Teaching an Old Dog
Cycling found me later in life. After being inspired by my Dad, I bought my first road bike 6 years ago at the age of 37. I was hooked, constantly looking for ways to improve and always after the next big bike race or cycling challenge. Even more recently, only two years ago, I watched the documentary called “Inspired to Ride”. It’s a film about the Trans Am Bike Race, a 4,200 mile, self-supported, single stage bike race across America. Trans Am has been called “RAAM for bad asses” (or crazy people…). We no sooner popped the movie out of the DVD player, and I was training to do the Trans Am starting 11 months later. In June of 2017, I raced and completed the Trans Am in second place! It took me 18 days and 12 hours to race the 4,200 miles. I was ecstatic and hooked on ultra-endurance bikepack racing! 2018 brought more bike racing adventures. Time trialing was my main focus, but I also raced criteriums, road races, and cross country mountain bike races. Even after all of that (25 races all together), there still was a void. I really wanted to bikepack race. Then in late summer, I received an invite to the North Star Bicycle Race, a 630 mile race from St. Paul, Minnesota, to the Canadian Border and back to St. Paul. BOOM! The void would be filled. After only 3 weeks of ultra-endurance specific training, I finished the North Star in 1st place, at 44 hours/ 50 minutes.
The Clock Doesn’t Stop Until the Finish Line
Every aspect of life during an ultra-endurance bikepacking race is, well, a race. Riding your bike as long as you can at a quick pace is only part of it. This may sound obvious, but it doesn’t actually hit you until you’re in the race. Efficiency in all you do is key. Eating, drinking, sleeping, bike repairs, eating, and did I mention EATING?! For months leading up to the race, we train hard and fuel our workouts with mostly quality foods. Then race day(s) come, and eating at race pace forces us to fuel up at gas stations and convenience stores to get back on the bike as quick as possible. The healthy proteins, fats, and carbs are now “beef” sticks, chalky protein “milk”, stale peanuts, day old pizza slices, and 450 calorie Honey Buns (Not that there’s anything wrong with Honey Buns in a pinch!). After a couple days of this, palette fatigue kicks in, and the body is like, “Hey! What happened to the good stuff?!” I love the fact that Foundation Fitness has stepped up to make their protein beverages available at convenience stores. This will be a big help for anyone seeking some muscle recovery aid when they’re out and about.
Seven years ago, I came to a realization. I was sick and tired of low energy days, being out of shape, feeling lethargic and days going by as same old/ same old. I went for a two mile walk/jog and continued exercising 5 days a week. A year later, I got into cycling. Four years after that, I raced by bike across America. All this, and my wife and kids not only supported my new lifestyle, but where also inspired to make it their lifestyle, too! My point in all of this is that anyone can do this, anyone! Cycling is my “outlet”, my stress reliever, and my “think time”. Keep in mind, your passion doesn’t have to be cycling, it can be anything. Biking, running, walking, tennis, yoga, volunteering, gardening, photography – get outside and find your passion. Find your adventure!