Next week, I head to Alaska to complete the Big Wild Ride, a 1200K Randonee from Valdez to Fairbanks and back to Anchorage. 1200 kilometers equates to 750 miles, and it is ridden in a period of 90 hours or less. Basically, it is like doing double centuries every day for four days, but without a good night's sleep between each ride. In fact, I think the mental aspects of completing this ride are more difficult to grasp than the physical. Let's face it...after two or three hundred miles, your body is done. It really takes an act of will power to finish the remaining ride. So, how do you do that?
Aside from the nitty-gritty details that I have been reviewing over the last couple weeks, I have spent a lot of time doing some visualization. I spend time envisioning the first, 9-mile climb (the hardest climb of the ride), that takes us to about 2700 feet. I imagine doing it slowly, keeping my power down so I don't burn out, without fretting too much about how long it is taking me.
I have spent a lot of time visualizing the finish. The sense of accomplishment of completing my first 1200K. I DNF'd my first 1200K a couple years ago...I didn't understand the rules and that cost me the event. I'm not making that mistake again.
I visualize all of the problems I may have on the road...flat tires, broken cables and chain, the pure exhaustion of riding, and solve those problems in my head repeatedly.
I've been doing this long enough that I have a good idea of how I handle sleep deprivation, and what my mind will start doing. I imagine wanting to quit, and talking my way out of it. I imagine wanting to stop at controls and hang out, and then imagine kicking myself to get up and get on the bike. I think about all of the mental games I will play with myself over 90 hours, and how I will overcome each one. Trust me, I will feel like quitting...the key is to move past that and keep going. Set short-term goals, promise myself an ice cream cone at the next town...whatever it takes to keep moving forward.
The logistics of this are quite daunting. I need to think ahead and pack three bags of supplies to send up the road. In this planning, I need to account for they varying weather conditions of the area, the time of day I anticipate riding, and everything else that may just come up! Long lists are involved...
I plan to ride with a friend, Roland, who I've ridden a few times with in the past. We ride about the same speed and he is great company. I enjoyed building his Bacchetta CA2.0 for him last January, and he is putting it to good use.
We decided to forego the pre-established "sleep controls" for a variety of reasons. The first is at mile 265. Well, we will probably be there at 4-6pm, which is prime time for riding! I want to see Alaska, not ride through every night, so we decided to push on to mile 322 and get a hotel room where we can have a real bed (no sleeping bags) and hopefully get some good sleep for about six hours.
The next stop is at mile 475. Again, we will probably arrive there late afternoon, and decided to press on to mile 514 and get another hotel room. Same plan...sleep through the night and head out around 4am when it is getting light out.
Our last sleep stop will be at the last "sleep control." at mile 640. The ride up to this stop is through Denali National Park, and I really wanted to see this during the day. I hope we are on schedule so we can enjoy this beautiful scenery! After getting our last nap, we head off for the last 115 miles to Anchorage!
It will be quite an adventure, and I look forward to posting more afterwards!