Suffering for Others’ Benefit: RAAM 2018

It’s beyond my scope of understanding, but for some sick reason we mere mortals seem to get some sort of gratification out of watching someone else suffer greatly during insane athletic events. “How can you say that, Tracy?” you may ask with and air of shock and judgement. Please allow me to attempt to answer that.

Perhaps the reason is that we wish we had the gall to tackle some ginormous obstacle that only those […]

Suffering for Others’ Benefit: RAAM 2018

It’s beyond my scope of understanding, but for some sick reason we mere mortals seem to get some sort of gratification out of watching […]

Riding the Tail of the Dragon / Cherohala Challenge

At Road Titans 300 last year I met a delightful Brit named Phil through a mutual cycling friend. He spoke to me about coming […]

Tips for Surviving Cross Florida – Part 2

Last week I shared ten tips for making your Cross Florida journey more pleasurable – and hopefully a little more fun. Today you will […]

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    Suffering for Others’ Benefit: RAAM 2018

    It’s beyond my scope of understanding, but for some sick reason we mere mortals seem to get some sort of gratification out of watching someone else suffer greatly during insane athletic events. “How can […]

    Riding the Tail of the Dragon / Cherohala Challenge

    At Road Titans 300 last year I met a delightful Brit named Phil through a mutual cycling friend. He spoke to me about coming to take on the Cherohala Challenge in June of 2018. […]

    Tips for Surviving Cross Florida – Part 2

    Last week I shared ten tips for making your Cross Florida journey more pleasurable – and hopefully a little more fun. Today you will find some more advice and suggestions. Please feel free to […]

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    Suffering for Others’ Benefit: RAAM 2018

    It’s beyond my scope of understanding, but for some sick reason we mere mortals seem to get some sort of gratification out of watching someone else suffer greatly during insane athletic events. “How can you say that, Tracy?” you may ask with and air of shock and judgement. Please allow me to attempt to answer that.

    Perhaps the reason is that we wish we had the gall to tackle some ginormous obstacle that only those who are slightly off their nut will try. Or could it be that we are looking for inspiration to try something huge that we secretly wish we could do, but want to see someone else succeed first? Another option: What if we just need someone to believe in – a human being who is imperfect but has exceptional courage with ample virtuosity?

    Whatever the reason for us spectators of others’ greatness is, the bravery and valor one exhibits in the midst of sheer self-inflicted pain and torture does something for us as onlookers. I’m sure a shrink could explain it in greater detail, but let’s move on to this year’s Race Across America biggest hero: Frank Fumich. His story should be told in book form but for your sake and mine, I will have to give the highlights in 650 more words or less, otherwise, you will find something else to do with your time. His short video will also provide enlightenment into his slightly-crazed mind.

    I met Frank in RAAM 2015 when I crewed for another racer. Frank stuck out as one unorthodox cyclist with a larger than life personality. As a matter of fact, he’s not even a cyclist, but an extremist. He puts himself through maniacal adventures time after time. While he didn’t finish all 3000+ miles of RAAM in 2015, he rode every single mile this time. He had exactly 12 days (288 hours) to pedal eastward from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD. It took him slightly longer than that, so according to RAAM rules, he got a DNF. Those three letters are something no athlete wants to ever see beside their name, but for Frank they don’t mean “Did Not Finish”. They mean “DID NOT FAIL.”

    Here is a link to his crossing the Finish Line at the City Docks of Annapolis yesterday evening. You will get a glimpse of his gregarious personality and kindness to others, despite being absolutely exhausted.

    His Facebook following swelled by thousands of supporters who cheered him along the arduous route that was littered with exhaustion, pain, the verge of mental breakdowns, extreme weather conditions, a tornado, monsoonal rain, wind and excessive heat. What kept driving him relentlessly forward was his virtuous motive: to help children with cancer stay in touch with their families and friends via webcams in their hospital rooms. HopeCam is the charity that Frank chose to live out his unfinished business with RAAM. What a beautiful partnership: one’s unsuitable desire to use his athletic gifts to bring hope and help to others. Kind of sounds like LIVE IT, doesn’t it?

