71. What Have I Done?

The 2018 Summer Epic 8 Hour (at Hardwood Hills)

This Saturday will be my third solo kick at an Epic 8 Hour bike race, and my first kick at a summer jaunt…

And my first attempt on my single speed (well, sort of).

After the spectacular bonk that was the 2017 Fall Epic 8 Hour (also known as “The Time I Rode on the Surface of the Sun for 8 Hours”), and the horrible technical at the 2018 Spring Epic 8 Hour (also known as “The Broken-Spoke-Spectacular/Single Speed Sort of Save the Day”), I’ve got something to prove.

So I’ve been storing a bucket of retribution, a box of vindication, and a satchel of seething vengeance, for the Epic 8 Hour, and all three must be served:  swiftly, decidedly, and ice-cold (in that order).

But here’s the thing.  I deeply regret my “choice” to race.  I put choice in quotes because it wasn’t really a choice.  There is a race, and I can do it, so I’m doing it (yeah, it’s that damn Team Colin ethos again).  Choice or not though, I’m just not ready to race.  I keep a pretty chill approach to racing, but make no mistake, I take it seriously, especially when it’s a big one like the 8 Hour.  I’ve finally hit a point in my cycling life where I can bang out a 40k MTB race on a whim, with no preparation, regardless of my physical condition.  However, when I’m looking down the barrel of an 8 Hour shot, the prospect is bleak, and the task is uncompromising (plus, it’s really really hard), so I have a few guiding principles that I like to follow:

  • Sleep:  I need a week if decent sleep (not 168 hours, just 7 nights)
  • Nutrition:  I need a week of decent food (literally, 168 hours of eating…)
  • Training:  I need a few weeks of high intensity, long distance, rips.
  • Body:  I need a few weeks of sustained core and upper body conditioning.

So, what’s my current physical condition? I haven’t slept properly in months (or has it been years); I’m eating okay, but the food situation could always be better, and for some reason, I’ve taken to a somewhat regular 10PM bowl of comfort (usually in the form of Lucky Charms, Mini Wheats, or Froot Loops–don’t judge) lately; I just haven’t been cultivating my cycling muscles, and in my constant exhaustion, riding has been a struggle; and with the lack of sleep, honestly, I’m just too damn tired to condition my body.

With that in mind, what do I do?  I registered for the Summer Epic 8 Hour in a Team Colin Triple Ess of Defiance: Solo Single Speed.  Defiance or Stupidity–you be the judge.

And so, in my shortest blog post ever (honestly, I’m going to post this and have a nap), I have 2 goals for Saturday’s race:

  1. Survive.  It’s going to be a scorcher, and I am one heck of a sweater, so nutrition, especially hydration, is going to be the word of the day
  2. 7 Laps.  Seven is a great number, and I honestly don’t think I can manage more.  Looking back at the Fall 8 Hour (also at Hardwood Hills, but a different course) there is an ugly climb to get to the top of the ridge, and there is no kind way to put it, it’s a killer.  I feel like I’m already defeating myself by setting the bar so low, but given the fact that I can’t stop yawning as I type this, I just can’t see any other result.  Heck, seven laps might even be a challenge.  I went for a ride this morning, and 30k was a struggle.

Before I end, I have an unanswered question that’s scratching at my brain.  Why single speed?

Am I engaging in some uncharacteristic machismo (“Grrrr, look at me, I’m doing it without gears”), even though SS really isn’t that much harder than geared, and in some ways, easier.

Did I choose to take the no-technical route, and just not want to subject myself to another drivetrain technical in favour of the reliability of no gears (Honestly, if I’m going to start a race again, and have to finish on my SS, I might as well at least get credit for it)

Am I actually anticipating the results, knowing that if I entered in Open Single Speed, I’d be facing a bunch of really strong riders (read: COMPARED to a bunch of really strong riders)?

I really don’t know the answer.  It’s also a little weird for me to be sharing this stuff, but I’m okay with it.  This blog has always been an exploration of who I am and what makes me tick…um, pedal.  Maybe it’s all of the above.

Maybe it’s none of the above.

Maybe it’s because there is a race on Saturday, and I can do it, and I really like my single speed.

It won’t be easy, and it will likely take me to my limit, but it wasn’t a choice, so I only have one option:

Ride.

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