Monday, February 29, 2016

Solo Self Supported for Real Rant

The spirit of the event holds true even before the race starts. Here is some background to the Tour Divide rules:
Spirit: Above all, attempts 4418km (2745 Miles) are intended to be solo / self-supported, self-timed, and observed as one stage, i.e. the clock runs non-stop. The challenge is complete upon arrival to the opposite GDMBR terminus from start. There are no required checkpoints or designated rest periods on course. There is no finish time cut-off.
Modus operandi: To complete the Route, a rider may resupply food / equipment, rent a room, launder clothing, even service their bike at commercial shops along the way. The intent is to ride unsupported between towns, and function self-supported when in towns. Any services utilized must always be commercially available to all challengers and not pre-arranged. No private resupply, no private lodging.
Visitation: Divide racing is not intended to be a spectator sport! However, route-town locals only may interact with (i.e. visit briefly, cheer on) thru-racers as they pass through their locale. Out-of-town visitation to the GDMBR mid-race from challengers' family or friends—even if only a  'loosely-planned', remote possibility for rider rendezvous—is prohibited.  
TD requires that every challenger—from those living along the route to those living on other continents—have an equal playing field. Therefore, outside assistance with navigation, lodging or resupply (especially receipt of supplies from a non-commercial shipper) is prohibited.
I'm quickly finding out that even before the race starts you're pretty much on your own. Think about it - goto your local outdoors store (MEC, Valhalla Pure, Robinsons etc) and try to get help with equipment or bike. The local pimply-faced youth sales drone will try to sell you what is on their shelves as opposed to helping identify what it is you specifically need to complete something like the Tour Divide. Trying to use local bricks and mortar appears futile.

Luckily I have a plenty of experience with gear and am resourceful so I will survive, but I can't help but shake my head at the lack of knowledge in the marketplace. Even more the lack of willing to help source the right gear even after I tell them exactly what it is I'm after. And they wonder why local businesses struggle to compete with the interwebs.

So on that note, I'll have to do the research myself. I was hoping to short circuit some of the effort by using a shop but minimalist backcountry does not appear to be the market these players are into.

There is a fair bit of preparation that I still need to do and hope to find a way to make some of it easier! On a plus side, we found my Tour Divide maps I bought a couple of years ago. There are 7 maps double sided that show the entire route. There is lots to read and study still. I sure hope the GPS files are accurate, my head hurts just reading these maps. So much to do... so little time....

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tick Tock Tick Tock...

ZOMGWTFBBQ!!! Starting to freak out a bit here.

Think about it, I'm only 12 training weeks away from Tour Divide. Technically that's only 12 more opportunities for long rides. 24 if you want to stack them.

Can I be ready in just 12 more big rides? That doesn't seem like enough. This is getting scary close to race day and I'm not ready!!

This past month has been 50% perfect training and 50% flat out doing nothing. I started the month in a rut with all my bikes broke and fighting some illness so I didn't train at all really. Then I got back on the horse and have been doing pretty good with keeping at it. I think that unplanned rest was needed but I still can't help but feel I'm waaaaay behind where I need to be with my fitness to be ready in time.

I'm happy to say I have one working mountain bike. I had to scud some parts from the hardtail to make my full suspension bike work. The hardtail wheel was sent in under warranty and hope to have it resolved in the next couple of weeks otherwise I will just have to bite the bullet and find a cheap replacement in the meantime.

I have been focused on climbing and strength on the mountain bike. I can definitely tell it's making a difference as I am a completely different ride than where I was just a couple months ago. Now that I have some power behind me I need to change the focus to building mileage and sustained spinning. Mountain biking is great for strength but lousy at sustained efforts as downhills are a welcome rest and maintaining a heart rate zone is near impossible with all the steep hills.

I am feeling a sense or urgency with the 12 week revelation. I haven't done any planning for the race. Like none, other than some for training. I only looked yesterday at the difficulties of the logistics for getting to the start line and getting home from the finish line. I presume will finish the race and that leaves you at a border crossing on the Mexican border in the middle of the absolute desert. It's 500Km to the nearest international airport. So even after you finish you're technically not finished. The best I could come up with is a 160Km bike ride to the next town and then a Greyhound to the city with the international airport. I'm not sure what to do with my bike at that point on the bus or even the airplane as I dont have a bike box to put it in. Something so simple seems to require more thought and planning than you realize.

I ordered my bikepacking bags though. Someone warned me that they can take a long time to build and arrive  but the market has gotten bigger with more options and a steady stock. I was able to order everything except a 'gas tank' bag. Will need to find one somewhere, besides my frame is unique so it might not even be possible unless it's a customized order. I went with the entire Revelate package.

