The Mental Toughness Ride

Today on the training schedule was something called a "Mental Toughness Ride", this was suppose to be a on your own self supported ride without the team. After what could be described as comedy of mishaps yesterday I ended up getting home very late, with a mere 4 hours of sleep I set out early to start my ride. However instead of just doing a local ride I thought I'd drive up to Napa and do a couple laps of the Vineman course to get my 100 miles in.

Cycling tired is one thing, driving tired is another, although I was full conscious and able to operate my motor vehicle safely I was not doing so well on the directional front. I made only one mistake but it was a big one, the next thing I knew I was no longer on 880 but instead crossing the Bay Bridge. When I reached San Francisco for some reason instead of turning around I just headed through and out over the Golden Gate. After completing my tour of the bay, I finally reached my starting point in Napa just gone 9am. After fiddling about, getting my bike and nutrition ready for the day I started my ride at 9:40am.

The first thing I saw out on my ride was a Policeman stopping the traffic and directing me through, while this might seem a little odd it just happened that there were a couple Triathlons going on that morning on the course I was riding. What a coincidence? The day I decide to drive up to Napa for a solitary ride, there happened to be a full course setup with Police to direct the traffic, water stops, race photographers and of course people cheering. Well fancy that?

My course was actually not identical to race course but had a rather significant overlap, but at least the first 5 miles were different. That was also the most challenging part, though I had done the route a couple times before I had never done it on my own and it is amazing how all roads seem to look the same. I took those first miles carefully to get on the right track, the people racing had all set out a lot earlier than I had so I was most definitely behind the wave.

As I was riding it occurred to me I actually knew a 3 people who were racing, even though I was tired these things started to come back to me. There were two races the full Vineman (Ironman distance) and Barb's race (all female Half-Ironman), one of teammates (Mike) was doing Vineman and the other two friends were doing Barb's Race. While I knew I wouldn't catch up with Mike has this race started much earlier, I thought I may catch my other friends.

Neither of the races had a large number of competitors, which meant the roads were still fairly empty, as I got into mile 15 of my ride I started passing more and more people. Of course I had an unfair advantage, I'd done no swim and didn't need to save my self for the run, so I let it all go. It is a fairly flat course so it was easy to maintain a good pace, as the miles went on I the police continued to get me though every intersection and I was offered water and Gatorade, but being self sufficient I declined.

It was just past mile 40 when my heart rate hit it's peak for the day, was it a big hill or fast sprint? Neither having come just come down a small hill, I was coasting along then all of sudden, while my mind was drifting elsewhere, my bicycle was drifting into a ditch. Hitting the ditch at around 20mph, my heart rate shot up and my focus was now crystal clear, I had to keep the bike steady to avoid a wipe out. With only a few weeks left until Canada now was not the time to have an accident. I manage to gradually slow down then get back up the road. A woman who was cycling just behind witnessed the excitement and complemented me on my recovery. Finally at around mile 45 I caught up with two of my friends from the team, I not sure the first one even realized it was me as I cheered her on as I went by. When I came up to my second friend I chatted a while and wish were luck and continued on.

When I completed my first loop, I took a quick pit stop and refueled. I realized I hadn't even gone through my water bottles. While two water bottles is just about average for me, today was hot and getting hotter.

I felt I pushed it too hard the on first loop, as I started the second I lowered my pace so I'd last the next fifty miles. I knew where I was going the second time around (which always helps) however by ride did take me directly through the run course, which made for some careful riding. 70 miles into the ride, the heat and exhaustion were getting too me, while I was not delirious I felt the ride was going on forever and was starting to suspect I missed the next turn. How could miss a turn on a clearly marked course? Well thinking I did I started to back track, but shortly behind me was one of the racers, so I turned back around and continued in the right direction again, sure enough the turn was right up head.

Although I managed to last the first loop with the water I was carrying, the next time around I was consuming it twice as fast, lucky for me there were water stops on the way. As I past through the next one I grabbed some water and continued on. The temperature was apporaching 90°F, and I was sweating as much as I was drinking. The second loop seemed to drag on, but the people cheering at the water stops helped, also I was happy knowing I didn't have run after the ride to contend with. With a few more burst of energy I made it up the final hill and it was then plain sailing from there.

At the end I was some what dehydrated and generally exhausted. The lack of sleep and heat through out the day had made for the perfect "Mental Toughness Ride".

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth)
104 miles
6,020 Feet of climbing

79.4°F avg.
91.4°F high

Heart Rate:
156 bpm Avg.
193 bpm Max

17.4 mph Avg
40.0mph Max

Copyright Nick 2013. All right reserved.