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Gearing Up for the Big Ride: The Important Things Are Usually Pretty Simple

July 2015
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My big ride for August is coming up in just a few days.  Normally it’s the Assenmacher 100 but I’m heading up to Boyne City for the Mountain Mayhem 160 km.  With 7,000 feet of climbing over the 104 miles, that’s going to be my big ride this year.  The fun little fact here is that, if I’m lucky, in my neck of the woods we might top 3,000 feet on a century, though most gain only 1,000-1,500 feet in elevation.  Take the Hoppe 100 we did last week, less than 1,200 feet and really there was only one decent hill the whole ride.  In other words, we’ve got some work cut out for us.  My friends Mike, Chuck and Phill will be going along as well and thankfully, we’re fairly equally matched when it comes to fitness (we ride together a lot).

MM Ride Profile 160-k

Why is it they always put the real leg-busters in the last half?!

So, I’ve been signed up for this ride for a few months now – I knew it was coming up, how tough it would be and I’m more ready for this ride than I’ve ever been for a ride since I began using clipless pedals.  Here’s how I got there (and it’s not as tough as you might think):

First and foremost, this is not rocket science:  The Number One, most important way for me to get ready for the big ride is lots of saddle time.  This year has been especially awesome as my best cycling bud moved just two short miles from my house so we’re riding long miles every weekend – and really, other than my weekend rides being a lot longer (last year was 35-50 miles on Saturday and 16-20 on Sunday, this year is 50-100 miles each day) I’m not doing much more that I did last year.

Second, my overall speed fitness is about the same to slightly better than last year – and I achieved this by riding slower three or four days a week.  Seriously.  Slower.  Monday is a slow day, Wednesday, Thursday and even Friday are slow.  The short weekend day is a medium/hard effort and the long day is harder.  My only all-out “I’m cooked” day is Tuesday evening.  Last year was all hard miles all of the time.  My “recovery rides” last year were often more than an 18 mph average and my hardest days were topping out around 22.  This year, the recovery rides are more like 16 to 17 mph and the medium efforts are only 18-19…  The end result is that I have a lot more gas in the tank when it counts.

Third, Hammer is my friend:
Perpetuem 32 Heed hl16
I use the Perpetuem for long ride fuel and Heed for shorter efforts and to go along with the Perpetuem on long rides.  They are exceptional liquid fuel alternatives and I don’t leave home without them anymore.  On a century, I’d rather have a full complement of Hammer products over an American Express card any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

There’s one other all-important cog that fits in here – and because I’ve done all of the above, because I’ve put in the miles and hammered some really hard rides (the Horsey Hundred to name just one which was almost an identical profile to MM Beat the Heat) and gotten my body in tip-top shape (at least for me, I’m not all that impressive), I’ve got the one thing that is the glue to stick all of these pieces together:  I’ve got confidence.

Cycling is almost entirely mental until you get into the anaerobic zone.  Once you hit that, you’re pretty much smoked, but leading up to it isn’t all fun and games either.  I know exactly how hard I can push, when I can push, and when I have to back off a little bit – because I’ve done it over and over again.  There’s a mountain of difference between going into a ride knowing I can do it and hoping I can.  This isn’t to say we shouldn’t give it a whirl and challenge ourselves – this ride is going to be a challenge.  The trick is, when it really starts to suck (I’d say between 46 and 86 miles looking at that profile), I know I can push through a lot to get to the finish line.  I know I can climb, I know I can ride and I’m certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can do the distance.  Confidence is everything.

If I don’t have that seemingly elusive confidence, it’s because I skimped on one of the items above – usually the first one.  In that case, I deserve what’s coming…


  1. lampenj says:

    Good luck out there! That should be fun (maybe a sick sense of fun, but hey…we ride bikes for fun when cars are faster). How many hours a week are you putting in? Those seem like monster weeks!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Joe, the trick with the monster weeks is they’re fast. I did the 250 last week in 13 hours and some change… Tuesday night’s 38 miles is at 20 mph, the century on Sunday at 19 mph and the 50 on Saturday was 19.5 I think… In all, it’s an hour a day during the week, 2 on Tuesday, 2-1/2 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. Thanks for the encouragement too, I do love climbing a good hill so I am very much looking forward to this. Sometimes you feel like a nut…

  2. fastk9dad says:

    I don’t know how you can drink that Hammer stuff. I tried it once… couldn’t stomach more than a few sips. All the power to ya!

    Good luck on the century. In my neck of the woods 6-7k is about normal gain for that distance. 25 miles last night had just under 1700′ of gain. 😉

    • bgddyjim says:

      I’m jealous… Kinda. Well, come to think of it…

      As for the Hammer, it is definitely an acquired taste. No doubt about it. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I can’t live without it. It’s liquid go juice.

  3. One other ingredient that might be necessary — butt butter. Take it from another flatlander who has done mountain events.

  4. Sheree says:

    Best of luck! So much of sport is about attitude and mental fortitude, you have both in spades.

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