I tentatively figured out options for travel to and from the race. I dont like the limited options so I need to keep looking.

Next I need to start studying the maps. Actually I have to find them first. I ordered the complete set of maps from ACA but they are stored away in the crawl space so I am not sure where the Mrs. hide them. I may need to order another set.

I haven't put much thought into gear yet. I suppose I should since I may need to order some things. Only 12 weeks........  need to get on this!!

It's getting real...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Too much fun....

Rain. Mud. Yum.
Training plans are supposed to be a grueling miserable grind aren't they? I must be doing something wrong because I am enjoying this waaay too much!!

So it has been a few weeks and I have been getting some good traditional mountain biking done. I am slacking a bit in the structure of the workouts because I am doing mostly group riding with friends. This means we stop and socialize a bit more than I am used to but I justify this by telling myself the intensity of some of the climbing we are doing paired with the ease at which workouts are coming (I WANT to ride, as opposed to HAVE to ride) help offset the 'easiness' of the rides (I can't explain it any better than that...).

Social Riding
In a couple of weeks I enter the next phase of workouts that are made up of a duration that is much longer than our social group rides. I am going to have to find a way to extend my ride or ride to the trailhead as opposed to driving my truck. This is where the grind of the workouts will begin to weigh on me I think. It's a necessary evil though because the type of riding we do does include long durations of spinning mindlessly which should be a component of my routine. I need more spinning as opposed to the ups and down of a normal mountain biking ride.

I have been having a real hard time dialing in my Tour Divide rig. It has been plagued with a ton of mechanical problems. I have had to order new wheels, seatpost clamp, PopLoc, tires, grips all due to failures. I have it setup for traditional mountain biking for now. Once I get into the real long distance rides I'll change out the cockpit geometry to find the sweet spot for Tour Divide. I bought a decent frame and OK fork and knew the parts were kind of cheap but I didn't expect them to be this much of a pain. Lesson learned!

I also broke my other mountain bike after bashing the derailleur off a tree and broke the hangar. Still waiting for those parts to ship too. I'm running out of bikes! This is getting expensive.

I should NOT be this tired. Ugghhh lol!

I am feeling stronger. I am nowhere near Tour Divide material yet but my climbing is improving to a noticable degree. It doesn't take much to find improvements when starting from such a blubbery mess.

I think my biggest fear right now is that despite all the workouts I am kind of doubting my ability to be Tour Divide fit in time for June. It's coming way faster than I would like and I'm sooo far from where I need to be.  Next week I start the logistics planning so that should scare me to death once I start trying to wrap my head around navigation and stuff.

I am happy to say I feel like I am getting it done.

I dont know if it will work but I am basically following the training plan below. It might be hard to read though. My focus is on the duration of the workout, not necessarily the structure.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

What week is it now?!

Tuning the toys!
It's holidays time so training has been a bit sparse while I enjoy some much needed vacation. This has been a great opportunity to recharge, get some fun mountain biking in as I feel like it as opposed to I must do it.

Taking some time to clean up the bikes! This was desperately needed since the road grime of the winter time has caked up the drivetrains good. Got all my gear washed, lubed, organized in prep for the next phase of training!

Got my Tour Divide rig! I was looking for something very specific:
- Strong Climbing rig, cuz obviously
- 29r wheel, cuz I'm a big boy and supposedly they role better
- last years clearance model sale, cuz like heck I'm paying full price!
- components are key. definitely not something too high end as I will just wear everything out during training and upgrade as I go along and do a complete drivetrain replacement before the race. A decent suspension fork and frame are all that matters!
- fork should be a mid-grade common fork that any old bike shop will have parts for in stock along the race.
- something my size for a change. I typically buy my bikes small, but not this time!

So I wound up with something that met all the criteria plus an added bonus of Carbon Fibre! The GT Zaskar 9r Elite  comes with the frame and fork I wanted and got carbon fibre in my price range cuz it was on a solid clearance of like 60-70% off! From my glory days the Zaskar has always had a special place in my heart. Many of the 'old timers' respect the model however GT has a bit of a lower-end line nowadays and has lost some of it's prestige which also means it's cheaper so woohoo! Carbon 29r for the win!

My oldest surprised me by showing up for the holidays which was pretty awesome. Glad to finally have him out here visiting  BC from Ontario!
While he was here we hit some star wars with my all me sons!
And pigged out on popcorn with ketchup seasoning.

