What is Curt’s Ride?
Curt’s Ride to Cure Cancer is an annual 620-mile bike ride following the East Coast Greenway in Florida. Curt’s Ride was established to increase cancer awareness and the need for a cure, support cancer patient advocacy efforts, and raise funds for research. Every October, “Curt’s Team” of riders departs from Amelia Island on the Georgia-Florida border and arrives in Key West a week later, riding an average of 90 miles each day.
What is Curt’s Team?
The Curt’sRide participants are known as “Curt’s Team.” We consist of a group of otherwise sane, reasonable, and mature individuals who commit themselves to pursuing the insane goal of pushing their bicycles and themselves along the entire Atlantic coastline of the state of Florida. We do this to commemorate family, friends and all others who have been directly and personally affected by cancer. As part of the adventure, we commit to increasing advocacy for cancer research, awareness of cancer-related issues, and raising funds to support research for a cure.
I’m interested! How do I sign up for Curt’s Ride?
To join in the ride, you just need to do two things:
- Let us know!
We need to know that you want to ride with the team so we can include you in all the team communications, logistics arrangements, etc. For right now, the best way to do this is to send an e-mail to email@example.com with the following information:
- Your name, address, cell phone, and e-mail
- Will you be riding the whole ride (Amelia Island to Key West), first half (Amelia Island to Miami), or second half (Miami to Key West)?
- Will you be utilizing the van for transporting your bike to/from Florida (more on this below)?
- Go to the Curts Ride team page we set up on Crowdrise for the American Cancer Society. Once on the page, click on the “Join Our Team” button to become an official team member and set up your fund-raising page (more on that topic below). After you sign on as a team member, we will be in touch with you occasionally for additional info (e.g. a brief bio and photo to include on the team web page, schedule/meal/lodging logistics, liability waiver information, etc.).
How much do I need to fund raise?
We will be having a lot of fun as we pedal down the Florida coastline. But remember that one of the primary purposes of Curt’s Ride is to raise funds to help support research for a cure and assist those affected by this disease. Toward that end, each rider is asked to raise funds for the American Cancer Society as part of their participation. We don’t require a specific amount of fund raising to ride with us. But we do ask that everyone set a goal as a minimum target for their efforts, and do their best to achieve that goal.
What is a reasonable goal? Our suggestion is that if you are coming along for half the ride you set a goal of at least $1,000. If you are coming along for the entire ride, $2,000 is a great minimum goal. If you are able to raise more than that, fantastic! If you are not able to raise quite that much despite a best effort, don’t worry – we promise that we won’t drag you out into the public square for a flogging (but you might want to keep a quick pace as we pedal by the stocks in St. Augustine, just to be safe).
Where do we ride?
After a hurricane-induced detour in 2017 year, recent incarnations of Curt’s Ride To Cure Cancer have returned to Florida to follow the East Coast Greenway (ECG) from Fernandina Beach (northeast of Jacksonville, just below the Georgia-Florida border) down the east coast of Florida and on to Key West. But “following the route” is really a somewhat loose description of what we actually expect to happen. Frequent side trips, getting lost, stopping for lunch, getting lost, fixing flat tires, getting lost, repairing bike chains, getting lost, stopping for more lunch, getting lost, stopping for an after lunch drink, and getting lost are all expected to figure prominently in our daily activities.
The ECG is a great route, and Florida is a very bike-friendly state. Much of the ECG is dedicated paved bike path. For the sections where we share the road there are wide, well marked bike-only lanes or very broad paved shoulders. In addition, Florida has very nice bike separation laws that specify a generous standoff distance to be maintained by motor vehicles. In our experience, Florida drivers have been very respectful of this and have been very accommodating when sharing the road with bikes.
A detailed breakdown of the ECG route is available on their website (http://www.greenway.org/), and a ECG Maps version is here: https://map.greenway.org/?loc=7,27.63487,-82.39746&route=30.63994,-81.44880,24.54656,-81.79750
What is the schedule for Curt’s Ride?
