Year in Review – Part 2 – Recon Rides

RAAM Mile 0. Surfrider Way and The Strand, Oceanside, CA.

RAAM Mile 0. Surfrider Way and The Strand, Oceanside, CA.

Preparation is huge in ultra cycling. Getting to know the race course may be my favorite part. Understanding its challenges, strategizing on how to pace, and becoming familiar with where and how it may exact its suffering on the racers. The route is just a series of roads, but the it holds a special significance for me  – a constant reminder of experiences past and the excitement of what the future holds on the same pavement.

RAAM Finale Recon Rides

A whirlwind trip to the East coast. Flew in to Columbus, OH, drove to Chillicothe OH, RAAM Time Station 43 at 1:30AM. Up early in the morning to start two back to back 200 milers following the RAAM course to Annapolis. Anabelle sagged as we made our way eastward through the toughest stretches of the course. Endless rollers, beautiful countryside, and invaluable experience. Splitting it up to around 200 miles each day allowed me to speed through the sections much faster than I will be able to in RAAM, but still get a bit of an endurance feel and real respect for the notoriety this stretch holds with RAAM racers. The surprise to me was that the hardest, steepest hills came in MD and PA, on the second day. The wide graded highways of West Virginia, although almost never flat, were kind in comparison to the punishingly steep rollers that just kept on coming on the rural roads between Cumberland and Gettysburg.

RAW Pre-Ride

Through April my RAW training had all gone to plan. Then an ill-timed chain drop on my TT bike left me hurling over the bars, landing on my back at 30mph, and in the doc’s office with a broken L1 vertebra at T-6 weeks to my biggest race yet. So with less than 3 weeks until the race I had to figure out whether I could realistically race, and get back in shape, stat. No better time to get a huge ride in; a pre-ride of the first half of RAW – for the fitness, the confidence, and, for its own sake…because there’s something special about starting a ride from home on one morning, and finishing that same ride, by rolling up to a mountain town cafe in the middle of another state, on the next.

RAAM TS1 – Heat and Suffering

I’m fortunate enough to live within 20 miles of the RAAM start. This makes the tough terrain of the race’s first time station easily accessible training grounds. Of all the times I’ve ridden the first section, this day stands out. The Garmin read above 100 degrees for all but an hour of the ride, and the sweltering temps really made me suffer this ride. Although the distance and terrain was well within my usual training rides, I’ve found an adventure can be created just when you have to reach deep inside yourself to keep yourself going, as the body starts to balk at what it’s being asked to do.


Back to Year in Review and Training Thoughts

On to the next rides!