IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO PLAN FOR THE BEST PART OF A RACE. I plan for the bad parts too. It's easy to plan for the fun single track or the wide fast finishing straight. Planning for the worst is critical to success.
For Leadville, I know I'm going to be pushing my bike on foot uphill for about a mile. Starting right now, I've got to get my shoes sorted out and I've got to start pushing my bike up steep sections. Being able to ride steep terrain when I'm fresh, at sea level, is totally different than 47 miles (the first push) and 80 (the second push) into a 104 mile event at 12,500'.
Ignoring those realities, failing to prep for them, is spirit crushing. Nobody wants that.
What else can go wrong?
The weather. At 12,000' anything can happen... even in August: rain, hail, snow, freezing temps... I've seen 'em all.
Flat tires. Tire technology has evolved to incredible reliability. But, people get flats. And, because they are so rare most of us are terrible at quick repairs. I'm going to start using and testing plugs as my first defense... to make sure I can do it quickly.
Nutrition. Just as important as figuring out what will work on race day is knowing where your nutrition is going to be. Often that means going over in detail how the support crew is going to get from place to place, where they'll be, what they'll wear... how the heck you'll find them and they'll see you.
Other mechanical problems. Number one, get the entire bike run through by the best mechanic possible... weeks before the event. Two, get proficient at the basics.
Clothing. The clothing has got to be tested months prior and new clothing ideally ready to go 2 weeks out... in other words, not worn out pads and shabby fitting. Be prepared to layer it. At Leadville I typically roll with arm warmers and a vest and a beanie... possibly more. Bring it all.
The unforeseen. It's out there, it's coming for us. Be prepared to react calmy and not freak out. 5 years ago, my last and 5th time, my chain jammed in between the small cog and the frame. 1000's of us were a whole 3 miles into the race and speeding downhill on pavement. My hard fought starting position was being erased. It was so tempting to first pedal harder and permanently jam it in there or ruin the chain. It was tempting to whine and moan as hundreds sailed on by me. I pulled over, slammed on the brakes, quickly freed it up and got after it.
All the prep for the worst makes the best so much better...
the summiting and plummeting!
(that pic above is my Surfergirl given me the handup at Leadville 2014)
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