Shown below is the PRELIMINARY schedule for the ride. As of right now, this schedule is based primarily on how we did last year’s ride. Expect that we will change the ride length each day based on our progress and how the team feels and our riding pace. As always, flexibility will be our watchword for this trip!
- Pre-ride – Travel to Jacksonville, FL.
- Day 1 – Amelia Island to Daytona Beach, ~115 miles
- Day 2 – Daytona Beach to Cocoa Beach, ~87 miles
- Day 3 – Cocoa Beach to Fort Pierce, ~75 miles
- Day 4 – Fort Pierce to Boca Raton, ~90 miles
- Day 5 – Boca Raton – rest day
- Day 6 – Boca Raton to Homestead, ~85 miles
- Day 7 – Homestead to Long Key, ~65 miles
- Day 8 – Long Key to Key West, ~70 miles
- Post-ride – Recovery!
- Post-post-ride – Columbus Day recovery from recovery, and head home
Note: if you were paying attention, or you are anal-retentive about these types of things, you may have added up the mileage above and noticed that it does not quite addup to 620 miles. You would be correct. And annoying. The distances indicated above represent the most direct route along the East Coast Greenway. Back when we started the ride, we didn’t know the route very well, and we tended to do quite a bit of “creative pathfinding” (our euphemism for getting lost a lot). With all the wandering and back-tracking we had to do we covered a lot of extra mileage, which added up to the 620 mile total distance traveled from Amelia Island to Key West. Since we have become more familiar with the ECG and don’t get lost quite as often, our route has become somewhat more direct in recent years. However, for those that wish to honor the tradition of the original full-distance ride, we will have two short 25-mile loops that you can complete on the short days to get the full mileage.
What if I have problems riding that distance?
Having learned our lesson the first year, we will once again have a support van to make logistics a manageable issue. The van will help haul our equipment each day as the riders pedal their way down the East Coast Greenway. We will also carry a good supply of spare parts, extra bicycle tubes, your luggage, multiple canisters of baby powder, and a continuously updated set of directions to the nearest bike shop and sources for saddle sore ointment. But most importantly, the van will be there to provide support in case we run into any problems, or you need a temporary refuge from the Florida sun, or we need to clean the route of stray riders along the way. So if you find that you are just completely shagged out after riding most of a long day and are legitimately concerned about being able to finish that last 20 miles, the van will be there to give you a lift if you need it.
What are the costs to participate?
If you are one of the Curt’s Team riders, then we are already asking a lot of you. You are already giving up a big chunk of your time to participate in the ride, and a big chunk of your efforts to raise funds for sponsoring donations. So we try very hard to minimize any additional costs for participation. Here is a list of the expenses you should expect to cover:
- Your travel expenses to Amelia Island (or Miami, if you are joining us there)
- Your travel expenses from Key West back home (or from Miami, if you are leaving us there)
- Getting your bike to/from the start and end of the ride
- Your lodging each night (see the “Where do we stay?” section for more details)
- Your meals and snacks, and whatever your nutrition plan requires
- Getting your bike ready, and any repairs/service/parts required during the ride
And here is what we will provide:
- The support van (including getting it to/from Florida)
- Water at each rest stop, as we catch up with the support van
- Moving your luggage from morning to evening locations each riding day
- A reasonably well outfitted tool kit for minor bike repairs
- A supply of spare tubes and tires, available at cost if needed
- Cool Curt’s Ride swag, hopefully in your size (see the “Is there any cool Curt’s Ride swag?” section for details)
- A great experience that you will remember for a very long time
Where do we stay as we ride?
As we ride downthe Florida coast, we will have designated lodging for each evening atmid-level hotels along the route. Onaverage, the cost for lodging will be around $60-$75 per person per night for adouble occupancy room. Note that this isan average; some nights may be a bit more, some nights may be a bit less. If you want to share a room to help reduceyour costs, we can connect you with others on the ride that will be interestedin doing the same.
