Sunday, December 8, 2013
Goals for 2014: the Lap of the Lake 1000K and Beyond
One thing I love about the coming of winter is the chance to sit back and assess the past while planning for the future. As a cyclist, this process begins for me when RUSA posts the ride schedule for the coming year in early October and my head begins to spin with options for organized rides around the country. For me, the structure of the year is largely determined by the longest ride that I will build towards as the ultimate goal; a ride that from the comfort of the couch seems like it might be slightly out of my reach. Once this is established, I look to build the season around brevets and training that aligns with my family and work obligations.
This year, the answer for me was obvious. The last time I had planned to ride in the Lap of the Lake 1000K (LOL) was 2010. It was to be the major goal of that season of riding and was to serve as the event that pushed me to the top of the pecking order in the new system of pre-registration that ACP established to regulate the size of PBP. While preregistered for LOL, though, I was unable to start due to a humerus fracture I sustained during the NJ 600K that June and I had let let my pal Andrey ride on to success without me.
2010 was a momentous year in my life. It was the season I pushed myself to complete a full SR series in under 60% of the maximum time allowance, or or R60 according to the rules of the Cyclos Montagnards challenge set up by Jan Heine and the folks at Bicycle Quarterly. I was interested in this challenge as a way to assess whether I could successfully complete PBP in under 56:40, which at 60% of the total allowable time of 90 hours, would qualify me to become a member of Le Societe Charly Miller. By June, things were going pretty well. I had finished the Princeton 200K, Saratoga 300K and the Boston 400K all safely within the time limits. It was my strongest season ever; I felt like I was on top of the world. This feeling would not last long.
In late June, I set out to complete the NJ 600K, a beautiful, flat ride through the magical Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, in under 24 hours. Never having completed a 600 in 24 hours, I was not concerned about the pace or the distance, but rather the impact of riding straight through the night without sleep. To make matters worse, the ride start was at 10:00pm and I clipped in after a full day at work. Starting out strong, I fell in with Anthony M. from VT and we kept pace as we rode through the peaceful night and reached Cape May at the southern tip of the state by dawn. All was going according to plan until mile 309 when I lost focus for a nanosecond and hit a patch of sand on the shoulder and went down hard on the pavement. I knew something was not right with my shoulder, but thought it was more likely a muscle injury than a fracture as I clipped back in and rode with determination to the finish 66 miles down the road. Anthony was a prince and paced me as my speed declined. No longer able to hit the 24 hour goal, we finished in 25:50 and I was left with an R70 finish for the season.
The Lap of the Lake was less than two weeks down the road and while unable to secure a visit to the orthopedist in time, I knew something was wrong enough with my shoulder that 1000K was not a good idea. So I took a DNS and subsequently found out that my shoulder was broken. After six weeks in a sling, four of which were spent with family off the bike in Europe, I entered the Endless Mountains 1000K in hopes of completing the 2010 season with a 1000K under my belt to secure my spot in the first wave of US registrants to PBP the following year. As you may know, the Endless Mountain 1000K did not work out as planned. I was hit from behind by a distracted driver merely two hours after clipping in and spent the following six weeks in the hospital, and the following three years out of the hospital, recovering from 26 broken bones and three surgeries.
It's been over three years now since my accident and I've accomplished quite a few things on a bike about which I am very proud. I was permitted to ride again 9 months after the accident and in my first full year of riding I completed D2R2, a full SR series, the Festive 500 and an R-12. My perspectives on life and cycling have changed, though, as often happens following a catastrophic event. Since the accident, I've not been able to ride as fast as I once did. Neither have I completed an event over 600K. My ultimate goal, though remains clipping in to ride PBP in 2015. I doubt I'll be in shape to complete the event in Charly Miller time, but complete the event I will.
As all of us who consider ourselves randonneurs know, our sport is all about incremental change. This year, I will complete a full SR series and I hope to increase my pace to at least R70 limits to see if I am capable of training to ride more swiftly than is currently the case. LOL will also be a step along my journey to PBP. I need the experience that a 1000K close to home will give me to plan and build confidence for that legendary ride. LOL will not only be a stepping stone, though. If I have learned anything from my accident, it's to savor life as it comes. The Lap of the Lake will be an amazing opportunity to ride with friends in two countries along a majestic course around a Great Lake, which in itself is a goal worth savoring. Care to join me?
So here's to 2014. May all of your dreams come true.