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It's time to get out and ride -- your bike

August 21, 2008 | 12:44 pm

Bike500

Let's assume you blew off your summer bicycling plans and are woefully out of shape. Don't worry. It’s never too late to start training in Southern California. And late August is the perfect time to get going, because the fall calendar is jammed with challenging events (see below). The question: What is the best way to prepare? Join us for an online chat a week from today, Aug. 28 at noon, when we'll talk about that. Bring your questions and advice too.

Common cycling wisdom gives us the “70% Rule" -- that if you can train yourself to ride 70% of your targeted one-day distance, then you will be able to go all the way on event day. Another strategy is to replicate the terrain of the event. If it's hilly, for example, then ride hills.

For instance, to prepare for the La Ruta de los Conquistadores -- a four-day crossing of Costa Rica from Pacific to Atlantic oceans that includes 35,000 feet of climbing -- I would ride from Sunset Boulevard to the Parker Mesa Overlook in Topanga State Park, a 45-minute granny-gear sweat-fest, four or five times on a Saturday to get my legs ready.

“But that’s just the start,” says Rich “The Reverend” White, a Big Bear tour guide and trainer who has completed La Ruta and the epic eight-day, 400-mile TransAlp Challenge through Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. “Remember three things: eating, resting and hydration. Don’t do any one of those, and you are doomed.”

Notice that the Rev didn’t say anything about interval training or hills or cadence. Confused? Well, we hope to cut to the chase.

Here are some of the upcoming rides we will focus on:

FOR BEGINNERS:

Sept. 20-21 Bike MS Southern California. From Camarillo to Santa Barbara, includes 30-, 75- and 100-mile rides.

Sept. 27 The 50-mile Rosarito-to-Ensenada Fun Ride. The final running of this famous 30-year ride, a party-on-wheels that's flat except for an 800-foot hill climb at the halfway point.

FOR ENTHUSIASTS:

Nov. 15 Solvang’s Finest Century. A lightly trafficked back-road course through the verdant rolling hills of the inland Central Coast. 

FOR ENTHUSIASTS (WITH VACATION TIME):

Sept. 20-27 The California Coast Classic Bike Tour. This 500-mile, eight-day tour along Highway 1 from San Francisco to L.A. includes the coastal views, wineries and forests.

FOR ENDURANCE EXPERTS:

Sept. 27 Tour of Two Forests Double Century Poker Run. A
199-mile loop through Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern counties, from Santa Clarita to Ojai, then up to Pine Mountain to Lebec and back.

Oct. 25 Death Valley Century and Double Century.

Nov. 5-8 Baja Epic.  Starting from Rosarito Beach, this mountain bike race will cover 250 to 300 miles of singletrack and dirt roads in northern Baja California, including parts of the Baja 1000 auto and motorcycle race.

Nov. 12-15 La Ruta de los Conquistadores. This legendary off-road ride traverses Costa Rica from Pacific to Atlantic oceans, crossing sweltering tropical rain forest, freezing 12,000-foot mountains, and breezy Caribbean beaches.

-- Roy M. Wallack

Irvine-based Roy M. Wallack writes the every-other week Gear column for The Times' Health section. Reach him at roywallack@aol.com

Photo: Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times

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