Our 5th is Number One

sponsor banner 2011Thanks for helping make our 5th annual Rwanda Ride our very best ever!

In every way, this was an event to remember.  More riders than ever before – 631.  More funds raised than ever before – over $71,500 and still counting.  More raffle prizes than ever before – over $30,000 in prizes, a new record for any biking event in OC.  More sponsors than ever before – we had lots of great new faces join our sponsor family this year.  More wind than ever before – OK, so maybe more wind is not such a good thing.

On behalf of Project Rwanda, Team Rwanda, and our entire event planning team – we say “THANK YOU” to all of our sponsors, all of our volunteers, and all of our riders and their families.  We had a blast this year!  And we hope you did too.

Want to do this again next year?  Stay tuned, we’ll be announcing our 2012 date soon.

San Juan Hut Systems Just Added

bike_huts_imageLATE BREAKING NEWS:  San Juan Hut Systems has returned as an event sponsor – but even bigger and better than before!  This year they are offering not one but TWO different backcountry mountain bike adventure trips.  San Juan Hut Systems is a series of backcountry huts that lead you through spectacular Southwestern terrain and provides mountain bikers, skiers, hikers, and trail runners with an experience of a lifetime.  The huts allow for lightweight travel while maintaining a self reliant adventure.  Our Grand Prize raffle category will offer two trips:  Durango to Moab, and Telluride to Moab.  CLICK HERE to learn more.  Be sure to enter our raffle for your chance at these great trips!

Google Map of Route Available

mapWe now have a GOOGLE MAP of our route available.  You can see our entire 50 mile route, including all the volunteer stations and major aid stations.  NOTE:  25 milers use the same route all the way to the Dove Canyon waterfall, but they skip the Caspers section and instead head back to Cooks following the route.  Mile markers are included so you can see relative distances between points.  Zoom in for more detail, or use Google Earth if you have it for a cool “flyover” effect.  Special thank you to Mark Warrick and Josh Kompa for their map-making skills.  No excuse for getting lost now!  VIEW THE MAP HERE.

Just Kick It


Who needs pedals?

I was in Rock n Road Cyclery the other day, and I met a guy named Mike Santa Cruz.  With a name like Santa Cruz, I just knew he’d have something to do with bikes.  Turns out I was wrong.  Yes, his product has two wheels.  And it has a front and rear brake.  But alas, it has no pedals!  What the heck?  Mike represents SoCal Footbike, and he is our newest event sponsor.  You gotta check out these cool “adult scooters”.  Mike has generously donated one of his Street Footbikes, and if you’re the lucky raffle prize drawing winner, you’ll get to take it home with you.  We’ll even have a demo model available at our event in case you want to “try before you buy”.  You can find out more about their products at SOCALFOOTBIKE .

The Survivor

adrien50 Mile Ride for Project Rwanda is proud to help support Team Rwanda.  A few years ago the Rwandan cycling team was training in Moab Utah.  Some of our event organizers had the honor to meet the team – including Adrien Niyonshuti.  After living through the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Adrien is the number one mountain biker on what is now the biggest cycling team in Africa.  He will be, without doubt, the most extraordinary athlete at the 2012 Olympic Games.  And YOU are have helped him get there.  Check out ADRIEN’S STORY that recently appeared in Sports Illustrated SA Edition.

Win an MTB Adventure Holiday


80 Miles of MTB Trails

We’re really jazzed to have SoloSports on board as a new sponsor this year. They’re generously donating a complete Adventure Holiday package in amazing Punta San Carlos, sure to be a hit in our Grand Prize raffle drawing.  Here’s the details:

50 mile Ride/Project Rwanda Special SoloSports Adventure Holiday – a $1,900.00 value*
Your 8 day/7 night all inclusive holiday includes:
•    Roundtrip transportation from San Diego to Punta San Carlos via 15-pax van or optional – private plane
•    Deluxe camping on a protected carpeted tarmac in quiet canvas mini cabin tent including sleeping pads, bedding & pillows
•    All your meals, snacks and beverages including beer, wine, spirits and cocktails (we have an outside cantina & lounge stocked with top name spirits)
•    Daily hot showers, Internet and use of our activity room with TV/DVD, game area, and library
•    Use of surfboards, stand up paddle boards, mountain bikes, kayaks etc.
for those with advanced windsurfing or kiteboarding skills, we also include top of the line windsurf and kite gear!
•    Instruction in mountain biking, surfing, standup paddleboarding & digital photography
•    The services of our friendly SoloSports Staff to enhance your Punta San Carlos experience

A message from Kevin Trejo, founder of SoloSports Adventure Holidays:
“I started SoloSports in 1987 with an intense desire to live the outdoor sports lifestyle- traveling to exotic destinations and, enjoying the exciting and rewarding life it brings.  Being a mountain biker/surfer/windsurfer, I was, like many others, drawn to Punta San Carlos for the waves and wind and endless possibilities for mountain biking.  After my first experience,  I was hopelessly in love.  I have never found a more enchanting place with its natural splendor, breathtaking scenic vistas, wonderful people and perfect conditions for a myriad of land and water activities.

