Many lessons were learned from TABR15


In the aftermath of TABR15, I did  very little licking my wounds. I think I got all that out during the race and the day I spent alone in the Super 8 in Cañon City waiting on Jeneen to pick me up. Instead, I went straight to planning for another shot. You see, I believe that I didn’t fail, I just found one way to do it wrong. I have resolved to make 2016 a victorious and satisfying year in the saddle.

As for events, my calendar will look very similar to last year. The cornerstone will be TABR16 in June. I also have unfinished business with Trans Iowa V12 in April. Outside of those, I am sure I will do the OT100MTB in October or November as well as a smattering of gravel and road centuries.

With my main focus on TABR, I have done a lot of thinking on what went wrong and what went right. In the right column, I learned an absolute ton. I have to give myself a break and admit it was my first multi-day endurance racing event. I had a goal of reaching Coburg on the first day and met that goal. My bike did everything I asked of it- no issues there really. A few of the things that went wrong are as follows:

  • I was underprepared physically– I came into the race way too heavy (235lbs) and was pretty out of shape cycling-wise. I did have a few centuries under my belt and one double, but my riding through the spring wasn’t consistent. Many of the racers that do these events will tell you that the training isn’t as much about going out and doing monster miles as it is being familiar with your equipment and consistent in your riding.
  • I was underprepared with my equipment– Not only did I not get out to use my kit beforehand, but I had just finished putting it together in the week before I left for Oregon. I relied on conversations via Facebook with other racers and my touring/backpacking experience to guide me in what to take. In the end, I was able to survive with what I brought, but far from thrive. The biggest issue was my sleep system. I took my tarp and hammock with a thin foam sleeping pad and 45F quilt. This setup works great bikepacking, backpacking or touring, but lacks some versatility for racing, in my opinion. I had some folks tell me that they didn’t think the hammock was a good choice, but I was sold on the idea of superior comfort. If I had gotten my kit together earlier and gotten out to use it, I might have realized my mistake before I left.
  • I was underprepared with my game plan– When I toured the Trans Am in 2011, I started with grand plans, laying out where I would stay, and places to stop, only to find out that everything changed on a daily basis. A chat with a local here, a stop to see the sites there. Before you know it, all plans are out the window and you do everything in the moment and on the fly. By the time I got half way through that tour, I would do everything impromptu- meals, places to stay. Everything was spontaneous. I came into TABR thinking that this would be the same way. It can be if you want to tour quickly. With that lack of focus, racing is a disaster. Like I mentioned, I met my goal the first day, but after that, I didn’t have a goal other than the end. Once you are tired and start to wear down, a lack of plan will lead to low motivation, emotional decisions and lots of stops.
  • I was underprepared financially– This was the killer. I could’ve dealt with all the other things, but without enough money set aside, there is only so much you can do. I thought that I could stretch things and make it work. You can if you are experienced or have a plan to follow. I had neither and spent too much too fast with a budget that was too small to begin with.

So what am I going to do, you ask? Make changes! I Have a financial plan that will insure I have the funds to complete the race. I began getting myself in physical shape almost immediately after getting home last June. From the beginning of July through October, I lost almost 50lbs. I did fall off the dietary wagon during the holidays and I have some work to do to get back to my “fighting weight”, but I have it under control. I made adjustments to my kit that will allow me better latitude in choosing where I will sleep. I also have a specific strategy and goals to keep me on track during the race. I already feel more prepared for the race than I did last year.

This year’s race is a completely different ballgame. Armed with what I learned from last year’s failed attempt, I have made changes to my approach that, barring injury or equipment failure, I believe will allow me to not only finish, but finish well. In the mean time, I have lots of work to do!

This entry was posted in OT100MTB, TABR16, Training, Trans Iowa, Trip Preparations. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Many lessons were learned from TABR15

  1. poppapro says:

    nothing like a comeback!

  2. Adi Coventry-Brown (vespa chick) says:

    Good one Brian. I enjoyed reading your blog and the aftermath. Like you I am also making changes for this year. You get so caught up in the hype of the event that you loose your focus and get so tired that you can barely think straight. I believe in sticking to my game plan, fixing any problems from last year and being more flexible about what hours of the day you ride and when you sleep to maximize the best riding conditions.

  3. Al Bishop says:

    Here is some more inspiration for your Brian: “Chance favors a prepared mind.”
    Best of luck! Your writing shows you have a great deal of determination, and the capacity to learn from your experiences. Peace!!

  4. Greg Hoffman says:

    Thanks for all your TABR posts, Brian. They’re helping me learn as I prepare for my first race ever, TABR2017!

  5. hippy says:

    Hmm, I was just going to smash it out ad hoc because, on a daily basis, I have no idea what the terrain and my body will allow. I could set goal distances per day but without riding the route I’m not sure how I’d stick to them given the variables. Maybe a ‘riding time per day’ would be a more useful metric to set goals on? What do you reckon?

    • I think either would be helpful. I will agree though that terrain differences can make a big difference in what you can do per day, so maybe time is a good way to manage it. Most importantly, my experience tells me that I need a plan of some sort. Otherwise, the idea of just getting on the bike and riding all day and into the night will turn into stop after stop, in places that you really don’t need to.

  6. Bradford Smith says:

    Im routing for you buddy!

  7. Jason Marshall says:

    Enjoyed reading this thanks for posting. I understand that the figure will be different depending on one’s approach (ex: camping vs. Motels) but what do you consider a sufficient budget – if you don’t mind me asking?

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