Quick; what’s 600 divided by three?
On the way to personal greatness, we sometimes falter. After many long hours of preparation and planning, hours of anguish over the last few months regarding equipment issues, and countless sleepless nights with eyes roaming over cue sheets and figuring out fuel stops and packing problems, the morning of the 600K was arriving in less than 12 hours. It was finally ‘go time’, and with nervous hands and rambling thoughts I set the alarm clock and tried to get some sleep.
My biggest hurdle to being successful at ANYTHING is that I think TOO much. While in some regards it’s gotten me to where I am today at work, in other regards it’s why I’m still where I am in certain other areas, like this particular sport. I constantly fail at trying to make each of my seven distinct personalities happy. In me as a cyclist there are a tourist, a commuter, a racer, a fixed-gear enthusiast, a bag-matcher, a messenger, and a wind-cheating-CO2-inflator-wielding racer. Overseeing all of those traits are two overlords, of sorts; the guy that doesn’t care and just wants to ride, and the guy that cares WAY-too-much about stuff that should be easily dismissed.
Thru this spring, I have dragged several people into this maze of self-destruction and doubt, trading off dozens of articles of cycling gear to a local shop, gaining other items in exchange and then finding out that those don’t fit the bill either, and the cycle continues. I’m sure that local bike shop owner is just as confused about me as *I* am. My wife is confounded; sometimes wondering where certain bikes and parts went off to, and wondering where others came from, but more often than not, simply dismissing my strange behavior and shaking her head. After all, she’s known me longer than I’ve been a cyclist, so this is really nothing new.
At least I have an outlet now – I used to perform this madness with socks and condiments, for cryin’ out loud. She’s patient, and listens to my ramblings, though; sometimes I ramble off about how one thing or another is not working, and I need to find a better “whatever”, and then I delve into dialogue about it, which probably ends up in her ears sounding a bit like the Peanuts teachers’ talking. On evenings out with non-cycling friends where I promise myself not to bring up cycling, somehow or another I manage to squeeze in an analogy or two about it, and that starts the cogs in my head turning again. It’s a losing battle for me. Things that could have been left well-enough-alone have been revisited and revisited, sometimes coming full-circle twice in the same month. But this, indeed, is who I am, and why I desperately need a wealthy benefactor, a job at a bike store, or a lottery win. In any of those cases, I could then afford to finance one bike for each seven fighting entities that are constantly vying for attention in my restless brain.
I need help.
What is supposed to be therapy often becomes the REASON I need therapy. In the last 30 days I have changed frames three times, and drivetrains at least five times, in the hopes I would somehow find the cycling zen I have been searching for. It’s not a racing bike, but it’s not a touring bike, but it’s not a ‘bent or a trike. It’s not a razor-tight race frame, and it’s not a dedicated fixxie with track fork-ends either, because we have to leave our options open. Or DO we? Perhaps having options in the first place is a bigger problem for me than having a do-anything frameset? While I’ve pretty much, after much deliberation, decided that I’m pretty much a one-speed kinda guy, the monsters in my head then morph the issue into fixed vs. free, and then still what ratio to run. ARGHHH! Assuming I ever find the right frame, above all else it has to fit well and cost me next to nothing. Then, of course, it must be lugged steel and brilliantly finished – but not so much brilliantly that I can’t feel comfortable parking it at work; and certainly not so delicate to have me feel bad about riding it in the winter slime and grit. HA! Good luck, dude! I have come to the conclusion that such a frame doesn’t yet exist – and probably never will. Eventually, I fear I will have to go custom; so I’ll have “College Fund” inscribed on the top tube when it’s ready for paint. In the meantime, I ride what I have and save my pennies and dimes.
At the end of the day, it’s simply amazing what I allow myself to complain about. Some days I wish I would have had the foresight to realize where I was headed, and then I never would have sold that tigged Cro-Mo Trek 820 hard-tail mountain bike that I first bought after losing weight about six years ago. I could have fitted slicks to it, a good set of racks and fenders, and stripped her down to a rough-and-tough single-speed and I would have ended up perfectly happy. It was even green. I love green.
With all this ‘thinking’, how do I find time to RIDE?
After all this internal bickering, I still manage to ride a lot more than most people can. I still commute, and I still manage to squeeze in a good hundred early-morning miles on various weekends, hitting coffee shops and convenience stores along the way. The problem is, I enjoy riding almost TOO much for my own good, as I would find out first-hand this week and weekend.