For most of theareas where we stop there will be other lodging options available. When we havedone the ride previously at the same time of year, finding lodging was not aproblem at all – this is the off season, and rooms are available all over theplace, usually without any advance reservations. If you want to stay on yourown somewhere else, that is perfectly OK. All we ask is that you let us know so we can plan accordingly.
The one exception to this will be Key West on a holiday weekend, which we will discuss below.
OK, so what about Key West?
We formally end the ride at the Southernmost Point marker in Key West on Saturday afternoon, which will be the beginning of the Columbus Day holiday weekend. After that, you are on your own. Some may choose to head home as early as that evening. However, many folks stay in Key West for the entire holiday weekend or longer. That weekend is in reasonably high demand – it turns out that there are a lot of weddings in Key West on Columbus Day, and there is apparently a lot of construction going on in Key West this year that is impacting lodging availability. As a result, rooms are a bit scarce, and the remaining ones are going quickly. So if you are going to stay through Saturday night or later, we do recommend that you start making plans early and make your reservations as soon as you can. We will note that we have had very good experiences with several of the small inns a block or two off the south half of Duval Street.
Where you are ready to depart from Key West, there are several options. It is certainly possible that you could hop back on your bike and start pedaling back east (although we may question your sanity if you choose to do so). There is good air service through the Key West airport. There is also motor coach service from Key West to all of the Miami-area airports. Alternately, some have rented a car in Key West and just driven one-way up to Miami and flown from there.
Do I have to be an experienced ultra-athlete-level rider to do this?
No, you really don’t. The most important thing to remember is that this whole adventure is supposed to be fun and personally rewarding while we do something meaningful to help the search for a cure and cancer survivors. Make no mistake – you will be pushing yourself to complete a physically demanding task. You will have to be prepared for it, and you will have to train to get ready (more on that below). But we will not push anyone beyond his or her ability.
If you have made efforts to train for the ride and are comfortable spending six or seven hours in the bike saddle, you will be all set. Ride at a pace that is comfortable, and you can be sure that there will be others that will match your pace. Enjoy the scenery, the route we will ride, and the company we will all be keeping, and you will have a great time. Use this as an opportunity to leave work problems, social anxiety disorder, worries about whether or not you turned off the stove, and other stresses completely behind, and just enjoy the process of making your feet go round and round just over one-third of a million times (yes, I actually figured this out).
Along with being physically prepared, the equally important aspect is being mentally prepared. You will be spending up to eight days in close quarters with a like-minded group of people, under constant physical stress. You will want to make sure you come in with a positive mental attitude, and are prepared to both support and be supported by the other team members as we ride. With that, you will have a great experience and some incredible lasting memories after the ride.
How do I get ready for the ride?
A big part of Curt’sRide is all about having an enjoyable experience and a good time. But let’s be clear: we are all signing up for a strenuous multi-day activity that will push our physical abilities and endurance. To get through this successfully, you will need to be prepared and trained before you head for Florida.
So how do you get ready for a really long, multi-day bicycle ride? The correct answer to that is (pay attention here, there will be a quiz): ride a lot! Kinda obvious, huh?
Oh, so you want a little more detail? OK, fine. For the past few years many of us have been using the http://www.mapmyride.com/ or http://www.strava.com/ website to keep track of training rides (if you aren’t using either of these sites yet you might want to take a look, they are both pretty nice for tracking your training efforts). We took a look at some of the logs and found that the amount of real riding preparation done for previous rides was pretty manageable and not really onerous. While everyone’s training program will be a little different, hopefully this will provide an idea of at least one way to get prepared. Here is a summary (note that your mileage may vary! ha!):
- During May, June and July it was a pretty simple program of riding about 90 miles a week. That typically was two 25-mile rides during the week and a single 40-mile ride one day of the weekend. Hopefully, you have been doing something equivalent to this already.
