Year in Review – Training Thoughts


Horseshoe Meadows Road, Eastern Sierra, CA


When discussing RAAM and ultra cycling with others, right after “Why would you even want to do that?” I often hear – “How do you train for that??”  Or…”You must go crazy with all the training...”,  or…”wait, you have a job!?” Even those that do understand, and aspire to race the longer ultra events themselves, often think there’s no way to fit all the riding required preparation into their busy schedule, or see the mileage necessary as an insurmountable obstacle. With some compromise and creative use of time, it’s possible to make it work, and even more importantly, to enjoy the process.

I look at training in a different light. I’m doing solo RAAM because it is an inescapably powerful and ambitious goal, but mostly because, quite simply, I love riding my bike.

While the idea of riding across the country exerts a magical pull on me, I know that a huge part of the joy of taking part in it is right now, as I’m deep in the process of getting ready to race.

The finish lines of ultra events are unmistakably anti-climactic. Even in its first year, when the race was the Great American Bike Race,  the finish was televised, and the nation watched, and it was even filmed by helicopters – just a look at winner Lon Haldeman’s face can tell you – it’s not really about that moment when you finally reach the end. If you’re searching for something profound there, you can only be disappointed.

That’s why instead of training…which can so easily become a chore – I prefer to go out for adventures. Perhaps it’s a weakness of my character, but it’s critical to me that I enjoy every ride. Out there – I’ve of course often felt tired, in pain, bonked and powerless – or just plain wishing I was done and home. But rarely if ever have I felt burnt out on the bike, or dreaded that next ride. If I started losing that vitality, that drive and desire to be out there, it would start to be difficult to justify such an all-encompassing, all-demanding endeavor.

To try to explain what drives this passion, I’m sharing some of my favorite training adventures of the past year – which served as both the foundation of my racing fitness and thoroughly rewarding self-contained experiences in their own right. Of course every adventure is not defined only by its length – but, at least for ultra cycling, that’s a good place to start. My last year had 32 rides greater than 200km, adding up to over 6000 miles and 14 days of riding.. And not a mile of unnecessary drudgery in the mix.


Read On – Year in Review – Part 2 – Recon Rides