With all the equipment, packing, fuel and motivation issues I was having, I was not leaving any room for serious thought about REST… or rather how LITTLE I was getting. Timing being what it is in life sometimes, this week just happened to be the 3rd annual Bicycle Commuter Challenge – another good reason to get some good mileage! Let’s forget for a second that I was to be riding 370+ miles on Saturday/Sunday – suddenly the big thing in my head was to ride as many miles as I could for the company team so we could possibly win some cool stuff (like a water bottle – forget that 600km finisher’s MEDAL I could’ve gotten! I could win a WATER BOTTLE!!!) Instead of resting up for the big event, I ended up logging more miles in one week than I had logged for probably all of February this year, culminating with an epic run to work, and then to the Stadium Complex at I-435 and Stadium Drive for a Royals game, and then home from there, wrapping up with about 200 miles for the week on THURSDAY. Friday, I decided that even though I’d had a day off work (to get ready for the 600km, mind you – why was this not clicking in my head???) I would ride to and from work, JUST to say that I rode to work and we could log that little bit of extra mileage for the Commuter Challenge. Combined with a leftover saddle ‘issue’ from the 400km three weeks prior, AND a sunburn from logging serious parking-lot time on Thursday afternoon at the game and forgetting my sunscreen (dummy), AND generally starting to feel like I was not recovering well ever since the 400k, AND piled onto all the equipment second-guessing, AND the fuel storage issues; well, the 600km was starting to look a little daunting. But did I care? No. Amid all these problems with over-analysis and borderline OCD and multiple-personality issues, I was actually being BULL-HEADED about the 600km that was looming only days away. Oh yeah – I was gonna do it: no problem.
It comes to a head.
That next morning at 3:00am, the alarm clock was screaming. I smacked the snooze and sat bolt upright in bed. It was here. Only 2 hours until the start time. Get moving! I showered. I dressed. I walked downstairs, opened the garage door, stuck my key in the door of my car, paused, retracted it, and then walked back inside. If anyone else had been awake at that hour to watch, I’m sure it looked strange. After hours of planning and preparation, the task was finally too daunting to face. My attitude was flushed. Every single notion I’d deliberated over the previous three weeks washed over me in a matter of seconds, like a bad adrenaline rush. I was entering the crown jewel of the spring brevet series with an insurmountable level of mental baggage and confusion; it was clearly not a battle I was going to endure. Between the slight foggy chill in the morning air, the thorn in my head about not possibly being able to carry enough of my trusty fuel powder – but not having the foresight to have arranged a bag-drop, I was finished before I’d begun.
Trying to talk myself into it, I reviewed the forecast in my head… but, there was a strong realization that no matter how perfect the day was shaping up to be, my head was not in the game. I mean, there was a slight headwind, which meant there would have been a tailwind for nearly the entire return trip – and yet that was not enough to get me there. The promise of lower-80º temperatures was not enough to get me there. The promise of a blissful, full-moon night of rural riding was not enough to get me there. Even the slight chance of overnight thunderstorms, which I LOVE, was not enough: sometimes riding in the rain is a drag, but on a long brevet, if the temperature is right, a warm rain washes all the salt and sweat away from your face, and leaves a tired brevet rider feeling refreshed, clean – and nothing shakes off the ‘sleepies’ like a flash of lightning and a clap of late-spring thunder rolling across the darkness. But it was still not enough. The medal – the ONE brevet medal I have yet to earn - and the completion of a full brevet series was not enough to get me there. In the end, there were simply not enough reasons TO do it and far too many NOT to. All of this internal dialogue took a matter of seconds. Three weeks of planning came down to five or six seconds, standing with my car keys in hand in my driveway at 3:25 AM.
Randonneuring is all mental.
Unfortunately, so am I.
I hung my head in self-shame and went back inside – but I did not, however, sleep. I had to do SOMETHING, so I stayed in the garage and began to unpack my bag, watching as the clock slowly ticked by the minutes to the time where, even if I’d wanted to, I would have shown up too late to start. Despite all this, there was a glimmer of self-worth shining thru the darkness of my cluttered soul telling me that going into such an event with this level of self-doubt and anxiety was a stupid move, and I was destined to not finish if I’d kept coming up with excuses and reasons to worry. What I was doing was somehow smart, regardless of how I arrived ‘here’. I was saving someone a long drive into the wilderness to come retrieve me, basically. It was never the distance, but it was simply everything else. It was things that should not have mattered so much, but somehow did. It was not so much all of those things, but the THOUGHTS about all of those things that did me in.