    While the fastest racer finished days before Frank, he comes out as the clear winner in the hearts of thousands of others who have followed his journey. His goal was to raise $30,000 for HopeCam, but I’m thrilled to report that he has more than doubled that with $66,000 collected to date. If you would like to show your appreciation for his big, beautiful heart and dedication to living for others, please click here.

    His slogan of “It’s gonna get ugly, but it’s gonna get DONE!” rang true. His top notch crew saw him through a safe passage across 3,062 miles in 12 days with just about 2 hours a day off the bike. At the Finish Line, a prayer of gratitude was offered. Well done, Frank. Keep on living it and inspiring others to do the same.

    (L) Frank and crew chief, Lisa (R) Frank with wife, Chelsea and daughters

     

     

    Riding the Tail of the Dragon / Cherohala Challenge

    At Road Titans 300 last year I met a delightful Brit named Phil through a mutual cycling friend. He spoke to me about coming to take on the Cherohala Challenge in June of 2018. He used many adjectives to describe this event like “very difficult”, “picturesque”, “a tremendous amount of climbing” and so on. He then told me, “You get to climb the Tail of the Dragon!” – an iconic 14-mile road that boasts of 318 curves, a slight gradient of 4-5% that many drivers of motorcycles and sports cars use to test their handling skills. I had heard of that road and knew that I wanted to pay it a visit it one of these days. Last October seems like long ago; to be honest I forgot about Cherohala until last month when he texted me during the Cheaha Challenge weekend. Since I was surrounded by others who have this insane addiction to climbing and are drawn to challenges, I asked those in our Air BnB who would like to go to the Cherohala Challenge. There was much interest but only one other could commit to going with me: the mountain goat, Mike Stratton.

    Before I knew it, it was time to load up the car and head north. I tried to find out as much as I could about this ride, but the event website offers little help. Mike found the course on RidewithGPS so we studied it a little and knew that we could plan on 10,000′ climbing and 114 miles of riding. I began to get excited about riding in the mountains again and reconnecting with Phil. He had such a terrific personality and was fun to be around. The witty  rented a 4 BR cabin, so there was plenty of space for the 6 of us. It was a 10 hour trip up, with stops, but a good drive.

    Approximately 250 riders showed up for the various distances, but it appeared that well over half were there for the long course. It promised to have beautiful scenery (which it did), loud motorcycles on the Tail of the Dragon (that proved to be true as well), and a goodly amount of climbing prior to the big climb after mile 56 (where we only had about 3,300′ under our belts). It was a clear and perfect morning for riding. Temps in the upper 60’s slowly climbed with us as the hours passed by. There were about half a dozen others that I was looking forward to seeing again from other mountain events, and it was great to catch up with them. One is a current client that I am training for his upcoming trip to the French Alps next month. It was like a mini-reunion!

    Mind Over Matter
    Our average was 19.8 for the first 2 hours of riding within a nice group when something very strange happened. I felt nauseated, even though I did not feel as if I had cooked the first 38 rolling miles. My entire gut was turning back flips and I began to question whether or not I could finish. My heart rate was in good shape, my legs felt fine and my breathing was manageable. Without getting into detail, I began to wish I could just barf it up and get on with the ride. That never happened. I tried to distract myself by looking at the lakes, rivers and mountains. The wild flowers of pink, purple, white and yellow nodded at me as I passed, as if to encourage me along. I let the group go ahead and pedaled alongside a cold-water creek at a lofty 10.9 mph, just wishing I were done already. I just wanted to be alone in my misery. By now it was mile 50 and a Rest Stop was somewhere in the near future. Just a half mile before the Rest Stop I saw a little country store where Mike and my client were waiting for me. I felt terrible that they paused their ride for me, but grateful at the same time. Just a few minutes and a Dr. Pepper later (to settle the gut), we rolled out. I didn’t want David to wait on me because he had his own training to accomplish, but was thankful for Mike’s cheery disposition and desire to stay with me. He kept saying he didn’t want a bear to eat me on the side of the road. Nice thought.

