpm any steeper or slower I'm using the hybrid it has a 28/34. A heavier bike with 38c tires so i wont fall over at the lower speed.

A 30/25 is too high of a gear, for me, on hills. It hurts my knees thinking about it
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Old 02-07-11, 03:54 PM
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KillerBeagle - find the steepest hill you can and do repeats on it with your niece. Time yourselves, try to improve your times, win an ice cream cone for the most improved... something for motivation. This type of hill climbing will improve rapidly with practice, especially for a youngster.
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