Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Tour is over?....
When we regrouped to ride to the Yorktown beach, my heart started to sink. Man! The tour is about to end. No more daily rides of 160+ miles. No more eating as much and anything that I want. Despite the saddle sores, I was sad that it was over. What started out as a suffer-fest, ended up being a nice daily ride of challenging attacks from riders within the pace line. Friendships and laughter were a daily routine. No other responsibilities other than having to ride your bike. I was a kid again for 19 days. That was one of the first aspects of the tour that I really appreciated. Rob and I did not turn on the TV set once for duration of the trip. In a way it was nice to be clueless about the world around us.
Everyone had a slightly different focus for the Elite Tour. It ranged from peaking for the Race Across AMerica, down to simply crossing the country on a bike. My goal started out on the lower end of the spectrum. Let's just see if I can stay on the bike and make the transcontinental crossing without having any major physical problems. After the leg cramps from day 1, this goals was going to be a difficult task in itself. I was skeptical through day 3 as the slightest detection of cramping faded away. My goal became slightly more aggressive by day 5. I now wanted to determine a pace at which I could push myself without the recurrence of the leg cramps. Nutrition became a big factor and a tough balance between going hard and eating enough of the right things. Over the next two weeks, I continued to play with pace and nutrition. I don't feel like I ever had it dialed in, but I was getting closer...or perhaps I was becoming more fit. And again, it could have been a combination of the two. Either way, I kept pushing harder and harder. There were days when I would have a token bonk and would have to take a little extra time at the support stop to refuel, but it became less and less of a factor as time went on.
Being able to chat and ride with others was such a big help. There was so much experience and talent in the group. I feel like a came away a better rider and a better person. As the sun fell each day, you could see our small ride group develop into a family. People opened up more, helped each other more and eventually found their groove to ride on to their potential. It was nice to see the bonding process and the way people worked together to help each other through the tougher moments. There were obvious times when people had mechanical problems and were stuck with a long day of riding. This developed another aspect of one's character.
I rode with Rob Welsh the majority of the tour. What a great guy! Fun to ride with. Easy to converse with and very experienced. He knew his pace and he could hold it forever. But even he had moments of "speed play!" There were several times when we would surge hard to try to catch Harold or bridge the gap with another group. It's hard work, but makes you a better rider. Toward the end of the tour (which was a small portion), I found myself finishing with Tim Feldman and Harold Trease. Tim was a former category 2 racer and was smooth and wise. He had a great deal of bike savvy and had a way of upping the pace without you being aware. Harold "the Hammer" Trease was all about power. He could mash the pedals and go. Truly amazing to watch. He is considering riding in 2011 as well, which will make his 3rd RAAM. It would be an honor to ride the same year as him.
Overall the Elite PAC Tour ended up being more manageable than I anticipated. I had expected 19 days of day 1, but that's just not the way it was. There were minor issues of hand numbness and neck soreness early on, but the neck soreness would go away and the hand numbness was tolerable by riding the aerobars more often. The support is like a well oiled machine. It just operates SO smoothly. The only issues that you need to be concerned with are your own.
If you ever considered doing an Elite PAC Tour, don't be frightened. Don't get me wrong. It's not a cake walk, but it is certainly an achievable goal. I'm feeling more confident about an official finish in RAAM 2011, but I know that I have a lot of work cut out for me. The big test will be through the winter months. I'll be setting up a program for the next year and hope to work closely with SportFit.
Keep checking in for updates and hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.