With the exception of the section on gearing, this page is aimed at cyclists who aren’t very technically oriented. We figure if you’re conducting a cost/benefit analysis of 6/4 vs. 3/2.5 titanium, you probably won’t check this site for info.
Blatant Bias Disclaimer: We’re not equipment snobs. Our philosophy is this: Is it best to Ride The Rockies on a custom Carbon Parlee built with Campy Record and Mavic Ksyriums, wearing a Specialized Propero? Sure, that’s great. You’ll have a gas. But, we’ve also seen countless folks on 35-pound mountain bikes in denim shorts having a blast.
If the answer to your question isn’t here, give us a ring or drop us an e-mail. We’re happy to answer questions about what type of equipment is best for Ride The Rockies and what type will just barely suffice (not to mention 3/2.5 vs. 6/4 ti). No matter how little you know about cycling equipment, it’s like your third grade teacher said, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” We weren’t born knowing this stuff either, you know?
The most important thing, by far, about your bicycle, is that it fits you well.
One indication that your bike fits well is that you are able to comfortably ride for extended periods of time.
If you come back from long rides with your neck, back, hands, knees, etc. hurting, it’s likely that your bike does not fit you well. (Obvious caveat #1: Keep in mind that everyone gets off a bike after a long ride with tired legs and a tender bum.)
Another clue that your bike fit is less than ideal is that it makes you numb in what our medical director refers to as, “the more sensitive parts of the anatomy.” This is an indication that you need a different saddle or that your saddle position is off. (Obvious caveat #2: Human backsides weren’t meant for long uninterrupted stints on any bicycle saddle. Stand up periodically to get some blood flowing.)
If you have any doubt that your bike fits well, we strongly recommend a bicycle fit by a qualified shop. It may be that with some minor adjustments and/or swapping one or two components, you can ride much more comfortably.
Road Bike vs. Mountain Bike
Ride The Rockies is on paved roads.
The simple answer to which type of bike is best for the tour is a road bike. A road bike has less rolling resistance, dollar for dollar weighs less than a mountain bike, offers multiple hand positions and puts you in a more efficient position for paved road cycling. If you have both, take your road bike.
However, if you have only a mountain bike and are about to log-off to go buy a road bike, freeze in your tracks. Read on.
If you’ve been kicking around the idea of buying a road bike and it’s just a question of now, or two months after Ride The Rockies, then log-off and go buy that bike now.
If you’re completely happy with your mountain bike, and think you should buy a road bike that will rot in your garage after Ride The Rockies, think again. Sure it’s easier and faster on a road bike, but you definitely can comfortably Ride The Rockies on a mountain bike. If you’re planning to Ride The Rockies on your mountain bike, we recommend that you adhere to the advice below.
Making your mountain bike Ride The Rockies ready:
Riding The Rockies on a mountain bike? Unless you’re the Marquis de Sade, or haven’t got even a penny to spare, consider the two following recommendations mandatory.
Lose the knobbies. Switch out your knobby tires for slicks that fit your 26″ rims. The higher the pressure and skinnier, the better.
Get some bar ends. Bar ends bolt on to the ends of your mountain bike handlebars. They’ll give you hand placement options that will minimize the likelihood that 500 plus mountain bike miles in a week will leave your fingers numb or cause nerve damage. For Ride The Rockies, we suggest a model that adds two hand positions.
One other change to consider is purchasing clip-in pedals and cycling shoes, if you don’t already have them.
Geek speak alert: This topic necessitates a lot of technical lingo. If you read the following info and know no more than when you started, fill out our gearing form, and we’ll endeavor to enlighten you.
The gearing required to comfortably Ride The Rockies varies from person to person. A wiry 22-year old with quads of steel can probably do it with a low gear of 42/23. If your personals ad reads, “Rubenesque Senior seeks…”, you probably need something more like a 32/29.
Given that you’re probably neither, please read on.
The steepest sustained grade on Ride The Rockies is typically 6 to 7 percent. You can expect to climb grades of this like for ten uninterrupted miles. (Occasionally a route includes 15, or even 20 miles of continuous climbing.) Also occasionally, a route will include a short (i.e. 1/4 mile) stretch of road as steep as 10 percent.
Here’s what this means for you:
You DO NOT need a gear that allows you to sit while climbing a 10 percent grade. You can stand-up should you encounter such.
You DO need a gear that allows you to climb a 6 to 7 percent grade for mile after mile with your butt on the saddle.
How to figure this out? Simple.
Find the longest grade near you that is 6 – 7 percent and go ride it. If you can climb it comfortably sitting on the saddle, you have a low enough gear. If not, then you need lower gearing.
A few points to remember about this experiment:
• Don’t kid yourself. If the hill you’re riding is only 2 miles long, make an honest assessment if you can do that 5 consecutive times. If you can make it up your 2-mile hill sitting, but arrive at the top ready to be carted off on a gurney, your gearing isn’t low enough.
• When we say you have to be able to sit this climb, we don’t mean your butt should be permanently glued to your saddle. Stand up and get some blood flowing to your backside once in awhile.
• There’s no rule that says you can’t take a break if you feel like it. Get off the bike and kick back for a few. Hey, if you’re embarrassed, pretend you’ve got something in your eye.
Need to know how to figure the grade of a hill? The formula is: vertical feet gained ÷ horizontal feet traveled (length of the climb in miles x 5280 feet). Example: Monarch Pass ascends approximately 3000 vertical feet in about 10 miles, so 3000 ÷ 52,800 = 0.0568 or 5.7% grade.
