With 2014 inexorably marching on, the Trans Am Bike Race suddenly seems incredibly close. It’s almost exactly three months until the ‘Grand Depart’ in Astoria and while training, planning, and kit selection are going well, the feeling that there’s limited time until kickoff is hard to shake.
There’s no doubt that the next three months are going to be crucial in order to get to the start line in the best possible condition. Fortunately, past experience of long bike rides helps in this regard — I know what kit works for me and what doesn’t, I know where I need to be in my training, and I know that Qoroz are on top of building my race bike.
It’s easy to become obsessive over every detail when approaching an event like the Trans Am Bike Race — in fact, the level of personal commitment involved makes it hard not to. Certainly, a level of obsession and attention to detail is crucial to success. Just this week Jefe Branham, a veteran MTB endurance racer, wrote a great article on the level of sacrifice involved in focusing on a big race.
However, obsessive preparation can only take you so far. Sir Dave Brailsford, the mastermind behind the success of British Cycling and Team Sky during the last decade, is famous for the mantra “control the controllables’ — i.e. do everything you can to prepare and give yourself the best chance of a result, but there will always be elements you can’t forecast.
It’s good advice; experience and preparation are only two ingredients that make up a successful race effort. Determination, fortune, and good timing are all equally important aspects that will feed into the outcome of a race, and these are the factors that will help the most when confronted by ‘the uncntollables’.
World Cycle Race
For a good idea of what I mean by ‘the uncontollables’ consider the World Cycle Race. Back for it’s second running in 2014, the World Cycle Race is an 18,000-mile race around the planet that pits racers against each other, themselves, and the existing record for circumnavigation of the planet by bicycle.
The three riders that departed Greenwich, London at noon on Saturday 1st March have been planning and training for months, they’ve sacrificed huge swathes of time from their daily lives, and they’ve put up substantial sums of cash to make their bids a reality. In other words, they’ve done everything possible to ‘control the controllables’.
However, as soon as the race clock began to tick the riders left the relatively manageable preparation phase and entered into the far more chaotic environment of the race itself. In just the first three days of the race, all three riders have encountered obstacles they could not have forecast and have had to adapt their carefully planned race strategies to compensate. Breifne Early has encountered mechanical difficulties and road closures, Lee Fancourt’s support driver forgot his passport, and Fran Hollender broke a seatpost clamp.
In an 18,000 mile race things are guaranteed to go wrong and the same holds true for the Trans Am Bike Race. During 4,200 miles of racing, all the racers are going to face physical and emotional challenges; successfully adapting to overcome them will no doubt help determine the outcome of the race — but up until the race clock starts on June 7th, it’s all about controlling the controllables!