There is ALWAYS next year. So long as my ride organizer keeps holding these events, there is always next year, and there is always another city or state. I’m not losing anything, and I’m not too old – my local ride organizer is in his upper 60’s and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. When or IF he finally DOES retire from the saddle, I will know that that is precisely the age where I can say “I’m too old for this, because this is when Bob stopped.” Until then, I have no excuses, and no choice, but to come back and try again. It’s not a ‘Paris year’, and it’s not the end of the world. I still completed 200, 300 and 400km rides on one gear, and for that I am proud. Even though I was skipping the 600, a strange sense of calm washed over me. Everything I had been torturing myself about in silence for weeks was slipping into oblivion. Much ado about nothing, as it turned out.
Since the morning was still young and the bike tires still had the proper pressure, I had to do something besides take up space in the house. The wife was working all morning, and the kids were being baby-sat by family. I had a clean slate. A little bit up the road was the start of the annual Lone Star Century, set to start at 8:00am. Wow: a reasonable hour! I set a new goal for my day, and decided to polish off a sensible 200km by riding from home to the start of the Lone Star ride, and then back home afterward. Perfect! I packed what I needed for that distance (considerably less than the 600 requires, obviously) and started along my way to the ride start on 143rd Street, west of K-7. For some odd reason, completing 200k seemed far easier – let’s forget for a moment that I really SHOULD HAVE gone back to sleep.
Del, whom had ridden the 200 and 300km rides with great success, but had a lingering knee issue that put him out of the 400km running, had said this is the event he was focusing on for part of his road to knee recovery, so I knew there’d be at least one familiar face in the crowd. In fact, it was a chance to see several familiar faces, as many of my old Monday and Wednesday evening riding compatriots would be in attendance. After arriving early and helping the ride organizers set a few things up, I milled around and then bumped into Del, who’d also ridden from home. He did a double-take, because he knew where I was SUPPOSED to be. Explanations began. Still, I couldn’t help running the 600k through my head realizing that by the time THIS ride was starting, the pack of randonneurs would have already been to Paola, on their way south. Skip it – enough self-torture already!
With very little fanfare, the Lone Star Century began – not a mass-start style event; people are welcome to start a little early, or meander till the last minute. Del and I filed out of the parking lot and onto 143rd Street. Always a good, strong rider, no matter what he says ‘hurts’, Del was showing signs that his knee problems were nearly over, and the pace came up quickly. Thankful I had elected to put gears on the bike for the 600, I was able to shift into the big ring and keep up for once! We sailed along in the mid-20 MPH range, and just enjoyed the clear skies and rising temperatures, and the fact that neither one of us had a brevet card to keep track of. Not taking any chances making my sunburn worse, I was looking pretty darn sharp with an 80’s style neck-shielding hat technique in place, and skin glistening with sunscreen. It was going to be a bright, hot day. The first of the big climbs took us up towards 151st Street for a good trip west, where we caught the turnaround for the Olathe Marathon, which was taking place the same day thru New Century Air Center (Hi, Mom!). Shortly after that, we turned north on Dillie, and Del peeked back over his shoulder with an announcement.
“Them boat-people are comin’.”
Ah, yes – the “boat people” as we affectionately refer to the Prairie Village Yacht Club cycling group, was coming up the road on our six, peloton-style and gaining. Uh-oh. Even though Del and I had spent the majority of our spring season NOT being competitive and trying to race for position on the road, we both ended up on the same page: for some reason, we had to keep them from passing us. Whether it was apparent or not from behind, Del and I shifted gears appropriately and began to heaten the pace, flying downhill, and then up one of the longer rises of the course therein near Edgerton Road on 143rd. It seemed to stick, as a quick check back after the climb revealed we’d managed to put some distance in. The first SAG of the day was coming, and at that point it was our only goal to hold them off until then. It worked, proving that even though there are a lot of miles in the legs, there’s still a little speed left, too. Unfortunately for me, I was having a hard time recovering from any effort, ever since the first climb of the day on Lakeshore Drive only two miles from the start. My heart-rate was higher than normal, or at least I perceived it to be, and my legs were protesting nearly every sizeable effort. Even though I was having a good time, I was running out of steam, physically.
