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Cycling: Developing Confidence

July 2014
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We were supposed to be four on our fifty miler yesterday but there was a crossed communication somewhere and it was just Phil and I. The idea was to ride northwest to Columbiaville, turn around and head back. We waited at the meeting spot till 8:15 and headed out. I had an energy bar and a Gu Roctane for spare fuel and my normal two water bottles, one filled with a Hammer Perpetuem mix. More than enough for a fifty mile ride. We headed out at a healthy, steady pace just over 21 mph and held it easily for the first 12-1/2 miles when we stopped to assess our location and figure out where we wanted to go from there. We picked our route and off we went.

Unfortunately, when we got to our chosen road we were greeted by construction signs and a really nice hill to climb. I wanted to climb that hill, about 3/4’s of a mile long and steep, especially at the top. The last bit was a small ring climb and I don’t get to see too many of those so we hit the hill and figured we could turn around if the construction rendered the road impassable. When we crested the hill there was a short descent and it looked like the asphalt had been stripped for about a mile – only a hill for a mountain climber. We took skinny tires to dirt, deciding to press through it. That one mile turned into two, then four, then six miles. Progress was sluggish at best but we finally pushed through to a paved road finally. After a quick wheel wipe we rolled out hard and before long, we were back on track.

We rolled in a little shy of our fifty mile target but adjusting for our dirt road debacle, we rolled in slightly above a 20 mph average – an excellent effort split evenly between the two of us. No onboard fuel consumed. Forty-six miles on a bowl of granola cereal. Not bad.

In a few short hours I’ll be heading out for a century at just under the same pace and I’ll be one of the horses. I know I’ll kill it, and as a bonus we’ll be stopping for a light lunch at the halfway point.

A couple of years ago I’d have been taking the day before a century off to make sure I was well rested. I used to fear the “bonk” but in three years of cycling, somewhere around 16,000 miles, I’ve only bonked once, on a 108 mile solo ride that I did fail to fuel properly for (back then I needed a lot more to fuel a ride, I’ve grown much more efficient in terms of food requirements and I’ve found a better source [ERG energy bars] which means easier and less frequent onboard munching).

Today, it’s not just about hydration and nutrition though, even if that is a big part if keeping the crank turning. Today I have confidence in my ability. I’ve put in the miles to know I’ve got this, I’ve pushed through adverse conditions countless times. I know that at some point, the effort today is going to hurt. I know it’ll be hard. I also know I’ll push through it as I have so many times before.

While I do have confidence in the fuel and my equipment, I have confidence in something much more important:

I trust the engine.

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