Hit the Road: Seattle to Portland on Two Wheels

Fitness Monday, June 24, 2013 Written by

Traffic notwithstanding, driving 200 miles from Seattle to Portland is a pretty effortless trip. But covering the same distance on two wheels? That’s an entirely different story.

The annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic — held this year on July 13-14 — finds more than 10,000 cyclists pedaling 202 miles from Seattle to Portland over one or two days. Though the route is relatively flat, the ride is still super demanding physically. So it’s important to get your legs (and everything else) in shape.

Russell Cree, a physical therapist, cycling coach and bike fit specialist at Upper Echelon Fitness and Rehabilitation in Portland, offers up these tips to get geared up for the Seattle to Portland Classic or any ride with some serious miles:

Gear up

Pedaling through a long-distance road race is challenging to begin with. And, according to Cree, “The right equipment is the logical first place to start.” Trying to do it on your 20-year-old mountain bike isn’t going make it any easier. Invest in a good bike and make sure it is fit to you and set up correctly.

In addition to your ride, don’t forget other important gear like biking shorts (with padding) or bibs, a helmet and gloves.

Shape up

Most people start training for a long ride at least six months out. At the beginning, simply riding regularly will help get your body in bike condition.

“Sitting on the saddle every day helps get your postural muscles in shape,” Cree says.

From there, build up to five rides a week, with one day each week dedicated to a longer ride that gets progressively longer as the big day approaches.

Get specific

After you’ve been riding awhile, Cree says it’s time to add some specificity to your workouts. Hit the hills, mix in intervals and consider riding with others to work on drafting. Train hard, but also be sure to rest.

Get together

Training for a long ride takes discipline, and for new riders, it also takes some instruction. Consider joining a club, such as the Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle or the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club. You’ll learn from experienced riders and may find others to train with, which can help keep you accountable to your own training program.

Since this year’s Seattle to Portland Classic is sold out, here are a few other area rides to consider:

  • Blackberry bRamble  (Aug. 4) — A scenic 40-, 62- or 100-mile ride in Eugene, Ore., that entices with free blackberry pie and ice cream at the finish
  • Obliteride (Aug. 9-11) — Designed as a fund-raiser to accelerate cancer research, this Seattle ride offers four courses, from 25 miles up to 180 miles
  • Barlow Road Ride (Aug. 17-18)  This two-day century, a benefit for the Mt. Hood Museum, leaves from Oregon City and includes an optional side trip halfway up Mount Hood to Timberline Lodge