I started to self-analyze again, which in this particular case was a very good thing to do: Fuel? Well, yeah – I’d consumed my pre-ride drink well before the ride began, and I had been working on my usual mix of Sustained Energy as well. No shortcomings there. Was I drinking enough plain water? Well, probably not – so I began to take on more. Was I washing myself out by suddenly drinking too much? Maybe – so I popped an electrolyte tab, too, which was probably a good idea considering the rising temperature. Aside from that, I began to run the previous week thru my head, and wondering in retrospect why I had chosen to NOT rest at all. Del had been engaged in the conversation at this point, and we talked about the month of April and how crazy of a month is was for both of us, mileage-wise. Come to think of it, I had logged my heaviest mileage month EVER for an April with over 1,000 miles of commutes and brevets, and I had never taken a break. Sure, a testament to a strong rider perhaps, but not really a testament to a SMART rider.
Let’s see, low motivation? Check.
Anxiety, over-analysis, unnecessary worry? Check.
Poor recovery, not able to bounce back, low energy? Check.
It was becoming directly evident that I’d made the right choice by being THERE instead of out on the 600k. At that point, having not even completed HALF of a measly century ride, I was having serious issues with fatigue. It was clear that after all the seemingly important (but now useless) worrying I’d done for three weeks about the looming 600k, that the ONE THING I should have genuinely worried about was ME. By the time we’d passed Clinton Lake and climbed up over the dam, it was a definite “YES, you made the right decision”. It’s FAR, FAR better to have a bad day HERE, with SAG support, than to be stuck somewhere out on the road in central Missouri. Even if I’d been mentally prepared enough to take the challenge (which in itself is a sure sign of over-training), I was physically smoked. I was not climbing well, and I was actually retreating to using my easier gears (even HAVING gears on my bike was weird enough, but to actually USE them? Something was wrong.) This smallish ride was beginning to seem impossibly LONG. The turnaround came after an eternity, and I took on water like it was being discontinued or something. I ate a bagel with peanut butter on it. Had I been lucid, I’d never have eaten that on a ride – but my body just took over and made my ands move to what it wanted. I rifled thru my bag and popped vitamins and looked for anything else in the ‘bonk ration’ category. I glanced over at the SAG wagon for half a second, and there was Del asking if I was ready to roll.
I can’t remember what I’d said, but it was to the affirmative because I had ended up back on the bike again, and we proceeded making small talk about some of the other riders, hoping to distract myself from, well, myself.
On the way back from the turnaround at Lone Star Lake, I was quite content to sit in a draft provided by Del, until I felt guilty and offered to pull for a while, even though the pace was going to be slower. Somewhere along Douglas County 458 I took the front and did what I could until the turnoff from US-59. After that, we took turns or rode side-by-side. Shortly before the turn onto DG-1055 there is the Wells Scenic Overlook Tower, which stands way up on a rise after a 2 mile long climb to the top. I was tempted – so was Del – but after a little thinking, it was dismissed for ‘next year’. Smart move, probably.
Even though Del calculated that we’d been maintaining a decent average speed, even on the return route, I had slowed WAY down by the time we’d arrived back at the Vinland, KS. SAG stop, at about mile 67. In fact, I started slowing down right after Del informed me that the pace was pretty good – as if my subconscious had interpreted this to mean “slow down, idiot!” We stayed at the SAG a long time, maybe a full 20-30 minutes, eating, drinking, and making friends with a pretty cool, old dog that shared a blueberry bagel with me. I grudgingly said goodbye to the dog, and the shade, and Del and I mounted back up for the rest of the journey. We began dividing up the return route, much like a longer brevet, and stopped again at Evening Star Rd, site of another SAG stop – the day was noticeably taking a toll on me, as only hours before we’d simply flown past both of these stops on the way out, not even resting until the turnaround point! The only thing keeping my sprits up was the fact that the day was seemingly taking its toll on nearly everyone else, too; despite my heavy legs and achy resolve, we had not really been passed by very many people – in fact, we were still managing to scoop up riders here and there as we pedaled along. But why did I feel so drained? I felt like I was trying to walk thru gravy, after having the backs of my legs smacked with reeds. Nice visual, eh?
On your left.
