Monday, May 29, 2017
This is it: the final ride today before heading out to Kansas to ride 200 miles of gravel. Although the bike looks heavy, it's a very sweet ride. I'm hoping comfy will override the weight in terms of getting me to the finish.
Bike: Specialized Fate, hardtail. I know I'm going to be tired and on this mountain bike, I have a better chance of staying upright than on a skinny bike. We'll be riding on flint which, if you happen to crash, will slice you up in a second. I saw it happen in a video and I don't want to be that rider taken away in an ambulance.
Tires: Specialized Riddler, 700 x 45c. Tubeless. They seem to be just the right size. Skinny enough to go faster than my original 2.0 mountain bike tires and hardy enough to keep me from flatting.
Aerobars: Profile Design. I grew up watching the Wizard of Oz every year. I want to go home. Plus, I'll most likely be out there by myself so I won't have anyone to draft off of. The other benefits are that the aerobars distribute my weight better than a straight bar. With a long ride, the butt and girly parts are the first to go. My hands will be happier too.
Bar ends: Evo. These give me another hand position. I need as many as I can get.
Gas tank: Revelate. Camera, charger, and food will go into this. Easy access.
Tool Bag: Rogue Panda Designs. Tube, pump, patch kit, multi tool, etc.
Water/Food: Unlike road double centuries, where there's a rest stop every 20-25 miles along with sag wagons, this race is all about self support. I had to hire a crew person to take my needs bags to each of the 3 stops along the course. These are approximately 50 miles apart. So I have to be able to carry enough water and food to get me to each one. I'll start off with less water but at the first stop, I'll probably load up all three cages since I'll be heading into the heat of the day. I'll also be wearing a fanny pack water bladder, 1.5 liters, instead of a Camelback. On some of my longer rides, I got a little achy with the load on my back.
So much preparation goes into a race like this. It certainly is a lot more than just riding my bike as much as possible. On my last century, I ate like I would die if I didn't eat and felt fine throughout the ride, unlike the previous two long rides that left me nauseated. But I didn't use enough Butt Butter. Ouch! I'll be packing four pair of riding shorts and changing at each stop, loading them up with lots of cream.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
For me, the easiest part of an endurance race is signing up. That usually happens in January after two months of sitting on the couch waiting for the weather to warm so I can get outside and do some miles. The hardest part of an endurance race? Getting to the starting line.
The first part of training is fun, with short miles and plenty of time and energy to do the other things in life. But then the real training has to kick in. Long miles that leave me exhausted and, lately, nauseated due to not getting my nutrition right. On my last ride, I felt so poorly that I was ready to chuck it all. Dirty Kanza 200 just sent us riders its third reminder that our last chance to bail out of the race is May 6 and it was all I could think about those last few miles to get home.
But after some rest and decent food, I decided to go back to Plan B: to show up at the start of the race but allow myself not to finish. At this stage, I really don't think I have what I need to ride 200 miles on gravel under 21 hours. I did two double centuries in my late twenties, two Ironman triathlons in my forties, so I have a good idea what it takes to finish a race like this. Now at 59 I'm ready to accept that maybe I bit off too much. And I'm ok with that. In fact, I feel a bit of freedom in the idea that I'm ok with this possible "failure". Because I choose not to see it as failure.
Our minds make up so much when we are confronted with fear. Being afraid of "failing" is what keeps most of us from even trying something challenging. If I didn't give myself permission to DNF, I'm certain I would be one of many who decided to drop out before the race even started. Instead, along with 2000 other excited but nervous racers, I'll get up early for the 6am start, not knowing how the long day will play out. That's part of the big lure of doing something like this. Not knowing. And I think that's what adventure is really about.