Endurance racing is a headgame - before, during, and after the event.
Before: the blogosphere has changed the nature of these events somewhat. Blogs get squawky, or not; riders release goals, or not; whichever side of the fence you are on, it affects you. Then there's the taper: do you have it nailed? Doing too much, too little? Does it make you restless? Anticipation is half the fun of these things.
During: in long events, energy levels are in a constant state of flux. If you're in a tight race- and actually racing as opposed to riding to finish - there will be times when the competition is stronger, times when you will be stronger. Especially as the race progresses...getting passed with authority is demoralizing and can lead to negative thoughts if not placed in context, that context being that that rider is at the same point in time as yourself, so they aren't really any faster. The trick is...how much mental/emotional energy does it take to overcome those thoughts, how much can you take, and how much can you dish out...
After: the nuttiest part by far. After goal events you can find yourself anywhere on a continuum of cloud nine to depression. It all depends on how the race went down.
For 2 years running I find myself in the middle of that continuum in late February - 2 years running forced to pull out of the season's first big event due to factors outside of my control. Frustrating, yes; but each year there were many positives to climb out of the smoking heap. All the same, a purge was required, which leads me into Sunday's ride.
Arizona is such a varied region. I pulled out the trusy old wrinkled Tonto NF map and chose another dirt road route from Pine (north of Payson at the base of the Mogollon Rim) to Childs. Childs lies on the Verde river, 1 mile downstream from the Verde river hot springs. I've been to the hot springs via raft a few times, a spectacular place. As it turned out, the roads in are equally spectacular. By rides end, I had climbed something over 7,000', but the pace was relaxed so I'm calling it active recovery. 4.25 hours & 225 TSS, nice and easy. Good for the mind & legs. A photo blog:
Near the start of the ride.
These guys have their hands full in this region. Mogollon rim in background.
Water!!! Fossil creek.
I'd show the hotsprings, but some folks apparently missed this sign...
The Verde river.
What a great day on the bike...again. The head is clear, the legs fresh. Anticipation is once again building.
Next up? Humboldt this weekend, a "road" race that includes some dirt road and a summit finish up a 10-20% grade 3.5 mile climb. Totally euro, narrow road, old pavement, it'll hurt. I'm going to throw an XT rear mech and 11/34 on the back of the road bike for that climb. The NORBA marathon just up the road will round out the winter's AZ experience Mar 24, then it's back home to Colorado, just like the swallows to Capistrano.