Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sure they're weeds, but ...

Date: June 21
Mileage: 16.4
June mileage: 469.1
Temperature upon departure: 57

All I rode was the full-circle commute today, so I am officially tapering. It left me with the better part of the evening to scrub all the little components on my MTB with a toothbrush, switch the wheels, change the brake pads and finesse the shifting down to smooth, clickless transitions. Mechanical preparedness is probably the third most important step in preparing for an endurance cycling attempt, right behind buying the right food and building up an amiable attitude that will keep you semi-sane in the suck. How could those things possibly be the top three, you ask? Sure, training is very important. But all the past six-hour bike rides in the world aren't going to help you when your front derailluer refuses to shift into anything but the middle ring and you're doubled over your handlebars with gastrointestinal pain.

Attitude, Food, Good Gear. After that, it's all just breathing and spinning.

I found some great articles on about preparing for a 24-hour bike race. Sure, all that training info now is too little, too late. But all I really needed to hear from those who know was in the closing paragraphs:

"Don't worry: Things can get a little weird during the wee hours of a 24 hour event. When this happens, don't panic - consider it a bonus. Others might have to commit a criminal act or spend years in an ashram to experience some of the sensations you're going to enjoy in the middle of the night. Laugh, store it in your memory bank, and keep riding.

Ultracycling is your hobby - it is not your job, it is not your punishment. You've prepared for months to get to this race and now that you've arrived, there's nowhere in the world you'd rather be. So put a smile on your face, put a song in your heart, and enjoy every minute of it."

Barring the smiles and songs - (I don't know that collecting mosquitoes in my teeth or humming "Birdhouse in Your Soul" for 24 hours will really be all that beneficial) - all the secrets to endurance bike racing lie in that statement. Tolerance for insanity and pre-emptive enjoyment. That's all it takes. Simple, right?