On Monday, I rode my bike for 16 hours and 11 minutes in the desert of the UAE –with a 15 minute break at the 8 hour mark.
Mario Huys, my coach set a test week to see how my preparations for RAAM is coming along, and Monday was the completion of 84 hours of bike training in 8 days.
Monday: 8 hours
Tuesday: 10 hours
Wednesday: 12 hours
Thursday: 2 hours
Friday: 10 hours
Saturday: 12 hours
Sunday: 14 hours
Monday: 16 hours
I woke at 2:30 am each day, and then drove 30 minutes to a place in the desert with perfect, well-lit roads. (exit 390 going towards Abu Dhabi from Dubai)
I woke up this early to be able to begin riding by 3:30, and not have the sun or heat for a good portion of the ride; and also not to finish training too late.
Although I took 3 vacation days from work for the test, I was still able to go to the office after the training most days, and the Dubai office sales teams gave me great support sending texts throughout the week.
My ritual worked well – wake up, breakfast and out the door within 15 minutes of waking up, and then I drank my large coffee as I drove … on the way, I would stop at the same gas station to get ice.
I tipped the guy at the cash register each day to ensure my ice was prepared so when I drove up, someone would immediately bring it out to me and pour the ice into the cooler. I didn’t waste much time.
Where I train there are very few cars, so it’s safe. Ideal training conditions with miles and miles of perfect roads.
Throughout the week, my legs were fine and I seemed to get stronger each ride – the only issue I had was my groin and inner thigh saddle pain.
It’s worth mentioning that the new LOOK bike shorts are excellent – so much more comfortable than any other bike short I have used.
Nearly, every mid day I would ride in a section with camels either on the side of the road or walking in the road. I saw the bones of 3 dead camels on the side of the road, I assume they were hit by cars or trucks.
One day, I rode through 30+ camels and they ran with me as I rode … incredible how fast they can run.
The wind was strong on most days.
But, I looked at the strong head winds with a positive attitude, and how it was perfect training conditions – much better training than having the wind at my back.
I carried 4 water bottles on my bike, and stopped at my car for 90 seconds every 4 hours to get more drinks and food. I tried not to stop longer than 90 seconds.
On the 16 hour ride, I had Bob meet me at the 8 hour mark and then he followed me for the last 8 hours … it made a big difference having a support vehicle with cold drinks and food handed to me as I rode – instead of eating hot bananas which I kept on me or drinking very warm water like I did on the other days.
It was hot, (Romain told me it was 44+ c on Monday) but with a headwind the heat didn’t bother me much. I am proud to ride LOOK, and this week because of the wind, I rode on my 596 i-pack and not my 675 road bike.
I wore long bike pants and a long sleeve shirt each day to protect me from the sun. This worked well.
The power of the mind…
I got stronger each ride – and I think the 7th day’s 14 hour ride was the strongest, fastest ride I have ever had.
I noticed when I was thinking positive thoughts, the time flew by and I felt good. But when I started to think of negative things, like the pain in my ass …the time went by very slow and my ass hurt.
But as soon I started to think of something positive, the pain went away.
It was a great week, but I still have a long way to go and only 3 months to be ready for RAAM.