“Not very long after
that first experience I began to focus all my travel services to Punta San Carlos.  During the following decades I noticed something unique about my guests.  They chose my services over hundreds of other vacation travel options because their experience with me was truly a special, memorable adventure.  I began a quest to discover and capture just what my guests found so alluring about our Punta San Carlos experiences.  It was no surprise, ….they were just like me, with the same love of adventure, solo sports, the land, the ocean and the people.

“It was then I realized that I wasn’t offering vacations but very special adventure holidays.  The exhilarating private plane or dirt road ride to camp, the first rush of dropping in on a head high wave or a screaming downhill MTB run, always top the list of guest favorite experiences.  But sitting back at sunset clutching an ice cold Baja Fog, nursing your sore tired muscles  and savoring our own Baja cook’s – fresh, homemade Baja cuisine, also share top honors of precious moments that make up our holidays.  I remember a conversation with one of my guests as we were leaving for home. He said  “I’ve never had this much fun on a vacation before, in fact, I need a vacation just to come down from this past week.” It’s  true, most of my guests maximize their time with me …from sun-up to waning moon.   Punta San Carlos just has that affect on me and my guests.

“So when  a vacation is not enough,
when you crave a truly rewarding adventure in one of the world’s breathtaking pristine coastal desert places, with totally unique experiences you will remember for a lifetime, discover Punta San Carlos with SoloSports Adventure Holidays.  But be advised,  you may need a vacation afterward.”

You just won’t know until you go.

Kevin Trejo – CEO

Grand Prize Bike – Italian Beauty

Ahhh, Italy.  What’s not to love about Italy? The wine.  The food.  The art.  The history.  The women.  And now – the BIKES!


Raffle Grand Prize Bike

We are so excited to announce the Grand Prize in our HUGE prize raffle. Are you ready for this?  A brand new, race-ready, full-carbon, work-of-art-mountain-bike-perfection Bottecchia Reparto Corse Gardena 699 ($6500 value!).  Since 1909, Bottecchia has been building high-end bikes (both road and mountain), in the heart of Italian wine country.  Their bikes have been ridden to podium finishes in countless international races.  Now they’re ready to launch their brand in the US – and they chose OUR EVENT to unveil their product in North America.  How sweet is that?

Special thanks to our sponsor BraxSports LTD. They are the agent/distributor of some of the most exclusive European cycling brands for the North American market.  Brands represented include Bottecchia Reparto Corse Cycles of Italy and Cervo Rosso Performance Cycling Apparel from Switzerland.  (Both of these brands are included in our prize raffle, thanks to our friends at BraxSports.)

Our prize raffle will be held immediately following our 50 Mile Ride event, starting at approx 2:30pm on April 30.  You must be present to win!  Raffle tickets are sold in $20 packages – each package includes (1) Grand Prize raffle ticket and (20) general raffle tickets.  Drop your tickets in the prize baskets you want to win, and start crossing your fingers!

New Route: Less Miles, More Feet

whitingranchsignWe’re excited to announce our new route for this year’s Rwanda Ride. As you know, the heavy rains and flooding we experienced earlier this year have messed up some of our favorite trails – including Arroyo Trabuco, a key section of our Rwanda route.  But mountain bikers are a resilient bunch, and we’ve figured out an even BETTER route for our 5th annual event.

Our 50 Mile Ride event will be the first-ever mountain bike event to travel through (3) OC Parks:  Whiting Ranch, O’Neill Park, and Caspers Park.  It’s our off-road version of the “Tour de Dirt”.  You’ll love the new section we added in Whiting – it does add some climbing, but it also adds some of your favorite single-track trails in the park.

Our planning team mapped the new route, and the complete 50 miler (as well as the 25 miler) is posted on Geoladders.  CLICK HERE to view the route and take a virtual tour complete with photos.  Our friends at Geoladders are making this route available for download to all riders – no Geoladders membership is required.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  the actual ride elevation gain is higher than posted on Geoladders. Not sure why it lists a lower number, but we don’t want you mad at us if you experience a bit more climbing than you thought.  So, here’s the real numbers:

  • 50 Miler – 47 actual miles, 6400 feet elevation gain with 1/4+ mile of hike-a-bike in Caspers
  • 25 Miler – 24 actual miles, 3200 feet elevation gain
caspers hikeabike small

Hike-a-bike section thru Caspers

Yes, we know the miles are slightly less than our targets.  But we have more climbing than any other year.  And we’re pretty sure you’ll have enough riding by the time you’re done.  We guarantee you’ll be glad to be back at Cooks for the bbq and beverages and HUGE raffle.  Sign up today!

