Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nifty Ten Fifty FAQ

What is the Nifty Ten Fifty?
Please read What is the Nifty Ten Fifty?

Is there a ride description?
Please read the Nifty Ride Description

I’d like to do the Nifty, but I am terrified of the difficulty of the climbs. Can you say anything to comfort me?
No... But let me try. If you are reasonably fit, and have really low gears, the ride is quite manageable. The exceptions are Marin (climb #3) and Hiller (climb #9). Marin is painful no matter what your gearing or fitness level. Hiller, while not quite as severe, comes late in the ride when you're tired. Those two climbs are easily skipped. And we have the Nifty Lite for those who just want a pleasant day on the bike with a few good climbs.

I'm not sure what group I belong in, can you help? 
As you can see, above I have established groups by racing category. "Elite" is Pro 1,2, "A" is Cat 3, "B" is Cat 4 or strong, fit, recreational rider. The Nifty Lite is for anyone capable of getting up a few steep hills at any pace. Here is another benchmark — If you can ride Mt. Diablo, South Gate, from Athenian School to Summit, any day of the week in under 55 minutes, you are Elite. If your Diablo time is more like 55 min. to 1:05, then you are "A" group. If you are more like 1:05-1:25, then you are "B" group. If you're not sure, a Nifty trick is to start in the slower group. When the faster group passes, you can latch on. You'll be more rested and they'll be more tired, so you may hang. If you get dropped, no worries, slide back to the slower group. You certainly can ride on your own and navigate, but that's less fun.

Is the Nifty and organized ride, is there a fee?
The Nifty is a friends ride, there is no fee. Participants are mostly by invitation, but I throw the challenge out and anyone is welcome. I provide a route sheet, a pat on the back, some volunteer guides, and refreshments/light snacks at the half way point. A voluntary donation may be made if you'd like to help with the costs of hosting the event. $5 is suggested. After climb #9 we stop at Peets Domingo, for coffee and pastries. Bring money or your Peet's card.

Is there support on the ride?
No. You are on your own. You will likely ride with a group as the route is difficult to follow alone. I provide my phone number for emergencies, and am only half joking when I say “…but don’t call me.” There will be a well-stocked, self serve rest stop at the half way point with energy foods, bars, gels, etc., along with drinks, sodas, and a bathroom. Please take only what you need. This is where, hopefully, all the different groups congregate at approximately the same time for a social and feed break mid-ride. Please close the hatch on the Subaru if you are the last to leave.

What should I bring?
Aside from low gears and a positive, friendly attitude, bring what you normally would on a long adventure ride. 2 tubes, patch kit, pump, small multi-tool, food, sunscreen, helmet, and appropriate clothing for the weather. Bring enough food and drink for the first 3 hours, and some money to buy food later. We've got plenty of food for you at the mid point. If you need lights, you’re in serious trouble. Don’t bring ‘em.

I missed the Nifty but would like to do the next one. When is it and can I get on an email list?
The Nifty occurs on the first Sunday in April, that Sunday closest to April Fools day. There is an email list. If you’d like to be on it, email me,

How long does it take to complete the Nifty?
The strongest riders can complete the Nifty in a bit over 4 hours riding time. The Elite group completed the ride in under 4 hours. Our fastest A group time was 4:20, but usually in the 4:30-4:40 range. The B group will be about an hour slower. Add in stops and regroups and you’re looking at 4.5-7 hours, depending on your ability. Then add another half hour to return to the start.

Can I do the Nifty on my own? Is there a route sheet or map?
You may download the route from the link supplied here, upload to your Garmin, and/or print out a cue sheet from that link. I will no longer be providing route sheets at the start.
You can find the courses here:
2014 Courses Posted!

The latest, greatest, course download for the

Nifty Ten Fifty 2014

The Nifty Lite 2014

OK, I understand the route is complicated with over 100 turns, I don't have a GPS and I really don't want to decipher a route sheet. What do I do?
You show up on time for the ride you want to join. We have four guided rides, for four levels of riders. If you stay with your group, you will not need to navigate, but please bring a route sheet in case you get separated. We have an Elite ride for P 1,2 riders, an "A" ride for Elite Cat 3 or Masters 1,2,3 level riders, led my me, a B ride, for strong, fit, recreational cyclists, who truly want to complete the entire ride, but at a more sensible pace, and the Nifty Lite, for those just wanting to join the Nifty fun with a pleasant ride with a few manageable climbs at a leisurely pace. The Nifty Lite avoids all of the worst climbs.

What gearing is recommended?
Gearing of course depends on your fitness, climbing ability and your ability to suffer turning the cranks at 30 rpm. The ride has been done with 39/23 low gearing. I did it for years with 39/27, and it seemed fine (now I run a 34/28). With that said, it's prudent to put on the lowest gears you have. The lower your gears, the less time you'll spend at an uncomfortable cadence, and the more you will enjoy the ride.


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