    At the next Rest Stop around mile 70, a volunteer had some Tums and I prayed that would help as I gobbled them down between orange slices. We climbed up and up from there, with a tough 8 miles (and no let up in gradient). I started to ask myself why I kept going. Why not just climb in a SAG and call it a “not my day kind of day”? The temptation to quit was very real; not something I usually contemplate. I knew David (my client) would be watching to see how I fared. I didn’t want to let him down. I also knew that I was financially invested in this weekend and I didn’t go all the way up there to get a DNF. In addition to that I WANTED THAT FINISHER’S MEDAL!

    Summit Salvation
    Push. Grind. Spin. Stand up. Sit down. Think positive thoughts. Count down the miles to the top: 6-5-4-3-2-1…At last we had reached the top of the mountain there was another Rest Stop. I knew the worst was over and there was a snappy 14 mile descent ahead of us with rollers between there and the Finish Line. At that point I knew I would finish. Perhaps it was psychological, but almost instantly I felt better. It was time to fly down the other side!

    That’s exactly what I did with a huge grin on my face for almost the entire rush. Once off the mountain the heat began to become a bother but it didn’t matter – we were close to the finish. Passing by another river I dreamed of how nice it would be to stop and jump in. Perhaps that will be another time – the end mark was just 3 miles away.

    Our plan for the ride was to enjoy it and have fun. Despite feeling so sick for over half the ride, it was so worth it to come up and partake in this event. Why? Because of the camaraderie and the route. This ride ranks in the top 3 most beautiful rides I’ve ever done… which says a lot. The others around me – from those I knew from other events and those I met – were top notch in friendliness, support and good sportsmanship. I look forward to returning in 2019. Perhaps I’ll get to meet you there?

     

     

    Tips for Surviving Cross Florida – Part 2

    Last week I shared ten tips for making your Cross Florida journey more pleasurable – and hopefully a little more fun. Today you will find some more advice and suggestions. Please feel free to leave a comment, as I am sure there many other tips as well. Picking up where I left off last week…

    11) Dedicate your effort to a cause or to someone else. This will help take your mind off your own discomfort. I rode for Christian Liddy in 2016, a good riding friend of mine. He was in our group in 2015, and we all just love Chris. In July of 2015 he was involved in a very serious accident (he drove tractor trailers for work) and his life is forever changed. He lost his life nearly a year later after fighting very hard . XFL 2015 was the last time I rode with Chris. By dedicating this ride to him and thinking of what he and his family are going through, it will certainly put the ride in perspective. We will miss Chris greatly again this year. 

    12) Get comfortable with the thought that you WILL BE uncomfortable. Some have made the suggestion of changing your shorts at the halfway point. I have tried that and have kept the same ones all ride long. Frankly I couldn’t tell a difference.

    13) Have ibuprofen in your SAG vehicle. It’s not uncommon to get a headache or backache on this adventure. Don’t take acetaminophen as it can affect the kidney’s filtration process (which you need to work nicely).

    14) Use caution at the mass start. If you don’t like crowds, simply hang back. Clip in just one foot at the mass start until the crowd thins. I’ve seen several folks topple over in the first 100 feet of the ride because of the overcrowded space at the beginning. Remember there are police escorts to control the pace at first, so no need to get all excited. Stay chill!

    15) Keep in mind that as we tire, we don’t think as clearly. Watch your own space and keep a look out for others that are failing to hold their line. Encourage others that you see struggling and don’t be afraid to kindly remind someone to hold their line if need be.

    16) As you get close to bonking, you will feel great one moment – and it will quickly turn to “Oh no, I think I am going to DIE.” Within minutes you will feel great for a short burst. This will continue if you don’t get some much-needed carbs into your brain. A Coke, a sugary snack or orange will help but make sure you keep your calories going in continually.

    You will see lots of these!

    17) There are cobblestone roads and roundabouts near Kissimmee; be careful. Some try to go Tour de France on us and bunny hop the curbs to cut off the roundabouts. Show offs. Stick to the road and be safe.

    18) Bring a items for showering at the end. Caution: COLD WATER! It will feel good if it’s a hot day, but otherwise, prepare for a chill. Brrrrrrr!

    19) Download the map and be familiar with where the SAGs will be. Or perhaps write the mileage on painter’s tape and put it on your top tube for quick reference. It will pull right off when you are done.

