All Cyclists are responsible for keeping their riding equipment in good working order. Safety, comfort, and performance are all determined through proper equipment, so please take this seriously. If you need support, visit a local Bike shop to discuss your needs. They have experience that is specific to this ride and have worked with thousands of riders.
Get the Right Bike for You
The ride is a long-distance bike ride of up to 182 miles on a paved surface. To successfully complete your journey, you need the right equipment. Visit an Official Bike Store for bike recommendations.
Get Your Bike Properly Fitted
Being fitted to your bike is just as important to your comfort as having the right kind of bike. It should be appropriately sized for you. The saddle, stem and handlebars should also be properly adjusted. All Official Bike Stores offer bike fitting.
Listen to Your Bike
Unusual sounds – such as squeaks, popping, grinding, creaking or rattling – are warning signs of a problem and should be inspected. A complete overhaul is recommended annually. Official Bike Stores offer free, professional inspections, along with estimates on routine maintenance or repairs for your bike.
ABC Quick Check
A is for air
" Check you wheels for worn tires, loose spokes, warped rims, and proper tire inflation.
B is for brakes
" Check brakes for function, cable tightness, worn pads, frayed cables, and alignment of the pads with the rims.
C is for cranks, chain, and cassette
" Check your pedals and cranks for tightness.
" Check for chain looseness and bad links; clean regularly. Lubricate with bicycle chain lube.
" Check the derailleur for worn cogs and adjustment. Check that your gears change smoothly.
Quick is for quick releases
" Check to ensure that the wheels are clamped securely in the drop-outs before each ride.
" Check your helmet for cracks and make sure it fits properly.
" Check your shoes for tight cleats and straps/buckles.
How to Adjust a Helmet
Helmets are designed to prevent serious head injury. A serious fall or crash can cause permanent brain damage or death. Bike crashes or collisions can happen at any time so ALWAYS WEAR A PROPERLY FITTED, DAMAGE-FREE HELMET. Adjust your helmet in six easy steps, or consult with your local bike shop if you need support:
Use cycling shoes with locking pedals for comfort and performance. Cycling shoes have stiff soles to prevent foot flex and fatigue. Special cleats lock into pedals, keeping the shoes from slipping and adding increased cycling efficiency. Shoe straps and/or buckles allow tightness adjustment in case of foot swelling on long rides.
Use padded cycling shorts with a high quality chamois. In addition to providing comfort and performance, they are breathable, lightweight, stay dry to inhibit bacteria growth, and reduce pressure points and chaffing.
Cycling Eyewear and Gloves
Proper eyewear is important to protect your eyes and field of vision from airborne objects discharged by a cyclist in front of you or by a nearby vehicle. Cycling gloves will keep your hands warm during cold weather and will protect your hands in the event of a crash.
Cold Weather Gear
If you've never cycled in cold weather before, you will be surprised at how warm you will get! Cycling is an aerobic activity, which means that your body will produce heat more than walking. Most first-time cold weather cyclists find that they have overdressed and are too hot.
It's more than likely that you already have clothes that will work for your legs and torso. Your extremities are the most challenging to keep warm - hands, feet, and head - and may require something extra. Following are a few tips:
Warm-Up: Don't hit the hammer from the get-go! Start slowly so that your body, and especially your joints and muscles can warm up. Your body works better when it is warm.
Layering: Layering allows you to add and subtract layers according to how warm/cool you are. Function over fashion rules. It is important to use thin/lightweight materials do reduce bulk and maintain maneuverability. How many layers to wear depends on the individual and the length of the ride. Shorter rides may require warmer clothing since the body has less time to heat up. Many cyclists recommend that you start off feeling a little cool because you will quickly warm up. If you overdress you will become sweaty in no time. Experiment with different combinations and see what works for you. Consider marking down the daily temperature, what you wore that day, and what worked well. Remember that once you stop cycling you will cool down quickly - so carry an extra layer if you plan on stopping for an extended period of time.
Torso: A thin water/windproof jacket is a must. There are many cycling-specific jackets on the market. Start with a wicking base layer next to the skin made of polyester/micro-fiber-synthetic fabrics to keep sweat/moisture away from the skin; silk and wool are natural fabric choices. Stay away from cotton as the base-layer as it will absorb sweat and keep it next to your skin, making you wet and cold. Jackets with full front zips increase your options for moderating temperature.
Legs: Many cyclists are comfortable wearing tights (over the cycling shorts) or leg warmers. Knee warmers are also an option for "warmer" temperatures.
Head: Cover your head to conserve the most heat. Cycle specific hats and helmet liners fit snugly under the helmet. Leave a few extra minutes to adjust your helmet to fit over your hat.
