On reflection, Bristol was interesting. It worked really well for me to get down there without a mammoth drive immediately prior to racing. Better for the mind and the body. Despite not really having adequate fitness, the years of similar efforts meant my mental and organisational game was there. Food wise, although the heat and bumpiness of the course directly after the pit area (which made riding off with a mouthful and or a handful tricky - damn if i didn't drop half a mini pork pie that i was particularly enjoying!) led me to not take in enough calories in the middle part of the 12 hours, i knew what i needed and could tolerate.
But it is really the mental aspect that is important. At one point i was lying on my side in the pit zone seeing double and struggling with the concept of doing anything, let alone 4 laps. But if i had gone home having quit, i wouldn't have been able to tolerate it, so i dug deep.
So why do i feel this need to take on challenges that make my life pretty difficult and uncomfortable? why not just chill out; go for a pleasant ride; have a beer or two? I don't know. I *think* the reason is tied up in the swing of emotions you get afterwards. The 'never again' pure exhaustion and physical pain, followed by the down-turn in the mood as all the endorphins and fun-chemicals re-stabilise in the blood. After, as i gradually claw my way back to normality is the sense of achievement and the appreciation of overcoming an obstacle.
Who knows? This time was the best i have ever been at quick turn arounds in the pits. In, recharge bottles, a quick bite and out. It felt smooth and fluid - very rewarding - almost like a proper athlete...heh!....
Anyways. We'll see how things go, but apart from a return to Shenandoah 100 or Wilderness 101 i cant see me doing another 1 day distance race on the singlespeed. For whatever reason, i think i have done everything i want to realistically do with that. In a lot of ways riding a singlespeed is easier than gears. You can always go faster and push harder if you have gears: your fitness and strength is the limit. Once you get over a certain cadence on a singlespeed, the only way to move faster is to draft - an extremely important skill to gain for races such as Shenandoah, where there are some quite long dirt road segments. Getting on the tail of a geared rider or a group pays huge dividends.
I was following the Trans Sylvania Mountainbike Epic stage race recently. Based around one of my favourite places to ride in the world - State Collge, PA, i could easily see myself dusting off the singlespeed to do that race, but it is different: multiple shorter stages over a period of days. I reckon its on the 'to do list' though.
After i got back from Bristol, we went straight into house buying mode. We had spotted a property a little just out of town, that has a big garage and workroom that i will be able to secure quite easily and space inside enough to suit our 'stay mostly in the kitchen/living area' lifestyle with some easily accessed garden space too. It is ripe for some future 'organic architecture' style refits and a bit of open plan action. I'm thinking of channeling my Frank Lloyd Wright here - opening the space up to the garden, perhaps some more glass/door type stuff. Usonian...knowwhatimean? But thats a ways off! So we had to tear our current place apart and get it ship-shape to put on the market. It has been a pretty hectic few days, but i think we are nearly ready...want to buy a flat?
And to top it all off, there was even a day where it didn't rain and i got out on the bike.