Thursday, April 25, 2013


"Do one thing every day that scares you."

 Eleanor Roosevelt.  Smart lady.

It’s been a long time since I was genuinely afraid of an upcoming bike ride. 

The first time I road around Lake Tahoe, in 1997 or 1998, was one of them.  I had never ridden more than 50 miles, and the Lake Tahoe ride was 79 miles at 6,000+ feet elevation.  Oh yeah, I did that on a mountain bike with mountain bike gearing, knobby tires, the whole deal.  Took me almost 10 hours, but I finished.  I remember having 20 or so miles to go sitting in a carport at Harvey’s Casino in Stateline hardly able to stand.  I pushed through and made it back to the campsite, sat in a chair and did not move for hours.

I really had no idea what I was doing that day.  I remember riding with baggy shorts, a tee shirt, a regular backpack overloaded with water, way too much food, a change of clothes, cold weather gear, I had everything.  For a 79 mile ride.  I brought an MRE for lunch.  Tuna casserole.  With pound cake. 

Wow, the things I learned on that ride… 

The next was the first time I did AIDS/Lifecycle in 2009.  Not so much for the miles, but just because I didn’t know what to expect.  I was riding in a 7 day tour alone, not knowing a single other person there.  I did get some great advice from friends that had ridden the event before, and that helped a huge amount, so I made it through that week surprisingly easily.

Next was my first double century, last year’s Solvang DC.  Again, I had no idea what to expect, and again, I was taking part alone.  I had upped my training the year before and had a great year, so I wanted to stretch into that next distance level.  At the time my long ride was 180 (2 laps around Lake Tahoe, with a kicker out to Truckeeand back) but it would still be a looooong day.  And I knew that the weather was not going to cooperate.  A15-20 mph headwind for 60+ miles on the second half of the ride was going to be the death of me, I just knew it.  Again, it was a long day, but I made it.

Fast forward to right now.  The Devil Mountain Double Century is in two days.  206 miles with 21,000+ feet of climbing.  The distance I have done, but that is more than twice the amount I have climbed in one ride.  Last year’s Davis Double Century had 9,500+ feet of climbing over 202 miles, and my South San Jose to Santa Cruz ride has around 9,000 over only 135 miles.  But 21,000?

For the first time in a very long time, I am starting a ride in which I don’t know if I will finish.  My training has been great, I have been climbing better than I ever have the last couple months, breaking old personal records on all kinds of local climbs.

But seriously, 21,000. 

Mt Diablo, Mt Hamilton, and Sierra Road. 

I’ve done everything in my power to be ready for this event.  My training has been great, much smarter than years past.  I have everything I need.  I’ve done everything I can to prepare.  I know what to do to get going, and I am confident enough in my abilities and what they contribute on the ride itself that I have some decisions I will make on the road, and I am OK with that. 

I think I know what I’m doing, even though in reality I know I don’t.

So, it’s time again to push myself beyond previous limits.  Hopefully in a few years I will have other mind blowing distances that I will be preparing for.  Distances that seem crazy and impossible now, that will scare me when they get closer, but will all be part of the natural evolution and development of an endurance cyclist.

After all, if you told me in 1997 after that 79 mile ride around Lake Tahoe that felt like it damn near killed me, that I would be riding in a 7 day, 545 mile bike tour that I now considered “easy”, not to mention multiple double centuries per year, I would have said you are crazy.

Two days.  In two days I will be on the bike, probably already suffering.  And in for a LONG day.  

I can't wait!