That feeling lasted, of course, until those boat-people showed up again, on our left! Wow! One by one by one, they passed by, their eternal paceline easing the way thru the stiff crosswinds blowing out of the southeast. Del and I got a wild, snap idea and decided a little shortcut was in order, so instead of turning south on Dillie Rd. and following them we figured it would be neat and confusing for them to have to pass us AGAIN later on down the road! There was that competitive bug that had been dormant since LAST summer. If we went straight on 143rd St, we could shave off two miles and be ahead of them again, but farther up the road! Game on! So straight we went – the only problem, it’s all gravel for nearly four miles before it turns back into pavement. Not broken pavement with some scattered gravel, mind you – full-on GRAVEL. Neither of us seemed to care, as the ride suddenly was turned into a game! Our spirits lifted and we felt rejuvenated for the first time in dozens of miles as skinny tires darted left and right, demanding attention, and lower gears were employed for the steeper, un-graded climbs. Even though I was having fun, I had to unclip on a hill for the first time in years as traction became scarce, climbing out of the saddle was impossible, and shifting was a ‘too-late’ maneuver. My single-speed set-up would have had me walking even sooner, apparently. I ended up in 42x21, winding carefully up the grades that remained, balancing pressure on the rear wheel for traction with pressure on the front wheel for proper tracking in the choppy silt and stones. So THIS is what fat tires are for!
Kicking up dust as we went, we eventually ended up at Gardner Road, and pavement again. Wondering if our little detour would have indeed stuck, considering our (my) speed dropped, we elected to abandon the idea of going straight (and into more gravel) and instead turn north to hit 135th St. and tackle a couple bigger hills on our trek back east. After a few miles, we visited the ‘big twins’ near Olathe Lake, a couple of the biggest hills around, and then we detoured again thru Olathe Lake Park immediately after the last long climb was over with. A few fun miles later, traversing many fast corners and downhills, 143rd Street was soon staring us in the face again, but paved now, accompanied by a pretty cool looking waterfall across the street – man-made, but still rather impressive. The change of scenery was helping take my mind off the fact that I was running dangerously low on energy again, despite continuous fluid and fuel intake. Thankfully, the end of our ‘century’ was only a few miles away, and I could rest -- then on the ride home I could refuel and slow things down. Way down.
After arriving back at the start/finish parking lot, there was a bittersweet taste of victory, as we began to realize after 20 minutes that the boat people had probably ridden somewhere for lunch – so our game didn’t pay off, assuming we’d even beaten them back to the lot at all. Not wanting to risk cramps or other serious maladies, it was time to get moving again – only 5-7 miles until I was back in the driveway at home again, but as I’d find out, it became necessary for me to divide even THAT short distance into sections, too. First, a quick convenience store stop for some COLD water and cashews. Who knows if they’d help, but I’d felt like I’d been on the edge of bonking for over and hour – best not to risk it. Just eat something! A few miles after the convenience store, a train crossing dropped – so we were forced to stop and soak up more radiant heat from the pavement below us, and the cars beside us. Wow, I was getting tapped out – Del mentioned that I had not looked as strong as usual, and I sure felt it. At least it wasn’t all in my head, but if other people were noticing, I was starting to burn out badly.
The train roared past, the crossing gates lifted, and we were off again. Three roundabouts later, Del eventually had to peel off for home, leaving me solo with only 3 miles to go, or so. Normally not a big deal, but I had to make ANOTHER stop – recovery food was calling my name in the form of a full-length sub sandwich with a lot of cheese. Thank goodness for big saddle-bags. I stopped, and the air-conditioning of the sub shop hit me like a boxing glove duct-taped to a Mack truck. I was dizzy, had a wicked headache, and felt sore, fatigued and just wasted. Despite the helmet still on my head, and my fantastic (yeah.) figure resplendent in Lycra, I got no weird looks from the counter staff working the sandwich line. There was a look of urgency on my face underneath the salt lines and sunken eyes – this guy needs FOOD. They obliged, I paid, and I left. Stuffing my prize-winning sandwich into the saddlebag, I carefully swung my leg over the top-tube one last time, and maneuvered back out into the traffic stream, taking a right, a left, a right and a left – and I was HOME. The garage door lifted, I rolled inside, and I ripped into my sandwich like a man just rescued from a desert island. It went down smooth, and sat nicely in my stomach – feeding protein to my shredded muscles, and carbs back into my system. Mmmmmm, baby. Sandwiches.
