The Triple Crown-I’m Committed
So just recently I began training again after a long R&R (about 8 months) from the bike. I am four weeks into my training (I know, not very long) and my legs feel stronger than they did this time last year. This time around I will be very cautious not to overtrain, to eat enough healthy food and to strategize better.
Because I recently landed a few sponsorships I will be doing more than just the Tour Divide this year. Thanks to my sponsors Standby Hydration Therapy (Title Sponsor), Red Truck Tees, Single Track Bikes, and Guru Cycles all of this is possible. Without them I would be limited to barely scraping by just to race the Tour Divide.
So now that I am committed I am spent my free time either riding my bike or thinking about riding my bike. There is a transition in mindset when I decide to commit to something like this.
At first there is excitement, stoke, you can’t wait to get out to the start. This lasts about 2-3 weeks for me, then I go into the zone.
Second I begin to focus in on my goals, my gear, and mentally preparing yourself by imagining scenarios of intense suffering, exhaustion and unhappiness and thinking about how you are going to deal with it, have a plan! Many riders train and train for these long races but they neglect to spend time preparing the mind, which is just if not more important. It certainly helps to come into the race with an open mind, anything can happen out there and mentally preparing yourself will help you react to each situation calmly and logically. Last year being mentally tough was what enabled me to continue day after day until my body could not physically last any longer. Just know that when it gets tough and you get to your lowest place it can only get better from there and if you need to pull over and take a nap, it does wonders.
Third comes anxiety and anticipation. I get butterflies in my stomach a couple days before the race and they don’t go away until it starts. This is a feeling that most of us get before such a race. Certainly there is excitement, stress, uncertainty and again, more anticipation. Usually it is pretty hard to make this feeling go away right before you take off for a 3000 mile bike race, who wouldn’t be nervous? But this feeling is something that I enjoy, its worth everything once you leave the start line, all that stress and anxiety is converted into pure joy and fun. There are definitely some endorphins running through your veins on the first day.
Fourth comes the execution, I get into a zone after 3-5 days into a race. The excitement from the beginning of the race has worn off and now you are in go mode. All you have to do now is keep your head strait until the finish line. During this stage in the race you will go through many different emotions and mental states. Sometimes you will be bored out of your mind, others times it like you are hypnotized and after 50 miles you don’t remember a thing about what you saw.
Last but not least comes the finish. From my experience it seems like a delayed gratification, it doesn’t really hit you or satisfy you right away. Usually I am too exhausted to even care that I finished, all I care about at this point is getting a ride to the nearest bed and passing out for 3 days strait. When I wake up I can enjoy the gratification of finishing.
This process goes on over and over again, it eventually wears me out. The combination of excitement, anticipation for months and wrecking your body for weeks seems to weigh on the mind after some time. What tires my brain out the most is the waiting game, the anticipation that builds within me before a big race is like a little kid excited to open christmas presents in the morning. But like I said the relief of starting the race keeps me coming back.
So for those of you that read this and know nothing about self-supported racing or what the Triple Crown is I will spell it out.
Triple Crown-Recognized as the three most classic and hardest mountain bike races in the world completed all in one season on these dates. In total this adds up to well over 1 month on the bike riding an average of over 100 miles per day.
1. April 19th-Arizona Trail Race
2. June 14th-Tour Divide Race
3. July 21st-Colorado Trail Race
Here are some photos from some of my training rides. As you can see I look really happy in some of the photos :).