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Riding for a cause: Inside the Project Supertraining ride

Retired pro Will Dugan organizes Project Supertraining, supported rides that provide a pro-like training experience for amateur (and some pro) riders. The rides also direct money and attention to charitable causes. VeloNews went along for the ride over Memorial Day Weekend.

Editor’s note: This coverage is made possible by sponsorship from Pearl IzumiSchwalbeStages Cycling, and Roll Massif.

As riders rolled up for the Project Supertraining ride, Lauren De Crescenzo sat on a concrete table in her DNA Cycling kit, a stack of Craig Hospital flyers in her lap. It was a sunny day in late May, and De Crescenzo was there to celebrate a personal milestone.

Three years ago, De Crescenzo was lying in Craig Hospital, recovering from a crash at the San Dimas Stage Race. Doctors had placed her in a medically-induced coma for six days after the wreck, and when she awoke she was missing nearly three weeks worth of memories. De Crescenzo, who was one of the bright young stars of domestic road racing, faced a long road to recovery.

Those memories seemed distant on this sunny Sunday, and De Crescenzo was ready to celebrate cycling and Craig Hospital at the Project Supertraining ride. Held on the last weekend of every month in Boulder, Colorado, the Project Supertraining ride is a supported ride that takes in some of the best training roads along Colorado’s Front Range. It’s organized by Will Dugan, a retired pro, and each ride raises funds for a different charity.

“This is a very important ride for me,” De Crescenzo said. “Three years ago I was at Craig Hospital, and they saved my life. They saved me from my head injury and I definitely owe them one.”

Dugan supports the ride with a handful of nutrition stops out of his vehicle, which keeps the ride moving and also opens up route possibilities when you don’t have to figure in stopping at gas stations or stores like you do on normal training rides.

“Always supporting a different cause ever month is a really appealing reason for riding bikes with friends,” said rider Pablo Bles.

At the conclusion of a 50- to 90-mile day, riders return to Flatirons Subaru for a buffet meal, often prepared by cycling celebrity chefs like Biju Thomas or Fabio Flagiello.

Dugan requests a donation of $20, with proceeds going to a different charity each month.

“I thought for a long time when I was racing pro, how selfish and insular the pro cycling community can be. Everyone was so focused on their next big result,” Dugan said. “And then I realized, what if I could give back to a greater cause by using the bike as a vehicle? And that’s what Supertraining is all about.”

“It’s a great off-season and in-season training event. And it really reminds people that there are causes greater than their own.”

Charities supported include Wish for Wheels, Davis Phinney Foundation, There With Care, The Salvation Army, The Krempels Center, Chad William Young Foundation, People for Bikes, CU Cycling Team, and more.

“This has been an epic comeback, the last three years,” she said. “I started my masters after the hospital, and I just finished my masters two days ago on traumatic brain injury trends in the state of Colorado… and I won (collegiate time trial) nationals, and it’s been a great comeback.”

De Crescenzo has also found success in gravel. She won the 2018 Crusher in the Tushar, before scoring top 10s at the Belgian Waffle Ride and Land Run 100 this year and placing 11th at Dirty Kanza 200.

Many riders, many charities

Every month Dugan selects a charity, and 100-200 riders from the Boulder-Denver area descend on the home base of Flatirons Subaru for a well-supported full day of training.

Project Supertraining breaks into two or three groups, depending on the size. The pace is steady, with the pack riding two-by-two, with one or two KOM/QOM segments where the fast kids do their thing.

Dugan supports the ride with a handful of nutrition stops out of his vehicle, which keeps the ride moving and also opens up route possibilities when you don’t have to figure in stopping at gas stations or stores like you do on normal training rides.

“Always supporting a different cause ever month is a really appealing reason for riding bikes with friends,” said rider Pablo Bles.

At the conclusion of a 50- to 90-mile day, riders return to Flatirons Subaru for a buffet meal, often prepared by cycling celebrity chefs like Biju Thomas or Fabio Flagiello.

Dugan requests a donation of $20, with proceeds going to a different charity each month.

“I thought for a long time when I was racing pro, how selfish and insular the pro cycling community can be. Everyone was so focused on their next big result,” Dugan said. “And then I realized, what if I could give back to a greater cause by using the bike as a vehicle? And that’s what Supertraining is all about.”

“It’s a great off-season and in-season training event. And it really reminds people that there are causes greater than their own.”

Charities supported include Wish for Wheels, Davis Phinney Foundation, There With Care, The Salvation Army, The Krempels Center, Chad William Young Foundation, People for Bikes, CU Cycling Team, and more.

The gear I used

For this Supertraining, I was riding the bike and setup I had used earlier in the spring in Belgium for two sportives – Gent Wevelgem and Tour of the Flanders – plus some local racing here in Colorado like the Koppenberg, a mixed-surface road race. This same set of 28mm Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tires got me through the Belgian cobbles and Colorado gravel without a flat. When I was at BikeRadar we lab tested a variety of tires for rolling resistance, and the Pro Ones came out on top. Numbers aside, I just like the Pro Ones because they are feel light and supple on the road.

For this five-hour day I wore Pearl Izumi’s new Black kit, which is notable for two reasons. One, all the seams are welded instead of stitched, which makes for a svelte look and feel. And two, the jersey and bibs are made with PI Dry, a water-repellant fabric that refuses to hold moisture. It’s pretty crazy to do a hard, hot ride where you are dripping sweat – and the jersey is straight up dry. The Black magic is done at the fiber lever, it’s not an added treatment.

Stages Cycling supported this video with their upcoming Dash computers. I’ve been playing with the new mapping features that highlight cycling-friendly routes in green, and give you an elevation profile at the bottom of the navigation screen. While the engineers at Stages let you customize your Dash with pretty much every metric you can think of plus others you may not have even heard of, you can also set up the Dash screens to be super clean – I like the color-coded wheel for power output. In a group ride, you can’t stare at your computer, but it’s nice to know at a glance where you are, and the color wheel is handy for that.

For more on Dugan’s great Supertraining ride and the supported charities, visit projectsupertraining.com. Or, better yet, if you can make it to Boulder, Colorado, come join us on the last Sunday of the month for a heck of a great ride.