I shook my head at myself as I remembered only 24 hours earlier I was furiously trying to figure out where to put all that powdered energy drink. I was feeling ‘trapped’ with my fuel, when others made it seem easy; they’d eat nothing but egg burritos, Twizzlers and Big Macs all day, and they’d finish strong, carrying little more than some extra clothing and repair tools – and no worries about where all that powdered miracle-fuel was going to go, because they were not dependant on it. My fuel of choice is terrific fuel, but it is fuel that is best carried by a support vehicle, in a cooler – and that is not the brevet way. After much trial with super-thick mixtures of the stuff, there is simply no way to carry enough to make it as far as a randonneur needs to go. Even if there was, this is assuming that I’d even have the stomach for it, or the taste for it, after say, 36 hours into the 600k. After all the miles and hardship, sometimes we just need something ‘real’ to eat. Other stuff starts to sound good, and you need to listen to your body. Plus, it’s not like you aren’t going to burn it off. I realize now that I need a new strategy for self-supported brevets, and I need to train for it. The worry on my shoulders about proper fueling had become heavier than all the powder I was supposed to carry along! For ultra RACES with support, I absolutely know what I need to do – but for brevets? I was barking up the wrong tree. It’s all about training – and training to eat is no exception: I simply need to let the convenience stores carry my fuel, and then all I have to worry about is GETTING THERE. Just have a few fig-bars in the back pockets for just-in-case, and no worries. Maybe an 18” long sub sandwich, too. Bang. Tasty.
The damage was already done, however. The sandwich felt awesome in my tummy, but my legs were toast. Climbing the stairs from the garage was HARD and painful, even bending down to undo my sandals was a hardship. I felt FAR, FAR worse than I had after coming home from the 400k. Again, the notion that I’d made the proper choice by not attempting the 600k was very clear. I would not have made it – food issues or not, I was severely over-trained. For the first time in a VERY long time, I elected to take a full week off the bike to recover. As I sit and write this, that too was a wise choice. I’m ready again to mount up tomorrow AM for a ride to work, but I’m taking it slow and using this as a rebuilding opportunity. If I still have a 600k in my future, I need to carefully get back up to the strength necessary to complete it.
The moral to my disjointed story here, for any other aspiring randonneurs out there; people thinking about it, or looking at their first 600k, or whatever; know this: It is indeed important to fuel properly, but don’t take it too seriously. Train for ANY condition, including the condition that nothing in your arsenal of powdered energy drinks and gels is bulletproof, and you may need to abandon those plans in lieu of Vienna sausages and pizza-flavored Combos (ok, that’s just gross – but if your body says it wants it, listen!) You may indeed be too dependant on your favorite powdered nutrition weapon, to the point that you dismiss longer events on the notion that you can’t carry enough of it. I have learned that part of the spirit of randonneuring is NOT planning too much, and NOT carrying too much. Don’t think too much about anything! Don’t try to pack EVERYTHING! There are things you absolutely MUST carry, like spare tubes and batteries – but part of the adventure is possibly not being prepared for EVERY little thing, including trying to have the same food from beginning to end, even if it is indeed the BEST fuel for you! If you must, arrange bag drops – ship yourself a UPS package to a control and it will be waiting with your reserves when you arrive. DON’T FORGET TO REST, RECOVER RIGHT from your training and previous brevets, and don’t over do it right before your big event! That’s the only thing I can offer here is the fact that I might have helped someone else better prepare for their brevet through my own shortcomings – take this for whatever you can, because I certainly learned a lot about myself this week.
As for the bike you ride, it simply doesn’t matter WHAT you ride, as long as it FITS. There are lots of things you can do to solve bike issues, including having a bike with limited tire clearance and inability to fit fenders. Smaller wheels are beginning to gain popularity in certain circles, and there are clip-on fenders (while a compromise – they can be better than nothing) I mean, I rode alongside someone on the 400k that was riding a generic aluminum frame that is available online for under $200. While many would dismiss this as grossly inadequate, it was working for him, and he finished. His only equipment issue was a flat tire. You can ride a $4,000 all-carbon race machine, a custom steel sport-touring bike, or a $25 garage-sale special. If it fits and has good running gear, it will work. Don’t think about it too much!
The RUSA Handbook mentions that a 600km can help re-define what is possible for a person – It’s TRUE. I learned a LOT just getting ready, and didn’t even end up riding it.
GET OUT THERE, and remember, as I need to constantly remind myself after several epiphanies this week, it’s supposed to be FUN. Don’t take it too seriously, and you’ll do fine.
Hopefully next season, so will I!
Personally, I see a self-supported, unofficial 600k in my future.
Thanks for reading!