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A couple of months ago I wrote about the amazing Kacie & Dani who were in heavy training to complete the 3,000 mile Race Across America. I’m pleased to say that the pair made it, and I was lucky enough to catch up with them again post race.
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Q: Were you both nervous in the days leading up to big race? And did you feel like you’d trained enough?
Dani: I wasn’t nervous. I tend to not get overly anxious before big races or nervous. I did feel overwhelmed in the days before we left Atlanta, I felt like I had a tremendous amount of things to do to get ready and packed and not enough time to do them in. I felt incredibly confident in my training and my physical state!
Kacie: I was nervous for sure! My husband, our crew chief, and I had to drive all of the gear across the country. It was almost 35 hours of driving, which is exhausting. It started to get intimidating thinking about the fact that we were riding our bikes back! I was not nervous about the training. I knew that I had worked as hard as I could possibly work and prepare as much I could have prepared. I was nervous about the unexpected–accidents, car trouble, and the unknowns.
A month or so ago I was contacted by two inspiring American women who are training for an ‘ultra’ cycling event called Race Across America. It’s a 3,000 mile or 4,828 km ride that has to be completed in nine days.
I always thought that undertaking a long ride like Melbourne’s Around the Bay which is 210 km was a pretty impressive feat. That was until I heard from Kacie & Dani.
I asked them a few questions about their quest.
I’m writing this on my return flight from Adelaide after spending a week enjoying Australia’s own UCI cycling event, the Tour Down Under. For those of you who don’t already know about it, it’s a six day professional men’s road racing event held every January centred around the South Australian city of Adelaide.
It was my sixth visit to the southern capital for the race and it’s great to see it continue to grow in popularity with lots of locals coming out in support as well as interstate and international visitors.
For me it has always consisted of two key components – the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) ride in the Barossa Valley and the Tour Down Under itself.
When I first started doing long rides, my training and preparation was almost entirely based on my physical readiness. I’ve always understood the big role that mental preparation plays for elite athletes but I never thought I had anything in common with them.
After four years of cycling, I’ve done quite a few charity rides and a small amount of racing and I always get very nervous beforehand. But I’ve never known how to overcome it except to just accept that it happens and live with it. I’ve also thought that my anxiety was more a female trait so I was interested to hear pro cyclist Luke Durbridge in an interview after he won the National road race championship last week say that he was shaking on the start on the start line because he was so nervous. It made me feel less alone.
I’m not sure how other cyclists define a long ride but for me it’s anything over about 100 km. For others, it could be many hundreds of kilometres or even as short as a 50 km ride like Sydney’s Spring Cycle.
In planning my training program, I firstly factor in that I ride on a regular basis, usually about four times per week with a total of around 150 km so I’m fairly ‘bike’ fit. However the ride I’m undertaking in about four week’s time is 160 km (or a century if you’re from the US) so for me that means I have to undertake some extra training. I’ve done the same 160 km ride a year ago so I know what to expect but this time I’d like to do it better and improve on my time.
Most things I’ve read on this subject and other more wise individuals say that you don’t need to ride the full distance in training but you do need to up your kilometres and get some extra ‘kms in your legs’.
When I first started riding I thought the only thing you really needed to know about descending was to grip the brakes tight and pray it was over soon. As I’ve developed more riding skills I’ve learnt to enjoy descending and although I’m far from mastering it, I feel a lot more confident and am going a lot faster than before. My fastest speed I’ve ever clocked up on my trusty Garmin 500 is 61 km per hour which was in a recent charity ride which has some excellent downhill sections (and of course the matching uphills).
The following article is reproduced from a fantastic e-zine & website called Women’s Cycling.ca. It’s a free cycling resource for women that contains a heap of great articles just like this one. Thanks to Laurel-Lea Shannon who is the founder of the site and the author of this article. Laurel-Lea resides in Ontario Canada and she tells me that one of her regular contributors Diane Stibbard is an Australian who now resides in Canada. Over to Laurel-Lea………
This was my fourth time I had participated and while a lot of people think that raising $3,500 to do the ride is a huge challenge, for me riding the 160 km course was far harder.
In my previous three rides I’d only done the 80 km course which was hard for me the first time (only four months after I started riding) but it had become increasingly achievable.
So I spent the past few months training which really paid off and I’m very pleased to say I completed the ride successfully. For those who like a few stats it took 6 hours 33 minutes at an average speed of 25 km per hour. In fact it was 164 km.
The JDRF ride is an 80 km circuit around the beautiful Barossa Valley. The 160 km ride is a clockwise lap followed by an 80 km anti-clockwise lap. It’s undulating for the most part but in some parts hilly. Harder than the 210 km Around the Bay in Melbourne which many other riders agreed with me.
I hope you don’t think from reading this blog on a regular basis that I’m an elitist road bike snob because although I’m a very keen road-biker I’m also keen to get women to ride bikes of any type. I ultimately believe if they catch the bug they’ll end up on a road bike, but really any riding is good in my view.
Last weekend I did a few laps around the block on my sister’s new comfort style bike. It was sort of fun rolling along with my seven year old nephew in tow and his father right behind him keeping guard. Here’s the photographic evidence. No lycra in sight!!!
So I’ve done my research and thought I’d give you a simple run down on the different sorts of bikes you could consider if you’re just starting out. My first bike, other than the ones I rode as a child & teenager, was a road bike but many people work their way up. Plus, there are plenty of people who are very happy to have a bike to just ride with their kids or use it to get to their local shops. All fine by me. All cycling is good in my view.
Read my guest blog on SheRides Cycling about setting a training goal.
I completed the Gong ride for the fourth time yesterday and thought it timely to tell you about my experience in the hope that it will encourage more female cyclists to participate in future events like this. Each state around Australia has these types of events that are run annually.
Firstly, it was all good from my perspective so don’t be expecting to read some gruesome tale here. Beautiful conditions – warm and very little wind.
I did the Gong ride for the first time in 2008 about five weeks after I’d started riding so you can imagine that three years later it seemed like a completely different experience. My first attempt was the shorter version from Heathcote to the Gong which was about 55 km.