July 2, 2005: It's all in the preparation

Actually, now that you mention it, Romulus and I are doing a race tomorrow, the Boggs Mountain Challenge, part of the regional Billy Cross mountain bike racing series. We'll be getting up well before dawn and driving north to the Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest outside of Cobb, California (yeee-hah!).

Blue Sugar, in all her glory
Let's hope so

It's been on our calendar for several weeks now, but to be honest, I've never really gotten my head back on the bike since the Lemurian (here's some more pictures from the race, including one of me flinging myself across the finish line). I just haven't put in very many miles, and the miles I have put in have been relatively light. Of course, there was the whole six weeks in Guantanamo thing (See June 25, 2005: Postcards from Guantanamo), but at least they had me on a trainer for part of the time. Overall, I feel completely underprepared mentally and physically for this race.

But, at this point, my nonchalant attitude is working for me. I don't have the pre-race jitters that I usually do the day before I race, and I'm really enjoying this devil-may-care attitude. Of course, I'd love to do well, but realistically, this is more of a practice race.

Planning a mountain bike race for the Fourth of July weekend probably isn't the best idea if you want big turnout, but it's nice for Romulus and I because neither of us had any other plans. Because the race is on Sunday, we have Saturday to prepare, Sunday to race, and Monday to recover. Perfect.

I woke up this morning with only one ultimate objective on my to-do list: get everything ready to go for tomorrow, including loading everything into the Bronco, and get to bed sometime before midnight.

Knowing I had all day, I took my time washing, lubing, and tuning Blue Sugar. I mean, I really took my time. I checked all bolts and screws. I took off the crankset and cleaned every single tooth of all three rings. I replaced the ailing Spinergy Spox rear wheel (blown hub casing) with my old Cane Creek Kronos. Because the Spox is a ceramic rim and the Kronos is an alloy rim, I also had to swap out the ceramic-specific rear brake pads. I made shim to prevent chainsuck out of a piece of old tire and some zip ties, and I even sanded all four brakes pads for that incrementally tighter (and quieter) braking experience.

The shim
Here we go Cannonball, here we go!

I never did get my shifting action exactly the way I wanted it, but after a couple of hours of futzing, even I had to admit that enough was enough. It was time to turn my attention to preparing the gear.

I considered the potential trail and weather conditions and slowly, painstakingly even, gathered up the appropriate gear. Once the right combination of bike shorts, baggies, jersey, gloves, socks, shoes, helmet, and post-ride wear was collected, laundered, and packed, I moved on to energy and hydration concerns.

After filling the Camelbak Mule bladder to about the 60-ounce mark (out of 100 oz), per my regular "important ride" routine, I prepared two peanut butter sandwiches and a water bottle of GU2O sports drink. I also packed an ice chest with two beers, two Cokes, two large bottles of Gatorade, and two king size Snickers bars. Everything two growing boys need for a day of bike riding.

Next up, extraneous gear. In addition to the ice chest I had already pulled out of the shed, I also pulled out some camping chairs. Camera, notepad, cell phone, bike cyclometer, wallet, keys, clear glasses, sunglasses, sunscreen, towel, . . . what else? There had to be something else? Oh yeah, first-aid kit. Remember kids, always make time for safety.

I showered, I carbo-loaded, I crapped, I stretched, I loaded everything into the Bronco. I was ready. And bonus, it was only 9 p.m. JB and I curled up for some TV time, and I was in bed by midnight. For a worrier like myself, today's pace and productivity was just what I needed to head into race day with the right attitude.

That alarm clock is going to hurt though.

Mileage:  Time:  Avg:  Max:  Weight: 164.5

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