    20) A proper bike fit ahead of time will help you be more comfortable and help you to avoid overuse / misalignment injuries. Motion Fit is where I had a wonderful experience getting Roxie set up for my flexibility, strength and comfort. Call Kameel today to get your appointment set up while you still have time and tell him Tracy sent you. (407) 614-7703
    There you have it – 20 tips to help make your Cross Florida experience a good one. I didn’t touch the logistics of starting in Cocoa and ending in Bayport, so feel free to leave questions or comments about that. That is normally a big challenge, but if you make plans to be with a group it is easier to work out. Register here: https://raceroster.com/events/2018/12817/37th-annual-cross-florida-ride?aff=RLPVM
    See you there!
    We love the Liddy Family and keep you in our thoughts and prayers. #LiddyStrong

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    It’s beyond my scope of understanding, but for some sick reason we mere mortals seem to get some sort of gratification out of watching someone else suffer greatly during insane athletic events. “How can […]

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    Suffering for Others’ Benefit: RAAM 2018

    It’s beyond my scope of understanding, but for some sick reason we mere mortals seem to get some sort of gratification out of watching someone else suffer greatly during insane athletic events. “How can you say that, Tracy?” you may ask with and air of shock and judgement. Please allow me to attempt to answer that.

    Perhaps the reason is that we wish we had the gall to tackle some ginormous obstacle that only those who are slightly off their nut will try. Or could it be that we are looking for inspiration to try something huge that we secretly wish we could do, but want to see someone else succeed first? Another option: What if we just need someone to believe in – a human being who is imperfect but has exceptional courage with ample virtuosity?

    Whatever the reason for us spectators of others’ greatness is, the bravery and valor one exhibits in the midst of sheer self-inflicted pain and torture does something for us as onlookers. I’m sure a shrink could explain it in greater detail, but let’s move on to this year’s Race Across America biggest hero: Frank Fumich. His story should be told in book form but for your sake and mine, I will have to give the highlights in 650 more words or less, otherwise, you will find something else to do with your time. His short video will also provide enlightenment into his slightly-crazed mind.

    I met Frank in RAAM 2015 when I crewed for another racer. Frank stuck out as one unorthodox cyclist with a larger than life personality. As a matter of fact, he’s not even a cyclist, but an extremist. He puts himself through maniacal adventures time after time. While he didn’t finish all 3000+ miles of RAAM in 2015, he rode every single mile this time. He had exactly 12 days (288 hours) to pedal eastward from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD. It took him slightly longer than that, so according to RAAM rules, he got a DNF. Those three letters are something no athlete wants to ever see beside their name, but for Frank they don’t mean “Did Not Finish”. They mean “DID NOT FAIL.”

    Here is a link to his crossing the Finish Line at the City Docks of Annapolis yesterday evening. You will get a glimpse of his gregarious personality and kindness to others, despite being absolutely exhausted.

    His Facebook following swelled by thousands of supporters who cheered him along the arduous route that was littered with exhaustion, pain, the verge of mental breakdowns, extreme weather conditions, a tornado, monsoonal rain, wind and excessive heat. What kept driving him relentlessly forward was his virtuous motive: to help children with cancer stay in touch with their families and friends via webcams in their hospital rooms. HopeCam is the charity that Frank chose to live out his unfinished business with RAAM. What a beautiful partnership: one’s unsuitable desire to use his athletic gifts to bring hope and help to others. Kind of sounds like LIVE IT, doesn’t it?

    While the fastest racer finished days before Frank, he comes out as the clear winner in the hearts of thousands of others who have followed his journey. His goal was to raise $30,000 for HopeCam, but I’m thrilled to report that he has more than doubled that with $66,000 collected to date. If you would like to show your appreciation for his big, beautiful heart and dedication to living for others, please click here.

    His slogan of “It’s gonna get ugly, but it’s gonna get DONE!” rang true. His top notch crew saw him through a safe passage across 3,062 miles in 12 days with just about 2 hours a day off the bike. At the Finish Line, a prayer of gratitude was offered. Well done, Frank. Keep on living it and inspiring others to do the same.