Ride Prep Tips from Coach Craig

efficiencycoachingThe Rwanda Ride is just around the corner. I have been asked by many “how do I prepare for this endurance ride?” Well, the single smartest thing you can do is increase your single day ride hours. By doing this, you will learn about how you, your bike, and the actual course will best operate on ride day. A long recon ride will eliminate unpleasant surprises, and you will have a blast come ride day!  Let’s look briefly at a few things you’ll discover.

When? Designate one endurance training day per week for the next 7 weeks. This is a “long recon ride” that can be done early Saturday morning. The pace should be very moderate as you are simply looking to ride the same hours as the event. If you are already riding that many hours, perhaps your pace will be higher. The point is, you really should shy away from increasing both volume and intensity at the same time. Just get the single ride volume up to your estimated Rwanda ride time once a week. Saturday morning is ideal as it mimics the Rwanda ride time and day. Your body will acclimate to this schedule and it actually makes quite a difference in how you “feel” on ride morning! The 50 mile ride goes off at 7:00 AM and the 25 mile ride goes off at 9:00 AM, so you guys can practice proper ride time for the next 7 weeks! Seriously, adjust your biological clock to optimize your preparation.

What do I eat? Now here is a question I get frequently so let me sink my chops into it here with you. While on your long recon rides, I recommend a bottle per hour and at least 250 calories per hour at an aerobic pace. If you are HAMMERING it (it is a fun ride, but…) then you can easily eat 500 cals per hour and a little more then a bottle per hour. So what do I put in my bottle and what kind of Gu, Gel, Chomp, or Chunk is the best?? Take a trip down to your local Project Rwanda Sponsoring Bike shop and start experimenting with what they have there. Your long training ride will distill what works for you and what does not. If you go with a caloric rich powder in your bottle, make sure you’re running a water-only bottle (or Camelback) along with your ride “cocktail” bottle. As far as the 250 calorie gels and chomps, man, find one that tastes good and is EASY (not sticky) to eat while you are rolling down the trail. There are rest stops on the ride that will have snacks and liquids from the sponsors you see on the Rwanda website. I recommend trying the supported fuels in TRAINING prior to the event to ensure they work for you. Far too many have depreciated their ride experience by eating something that may not work for them. Bottom line, learn what works for you and stick with it.

Is my bike supposed to be making that noise? Oh the things you discover when you spend time with your bike! Drive train may be clattering and shifting might not be perfect. Your brakes might rub and/or your tires/rims/hubs may need attention to work optimally. Quite honestly, nothing can ruin a fun ride faster than troublesome equipment. Train on the same bike you are going to do the ride on! You will get to know your equipment and what it may need to be running optimally. The good news is you’ll know far ahead of time if your bike needs attention and this will allow you to get it handled prior to the event day. Also as a general rule of thumb, if your bike just came out of the shop you should ride it a few times prior to your event. I have come to appreciate that freshly tuned bikes often have kinks that are best identified on a training ride. Lastly, if your ride needs professional attention, please consider supporting the various sponsors of the Rwanda effort by using them. After all, many have contributed heavily to the event we have come to love, and would appreciate your reciprocal support.

On long rides you will discover the course. Every off road course is more fun the second or third time through because you know what to expect. Each trail has its own ride lines, speed, and braking flow to it. No surprises equals a great time on the Rwanda Ride!

My last comment is about rest. Regular rest ensures optimal adaption. You get stronger when you sleep! That is when your body recovers and repairs. So treat your regular rest seriously. Another comment on rest is getting a lot of it the week before your Rwanda ride. You should carefully structure your intensity and lower your over-all ride volume during the week before the ride. Fun rides are best when you are FRESH, so freshen up the week before.

I appreciate that these comment are very general, but I sincerely hope they assist you in your best preparation. By simply adding one endurance day to your training weeks you will know the course, know your capabilities, know your bike, and even know what to eat! The only thing left to do is have a great time and enjoy making a difference! See you on the Rwanda Trail!

Craig Hopps is the founder and owner of Efficiency Coaching in Orange County CA. Craig was a national level competitive swimmer for 14 years. He competed in both cycling and swimming at UCSB from 1983-1988. From 1988-1992 Craig raced in both Professional and Amateur Triathlons and was consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally. Craig’s passion for peak fitness has seen him training for the last 34 years. He has coached full age group swim teams, cyclist, and multi sport athletes. Today you might find Craig at the start line of a mountain bike race, road race, or even a multi sport event. He doesn’t just coach, he lives it!

Project Rwanda Cargo Bike Spotted in Aliso

cargobikeinalisowoodsRumor has it that one of our Project Rwanda Cargo Bikes got loose and was spotted at Aliso Woods.  Mark Warrick, one of our planning team members, took the cargo bike for a spin to help promote our event.  He found out what it was like to pedal a 47 pound beast uphill.  And that’s without 150 pounds of coffee cherries loaded on the back!  A whole new appreciation for what Rwandan coffee growers go through to make their living.  And those are the lucky ones that have a cargo bike like this!  Read Mark’s story.