During this vacation I got some light reading in. Ordered every Cordillera I didn't already have, which was many. This book has a series of submissions by people in the Tour Divide, or associated with the event or touched by the event. It's some really awesome reading if you want to get a feel for what Tour Divide really is!

Had an earthquake here in the Sidney area! The 5.1 epicenter is just down the road!! Crazy stuff! The devastation was horrific, but we will rebuild! (Candy cane RIP).

Just getting prepped for the next phase of training. Once I have the plan written, I'll share what I have in mind. In the meantime, feeling rested and strong and ready for the heavier workload coming up!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A New Hope - Week 6 & 7

"Attitude is Everything" - Mr. Buren
Century Scenery

Talk about turning it around. Once I got my head screwed on straight from that last post, the workouts are coming more naturally and I'm feeling pretty good. Everything to this point was leading up to a century ride, an 8 week 100 Mile program. First off 100 Miles is not really that far, especially compared to what I used to be capable of. Secondly you would think that someone who wants to do Tour divide should be capable of much more at this point in the training program. Heck it was a road ride, not even offroad which would be tougher - but hey, I got to start somewhere and I'm quite happy with the perceived progress as it's not bad for a couch potatoe only 2 months ago.

 100 Miles felt good. Nutrition was key which helped keep energy levels up. I froze to death though. It wasn't very cold, heck people were out in shorts in Tshirts in DECEMBER! My problem was I started early morning when it was still chilly and then got too cold to recover from given my choice of layers, or lack thereof. I was on my road bike and packed light so I didn't have anything else to layer up with. Poor choice on my part, but I want to spread the workload across all my bikes and it was a road bike kind of day.

Happy to weigh in at 6 pounds lighter! Hell yeh, it's a small win, but a win nonetheless. This is exactly what I had predicted. I know I lose 1 pound a week when training. Like clockwork. Sure I could lose more weight per week but I want to lose it gradually as to keep my energy levels up and hopefully increase strength while losing weight as opposed to stressing myself into burning muscle up. That's my crude physiological understanding so if you know better than me then by all means, keep it to yourself cuz I'm a self proclaimed genius on the topic :)

Sooo now what? I Pretty much bagged the 100 mile goal and need to look to the next milestone. Not too sure what it is actually, I hadn't quite planned beyond this point. I know I don't see myself doing routine century rides, I'm thinking more around the 60-80 Mile mark but more frequent and perhaps back to back (one day after the other). 

Regardless I think I want to be consistent but fun until the end of the year. That means more mountain biking and mixing it up. Once the new year hits, the real training begins. I sort of feel a bit of a base finally. I sense progress which is hopeful, and when I see progress I want more of it so my eating habits improve and overall become more motivated to continue. 

Thanks for all the support, I did not realize so many people were actually reading this stuff. After the last post I felt pretty warm and fuzzy inside! :)

Week 6 & 7
Total: 12hrs per week
Weight: 220 Pounds (Down 6)

Cycling: 14 Hours 
Running: 0 Hours 
Strength: 0 Hours 

"Base fitness is starting to show,
Found my mojo...."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Harsh Reality - Week 4 & 5 Overview

For those asking for a blog update - This blog is supposed to chronicle the Tour Divide Journey and I have avoided an update for a bit because I was avoiding the part where this blog leaves it all hanging out there exposed, including both the good and the bad so here is the reality....

Confession time. Slacked bigtime for a week. As in I did nothing towards my goal. I just stopped. I wanted to get out but just didn't. Total failure on my part.

I had a few gears skipping in my head, stuck in a mental rut. It's early in the training program and this is the part where the fatigue sets in for the first time and I wasn't prepared for it. Like other training programs I know that Before I start to get strong, I will become weaker than ever before. I've been tired before, but this time it's different. As exhausted as I am, I have some lingering self doubt that reared it's head after a few conversations with people. I allowed myself to be influenced by some  'energy drainers' in my life. It's no secret that people don't believe I can pull it off, the odds are against me and I may be biting off more than I can chew. I get that, and I don't blame them for thinking that and sharing it with me in subtle and not so subtle ways. I'm used to that, it's nothing new. The difference here is I kind of sort of believe them which hasn't happened before.

Let us face it, I'm having a tough time on the bike. I'm struggling with the climbs right now and after only a couple of hours riding I'm doubting I could put 12++ hour days non stop for 20+++ days. It's looking grim.

Soooo what does this mean? I have spent a good chunk of time reflecting on what's going on in my head. If I don't get my head screwed on straight then no amount of physical training will get me to the  start line.

