I’m sitting in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport en route to Ulaanbaatar for the Mongolia Bike Challenge. And a challenge it will be. I was searching for a way to explain the race to friends a few days ago in terms they could understand.
“I’m essentially riding Sydney to Melbourne next week. On a mountain bike.”
It was the sort of statement that made even me stop and consider what lies ahead. It’s not a total leap into the unknown; a few days ago Mike – who raced the Mongolia Bike Challenge in 2013 – put together a list of tips to survive the race.
The experience of others can go a long way to towards enhancing your own experience. I’ve studied Mike’s tips furiously since he posted them. Mike has a lot of experience racing stage races, so his advice is always welcome and absolutely respected.
However, I’m sorry Mike, I’m going to drink the fermented milk.
While I might live to regret that, it’s all part of the experience. Besides, I’ll be following much of the other advice, complemented by that from others.
Comfort is not a complete antidote for accumulated fatigue, however achieving a level of it will be one of my main priorities as I face up to the monster that is exhaustion. Training with Will Hayter in England in recent months he cautioned that doing everything you can between stages has potentially greater importance that the hours on the bike.
I ran my first (running) marathon in April this year, and was able to coach myself through the final 10km with the mantra of “I’ve got this, I can do anything for 40mins…20mins…10 minutes…”
To a certain extent that sort of formula goes out the window at a race lasting 7 days, but there’s bound to be some significant self-talk towards the end of each stage. A day at a time, achieved an hour at a time. As Mike mentioned: Do what works for you and stick to it.
I have someone (thing) else to worry about. My Whyte 29C has to complete the same 850km as me, so taking care of it is another massive priority. In this regards, Will Hayter’s routine at Cape Epic has been another piece I’ve read and re-read.
No matter how much reading I do, there’s going to be things I learn each and every day.
Mike’s tips began with a reference to adventure. As much as I love riding my bike, that’s one of the biggest draws of this race, and Mongolia in general. Phil Welch’s rundown on the race and the country itself is a great insight. It’s with a child-like sense of excitement that I’m approaching this challenge – I’m going to see animals I’ve never seen and a landscape I’ve never experienced.
I’ll be able to affirm Mike’s tips soon. For now, I’ve added an extra bullet point:
Don’t take a moment of this for granted.