The time is near- only 8 more days!

I just realized yesterday evening that the last time I updated here, my outlook on the race was a bit bleak. Back pain and vehicle problems had me down, but I had resolved to not let it get to me. Luckily, that resolve has carried me past the ugly parts and things are looking good. Everything is pretty well set and I fly out Sunday morning!

My low back strain has taken some diligence to get beyond, but is now basically gone. The first 3-5 days were painful, but with stretching, yoga , being careful not to do anything more to it and being patient, I am now back to normal. I didn’t ride for over a week as I was concerned I would do more harm than good. Once I was feeling better, I got a couple somewhat vigorous rides in over the past weekend and I think I am in good shape with the back now.

The car situation? Well, our family vehicle is still down and won’t be going again until I get home from the race, but I have been fortunate enough to have a great friend who is letting us borrow a car while I’m gone. Thank you Kevin! When I get home I will have to deal with it right away, but at least I don’t have to worry about it for now and my journey wasn’t ended before it started.

As for trip prep, I made some eleventh hour changes that required some Amazon orders. No big changes, just re-routing charge cables to make my system easier to use and more efficient. I am waiting on one more cord that is supposed to be out for delivery with the mail today.

I also have some spare parts (chain, tires, tubes) that are supposed to be in soon. I ordered them last week, but still don’t have them in my possession. The chain is set to deliver tomorrow (Friday). The tires and tubes don’t show a projected date. Grrrr. I planned to put all of this in a box and post it to roughly mid-course. Hopefully they come before I leave Sunday, but worst case they come in next week and Jeneen can get it together and send it out for me. As long as it is done prior to June 4th, I am good. After that, it would be considered help during the race and against the rules.

Tonight I plan to do one last ride with all my gear and I have a couple little sewing projects I want to work on. Tomorrow evening I pack and box it all up. Saturday will be hanging with family and Sunday I am off to Oregon. It is all coming to the pointy end and I feel so much more prepared than last year. I have the right gear and setup for me. I have mentally and physically prepared. I am ready. And I can’t wait!!

Good thing I wasn’t holding my breath

So you know that old adage about just when you think you got the tiger by the tail, it turns around to bite you? Well, lets just say I need to be careful about what I say.

As of my last post, just 6 days ago, everything seemed to be in place and I was just waiting for 5-29 to get here so I can fly out to Oregon and get this race started. Since then I have been going over things and making a few final tweaks to my setup. I had wrapped up my upgrades and took the bike out for a ride. Everything on the bike felt great.

Mid-week I received some funds that I had been waiting on and I got very excited! This was what I was counting on for TABR funds. Now I had it in my possession and in the bank. I was really excited and shared that excitement with a few folks that are close to me. The one thing that really took me out of last year’s race was now taken care of. That is what you call relief.

Then the tide started to turn. Friday afternoon or evening, I started feeling a strain in my lower back. Gradually it has gotten worse. I’m not real sure what I have done, but it isn’t good. It hurts to stand, sit or lay down. I have stretched and popped ibuprofen, but not much seems to help. It is not something that I feel I should ride with. That’s a big bummer as this weekend was mostly free and beautiful weather. I really feel like I am missing out on some quality riding time and with the lack of riding over the last few weeks, I worry I am losing fitness.

Then yesterday I got a call from my son. He had been driving our family vehicle and noticed a noise in the engine. I had him shut it down and I went across town to check it out. It is bad. From the sound of it, we have a broken part in the bottom end of the motor. Bad main bearings or a broken rod. I currently have it about half apart trying to diagnose the problem and have run into a few stumbling blocks. Although I am mechanically inclined and can fix about anything, this will cost money for parts and very well will cost quite a bit. This very likely will put my race funds in jeopardy.

I was very upset last night (Saturday). I prepared nearly a year for TABR15, only to have my hopes trashed with a DNF in Colorado due to lack of funds and now, after another year of preparing and being so much more diligent this time, I very well may have to sack my dream of bike racing to fix a car. That is ironic actually. I discussed it at length with Jeneen over a big cheeseburger and went to bed feeling dejected and beaten.

I slept well and although my back isn’t any better today, my resolve is. Very much like when racing and you have problems, it is best to eat and then sleep on it. I have some enormous hurdles to overcome over the next 14 days before my scheduled flight, but they are hurdles, not stop signs. Time to put on my problem solving hat and get things done. If the race isn’t easy, getting there shouldn’t be either.

 

TABR16 is looming and I can’t wait!

In many ways, 2015 felt like a year of failure. I was stymied by the weather for Trans Iowa and went to TABR unprepared in almost every way. I chose to use those events as learning experiences and now 2016 is off to a great start. Trans Iowa is done and I was successful in finishing that beast. Next up is Trans Am Bike Race. I began preparing for TABR16 about 2 seconds after I made my DNF call to Nathan Jones for TABR15. This race has been at the forefront of almost every thought for 10 months now and I truly can’t wait! I am very excited to get to it.

Preparing for the race has been multi-faceted. I have certainly been training physically- both on and off the bike. I also have been preparing my gear. I made some major changes to my kit as compared to last year. No more hammock and tarp. This year I will be sporting a bivy and quilt for my camping nights. I also upgraded to a Garmin GPS unit and will leave the maps at home. As for the bike, I will be on the same Giant Defy aluminum frame and bomb-proof DT Swiss wheels that I hand built for last year, but nearly everything else is new. I upgraded from my low end, wore out Sora components to all 105 componentry. I have a new Bontrager saddle, new Easton carbon seat post, new Look carbon pedals, new-to-me Easton carbon bars, a new lighter weight stem and new lighter weight Profile Design aero bars. I even found a good deal on some carbon bottle cages. The bike should be in much better working order and it is certainly lighter. All total, my bike and kit (minus food and drinks) weighs in right at 31 lbs- solidly 6.5 lbs lighter than my setup for last year. I am confident that my kit will serve me well, doing all I want it to and very little that I don’t. Speaking of weight, I am lighter body-wise than when I started last year’s race by 15 lbs. I still have easily 20 I could loose and had hoped to have it off by the race, but it doesn’t look like I will have all of that gone. I’m not going to sweat it too much. It would be nice to have it gone, but in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having a little to lose. Frankly, every racer will lose weight, whether they have it to lose or not. Overall I am lightyears ahead in my preparations as compared to last year so it’s all good.

Flights are scheduled and accommodations in Astoria are reserved. Thomas Camero will pick me up at PDX when I fly in on 5-29. I will then spend a couple days with him and his wife Jane in Hood River before riding to Astoria. Everything seems to be squared away and ready. I just have to wait another 20 days before I leave!