First off - Tour Divide. Seriously, am I going to do this thing or not? Why am I doing it? Why am I even doing it? That's a pretty significant question when faced with claiming I'm going to tow the start line of 'the worlds toughest bike race'. I better know for sure that this is really what I want to do. For real.

It didn't take much soul searching to conclude I'm dead fucking serious about Tour Divide. I'm going. I'm showing up to the start line no matter what. Period. No matter the condition I'm in. So it's pretty real in my head, no matter what you doubters and haters think. It's happening.

Second off - Motivation. I would like to give a shout out to all the nay sayers  out there - phuck you all. That's right. I'm not saying you're wrong or don't have some serious validity to your thoughts on my ability to pull this off but I'm going to at least try. Because I have to believe.

It took a bit more soul searching on this one to conclude that I have allowed myself to get dragged down by the passion killers and the energy drainers that will try to kill your dreams because they have no goals, no vision for themselves. This has nothing to do with being right or wrong about my chances of success with Tour Divide, or the Training Plan for that matter, it's about getting those energy suckers out of my life. I'm Focusing on why I'm doing this, and it's certainly not for them. On that note though, I also have to remember that the best motivational speeches that have ever worked for me are when people tell me I couldn't do it. That I would fail. Thank you.
I also got a bit down on the self-doubt part because I got smoked on the trails or struggled on the uphills compared to some people when out riding. I'm used to being one of the strongest, so being so slow and tired all the time sucks when I can barely keep up with the average joe. In my mind if I couldn't keep up with the average Joe then I'm not going to stand a chance at Tour Divide. I just have to remember I have earned my place on the trails and come from a world of experience most others don't have so once this rust rubs off, my performance will return and it won't be as frustrating.

Third off - Reality. OK so I'm doing this thing. I have topped up the motivation tank and have put the filters in place to limit the damage from the passion sucking naysayers. However the reality is that I'm still out of shape with not much time to get myself prepared for Tour Divide. On that note I have made some adjustments to the training plan. Instead of treating this as more of a casual month of training leading up to the new year, I need to take every day seriously. Workouts are not optional, workouts cannot be rescheduled, there is no escape. The current plan was originally alternating between a day-on day-off setup where the day-off is an option to do whatever I wanted i.e. running etc. So instead, I'm going to hang up the keys to my truck. I'm commuting by bike every day. That's a solid 10 hours a week plus my long rides on the weekend plus running. This should set me up for a decent start to the new year. Training while Commuting makes it a bit 'easier' to get the workouts in as I need to get to work and if my bike is the only way then these things have a way of sorting themselves out lol!

I have to have a solid December training. If I drop the ball this month then this whole venture is at risk and I can't have that. Must get it done.


I am going to make it.
Don't wish it was easier. Wish you were better.
You have got to be relentless.
Make it happen.
Dare to go through your inner Darkness to get what you want and to become who you need to be.
That one single day could push your stuff back 6 months.
I can.
Beware the passion killers. Family & friends will wake up every day to try to kill your dreams because they have no goals, no vision for themselves.
Get the energy drainers out of your life.
Best motivational speeches ever are from those that told me I couldn't do it.

Week 4 & 5
Total: No idea but not much....
Weight: 226 Pounds-ish

Cycling: ? Hours 
Running: ? Hours 
Strength: ? Hours 

"What a downer, 
ReFinding my mantra and motivation...."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hot Stuff

Anyone else get a 'fever' post workout? After the workout it takes about an hour and then I start sweating like crazy and feel really hot. It only happens after long tough workouts, not shorter ones.

I read some research on it once that I can't seem to find again - but if I remember correctly they had found that your internal temperature is not actually elevated, even though you feel like it, and that your metabolic rate is back down to normal which means you're not actually burning any 'extra' calories which is a well known myth. They didn't have an explanation for it, other than your fat cells crying or something but they were able to tell what it was not at least.

So I just put in a solid 100Km ride with nominal climbing and I can say I didn't do so great. I felt good, but towards the end the fatigue was quite a bit. It doesn't help that I didn't eat enough, I kinda  did that on purpose but now wish I hadn't. Next weekend is the same loop, maybe I'll do it backwards, but I'll eat properly to see if I finish stronger or not. I'm sure I will.

I'm sure enjoying the much more scenic roads compared to laying out big miles in rural Ontario. There is lots to see and fresher air here. There is more hills though, which I need, and not much long straight rural backroads which means you're constantly watching for traffic, turns and debris. It's still early and I still have lots of roads to explore still. Glad to see there is a randonneur group that posts their maps/routes so I've been using that. It looks like they are done for the year, nothing on the schedule but I'll try to connect with them to see if anyone wants to ride.

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