- In August and September, that was bumped up to about 100-120 miles per week. In August, this was done by adding a third weekday 25-mile ride, and increasing the length of the weekend rides up to 60 miles per ride (or any combination that got to the mileage goal).
- In September we scaled back to 1-2 weekday 25-mile rides, and pushed harder on doing longer back-to-back rides on the weekends. This helped ensure we would be more comfortable with doing back-to-back long distance rides once in Florida. That usually meant a 40-mile ride on Saturday and a 60-mile ride on Sunday, or longer.
- At least twice during the summer, we did a full 100-mile century for a weekend ride. On those weeks, forego the weekday rides and just do the century ride as the entire week’s activity. Similarly, we made sure to do at least one weekend of long dual-rides (e.g. at least 70 miles on Saturday and again on Sunday).
So typically you can get by with riding about three times a week, which is very manageable. But you do need to be serious about it, and chip away at your training goals consistently.
We will not be trying to set any speed records in Florida, but we do want to make sure that everyone will be able to ride at a reasonable pace that will let us all finish the distances we need to ride each day. You should be much more focused on endurance than speed. While there will definitely be a few very long days that will be more difficult than others, if you can keep up with this type of a program you should not feel under-trained or under-prepared for the ride. Obviously, the program outlined above is a set of minimums; you can certainly do more (and are encouraged to do so). That will just let you be even better prepared for the journey ahead.
What should I bring?
There are really only four things that you need to bring for the ride: you, your bike,stuff for you, and stuff for your bike.
“You” is obvious, so we won’t worry about that one.
“Your bike” is almost as obvious, although you may have a question about how to get your bike to/from Florida. For that, see the “How do I get my bike to/from Florida?” section below.
For the “stuff for your bike” items, see the “What if my bike breaks down?” discussion below.
So, what to bring in the “stuff for you” category? The answer to that question really is “it depends.” If you like to travel light, there is an opportunity here to travel REALLY light. The first year of Curt’s Ride we did not have a support vehicle and carried everything with us on the bikes. I trimmed my list of “must have” items down to just 17 pounds of clothes, bike supplies, camera, and toiletries, and traveled for the entire week with everything stuffed into two panniers. That was a bit extreme, but proved that it could be accomplished.
By comparison, things are downright luxurious now. We have the support van to transport luggage between our destination stops each day. So you don’t have to worry about carrying everything yourself. Bring sufficient clothing for the days you will be riding with us, both biking gear and kit for hanging out after riding. Our post-ride activities each evening are decidedly vacation casual, so no formal attire is required in any form. Think along the lines of t-shirts and jeans.
Most can fit everything they need into one large suitcase. Although we do not put a hard limit on the amount of luggage you can bring, do remember that it all has to fit in the support van along with everyone else’s stuff. So if you show up with a five-piece luggage set and two steamer trunks, we are probably going to have you consolidate your belongings before we set off. Also note that we will have a rest day in Boca Raton where many opt to do laundry, which can reduce the amount of stuff carried for the full distance.
When choosing what clothes to bring, consider that the weather during early October is typically in the low 80’s during the day, and down to the mid 70’s in the evenings. We usually average one day where it rains somewhere along the journey, so you may choose to bring a lightweight disposable poncho or similar rain gear that you can carry with you while you ride.
How do I get my bike to/from Florida?
If you are not local to either end of the Curt’s Ride route, then you may be wondering about how to transport your bicycle from Point A to Point B before and/or after the ride. There are several ways to make this happen. The three most popular options that do not actually involve any sort of sorcery are:
- You can pack your bike in a bike carrier and bring it with you on the airplane as large luggage. Based on recent experiences with getting a bike case to/from California, the typical airline charge for this is around $100 each way.
