Safety - Experience

There are different route options on the BP MS 150; and, depending on the route you select, the total mileage for both days can be as much as 180 miles. Rather than think of the BP MS 150 as one long ride each day, break down each day's ride by Breakpoints into 7 to 10 individual 12-mile rides. Build up your training so that no matter what happens on the ride you can always go another 10 to 12 miles.

A great training program will help you gain the experience and skills you need to have a fun and safe BP MS 150 experience!

Benefits of Training

  • Build physical strength and endurance
  • Builds confidence that you can complete the ride
  • Feel good at the end of each day's ride
  • Understand your body's hydration and nutritional needs for long-distance riding
  • Improve safety and bicycle-handling skills
  • Learn how to use proper gearing to "conquer" riding on hills
  • Enjoy the BP MS 150 ride instead of "struggling through it"

How to Train

  1. Start with riding short distances of 10 to 20 miles to get "base miles".
  2. Make the shorter rides aerobic (at intervals to help increase riding speed).
  3. Gradually increase distances each week to reach 25 to 30 miles, to build strength and endurance.
  4. Practice on hills whenever possible.
  5. Other training methods include use of a bike trainer (roller) when time or weather are a factor in your schedule.
  6. Create a training schedule. There are lots of tools available, including a 16-week Training Guide developed by USA Cycling Coach and BP MS 150 Safety Committee member, Alan Bazard. Download in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) and XLS (Microsoft Excel) formats.
  7. Ride in different weather conditions (colder/warmer temperatures, wind, and rain).
  8. Take a Group Riding Skills Class and practice the skills every week.
  9. Get as much on-the-road "time in the saddle" as possible to get your body used to the cycling position. Even getting 30 minutes of cycling in your neighborhood is better than not training at all.
  10. Spin Classes are a great way to get training if you are short on time or cannot ride on the road due the weather conditions. Check with your local gym for class schedules.
  11. Join one of our Recommended Rides to gain group cycling skills and train for the BP MS 150.
  12. Strength Training:
    • Core Strength – Building up you core body strength helps hold your upper body upright so that your lower body can pedal more freely. Core body strength also helps prevent placing too much pressure on your hands (in an attempt to hold your body up on the handle bars) and tensing up your shoulders. Other exercises to practice are planks and sit-ups.
    • Upper Body – Strengthen your upper body (chest and core) by practicing ball pushups, squat shoulder press, and/or pull-ups or lateral pull-downs.
    • Practice leg extensions, single leg squats, leg presses (with feet shoulder width apart, similar to your feet on the pedals), and lunges.

Injury Prevention

  • Hydrate and eat properly.
  • Ride safely, following all traffic laws and applying skills learned in bike safety training. Always be alert!
  • If experiencing pain while riding, get your bike fit-checked—even if you were fit, something could have moved on your bike or you need an adjustment.
  • Stretch at Rest Stops and after the ride (especially if you will be sitting in the car for a long ride back home).
  • Muscle groups to stretch: Quadriceps, hamstrings, lateral, trapezius, triceps, lower back, calves, hips, lower back, hip flexors, and shoulders.

Learning How to Use Your Bicycle Gears Efficiently

The key to using your bicycle gears efficiently is to start by finding the right gear. When you find the right gear, you can keep a steady rate of pedaling ("cadence") without feeling like you are pushing too hard or too gently through the pedals. An efficient pedaling cadence will push you along the road and help you conserve energy.

  • Practice

    You'll be using your bike gears a lot, and the chances are you'll get plenty of practice as you ride; but, if you're new to cycling, just purchased a new bike, or changed bikes, then spend some time getting used to how the gears change. Learn to use the gears on your bike by practicing on flat road surfaces to feel the change in resistance.

    Ride up and down a fairly quiet road or path and practice shifting up and down the gears, both front and back, until you can change gears almost instinctively. Learning how to shift efficiently will help you on those moments halfway up a climb when you realize you're in gear too difficult to pedal and need to shift quickly!
  • Gear Combinations

    (Right-hand shifter/lever controls the rear derailleur, guiding your chain over the back sprockets; left-hand shifter/lever controls the front derailleur, guiding your chain over the chain-rings at your pedals, providing large changes in gears.)

    Low Gear
    LOW GEAR – This combination is good for climbing hills. Switch to a low gear combination as you approach the climb; you'll be able to climb slowly and steadily with less effort. Your front gear should be engaged on the smallest sprocket, with the back gear engaged on the largest sprocket(s).
    Anticipate the hill!
    • When you are approaching a hill, get ready to start shifting down the gears as soon as the hill starts.
    • By preparing your gearing during the approach to a hill, you won't be caught in a difficult gear halfway up, unable to pedal, causing you to have get off your bike and walk up the hill.
    • It's much easier to get up hills, particularly long or steep ones, if you shift to the easiest gear and spin your legs. Learning the timing of shifting to the right gear at the right time will take a bit of practice.
    • If you are approaching a hill, it's quicker to shift down using the left-hand shifter (which will shift the front gears, for large gear-ratio changes), rather than the right-hand shifter (which controls the rear gears, for fine-tuning). Shifting down using the left-hand shifter will take you to an easier gear, and then you can fine tune using the rear gears.
    Middle Gear
    MIDDLE GEAR – This combination is good for flat terrain. Your front gear should be engaged on the smallest sprocket (on a double or compact set-up) or the middle sprocket on a triple set-up. Your back gear should be engaged on the middle sprockets.
    Tips for Changing Gears
    • When it's getting harder to pedal, shift into an easier, lower gear.
    • When it's getting easier to pedal, you'll want to be in a harder, higher gear.
    • On flat ground, you'll want to be in the middle range of your gears.
    • Be sure to shift into a comfortable starting gear before you stop.
    High Gear
    HIGH GEAR – This combination is good for descending elevations or for accelerating. In the high-gear setting, you will travel a long way for each turn of the pedal. Your front gear should be engaged on the largest sprocket, with your back gear engaged on the smallest sprocket(s).
    Don't shift too quickly!

    If you are accelerating down a hill or on flat terrain, it's tempting to shift up to a higher gear as quickly as possible. On some bicycles, shifting in this manner can cause the chain to jump off the gears completely, which means you'll have to stop and put the chain back on the sprockets. Shift gradually and smoothly, making sure the chain has engaged with each new gear before moving onto the next gear.
  • Gear Combinations to Avoid

    Gear Combinations to Avoid
    Front and back gears both on smallest sprocket(s).
    Gear Combinations to Avoid
    Front and back gears both on biggest sprocket(s).
    Don't cross the chain!
    • Do not use a gear combination of the smallest cogs on the back and the front, or the largest cogs on the back and the front.
    • This gearing combination pulls the chain between them at an angle, which can cause it to stretch and deform.
    • Riding in this gear combination will not be a problem immediately (though it can make a lot of noise as your chain slips or has trouble shifting), but over time it can wear out both your chain and gears, leading to costly repairs.
  • Cadence (Rate of Pedaling)

    A good way to understand your cadence and get the correct gear combination on your bicycle is to find a good place to practice riding at different cadences. To determine cadence, count one full revolution of your foot going around; count this at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

    On flat terrain or rolling terrain, you should have a cadence between 80 to 99 revolutions of the pedal per minute. You can experiment with different cadence levels to determine what feels the most natural to you.

    When climbing hills, the general optimum cadence is 60 to 80 revolutions per minute. Find a hill where you can practice riding up again and again to see which cadence got you up the hill for the least amount of energy – this is your optimum cadence.

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