Hands: Hands are in a stationary position so are more subject to cold than the rest of your body. Try wiggling your fingers when stopped. Use full-finger gloves – make sure that glove thickness does not hinder shifting and braking. Have a waterproof option available for rain - if your gloves aren't waterproof try a shell. Ski gloves are particularly good for temperatures below freezing. If your hands sweat, consider a wicking liner to keep the sweat away from your skin.
Feet: Cover your cycling shoes with over-booties or toe warmers. Avoid sock layers because that can cut off circulation.
Cycling Etiquette: When you are riding with many other riders, there are some cycling customs and etiquette points we all must follow.
A final point, we are all ambassadors for cycling as we travel along the roadways and through the many communities along the way. Be especially considerate of our friends and neighbors who are gracious enough to share this special route with us. Among other things, this means do not hog the road; let local traffic get through to and from their homes. This also means you should use the facilities provided along the way, not the shrubs.
Ride Tips - Passing
Passing on a bicycle is a two-way process. As a general rule, the passer has primary responsibility for a safe pass; however, both the passer and "passee" have a few simple responsibilities to make a pass safe and friendly.
The passee(s) should:
The passer(s) should:
Ride Tips - Vocal Warnings
The National MS Society is partnering with the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), a national organization dedicated to cycling, cycling advocacy and cycling education.
With LAB's network of League Certified Instructors, we can offer quality cycling skills and safety education classes to all riders and teams. Please contact your local NMSS office for more information.
The Society strongly encourages all ride participants to take advantage of this outstanding cycling, education opportunity so contact LAB today!
Watch this short video (just over 7 minutes) from League of American Bicyclists "Bicycle Safety Tips for Adults" to help you learn safety tips for the upcoming ride.
Group Starts & Group Riding
It is important that all riders, veteran or newbie, understand the courtesies involved with a ride this size. Follow some of these helpful safety ideas to make your ride more enjoyable.
The bottom line is to ride friendly and respect the communities that we ride through. Enjoy the ride - Remember that this is a fund-raiser to find a cure for MS, not a race!
Do you "bonk" or completely run out of steam prior to finishing a ride? Do you feel blah the day after a ride? Know your Cycling HYDRATION and NUTRITION needs.
Do you see drastically different results when riding in the heat? Are you aware that the body efficiently adapts when properly exposed to heat while exercising? Test your cycling acclimatization knowledge.
Hydration Needs For Cycling
Cycling Nutrition Knowledge
While you ride, you should only be concerned about two things: having fun and riding safely! We take care of all the rest. Here are just a few of the volunteer groups you can count on during event weekend:
Support And Gear (SAG) vehicles provide transportation to riders who need a lift to the next breakpoint. SAGs do not stop to make bike repairs, but they will bring riders to the next breakpoint. SAGs only move a rider forward along the route.
To signal a SAG vehicle driver, follow these steps:
1. Move safely off the road and well out of the path of other riders.
2. Dismount and stand near your bike.
3. Remove your helmet and wave it at an approaching SAG vehicle.
From a moving vehicle, it is difficult to distinguish a friendly wave from a call for assistance. Use the SAG signal when you need a lift. Be aware that some vehicles on the route are not equipped to carry riders. Also, SAG vehicles may be full at peak hours. Please have patience; another SAG vehicle will drive up soon.
HAM Radio Team
The HAM Amateur Radio Communications Team links the bike event with radio and cellular communication support and operations. Team members at Central Radio Network Control and in event vehicles provide the ride's information backbone.
We highly recommend that you have your bike inspected prior to the weekend to identify major issues. Bike mechanics will provide minor repairs on the road and at most breakpoints along the route. If you encounter a mechanical problem while riding and need assistance, move completely off to the side of the road and signal a SAG vehicle.
Route Markings to Look For
We make every effort to ensure you won't get lost. You'll see our route signs at each turn and even on straightaways, so you'll know you didn't make a wrong turn.
National MS Society staff and key volunteers will be monitoring the route.
Communities Who Welcome Us
Every effort is made to keep you safe. Where possible, local law enforcement agencies have been recruited to help you travel through hazardous intersections and on busy roadways. Be courteous, as they help you travel safely through their communities.
Personal SAG Vehicles Not Allowed
Personal SAG vehicles are not allowed on the route. Please understand our need to cut down on vehicular traffic for YOUR SAFETY.
Rest stops are positioned every 10 to 12 miles on both days of the ride. Relax, hydrate, have a snack, use the restroom, check in with a mechanic, re-apply sunscreen, and enjoy the volunteers at these oases.
When entering a rest stop, please be aware that there are folks moving around on foot, so please be careful, stop, dismount and move off the roadway or away from other approaching riders and traffic.
Trained medical personnel will be at all rest stops to provide basic first aid and emergency care if needed. Medical personnel have the authority to remove you from the ride if warranted by medical necessity.