Bicycling 448 miles in a day seems not just insane, but impossible. But according to a post in today’s Austin American-Statesman by Pam LeBlanc of FitCity, some dude did exactly that. Pam’s a fitness addict/badass herself, doing biking, swimming, paddling, throwing axes, hiking, zip-lining, heavy metal goat yoga and who knows what else. And not all for her day job. She was also the author of the January 15 profile about A Dude, a far less proficient but definitely way more sane cyclist. But all kudos go to Andrew Willis for his accomplishment. (He is the co-owner of Holland Racing who put on the Driveway Series Thursday night bike races I wrote about back in April and also runs Bike Night at COTA (Circuit of the Americas), something else I’ve done.) It’s awesome, but so what, right? The right question is “What can we learn from him?”
What We Mere Mortals Can Learn from Ultra Endurance
“Willis won the World Ultra Cycling Association’s National Championship event, 24 Hours in the Canyon, earlier this month by pedaling 448 miles in a single day.
The race started at the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon State Park at noon, when it’s nice and hot. Cyclists rode up to the rim, pedaled 100 miles, then dropped back into the canyon to complete as many 5-mile loops within the park as they could before noon the next day.“
We Can Do Better: If there’s one take-away for me from Willis, and something that I try to impart to readers in my blog, is that we can do more than we think. It never occurred to me that I would be riding a bicycle for very long hours and long distances, or raising thousands of dollars in the process. But I did, and the proof is in the pudding. Or rather, my Strava feed. (Wait! There’s pudding? Where?) Your mental approach to cycling, like anything is half the battle (or more). Remove your own shackles and you will go far.
A lot of these races are mental so getting comfortable with your body’s rhythms and being uncomfortable and tired in general is a big part of it.
—Andrew Willis, from an interview with Austin Massage Company
It Takes a Few Years to Build Rome: Obviously, training is everything. Goooollly Sandra, a new follower (thank you!), lives in Chicago but came to Texas to watch her friends complete the MS 150 from Houston to Austin, a ride I did last year. She was impressed with the amount of dedication it took for me to feel like I could do that ride. (I also added 30 miles, so I rode 202 miles in two days.) But unless you’re a machine or already in superlative health, you must practice. (Also, how you get to Carnegie Hall.)
There Will Be Blood, Sweat and Tears: The article didn’t mention it, but rest assured there was some amount of bodily fluids that Willis expelled during all that training and the race. Some people say bicycling is suffering. For most of us it will never be anything nearly as arduous as his effort. But if you’re doing it right, you are challenging yourself, and that’s where the growth and improvement come. You’ll learn where your own line to cross is by pushing too hard. When you reach it, back off and find your sweet spot.
Bicycling Is Also Joyous! If you’re not having fun because you’re always attempting to beat others or yourself to the finish line, you’re missing out on a big point. Fun! For Willis, it is fun to go to the extreme. For me, it’s the thrill of moving under my own power, the sun in my face not too much, wind in my hair (well, that’s under my helmet, but you know what I mean, a view of green hills or something new in the city, and other riders. If you aren’t having at least some fun, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Forget Everyone Else, You Do You. Unless you are going to be doing racing, there is not much point to competition. Unless it is the friendly kind that makes you better. But what I mean is that there will be times you feel like doing more, and times you want to sit home and watch Netflix and, uh, actually relax. Listen to your own body, think about your own goals, and dont let peer pressure affect you. Do you really want to go on that charity – social – beer – long – hot ride? Or just feel you should? Know the difference.
Well, my keyboard is acting weird so I’ll end there. Peace out, home slices!
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