    (L) Frank and crew chief, Lisa (R) Frank with wife, Chelsea and daughters

     

     

    Riding the Tail of the Dragon / Cherohala Challenge

    At Road Titans 300 last year I met a delightful Brit named Phil through a mutual cycling friend. He spoke to me about coming to take on the Cherohala Challenge in June of 2018. He used many adjectives to describe this event like “very difficult”, “picturesque”, “a tremendous amount of climbing” and so on. He then told me, “You get to climb the Tail of the Dragon!” – an iconic 14-mile road that boasts of 318 curves, a slight gradient of 4-5% that many drivers of motorcycles and sports cars use to test their handling skills. I had heard of that road and knew that I wanted to pay it a visit it one of these days. Last October seems like long ago; to be honest I forgot about Cherohala until last month when he texted me during the Cheaha Challenge weekend. Since I was surrounded by others who have this insane addiction to climbing and are drawn to challenges, I asked those in our Air BnB who would like to go to the Cherohala Challenge. There was much interest but only one other could commit to going with me: the mountain goat, Mike Stratton.

    Before I knew it, it was time to load up the car and head north. I tried to find out as much as I could about this ride, but the event website offers little help. Mike found the course on RidewithGPS so we studied it a little and knew that we could plan on 10,000′ climbing and 114 miles of riding. I began to get excited about riding in the mountains again and reconnecting with Phil. He had such a terrific personality and was fun to be around. The witty  rented a 4 BR cabin, so there was plenty of space for the 6 of us. It was a 10 hour trip up, with stops, but a good drive.

    Approximately 250 riders showed up for the various distances, but it appeared that well over half were there for the long course. It promised to have beautiful scenery (which it did), loud motorcycles on the Tail of the Dragon (that proved to be true as well), and a goodly amount of climbing prior to the big climb after mile 56 (where we only had about 3,300′ under our belts). It was a clear and perfect morning for riding. Temps in the upper 60’s slowly climbed with us as the hours passed by. There were about half a dozen others that I was looking forward to seeing again from other mountain events, and it was great to catch up with them. One is a current client that I am training for his upcoming trip to the French Alps next month. It was like a mini-reunion!

    Mind Over Matter
    Our average was 19.8 for the first 2 hours of riding within a nice group when something very strange happened. I felt nauseated, even though I did not feel as if I had cooked the first 38 rolling miles. My entire gut was turning back flips and I began to question whether or not I could finish. My heart rate was in good shape, my legs felt fine and my breathing was manageable. Without getting into detail, I began to wish I could just barf it up and get on with the ride. That never happened. I tried to distract myself by looking at the lakes, rivers and mountains. The wild flowers of pink, purple, white and yellow nodded at me as I passed, as if to encourage me along. I let the group go ahead and pedaled alongside a cold-water creek at a lofty 10.9 mph, just wishing I were done already. I just wanted to be alone in my misery. By now it was mile 50 and a Rest Stop was somewhere in the near future. Just a half mile before the Rest Stop I saw a little country store where Mike and my client were waiting for me. I felt terrible that they paused their ride for me, but grateful at the same time. Just a few minutes and a Dr. Pepper later (to settle the gut), we rolled out. I didn’t want David to wait on me because he had his own training to accomplish, but was thankful for Mike’s cheery disposition and desire to stay with me. He kept saying he didn’t want a bear to eat me on the side of the road. Nice thought.

    At the next Rest Stop around mile 70, a volunteer had some Tums and I prayed that would help as I gobbled them down between orange slices. We climbed up and up from there, with a tough 8 miles (and no let up in gradient). I started to ask myself why I kept going. Why not just climb in a SAG and call it a “not my day kind of day”? The temptation to quit was very real; not something I usually contemplate. I knew David (my client) would be watching to see how I fared. I didn’t want to let him down. I also knew that I was financially invested in this weekend and I didn’t go all the way up there to get a DNF. In addition to that I WANTED THAT FINISHER’S MEDAL!

    Summit Salvation
    Push. Grind. Spin. Stand up. Sit down. Think positive thoughts. Count down the miles to the top: 6-5-4-3-2-1…At last we had reached the top of the mountain there was another Rest Stop. I knew the worst was over and there was a snappy 14 mile descent ahead of us with rollers between there and the Finish Line. At that point I knew I would finish. Perhaps it was psychological, but almost instantly I felt better. It was time to fly down the other side!

