The Trans Alba Chronicles Part 2: Competitive eating

Sometimes life takes over and that has certainly been the case in the last few months. Work and family are always there and whilst I have been getting my training in I haven’t had much time to sit down and reflect much on how things are going.

That changed over the weekend when I got down to some quality training in skirting the desert of Wales area which is going to feature heavily in my training in the next few months. I mean, look at it…

It gave me some time to think back on how the last two months of training have gone and what the next three months hold.

Always eating, always drinking

Before going to France last year for the Marmotte and a week in the Alpes I was really focused on getting as lean as I possibly could to cope with the long climbs, heat and generally suffering my way to the finish line. I would train hard and really watch what I was eating. Training rides would be electrolyte, a few gels and a rice cake and something balanced when I got home.

What has been a big eye opener is how much I need to eat and how I have to keep reminding myself that It’s not just one day of effort. I need to keep one eye on the next day and the next day and to keep doing that. I feel no guilt about stopping for a coffee and cake whilst shoving bananas, cake, nuts, wraps and whatever else I can get into my stem pouches.

As I learned a long time ago, if you are hungry or thirsty then it’s already too late. Everyone learns that lesson the hard way at some point and it’s not a feeling I ever want to feel again so constantly eating to keep the engine going is obligatory and I am more than willing to oblige! 

Endurance sports by their nature are wars of attrition and I won’t be able to replace every calorie burned each day but I can work as hard and as smartly as possible to slow that tide and keep the legs turning.

Far and fun

The experience so far of planning, setting up and riding longer routes on my own into places I haven’t been before has been amazing. Most nights I am on the laptop mapping out new routes and I am excited to get up and ride.

I lost that feeling towards the end of my main training block last year. Everything began to feel prescribed and formulaic. Am I riding hard enough? How is my power looking? Am I getting enough climbing in? I would ride the same routes as hard as I could and I was bored. 

This year I am up earlier, I am riding further into unfamiliar places and I am having fun. Sure, there are some dull times and I occasionally talk to myself, but no one will be there to pull me through those dark moments that are bound to come in July on some unknown remote section of Scottish road and I hope that I am preparing as best I can ahead of it. 

Views like this certainly help.

The questions never stop

In any one day event you just need to make sure you have what you need for a day. Check your Garmin and Phone are charged and you are good to go. Looking at a multi-day event and trying to treat my training accordingly, I am constantly switching out what is being charged. I still need to finalise some redundancy in my plans there. If my Garmin dies I could be royally screwed. If my phone dies, okay, not such a disaster but certainly and inconvenience. 

Shake down

Well, there’s officially three months training left, so whats next?

  1. First race on 03-May with the Trans Wales Race. This will be a little over 350km through Wales unsupported and overnight. I want to see how I respond to riding a long ride whilst tired and see how I cope with it mentally. Physically I feel fine with the distance but riding overnight will add to the fatigue and the challenge.
  2. Back to back days. two weekends riding up and down Wales with full race kit to give myself a proper test, shake down my race kit and make any refinements. 
  3. Some short sharp intervals on TrainerRoad to keep building on the power and mental strength.

3 months…, that feels really close already. Makes me feel the same as this sign did:

and yes, it hurt:

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