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Training tips

5 Tips for Your Journey

By Renowned Cycling Journalist and Author Peter Flax

Excerpted from LIVE TO RIDE by Peter Flax (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2024. Photographs by Jason Gould and Jered & Ashley Gruber. Copyright © 2024.

If you’re reading this story, then you’re about to embark on a great cycling adventure at the L’Etape Las Vegas. I have ridden all over the world, in some of the most celebrated and iconic cycling locations, but have to admit that doing a huge group ride through Red Rock Canyon remains an experience I’ll remember forever. Riding in the desert is amazing!

Among other things, I am a lifelong rider, the former editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine, and the author of a new book called Live to Ride: Finding Joy and Meaning on a Bicycle. This book is a celebration of the reasons we ride. Tackling a big ride like L’Etape highlights some of the meaningful reasons we love to ride. Here are just three of the reasons, each of them explored in detail in a chapter in the book.

Adventure. Most of us discover in childhood that the bike is an amazing tool to discover new territory, to feel the thrill of living in the moment, and to fold some unexpected moments into our busy lives. People who ride understand that lifetime memories come out of our cycling adventures.

Competition. People who ride a lot come to understand that there is something special about testing yourself, to see what you’re capable of and the amazing things our bodies can do. It’s not so much about beating other people in a race than it is about tackling tough terrain and pushing your own limits. And sharing this test with a community of other riders just makes the whole experience better.

Nature. Increasingly, so many of us spend our lives in front of screens, working and managing family obligations. So getting a chance to spend quality time outdoors in beautiful places is a big reason many of us ride. Doing a big ride around Las Vegas is no joke—the terrain isn’t easy and the weather might pose challenges, too—but feeling connected to the natural world adds richness to the experience of a cycling event.

I’ve been asked to provide some tips for riders about to embark on L’Etape Las Vegas. The good news is that having a positive experience at a big ride isn’t terribly complicated. But here are five things I’d recommend for people interested in some friendly advice. 

Be Prepared for Small Challenges. The experience is not supposed to be an ordeal, but it’s also not supposed to be easy. Make sure your bike is in good working order and your tires are in good shape. If you’re bringing your own hydration mix, try it a couple of times beforehand to make sure it sits well with you. Look at the course map and have a sense of when the harder parts of the ride will happen. Being prepared with these sorts of things will make you more relaxed and confident.

Don’t Ignore the Basics. Eat snacks before you’re hungry or bonking; sip some fluid every few minutes. Apply sunscreen. Take a short break if you’re at or near your limit. These are obvious suggestions that sometimes can get forgotten in the excitement of a big ride. Just by being attentive to them, you can make sure problems never emerge.

Find a Group. Simply put, long rides are better when you have company. A conversation will make the day more fun and memorable. Having a crew to share drafting responsibilities with will make everyone’s effort a little easier. And if you need motivation or help with a minor repair, you can feel confident that you’re not alone. 

Pace Yourself. If you’re not exactly sure how fast to ride, consider being a bit conservative in the first half of the event. The last hour of a big ride is an amazing time to test your limits—much more fun than feeling exhausted when you still have hours to go. 

Be present. Sure it’s a hard physical effort, but you’re doing it to have fun. Stop and take photos. Talk to strangers. Enjoy the vibe of the rest stops. Soak in the experience of a life-list ride in Vegas. You will remember these things more than finishing a couple of minutes faster. 

More About Live to Ride

A visual celebration of the beauty and lure of bicycle culture by renowned cycling journalist Peter Flax

Live to Ride is an illustrated gift book for those who love to bike. It’s for every type of cyclist—from mountain bikers, to commuters, to tourers and triathletes and beach cruisers and bikepackers and messengers. To wheelie kids, to vintage bike collectors. Author, Peter Flax, a celebrated cycling journalist, is here to show us that cycling should be inclusive—that all riders are connected in various, yet similar, ways.

Organized by theme, each one exploring what Flax believes are the shared reasons that people ride: Adventure, Speed, Utility, Nature, Competition, and Self-Expression. Within each chapter are interviews and profiles with a diverse list of famed riders, both legendary and contemporary. Also included is the ultimate destination ride, with a map, based on that chapter’s theme; and insider info like the one perfect bike; and essential gear that a rider needs to be in the know about. Modern and sleek in its design, and filled with a mix of photography and illustration, this is both a book any rider will cherish for years to come.