How do I put into words something I cannot quite grasp? Something big. Something encompassing walking on the tallest and the most majestic mountain range on Earth? My work is finally done. Months of preparation will be put to work starting March 3 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The Yak Attack – a 10 day stage race/trek on a bike. Some of it you ride, some of it you walk, and all of it you embrace and admire. I leave one week from today for my adventure to tackle the highest mountain bike stage race in the world with my teammate, Jeff Kerkove. We will both be taking on the adventure SOLO. Some of you have been following my prep. After a few months of various training modalities, I am proud to say that after the many liters of sweat, the days I have literally frozen on the descents, the persistent efforts in the gym, the many times I had to tell myself to just shut up and do the work, the research, and the hiking, I feel ready. Jason from Fascat Coaching listened to my doubts, but gently encouraged me along my way. It was a huge advantage to be training with power. I got a Cyclops Mountain Bike Powertap and quite honestly, I cannot imagine training without it anymore! It gave invaluable feedback on days where my heart rate was low and I wanted to turn around. My heart rate may have been low, but my numbers were still up! The final block that I finished today was the hardest – 10 days long to mimic the race. I had one recovery day in the middle of it, and the total for the block was 32 hours, ~307 mi(I don’t know the exact number because my Garmin did not measure moving distance while hiking) and about 36,000′ of elevation gain with every ride pointing uphill. The race will be 250 miles and 39,000′ of elevation gain. I rode more miles than in the race, but the terrain will be a lot more difficult there. I was very surprised that despite the efforts day after day, I was able to maintain power and felt good. The only thing I have left to do is rest for the next week with a few short efforts to stay spunky.
Most of my rides went up Sunshine or Magnolia. Both punishing!
This video shows the progression of the hike-a-bike training and harness system. I decided it’d be more fun to watch it and to talk to the camera than to type it all out. There is a lot of talking and walking. :) Enjoy!
I can only take so many photos of the same roads for you, so most of my photos are from my hikes this week.
The snowpacked road to Brainard.
Snowshoes on the Ergon BC2.
Hiking boots and gear for BX3. I will be using the Ergon BX3 in the Yak Attack.
Every day for as many as I can remember, at least one person asked me if I was “okay” during my training ride or hike. Some of the time I was around the Peak to Peak highway with my bike on the ground digging warm gloves and clothes out of my backpack for the way down. Other times I was walking with my bike. The other question people asked me the most was if my backpack was designed the carry the bike. That is flattering because it means that what I’ve done looks like it’s “supposed” to be that way.
I made one last video before the race. This one focuses entirely on my hike-a-bike method. I created a harness for my bike that is compact, light, and easy to manage. I will only use this method for the Thorong La stage, and will shoulder or push it for the rest of the time. This past week, four of my rides incorporated hike-a-bike. The rest of them involved 80+ minutes of intensity up the canyons around Boulder.
The time management was the most difficult part of my last aggressive training block. I will admit that I could have done better with sleep and was up late working almost every night, but something had to give. I got my work done for my job and got my work done on the bike. My social life suffered a little bit, but I was able to see friends once or twice.
I have almost all my logistics ready to go for the race. The trickiest part now will be packing. For the last 6 stages of the race (as I’ve mentioned), we are only allowed 22 lbs of gear including all race equipment and nutrition. I need to pack my race bag and see just what needs to stay home, and the bare minimum that’ll be good enough. It is surreal that this is all happening. I will be posting again before I leave.
I wanted to thank all my sponsors for the amazing support you have given me, to my friends and family, to my coach -Jason, and to Matt for letting me be selfish with my time and put myself first getting ready for this race.
I will continue to be motivated by the quote that has stuck with me since the moment I heard it. It’s on my Road ID and it’s taped to my top tube. I have looked down at it during painful, lengthy intervals, and it gave me what I needed to press on when I wanted to turn around and go home. It will give me what I need in the race too.
“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”
– Denis Waitley (except he says what instead of who)