By: Mat Steinmetz
It's been over a week since I completed the Coast ride that Chris Hauth and Sag Monkey hosted. The ride took us from Marin to Santa Monica. We took a few detours but we ended up riding around 500 miles with 26,000 ft of vertical in 4 days. That was a lot of riding for January.
This ride put me in an unfamiliar place. I like to be prepared for an endurance challenge like this. I guess you could say that the lack of preparation created the challenge. As endurance athletes we are confident in the distance and more concerned with how fast we can cover it. If we fail, we probably tried to cover it too fast. This particular ride had me wondering if I could even complete the distance.
Towards the end of each day, Taylor and I would joke with each other..."I'm proud of you buddy, I thought for sure you would have cracked by now."
We finished the 4 days and to our surprise, rode very well. From a mental standpoint, when you're not fully prepared, you lack a bit of confidence. We are both consistent athletes and are never that out of shape, but it's hard to see that in yourself. The fact that cycling is a non weight bearing activity allowed us to tap into our fitness reserves. I don't know how many more days we could have kept it rolling, but we were able to pull it together for these 4 days.
You also can't ignore the power of the group. The group environment keeps you motivated and helps pass the time...especially when you're 90 miles in with 40 more to go...And, you're rolling through a coastal town lined with ocean front bars. If it were just Taylor and I, there is a strong possibility those last 40 miles weren't happening.
Here are a few observations from the camp...
Camps are a great way to build rapport with other athletes. Everyone had the same goal of completion, same fears of failure, and the same saddle discomfort! Everyone did a great job of working together to cover the route as quickly and safely as possible. There were only 2 crashes and they were mild, both occurring on the last day, which is common as you fatigue.
I was impressed with how everyone managed themselves over the 4 days. I was expecting some spectacular blowups and although there were some tough days, everyone did great.
Fueling was the one thing that could bring you down if you didn't stay on top of it. You can't control how well your legs are going to turn up each day, but you can do everything in your power to give yourself a chance. To be able to back up long days like this, you have to eat! I never thought I'd say this, but I got tired of eating. It gave me a new respect for professional cyclists who have to compete in 1-3 week stage races.
Pacing was never an issue. This was a great group and anyone who wanted to hammer saved it until the back half of the ride. We ripped up a few climbs on day 2 going through Big Sur and then on the last day where we had to take a detour, which Chris called an "18 mile flat spin" and ended up being 3 significant climbs. Other than that, this camp was 4 days of 7+ hr days of aerobic riding.
Ouch! As to be expected. Being so early in the year, you're body just isn't used to sitting on a bike for that long. I used my strategy of standing and changing cadences to combat this. Having a good bike position limited my chances for any sort of overuse injury popping up. I made it, but it wasn't without some uncomfortable moments.
Post Camp Recovery.
Since the ride I've had to do a lot of travel and it hasn't been kind on my body. Without the travel, I think this would have been able to avoided this, but it's nothing Dr. Rock can't take care of.
Now, I'm just riding when it's nice out and getting back to building my run and swim frequency. I'm still going to the gym, but am going to put it in maintenance mode for a few weeks.