Getting the right attitude

The Tour Divide is approaching (starts on June 10) and it’s slipping into just about every thought these days. Getting the kit right. Organising logistics for before and after the race. Figuring out the navigation. Training. Fretting. It’s pretty consuming, but that’s half of the fun.

The Divide this year is quite a different prospect for me than anything that has gone before. The only reason to revisit it is to go fast. Yes, there are all kinds of great things on the trail and great people to meet. But if the primary reason was not racing, I could go on a different trip. I could see new people, new places.

So, if the only reason to go back is to improve on last year’s performance, the whole mentality is different. Nature will play its hand and records may be put out of reach by snow, fire, or a hundred other factors so “improvement” means an improved placing. So, now I’m down to beating other people. Or as I would prefer to think of it, finishing in front of other people. I don’t want to negatively defeat them but, instead, to see the best man (or woman) win. The hope is that I’ve done enough to be that best man.

I feel fitter than I’ve ever been. 95 miles of hills and singletrack was a mere 8.5 hours at the weekend and didn’t leave me too beaten up. Last week I ran further and faster than I ever have before (objectively not that amazing, but 8 miles in an hour is good for me!). And then last night, as on a number of occasions recently, I absolutely flew on a 2 hour ride. The numbers from the power meter on my turbo trainer are also higher than I have ever managed before.

Now, I haven’t ridden with some of my quicker friends recently (you know the type, elite XC racers… sickeningly fast) but there’s no arguing with where I am relative to my past self.

So it all looks good to make better progress than last year.

My equipment is also way nicer. The Singular Pegasus is lighter, more comfortable, and even more fun to ride than the Swift was last year. I’ve managed to get some brilliant Maxxis tyres to start with, minimising the chance of another early tyre failure. I’ve got a lighter drivetrain from Velosolo, and ceramic bearings in my Hope BB. A Hope light could turn out to be a crucial factor, expanding the options for riding at night by providing real brightness from AA batteries.

But what of the other racers? Well, I just try not to think about them too much. Judging from history, many people will leave the race in the first week. Some people are going to be mighty fast. But, I’m not going to make one mistake that I made at the Iditarod: I was 2nd to Jay Petervary in my head before we even started. He probably had the better legs anyway, but expecting nothing more than 2nd was no way to race. I don’t disrespect the other riders out there, I just intend to keep them as an unknown quantity until we are slugging it out in the second half of the race.

So that’s the “plan”: Grab the bull by the horns and go hard in the race. No fear about burning out. No worries about riding the whole darn thing by myself if that’s what it takes. Be nice to the people on the trail, but tough on the miles that make it.

5 comments to Getting the right attitude

  • Mark

    Great to see your head & legs are in a good place. As you’ve mentioned, conditions look “interesting” this year. Go Aidan!

    /trots off to check out Hope lights that run on AA batteries…

  • John Foster

    Looking forward to you watching you light it up, buddy. It’s tough to not be on the start with ya. Good Luck.

  • Will be eagerly following online again! 🙂

  • Marshal Bird

    Last yr it seemed to me that you were about as interested in the ‘experience’ as in 100% racing. Seeing your obvious potential this sort of surprised me, but now I understand, you were just ‘pre’ riding the route!!

    Imho you do have the potential to set a SS record, even set an overall record and perhaps even win over all. As you mentioned ‘records’ might not happen this yr but I am so looking forward to seeing your Spot tracking along with guys like Eric, Kurt etc etc.

    This yr is going to be a Spot fan’s delight!! Can’t wait

    Best of Luck Aidan!!

  • Thanks for the nice messages, guys. This seems to be my very late Letter Of Intent….

    It’s nice to know people are watching your SPOT as you ride along… I know you’ll be tutting if I go to sleep early 🙂