    That’s exactly what I did with a huge grin on my face for almost the entire rush. Once off the mountain the heat began to become a bother but it didn’t matter – we were close to the finish. Passing by another river I dreamed of how nice it would be to stop and jump in. Perhaps that will be another time – the end mark was just 3 miles away.

    Our plan for the ride was to enjoy it and have fun. Despite feeling so sick for over half the ride, it was so worth it to come up and partake in this event. Why? Because of the camaraderie and the route. This ride ranks in the top 3 most beautiful rides I’ve ever done… which says a lot. The others around me – from those I knew from other events and those I met – were top notch in friendliness, support and good sportsmanship. I look forward to returning in 2019. Perhaps I’ll get to meet you there?

     

     

    Tips for Surviving Cross Florida – Part 2

    Last week I shared ten tips for making your Cross Florida journey more pleasurable – and hopefully a little more fun. Today you will find some more advice and suggestions. Please feel free to leave a comment, as I am sure there many other tips as well. Picking up where I left off last week…

    11) Dedicate your effort to a cause or to someone else. This will help take your mind off your own discomfort. I rode for Christian Liddy in 2016, a good riding friend of mine. He was in our group in 2015, and we all just love Chris. In July of 2015 he was involved in a very serious accident (he drove tractor trailers for work) and his life is forever changed. He lost his life nearly a year later after fighting very hard . XFL 2015 was the last time I rode with Chris. By dedicating this ride to him and thinking of what he and his family are going through, it will certainly put the ride in perspective. We will miss Chris greatly again this year. 

    12) Get comfortable with the thought that you WILL BE uncomfortable. Some have made the suggestion of changing your shorts at the halfway point. I have tried that and have kept the same ones all ride long. Frankly I couldn’t tell a difference.

    13) Have ibuprofen in your SAG vehicle. It’s not uncommon to get a headache or backache on this adventure. Don’t take acetaminophen as it can affect the kidney’s filtration process (which you need to work nicely).

    14) Use caution at the mass start. If you don’t like crowds, simply hang back. Clip in just one foot at the mass start until the crowd thins. I’ve seen several folks topple over in the first 100 feet of the ride because of the overcrowded space at the beginning. Remember there are police escorts to control the pace at first, so no need to get all excited. Stay chill!

    15) Keep in mind that as we tire, we don’t think as clearly. Watch your own space and keep a look out for others that are failing to hold their line. Encourage others that you see struggling and don’t be afraid to kindly remind someone to hold their line if need be.

    16) As you get close to bonking, you will feel great one moment – and it will quickly turn to “Oh no, I think I am going to DIE.” Within minutes you will feel great for a short burst. This will continue if you don’t get some much-needed carbs into your brain. A Coke, a sugary snack or orange will help but make sure you keep your calories going in continually.

    You will see lots of these!

    17) There are cobblestone roads and roundabouts near Kissimmee; be careful. Some try to go Tour de France on us and bunny hop the curbs to cut off the roundabouts. Show offs. Stick to the road and be safe.

    18) Bring a items for showering at the end. Caution: COLD WATER! It will feel good if it’s a hot day, but otherwise, prepare for a chill. Brrrrrrr!

    19) Download the map and be familiar with where the SAGs will be. Or perhaps write the mileage on painter’s tape and put it on your top tube for quick reference. It will pull right off when you are done.

    20) A proper bike fit ahead of time will help you be more comfortable and help you to avoid overuse / misalignment injuries. Motion Fit is where I had a wonderful experience getting Roxie set up for my flexibility, strength and comfort. Call Kameel today to get your appointment set up while you still have time and tell him Tracy sent you. (407) 614-7703
    There you have it – 20 tips to help make your Cross Florida experience a good one. I didn’t touch the logistics of starting in Cocoa and ending in Bayport, so feel free to leave questions or comments about that. That is normally a big challenge, but if you make plans to be with a group it is easier to work out. Register here: https://raceroster.com/events/2018/12817/37th-annual-cross-florida-ride?aff=RLPVM
    See you there!
    We love the Liddy Family and keep you in our thoughts and prayers. #LiddyStrong

    Tips for Riding Cross Florida

    What on earth would inspire people to attempt a 167 mile one day event from the east coast of Florida to the West Coast? “Because it’s there” is the resounding reply. Years ago it was an actual race, complete with police motorcycles rushing ahead to close all intersections for the front group to pass through safely. Can you imagine racing for that long? Nowadays the Space Coast Freewheelers take a more relaxed approach to the event, but some do unofficially “race” it to see how quickly they can make it to the finish line.

