Pedal, pedal, pedal. For seven hours: pedal. This is what John McConnochie has planned for June 19, the day of the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay. For most, the 148-mile course is divided into eight legs. The fit and intrepid divide it into four legs. McConnochie and Juneau biker Scott Fischer have split the course in two for the past few years. But this year, McConnochie and a few others will go it alone.
The intensity of the experience is not limited to June 19, though. On any given day this spring, McConnochie has been on his bike, riding almost all of Juneau's road system.
"I'm training seven days a week just to build my mileage up so I can complete the race without falling flat on my face at the end," McConnochie said.
Most serious Juneau bikers, and many more recreational bikers, are training for the Kluane bike relay. Even for those riding only one or two legs of the race, training requires strategy and perseverance, especially in Juneau, said Cheryl Levitt, who has been biking here for four years.
Anybody training seriously in Juneau has to get used to riding the same roads day after day, sometimes in extremely inhospitable weather, Levitt said.
"It's not like in Southern California where you always have sun and miles of roads to bike," Levitt said.
But biking at its best can be a Zen-like experience, she said.
"More than anything, it allows me to just totally be in my body and be on the road," Levitt said. "It's very meditative because it's so rhythmic."
Levitt, who is vice-president of membership for the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club, recruited world-renowned bike trainer Eddie Borysewicz, better known among bikers as Eddie B., to help Juneau bikers with their spring training.
Borysewicz has trained some of the world's best bikers, including Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond. He'll be in Juneau on May 7 through May 9.
"It's going to be the ABCs of cycling," said Borysewicz from his home in California. "It will be training, equipment, nutrition and clothing."
The camp will consist of a morning session on bikes from 9 a.m. to noon. From 2-5 p.m., Borysewicz will give lectures on riding.
"For me biking and swimming are the most beautiful, most beneficial form of exercise," said Borysewicz, who was born in Poland and has biked all of his life.
He was a professional biker for 10 years before an injury led him into coaching. He coached the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, which won nine medals in eight events.
In February, when Competitor magazine presented Eddie B. with a Cycling Legend award, LeMond credited Borysewicz with "allowing me to win the Tour de France."
But next weekend's cycling camp is not only for the super-competitive, Borysewicz said.
"Everyone knows how to ride a bike," he said. "But you can ride fighting with the bike, or you can ride into the sun."
Even recreational cyclists and commuters stand to gain in fitness and comfort by knowing the proper position for bike riding, and if the equipment fits the rider properly.
Betsy Fischer, who will compete on a two-person team with her husband, Scott, in the race, plans to attend the training. She began training for this year's race as soon as last year's was over, she said.
"(Training) can be super-intense," said Fischer, who also runs and cross-country skis. "Especially if you want to do your best, you need to structure your training. That's where the Eddie B. clinic will come in handy."
The clinic is limited to 30 bikers. Heading into the weekend, several spots remained open. For more information visit www.juneau.com/freewheel and contact board members through the "contact" link.
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