The 400K this weekend is intimidating but only 15 miles longer than my previous personal best, on the Fleche April 15th. The weather this Saturday will be hot mid day but otherwise well suited to a long day in the saddle. The 600K (375 miles) is only two weeks away. THAT one is a little scary. One reason I will push for the 24 hour target this weekend is to test myself for the 600K. The 600K has a 40 hour time limit. I'm quite sure I can't go 40 hours without sleep. If I finish the first 400K of the 600K in 24 hours I could afford myself a 4 hour nap and still have 12 hours left to finish the last 200K at the same pace I rode the first 400K, makes sense, right? The 600K route also conveniently returns at the 400K point to the same hotel where it starts to afford riders exactly this option while keeping the logistics easy.
To do all of this I have to up my game a bit from the 300K in April. I started out the 300K low on sleep, low on fuel and slightly dehydrated. I bonked 100 miles in. I can't make the same mistake this weekend. I've focused this week on sleep and hydration. I've backed off my recent riding mileage a bit to rest my legs and I've tried to eat a healthy balance of carbs, protein and vegies every day. I don't plan to have any more alcohol until after the ride is finished. I will force myself to bed early tonight and again tomorrow night.
I'm also stripping the bike of redundant gear I just haven't needed on Fleche or the 300K. The forecast temp range from 66 - 92 F means I don't need to carry much in the way of spare clothing. Leg and arm warmers in case it's a little cooler overnight on some of the hills and a very thin rain vest in case I get caught in a thunder shower. A sock with a plastic bag inside will hold ice on the back of my neck during the heat of the day. Lighting, tools and spare parts all got a thorough review this week and the kit trimmed of things I never use or could make do without. For instance CO2 doesn't save the need for a pump so it's staying behind. The reduced bulk will avoid the need for any sort of rear luggage and associated support fixtures. EVERYTHING will fit in my bar bag. The tools will ride in a plastic bottle with a wide mouth in one of the bottle cages (I carry a camelback and don't really need two bottles either). Even the amount of food I carry will be reduced slightly, I've finished every ride so far this year with a couple of granola bars left in the bag from start to finish while I eat other fare purchased along the way. So I'll keep eating off of the economy and carry a little less.
In all I estimate I've shed 5 lbs of gear from the load I carried on fleche. That doesn't sound like much for a 250 lb guy riding a 30 lb steel bike. Bicycling magazine recently published an article on rider body weight. A coach quoted in the article estimated the cost of excess weight at 15-20 secs / mile / lb. while climbing. I realize I'm stretching to apply a racing performance metric like that to static bike and gear weight. A lb of body weight is more than just the energy required to lift it, but also the cardio vascular efficiency and other variables in athletic performance. And I'm no racer, not evening an aspiring one. But lets assume our apples and oranges weigh about the same for a minute. I'll be on an uphill slope at least 1/4 of this ride if not more. At the conservative end 15s/mile/lb x 5 lbs x 62 miles = 1 hour 17 min of time saved. If it buys me half of that, without leaving me feel stranded without something I needed, it will have been a worthy exercise. The route tomorrow is estimated at 15000 feet of climbing. Not extreme over that distance, but a respectable workout. Fleche was just over 14000 feet, though it looks like this weekend I'll be spared some of the extreme grades we saw on Fleche. And don't worry, I'm still carrying two spare inner tubes, my 900 piece multi-tool and spare spokes.
Okay I just let slip the real opportunity here, I weigh 250 lbs. I'm sure more than one attentive reader is thinking "loose some 20 - 30 - 40 lbs of body weight and you'll really fly up those hills". Of course that's true. But today's post focuses on the here and now preps to complete the 400K this weekend. Stay tuned for more this summer on my battle with the ballast.
Here are a few links describing the event and route:
- MG and Ed, the official organizers, rode a check ride over the route last weekend. MG's report is here.
- The official cue sheet and riding instructions from DC Rand are here
- A map provided by fellow rider George M from two years ago is here. There have been some minor changes but it gives you a feel for where we're going and has a topographical profile too.
Wish me luck!