    I’ve made this trek 5 times since 2012 and I just might to make it #6 in a couple of months. What is the allure? The challenge. The camaraderie. The scenery. The excitement of being a part of an event that most people would call us crazy for doing. The first year I did it, it was simply to complete the mileage. In 2014 several members of the Ride Across USA team rode to promote our Big Ride and used it to ride together for training. In 2015 I lead a group of Road Titan Wanna-Bes and our goal was to finish with a solid 18.5mph pace. We did and it was a lot of fun. For the last 2 years I found my place with Eastside Cycling Club, one of my favorite groups to ride with.

    Just this morning a cycling friend asked me for some tips for this special event. It made me wonder if a few others would be interested in the same tips so I’ll write them once to be shared by all. There are several things to make sure you do to prepare, as well as some tips that will help you avoid certain decisions that could put your ride in jeopardy.

    1) Train for it. Make sure you have a base mileage of 200K (124 miles) under your belt a few times to give you confidence that you can complete the last 40+.

    2) If you are going to stay the night before, make your hotel reservation now because rooms are hard to find the week of the event.

    3) Go with a group that can work together. 167 miles is a long, long day in the saddle and a group to help each other is the best way to go. Don’t assume that you can find a group and stick with them. Have a plan, get your own SAG to support you (normally someone will have a spouse in the group who is willing to do this). Your group should be basically the same riding level or else it will break up very early on.

    4) Incorporate hilly sessions in your training rides. Around mile 120 is there you get to meet the hills for about 20 miles. They will eat your lunch if you are not ready for them. Make sure you do hills close to the end of your training rides.

    5) Practice discipline and self-control for the duration of the event. The excitement at the mass start is electric! The pace picks up very quickly once the police get us to our first major turn and off the mail road. People are warmed up at that point and this is a way to shake the peloton up. It is very effective because the pace will jump to 25mph+ as the front powers through that corner. It gets a little sketchy there so be prepared and hold onto your helmet!

    6) If you go out too fast (like many will), you will pay for it greatly.

    7) Take nutrition and hydration seriously. If this is your first XFL experience, you have probably never done anything remotely like this ride. Plan on consuming a full 16 oz bottle per hour (more if it is hot). Start with water then switch to electrolytes. Eat real food; don’t rely on Clif Bars and Gu to get you through. Plan your SAG stops and make sure you are ingesting at least 250-350 calories per hour. Avoid heavy proteins as they will just sit in your gut and churn. Trust me; I’ve seen it all too often.

    8) Limit your SAG stops to 10-15 minutes MAX. Your body will cool off and cramps may arise. If you sit down, you may not feel like getting up so don’t get too comfy.

    9) Keep the goal realistic. If you are going for a set time make sure you do the math, allowing time for at least 5 short stops along the way and realize your rolling pace will be significantly higher than the overall average you are looking for. To get our 18.5 average at the end of the day last year, we had to roll at 20-22 for the flat portions of the event. The 20 miles of hills will significantly decrease your average, so make sure your average is higher before mile 120-ish when the hills begin. Our overall average was close to 22 prior to hitting the hills.

    10) Remember why you are going to do this: to have a good time. Many people get grumpy around or after the hills so bring some extra encouragement with you and keep it in your back pocket. You or someone will need it. Your body will talk to you so listen carefully. The grumpies come when blood sugar levels are low, so EAT. Drink Cokes. Encourage those who are suffering if you are not. If you allow the grumpies to take over, the fun goes out the window.

    I just thought of another dozen or so tips so there will be a Part 2 coming in the next week. Until then, do your homework and get your training going if you have not already. If you’re not in shape to train for this early April event, consider the two day option. I can also custom design a training program for you that works with your abilities, schedule and desire.

    For registration information, go here:  https://spacecoastfreewheelers.com/charities/xfl/

    (Above photo from 2017 with my friends at Eastside at the starting line)

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