- We will be looking at the option of driving the support van from Northern Virginia down to Florida, and back. If you are in the Washington DC metro area, or can get your bike here, we may be able to transport your bike down and back in the van. Space for bikes in the van is limited, so this option is only open to the first dozen riders that indicate they would like to use this option.
- Another alternative is to use ShipBikes.com (http://www.shipbikes.com/). This is a great resource that Stacey found a few years ago that has been very successful for us. For $75-$100 (depending on location and delivery options) they will send you a heavy cardboard “air caddy” bike container, and then ship it with your bike in it to anywhere in the contiguous 48 states. Well, if you want to be technical about it, they will also ship it without your bike in it anywhere in the contiguous 48 states as well, but that would be sort of pointless in this context (but certainly not beyond the realm of things that this crowd might inquire about). Anyway, shippingis via FedEx ground, and can take 1-5 days. If you are joining the ride in either Fernandina Beach or Miami, we can provide a destination shipping addresses for you.
What if my bike breaks down?
Not if, when. OK, there is one thing that you do need to understand right up front. Florida eats bicycle tires. The whole state is like a big cavernous bicycle trap that exists for the sole purpose of injecting foreign debris into the treads and sidewalls of passing bike tires. Seriously, we ride at home and can go an entire season without a flat. But our experience has been that as soon as we get to Florida, we are done for. Tires get shredded and we are changing flats in no time. There is just something about that state that causes massive amounts of construction and road debris to go leaping up at passing bike wheels.
We REALLY recommend that you do NOT head for Florida with lightweight racing tires or worn tires with thin tread that will not give adequate puncture protection. To minimize the potential problems, we VERY STRONGLY recommend that before you head for Florida you put a good set of Kevlar-belted tires on your bike (we have had good success with Continental Gatorskin tires) AND put in a set of inner liners (Mr Tuffy’s are the way to go here). That may seem like an overkill solution, but trust us on this one – it really is necessary. Even still, plan on changing at least one flat every day or two.
With that in mind, we suggest you carry a mini-kit with you with spare tubes, patches, and light tools all the time. A frame pump or a CO2 inflator is also a good idea. When you need to restock, we will carry a good supply of spare inner tubes and patch kits in the support van. We will also carry a few Gatorskins with us. In addition, we will have a reasonably well-equipped tool kit and some replacement parts if your bike requires more substantial work. If you have any specialized supplies or bike parts that you want to have on hand, bring them with you and we will be happy to haul them in the support van. If more heavy-duty repairs are needed, there are numerous bike shops all along the route. We have made use of many of them over the years, and can transport you and your bike to one quickly if necessary.
What should I eat?
There is a lot that has been written about proper nutrition for an event like a one-day century ride or even a two-day dual-century weekend. But we have found there is not much out there to help you eat for a long endurance event like this one. The best thing that we have found is the “FuelingHandbook” by Hammer Nutrition. We recommendthat all riders download a copy (it is available as a freedownload at http://www.hammernutrition.com/downloads/fuelinghandbook.pdf) and read it cover to cover.
When we started Curt’s Ride, we tried to learn a lot about this topic. Based on recommendations from other endurance athletes we practically memorized the Fueling Handbook. Once you get past the product-specific marketing, the information provided about fluid and nutrient absorption rates, carb/protein balancing, calorie intake, and the basic replenish vs. replace approach all seem consistent with what we know about basic physiology.
We are not necessarily recommending the Hammer products. But the philosophies and approaches they describe in the Fueling Handbook regarding endurance nutrition proved invaluable during previous iterations of Curt’s Ride. By following their nutrition approaches duringthe last four rides I never once felt energy-depleted or came anywhere close to bonking. The whole ride was completed each time without any ill effects, G.I. problems, or apparent nutritional imbalances.
After you digest (ha!) the fundamentals of their approach, it is easy to develop a nutrition plan using foods/supplements of your own choosing. You can adjust your diet for the ride using whatever works for you. You can do it with the Hammer supplements, or with peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, high-protein foods, and chocolate milk (we REALLY believe in chocolate milk as the optimal post-ride drink!), or any other combination of stuff that does what you want to do.
