May 8, 2009

The Final Prepwork

Within 24-hours of the big ride start, the brain is working overtime.

"Did I check this?"  "Should I check that?"
It's like peeling an onion... things like a seat binder bolt, something that hasn't been touched in months, hasn't made a sound, hasn't slipped - suddenly.  It's hard to describe, but for some reason I sometimes feel the need to perform maintenance on things that don't need any attention.  I used to be a lot worse about this - but sometimes that feeling is still there.  It's like peeling an onion:  you clean off one thing, and pretty soon you have the front end taken apart to make sure the headset isn't going to explode.  Well, that was the OLD me - I don't take it to THAT level anymore.  Leave well-enough alone.  If it's not making noise NOW, wasn't last week, wasn't last month.... 250 miles probably won't change things.  Check it off the list and move on.  Lube the chain, sure, and make sure nothing has worked LOOSE - but don't go on a torquing-bolts spree the week of a "big ride".  If you break something in the process of acting dumb in the garage, you may not have time to get a replacement - not to mention the extra stress you just piled on yourself.  In a sport where success is 85% mental, why make it harder on yourself -- I ask myself.  Leave well-enough alone, within reason:  if it's something you DO NOT want to have to fix on the roadside, it's worth investigating - but do it the week prior, not in the days prior.  Things tend to be okay if they haven't been an issue in the last few rides leading up to a brevet or permanent.  

Keeping that in mind, I did do a couple quick and easy things that have been overlooked for -- egads, a year?  I hadn't pulled the seat-post for a long time - that was the biggest rule-breaker I performed last night - probably shouldn't have, but it cleared my head.  No rust, no issues - so I simply wiped off the old grease, applied new, stuck it back in, and tightened it down again.  Done.  Walk away!  A few drops of lube on the cables, rub the crud off the wheels, check the tires for anything that might be working it's way into the casing and get it outta there, visual inspection of this and that. Keep it simple... but make sure you won't be fixing anything on the roadside other than a flat tire.  Good, regular, routine maintenance goes a LONG way -- you'll notice and replace stuff long before you have to think about "catastrophic road-side failure".  I'm big on regular maintenance. 

Aside from equipment concerns, there are storage and clothing concerns.  I slapped a couple of bungee cord loops on the rear rack last night to hold the third water-bottle in place.... something that I MAY not even need to carry on this ride, and I'm still debating that notion.  With a c-store nearly every 20 miles, and no miracle powder coming along on this event, I may just have to stop for supplies anyways... so why carry the extra stuff?  Of course, I probably will anyways - it's just a bottle, after all.  Later in the day it will probably have extra layers of clothing like warmers and my wind vest bungeed to the top of it anyways.  That's what becomes a larger concern as the distances increase:  clothing.  On the 300K distance, assuming your pace is good and the ride starts early, you are only concerned with surviving the first part of the ride in cooler air.  After the sun comes up, you can generally ride the rest of the day without worrying about putting anything back on later.  On the 400K, you're nearly guaranteed (unless you're SUPER fast) to finish well after dark.  After a day in the sun, and a day's worth of pedaling and fatigue, you will get cold during the last 40 miles of the ride.  It's amazing how chilly even 70 degrees can feel after you've ridden 200 miles, and it gets me every time.  If the temperatures drop into the 40's, like is forecast for tomorrow night, then you need to keep those extra layers around.  BUT, I'm hoping to balance back pocket real-estate with comfort this time by lashing them to the rear rack.  On the 300K the extra weight in the rear pockets made my jersey sag a lot, and while it was tolerable, I'd rather not be bothered with it.  I want to "save" that space for food, the cue sheet (which will likely be needed this time out), and just not have to worry about fishing around between layers to find "X" in my jersey.  Get that stuff outta the way, and ride light.  I plan to have wool arm warmers and knee warmers, a wind vest, full-finger gloves and the multi-use jacket on-hand.  All very packable, useful stuff, but not crazy.

That's all for now ---- look for the ride report next week, and updates from the road in-between!

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