Each year I commit to buying only one cycling event jersey. Last year, my annual jersey came from the Hincapie Gran Fondo. This year, I chose another South Carolina event. The awesome looking red and black jersey for Assault On Mt. Mitchell arrived in the mail at the end of last week. I can't wait to wear it with pride, but I made a promise to myself that I would wait until I earn it.
My training plan is entering the final exam phase rapidly. It seemed like just yesterday I was signing up for this event, and now I'm nearly panicked realizing I have less than a month left to be ready.
Early on, I mentioned my keys to success at Mt. Mitchell would be to lose excess weight, strengthen my core, ride often, and game plan for success! I'm happy to report I have made significant strides in all of these categories. Still, I'm somewhat nervous as we get closer and closer. The guys and gals I ride with in Bluegrass Cycling Club (my local), help coach me up every week about staying focused and climbing as much as possible. They have been inspirational, telling me they can't wait to hear about the ride as we host our big annual event, the Horsey Hundred the weekend following AOMM.
I have completed multiple fifty plus mile rides, incorporating the toughest climbing I can find in this area, but I wish I had completed some tougher rides. Unfortunately, this winter has been harsher and longer than recent past years, so I've had to spin on my exercise bike more than I prefer. All necessary suffering, I continue to remind myself.
My biggest test came two weeks ago when I completed the century route at Redbud Ride in London, KY. I was satisfied with my finish as we averaged 17+ mph for the total ride, which included some challenging hills. These may not compare to the Mitchell route, but they still required plenty of effort.
I had the luxury of riding the Redbud Ride with an experienced Carolina climber, Jim Simes, a very strong cyclist and good friend of mine from Anderson, SC. He assured me that no matter what I thought leading up to the big day, there is no true way to be mentally and physically prepared for the torture we will go through on the bike. Gee, thanks Jim!
His advice to me was to find the pack that fits my pace early on. Stick tight with them as they pull me as fast and effortlessly as possible to Marion, hydrating and fueling properly along the way. I shouldn’t attempt to start fueling at the Marion stop. By then it is too late. From Marion, set out for a battle, but go at my own pace. In terms of saddle time, I will be almost halfway home.
Hopefully this advice will help me develop my game plan for success.