Suppose the steepest and longest hill in your neck of the woods is a highway overpass. How, then does one figure out an appropriate gear? Fill out our gearing form. We’ll ask you a few personal questions and give you our best guess.
Do you need clip-in pedals to Ride The Rockies? Of course not.
We’ve seen folks out there having a great time with platform pedals and Converse All Stars. Though, even for us non-equipment snobs, this is carrying things a bit far.
If you can spare the money and aren’t adverse to the notion of clip-in pedals, they’ll make RTR easier and quite a bit more pleasant.
An SPD-style shoe/pedal combination is, by far, the best option for any bicycle touring event like Ride The Rockies. We also recommend shoes with soles soft enough to walk comfortably.
This set-up provides a secure, safe and efficient connection between you and your bike. It also allows you to stroll about aid stations and search out your luggage at day’s end with ease.
P.S. If you already own a pedal/shoe combo that you’re pleased with, don’t take this to mean that you should head right out and buy a new set. Your racing style Time or Look pedals combined with stiff-soled shoes will do just fine.
Ride The Rockies regulations require a helmet approved by CPSC, Snell, ANSI or ASTM. We’re serious about this and actively enforce it.
One FAQ here at Ride The Rockies World Headquarters is, “How do I know if my helmet has one of these approvals?”
The simple answer is look inside it to see if there’s a sticker documenting such an approval. However, these stickers occasionally fall off.
If you own a helmet you’ve purchased at an American bicycle shop within the past 10 years, it almost certainly has been approved.
If your helmet is more than ten years old, you really should replace it.
As helmets age, their ability to protect your head decreases. Today’s helmets are also more comfortable, lighter, safer and better fitting than their predecessors.
If you own a soft leather “hair net” helmet or a “Skid Lid” helmet, it’s not only not approved by any agency, it’s unsafe.
One FAQ we get here at Ride The Rockies is “What the heck should I carry with me during each day’s ride?”
For starters, everybody should carry the following:
• Money to purchase lunch and snacks at aid stations.
• 1 or 2 energy bars or gel packets to nosh if aid station pickings are slim and bonking is imminent.
• Tools for minor roadside repairs and patching or changing a tube.
Everything else depends upon how much you like to carry with you versus how willing you are to take a small risk that you may not have exactly what you want when you want it.
At one extreme are folks who prefer to carry as little as possible. If that’s you, you probably frequently go out for a ride carrying no extra clothing with you. Many Colorado cyclists do this with the full knowledge that they may get caught unprepared once or twice a year. Their feeling is better to get cold or wet once or twice than spend a year carting unnecessary clothing around on a bike.
Even a serious minimalist should consider the following items mandatory on a Ride The Rockies packing list: arm warmers, knee warmers, thin polypro glove liners (to be worn under a pair of cycling gloves), lightweight water resistant jacket, tights, lycra headband, neoprene toe booties and long sleeve polypro undershirt.
Most days, the tights, undershirt, headband and toe booties will travel in your bag on the baggage truck. Depending upon the weather, the knee warmers and glove liners might suffer the same fate.
If you go this packing route, there might be a day or two when you’ll be a bit cold in the morning. If it rains, your legs get wet.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who despise not being prepared for any possible weather changes. These folks carry anything and everything they might need during a ride.
If this sounds like you, start with the above list and consider adding the following items: cold weather full-finger gloves, raingear jacket and pants, full-size booties, hat and, if you so desire, a camera.
Which leads to the question: “How do I haul this stuff?”
The answer depends upon personal taste and just how much you’re hauling.
Light packers will be able to get by using one or two of the following: jersey pockets, a small seat pack, a small fanny pack and hydration pack pockets (if you ride with one).
If you carry a lot of gear, the best way to transport it is using a “trunk bag” that rides atop a rear rack. If your bike has no rack, there are several models that quickly bolt to your seat post. Other good options for pack rats include using some combination of the following: large seat pack, mid-sized fanny pack and hydration pack pockets (if you ride with one).
The only method of carrying things that the Ride The Rockies staff strongly recommends AGAINST is a handlebar bag. These can have a serious negative effect on the handling of a bike and can even cause a bike to shimmy at high speeds.
If you have questions about the relative merits of packing some of these things or methods to carry them, please drop us an e-mail.
Probably the most commonly asked question about camping gear for Ride The Rockies is, “Does all my gear have to fit into one bag?” The answer is yes. Each cyclist is provided with only one luggage tag (which is your bag’s ticket to the next town).
We recommend a large soft-sided duffel bag. (If it’s olive drab, do something to make it distinguishable from all the others, like tie a brightly colored streamer around it.)
The camping equipment packing list for Ride The Rockies is fairly basic: Tent, sleeping bag, pad, flashlight or lantern and towel. We also recommend a pair of ear plugs to muffle some of the gym noise or the symphony of tent zippers at 4:30 a.m.
If you’re staying in gyms, you can obviously skip the tent. Instead, add a sleeping blindfold to your list. (If you’re a snorer, those about you would appreciate it if you BYO Breathe Right strips.)
NOTE: Ride The Rockies strongly recommends that you take your own bicycle on the Tour. Presumably, you’ve trained on your bike and are very familiar with its fit and handling. Hopefully it fits you well!
If you are not able to use your own bike however, The Bicycle Doctor offers two reasonable weekly rental packages:
1) The Scott CR1 Comp (full carbon frame, Tiagra/105) $250
2) The Scott CR1 Elite (full carbon frame, Sram Rival) $300
Both packages include a basic repair kit (with your 1st tube free!) delivery of the bicycle to the start of the ride and pick up at the finish!
Contact The Bicycle Doctor at:
Toll Free: 877-BIKE DOC