Today’s ride was tough and agonizing, more importantly, it was executed as planned.

112 Miles with minimal rest stops – 2 refueling stops were planned. We ended up making 2 additional quick bathroom stops. My goal was to complete the ride in about 6-hrs.

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The morning started well, with cool weather, and moderate humidity. I had a full night’s sleep, some coffee, and a bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries and apricots I felt ready.  When I arrived, Lea and Khon were already in the parking lot getting ready to do their long ride. Cruz arrived a few minutes later and we set off at daybreak. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I allow my legs to warm up for about 30-45 min before pushing harder. Taking time also allows me to soak in the sunrise and feel the breeze, preparing my mind for a wonderful afternoon. I’m now kind of addicted to watching the sunrise. Each morning a unique picture is presented and being present to observe it feels very special.

Target: 150 Watts

I planned to remain laser-focused on the goal – average 150 watts the entire ride. I would resist the urge to go fast just for the sake of feeling the speed – I love the speed. When the wind is at our backs, our speed would increase, when we fought headwinds, speed would decrease accordingly. 

150 Watts no. matter. what.

During the warm-up, I could tell we were going to fight a southerly headwind. The ride begins north of the coast and we head, generally, south, so a headwind going out is preferable. Preferable because it usually means the ride back (when fatigue is accumulating) is easier due to a tailwind, but also I have to fight the urge to go faster. Maintaining my mental state during the entire ride is very important. One rookie mistake or trap is when we feel good and strong for most of the ride we decide to deviate from the plan and pedal hard to go fast…forgetting that after the ride is done, we still have to run a marathon. 

I’ve heard plenty of stories from Ironman athletes that have made the very mistake of crushing the bike and then doing the “zombie” walk to complete the marathon because their legs were like wet noodles.  Sure, going hard and fast on the bike is exhilarating and oh, so tempting, but completely counterproductive to the bigger goal. I don’t want to fall into that trap, thus the practice with a singular focus. 150 Watts!

The first planned refueling stop was at the marina, a usual turn-around point for our long rides. We ran into Khon & Lea again as well as Thomas. We didn’t waste time today. Bathrooms, eat, drink, quick photos, and then back on the road.

Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock.

The road home is always harder.

By the time we are heading back, we’ve already clocked 50ish miles and a few hours in the saddle. The sun has risen and begins to broil all those who dare to show bare skin. Hydration and nutrition are just as important as power management and attitude during this phase of the ride. Fortunately, the wind hadn’t shifted and we were able to ride at a quick pace for the next 30 miles or so.

Miles 70-80 are particularly difficult. One of us usually experiences an energy drop or a bout of mental fatigue. It’s during these times that having a trusted training partner is so valuable. They see you and will take the lead for a while to allow you to recover a bit and get through the slump. You begin to communicate via body language rather than words. Subtle changes to ones riding style or body position tell a story. They inform on the condition of the rider, for good or bad. 

One issue I’ve been working to reduce is chafing in my shorts. I use lots of chamois cream, but because I sweat so much, it wears away faster than normal which results in a very uncomfortable ride until I apply more cream. I’ve purchased and begun carrying single packs and applying them at rest stops which helps. Now, I’ve also tried applying while riding which helped, but was a little messier than I would have liked. But, the alleviating discomfort was more important than the ability to wipe excess cream away.  I will do this during the race to improve my comfort.

The final agonizing stretch

As we got closer to our start point, we knew we’d have to do loops to get the 112 miles. So, instead, we chose to modify the route to add an extra 10 here and another 8 there, etc., to reduce the need to do loops near the parking lot. The problem with that was the shift in the wind! It began gusting 18-20 mph and we were going headfirst into it in each direction we chose WTF! We would not be given the final 20 miles, they would be earned and paid for through a fatigued, uncomfortable body. These are the times that mental fortitude is key.  Strength of will is just like a muscle, it’s built over time by pushing through discomfort and resistance. Both of us were audibly moaning as we fought to keep pushing through the winds knowing that we had come so far and needed only a few more miles….the hardest miles.

Having some ice-cold beer in a cooler became the motivation. At one point, I thought that I could smell it in the air. Hey! Whatever gets you through the hard parts…

Lessons

  • Although 150 watts feels easy, doing it for 6 hrs takes a toll on my legs. Running afterword without cramping the hell up will be a challenge. Electrolytes are going to be critical.
  • Everytime I found myself being watched by or riding with another rider (other than Cruz), I had a strong urge to push harder and go faster. My junkyard dog is ready to pounce. I will not allow that to happen during this race. Keeping a cap on the aggression will be an incessant challenge with all the other athletes on the field.
  • Take extra chamois cream packets – they help a lot
  • Stay present and enjoy the moment as it’s happening. Time seems to stop AND move more quickly when I’m able to do this. Conversely, focusing on how many more miles are remaining only increases my anxiety and makes me less composed.
  • Ice cold beer after a 6-hour ride is one of the most refreshing things in life.
  • think sun shield arm covers also help keep me cool. As I sweat, the moisture on the fabric serves as a cooling mechanism. And they look so cool.
  • stretch a little after finishing the ride. I think it will help.
  • I feel ready for this portion of the race. I don’t have any doubts that I know how to complete it well.