Rather than give you a blow by blow of my day, I'm going to pass along what I've learned and what helped me through a sunrise to sunset journey on the bike. Our merry band of six clocked in at 12 hours of ride time and 13 hours of actual race time. It was a LONG day. But we accomplished our goal, riding as a group, and finishing together.
Nerves kicked in for me the evening prior to the ride. And the morning wake up call proved that the anxiety had followed me into the morning hours. I was about to attempt something I had never done. My longest training ride had been 125 miles. Now I was going for 206. Could I do it? Could I hang with the pack? Would I slow the group down? Was I going to be the weak link? Here is what I learned:
1. Preparation Works! Every Saturday morning from April to September I put in 80-125 mile rides, along with three mid-week training rides. I created and followed a training plan allowing for builds, tapers, and recovery. I brought my bike on vacation with me and rode with my husband. When I was not with him or other friends, I rode alone. But I was consistent. I never missed a LONG Saturday ride. I tested the food I would eat on race day. I tested the shorts and DZNuts that I would use. I allowed for recovery rides and sprint and interval days. I came to the start line fully prepared for any type of weather, mechanical problem and even had my headlight charged in case I needed it. Call me a Boy Scout, whatever you like, but I was prepared to face the day. I rode into Jackson Hole strong and smiling!
2. Riding with a Group is Good. We had a group of six that vowed to stay together on race day. While there were a few hiccups on the route, for the most part, we kept a pace line and stayed together for the entire 206 miles. Several of us, at different points along the ride, felt sick or uncomfortable or even wanted to stop. But the camaraderie of friends kept spirits uplifted. We coaxed each other on and it made the mental game so much easier to handle. Riding together is a good way to tackle your virgin LOTOJA experience.
3. I Rode with a Camelback. Now this is not for everyone, but I chose to ride with a backpack hydration system allowing me to take quick sips of fluid while I rode. It also kept me hands free while I was in a pace line or racing downhill. This was a lifesaver when we rode next to the rumble strips where I wanted both hands on my handlebars. I never ran out of water or had to conserve my liquids between aid stations. I didn't want to bonk and the Camelback was my security blanket.
4. Keep Your Stops Quick! We spent a little too much time at each aid station. My legs got cold and it became harder to start pedaling once it was time to go. Communicate with your team that your stops should be about a minute or two. A bite to eat, a potty break and then take off! When our group splintered, some of those stops took up to 20 to 30 minutes long -- not an effective way to race or ride.
|Two of our SAG crew at the starting line|
6. Enjoy The View. Lift your eyes, look around, marvel at where you are riding because it is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the world. The flat farmlands, the rolling hills, the dramatic Snake River Canyon and the majestic Tetons -- it's majestic and overwhelmingly dramatic. We were blessed with a light rain storm and two amazing full rainbows that greeted us at the spot where our dear friend had passed away just one year prior. Thank you, Rob, for that heavenly display of love. We know you were watching over your wife and family and our crew that day.