Also, here are a few specifics that you will want to consider during the ride:
Given the Florida heat, our typical pace, and the duration of the ride, a reasonable target rate for fluid intake is 24-28 ounces per hour, with a higher balance as we go out into the higher heat of the Keys. That means you should be drinking at least one full bottle of fluid every hour. The recommended fluid is water, or water alternated with a supplement mix (again, refer to the Fueling Handbook for more information). We do not recommend Gatorade during the ride itself. It is great as a recovery aide after the ride, but during the ride it can pull too much water out of your system as your body tries to dilute the high salt content.
Likewise, a reasonable target for calorie intake while riding is 200-250 calories per hour, possibly up to 300 calories per hour if you are holding a higher pace. Translated, this means munching on an average of one Power Bar or Clif Bar or equivalent per hour. This is not that tough to do – as long as you throw in enough variety to make things interesting. During the first Curt’s Ride, I just stuck to eating Clif Bars for the first three days. By Day 4, if I took one more look at a Clif Bar I was going to hurl.
Is there any cool Curt’s Ride swag?
As in prior years, we will have Curt’s Ride bike jerseys available to commemorate your participation in the adventure. Sid Stromsdorfer is working up another beautiful design for us, keeping with the theme from the 2011 through 2017 jerseys, while making these unique for this year. The jerseys are available to members of the riding team and anyone else that is interested.
We will be placing our final order for the jerseys by the end of August. We will need to know sizes and styles before the final order, so we will be in touch to discuss those in upcoming weeks (we will be using Verge Sport to produce the jerseys again this year – please refer to their sizing chart at http://www.vergesport.com/sizing for any questions about jersey sizes).
What else can I do to help?
There are some real costs for utilizing the support van, setting up the logistics for the ride, getting your rider swag, etc. For example, we rack up well over $1,000 just in gas expenses. Many rides cover these costs through registration fees for the ride. But we are really trying to avoid that if at all possible.
Toward that end, this is an area where you can definitely help. Large corporate donations through the ACS web site are always welcome. But sometimes a company will want to sponsor a specific element of the effort. So here is an opportunity. We need to raise about $2,000 to cover all the implementation costs for this years iteration of Curt’s Ride. For a suitable donation that gets us part or all the way to this goal, a company can be a “Foundation Sponsor.” Their donation will enable the implementation of the ride (e.g. helping make the van available to support the riders during the ride), and enable us to complete Curt’s Ride for this year. In return, they will be recognized as an official Foundation Sponsor and will have their logo put on the “Curt’s Ride” signs on the van. If you have any ideas for companies that might be interested in this idea, please let us know.
Why is it called “Curt’s Ride”?
Curt Ewald was a friend and former classmate from Herndon High School (HHS ’76, Herndon VA). In the summerof 2010, Curt was diagnosed with Stage IV adenocarcinoma in the lungs. As Curt prepared for the journeys ahead, he displayed the most amazing outlook on life, was one of the most open and communicative of friends, and showed the most well-balanced understanding of what was before him, of anyone that you could ever know. In just a scant few weeks, Curt taught me more about acting with grace under pressure and the strength of solid character than I had learned in 50 years.
Curt lost his battle with adenocarcinoma that summer, just before the first iteration of this ride named in his honor. In his memory, and that of all the other current and former HHS classmates, and all those everywhere that have been affected by this disease, Curt’s Ride To Cure Cancer has been established as part of the “Team ACS” program.
For those that never met him, we would ask that you read this American Cancer Society blog “A Message From Curt (http://www.cancer.org/aboutus/drlensblog/post/2010/09/04/a-message-from-curt.aspx).” This article describes in just a small way who Curt was. Even now, he still teaches. This is why we are doing the ride.