Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nifty FAQ (Updated for 2015)

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.

When Should I Start? 
The start window is 8:00-9:30 AM. Slower riders should start on the earlier side, but it’s up to you. Arrive at the start and be friendly. If you don’t know the roads, try to hook up with someone who does.


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 light snacks at the start. 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, although the new 2015 route is easier to follow than the older route. I provide my phone number for emergencies, and am only half joking when I say “…but don’t call me.” The first food opportunity is later in the ride, at Mile 38. This is easily 4 hours in for the average Nifty rider, and perhaps 3 hours for the speediest climbers.  At mile 38 there is a gas station with services, a Safeway, Subway, Mexican food, Peet’s, Starbucks, Noah’s Bagels, and many others. Do bring enough food for those first 3-4 hours. There is plenty of water at the various East Bay Regional Park staging areas.

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, plenty of food, sunscreen, helmet, and appropriate clothing for the weather. Bring enough food and drink for the first 3-4 hours, and some money to buy food later. 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 generally occurs on the first Sunday in April,  or that Sunday closest to April Fools day, sometimes late March. There is an email list. If you’d like to be on it, email me, macpaulster@gmail.com

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 provide custom, accurate and edited route sheets at the start.
You can find the courses here:
2015 Courses Posted!

The latest, greatest, course download for the


Nifty Light 2015 Course (Coming Soon)


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 will need to show up and try to hook up with other riders who know the ride and are of similar speed. Take a route sheet just in case you get isolated.

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.

Strava KOM’s?
For those who register and make the donation, we will have a friendly Strava KOM competition. The first segment will be Marin Ave, or “The Big Daddy.” Next up will be a new climb this year, Thorndale. Be sure to note that the timed segment starts at the beginning of Sobrante, where the road kicks up steep, prior to the sharp left at Thorndale. Then the segment continues on Elverton, all the way to Skyline. The third segment is the last one, Claremont/Grizzly/Vollmer. And we will also track moving time for the fastest overall on the entire course. Stop time does NOT count against you. So take your time at Peet’s or Safeway to fuel up and recover.

The Nifty looks way to hard for me, but I suffer from FOMO, and I want to be a part of the extravaganza, what do I do?

Consider the Nifty Lite. It’s still a very hard ride, with some challenging steep climbs, but it eliminates the real monsters, and is shorter with less elevation gain.

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