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TA Countdown 2: Stoking Your Mojo

24 October 2021

By Ollie Whalley, Anja McDonald, Tristan Rawlence & Scott Emmens

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.

In Training

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...

  • Riding 100 km in a day.
  • Ticking off some back-to-back 100 km days .
  • Make bags-on and fully-loaded the default for training rides.
  • Fire up with some group rides with supportive friends or fellow TA riders-in-training.
  • Knock off an overnight trip with your bike
  • Hone your mechanical skills - stab a hole in (an old) tyre and see how quickly you can fix it.
  • Ride singletrack fully-loaded to test how your bike handles differently.
  • Ride at night to test your lights and charging solution(s).
  • Geek out on gear, weights and spreadsheets.
  • Sleep in a ditch, under a bridge or in a hay barn.

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.

In House

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 Anger

In amongst the adrenalin and tough days, remember to smell the roses and seek out Zen-like pleasure in the usual places...

  • Enjoy the simplicity of just riding your bike, all day, every day - and not having to sweat the distractions of work, mortgages and Donald Trump.
  • Tequila or not, bathe in the sunrises and sunsets.
  • Discover 'windswept and interesting' locals and engage them in discourse. This is commonly reported as a post-TA highlight for many.
  • Rather than obsessing with the day's final (big and invariably daunting) objective, break the day into smaller, manageable highlights - the first generally being breakfast.

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.