24 October 2021
The TA is a mammoth challenge that can overwhelm the mojo of even the most staunch battle-hardened riders. Some tricks both 'in training' and 'in anger' can help keep objectives in perspective and divide it all into bite-sized milestones.
Training can quickly morph from grin, to grin and bear it. Try setting realistic, regular (and invariably progressive) goals to keep you motivated and smiling such as...
It's tempting to pre-ride some sections of the route - fun, but probably best not to. Don't want to set expectations of pace or buzz that may be hard to match during the event.
Tunes and audio distractions help soldier through the inevitable extended periods of tedium. Pre-load with podcasts that you'd never otherwise find the time to listen to. Ollie scared himself through some long, dark nights with a Zombie Apocalypse series.
Be prepared and ready, but don’t over train. Super-keen beans can potentially burn out mentally, and physically, before hitting the start line. At the other end of the continuum, some will opt to start slow and gradually build up to full-speed over the first week of the TA. Either way grasshopper, it's wise to pace yourself during training and during the event.
Mix it up with popcorn and jaffas in the back row. The world is dotted with bikepacking 'non-races' that can be followed virtually, eg. the Tour Divide, Arizona Trail, Colorado Trail, Trans-Am and Silk Road. They can be inspiring - and amusing to second think tactics from the comfort the armchair. There's even a full-length doco 'Ride the Divide' following the Tour Divide.
In amongst the adrenalin and tough days, remember to smell the roses and seek out Zen-like pleasure in the usual places...
After you've done the hard yards in training, front up to the start line with low or no expectations. Moments of misfortune will test your resolve - not meeting any preconceived expectations can be demotivating. Better, expect and plan for things to go wrong - celebrate when they don't.
If it all becomes too overwhelming, stop, eat some food and chill out for at least an hour. Your perspective and the world is much more palatable after food and a pause in proceedings.
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