I know that some of my randonneuring friends consider 1200km events challenging but not overwhelmingly so. I wonder if they start having nightmares about showing up late for the start or getting lost on the route months in advance of the event. I hope not. But I had one of those nightmares a couple of nights ago. I find myself in a dilemma: I am deeply drawn to the idea of the 1200km challenge, but also simultaneously terrified of it. So far, I have completed one event of this length, and that was the admittedly rather difficult Boston-Montreal-Boston…6 1/2 years ago. Since then I’ve wondered if I have it in me to do more.
This year I want to find out if I can do another, and then maybe another next year, and then maybe PBP the following year. We’ll see. First I have to complete the qualifying events and survive my nightmares and then show up to the starting line of the event…on time, of course.
Since I want to try the California Gold Rush Randonnee at the end of June, I’ve already started training. My plan is to complete the whole qualifying series by mid-May, but also to do many more kilometers as well as training for specific conditions including: climbing, back to back rides with not much sleep between, and eating and drinking properly while riding. Obviously I need to do some mental preparation as well, so in addition to reading articles on how to mentally prepare for the long distances, I hope to keep writing about what I’m doing to help me stay focused and, hopefully, a little calmer.
Here are some of the training goals I have set…I’ll likely adjust them as I go, but this is at least a start:
January: 2 100-km events and a 200-km event. Plus riding to and from work as much as weather permits.
(If all goes well, I will complete all of the official rides tomorrow.)
February: 1 100-km event, 1 200-km event, and 1 300-km event. Extra riding as weather permits. Reading and writing to help me stay focused.
(Since February’s weather is potentially a problem in the eastern U.S., we’ll see how it goes. However, I have signed up for the PA 200-km event on February 2 and the 300-km ride in Southern Florida on February 9.)
March: because I have a conference in Las Vegas in the middle of the month, I will try to do a permanent while out there. Additionally, I’ll try to do two more 200-km rides and a 100-km ride. (So the plan for March is regular riding of reasonable distances…between travels.)
April: because of the two-day conference at North Carolina State (April 19-20), it looks like my best bet for a 400-km ride is the following week in Kansas City, MO. I would also want to get in a 200-km ride and 100-km ride in April, and breathe….
May: if possible, a 600-km ride by mid-month which means traveling to California (for the LA or Santa Cruz ride) or maybe back to Kansas City? And then a 200-km and 100-km ride as well?
June: maybe the PA 600-km ride to reinforce my training, a 100-km ride, and then rest until the Gold Rush at the end of the month.
This seems like a very ambitious schedule, given my work and other commitments. Each day, at least once a day, I wonder if I’m just being ridiculous to even think I can do all of this traveling and riding, but then I remind myself that I just need to complete one event at a time and see how it goes.
Yesterday, Chris Newman, Paul Shapiro and I had a perfectly lovely 100-km ride from Princeton Junction. We chatted some, fought the brisk-ish winds most of the time, but we also enjoyed the relatively warm temps for January. It was good to be out there together talking about our hopes/plans for this year and feeling really lucky to be having this mild day in the middle of January. I need to remember that once I’m out there on my bike, I usually have a good time, enjoying both the physical challenge and the fact that everything else drops away for a time. And with yesterday’s 100-km ride, I completed my official training schedule for January. So, already I’ve completed my plan for one month. A few more to go.
We’ll see how the year goes…but at least now I kind of have a plan for what I’d like to do.