Ok so this is the deal: divide all my food for the ride into 4 piles; leave 3 on the table and put the rest in my back pockets. 2 bottles: same carb solution in both; exactly measured for body-weight and projected duration of lap. That’ll take care of lap 1 and there’ll be 3 more laps to come, hence 3 more piles of food. The lap is about 50 miles long, and has around 2500 feet of climbing, so it’s all kept simple: 4 laps = 200 miles and 10,000 feet.
Today I’m riding on feel, so the powermeter has been taken off the bike. Why ride to feel when you own a powermeter? If I’m ever going to race again the chances are it’ll be on mountain bike, and I don’t have a powermeter on my mountainbike, so whilst I’d use a powermeter on the road I don’t have that luxury offroad. I need to remind myself how to pace myself. Maybe I should buy a powermeter for my mountainbike? Mmm… no time to think about that now, I’ll ride today on feel.
Halfway around lap 1 and I’m travelling faster than anticipated. Engaged with the task at hand, riding comfortably, fuelling as planned and feeling good. It’s early morning, so it’s not yet warmed up properly, and I’m dressed up snug. Faster than planned mmm… should I slow down? It feels ok, manageable, let’s stay on it and see what pans out.
Approaching 80 miles and the miles start to tell. Not much, but enough to know about it, over the main climb at mile 83 and it’s distinctly harder than it was on the first lap. Pace is still the same though and I’m approaching the hardest pit – 100 miles – will I drag myself back out the door for lap 3?
110 miles, yeah I made it back out the door, and the test now begins. 100 miles on-pace takes focus, 200 miles just covering the distance takes persistence, but 200 miles on pace? I have to ask myself a few questions! Hungry now, and distracted, neck a bit sore, healing left arm very sore, stay focused and stay on schedule with my feeding. I’m wobbling over the energy precipice, trying desperately not to look down. “push one pedal down and the other comes back up” I stay on focus and ride the hunger storm, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 150… JUST ONE MORE LAP!
The shortest pit-stop of the day as I know I’m right on a tipping point. If I sit down I’ll simply not get back up. Change my base layer, it’s starting to cool down outside and the one I’m wearing is damp. More chamois creme and pockets refilled, out for another lap, a mere 50 miles!
Still on pace, still focused, the miles pass under my wheels like clockwork. The last big climb stings all the way up, the view at the top seems greater than it was the last time I passed, and I’m the most pushed I’ve been for a very long time. The last remaining miles are all stomping, swaying, spinning and smiling, then suddenly I’m home, stage one of my training complete, endurance checked off the list, my test exceeded, feeling like I might just become a bike racer again…