Etxeondo invited Soigneur Cycling Journal to join their Grand Fondo event in Basque Country this Saturday. I have never been there and was curious to find out about the region that has brought forth so many cycling legends. And I thought a ride through the mountains would clear my head.
First thing I heard was that I had to choose between a 95-kilometer ride with 1500 vertical meters or a 200k ride boasting 4000 meters of vertical cycling. Oh, ok. My initial impulse was to go for the 200 kilometer ride, because I fancy a challenge now and then.
There was just one slight problem: I have only 10 days to prepare.
Realistically, there is no way anyone can improve much physically in just ten days. The importance of proper training should not be underestimated. The only sensible thing to do when you have very little time to physically prepare yourself for a very long ride is eating a good meal and getting a good night sleep.
But let’s not forget the mental aspect. I believe in the power of the mind, and think most people do, but tend to forget. Just think of some of the great things you have accomplished, and then consider this: was it your physical ability or your mental state that got you there?
The effect of mental training would of course be greater with more time and perhaps a good coach, but I found some easy tricks to get your mental state in good form for this weekends ride.
Stick to what you know
Don’t experiment with new equipment, clothing or nutrition. Sticking to your habits makes you feel more confident because you are limiting the number of surprises along the way.
Unfortunately, this won’t work for me at the Grand Fondo because I’m on a loan bike. But my mental trick is that this loan bike will probably be way more professional (read expensive) than my old Scott CR1. And I’ll take everything my suitcase can handle to limit additional uncertainties.
Focus on individual kilometers, not the complete segment or ride.
You can also use other tactics to keep your mind off the massive amount of kilometers you still need to cover by looking around, smelling the air or thinking deep thoughts.
Ride the distance
This is a great way to give your confidence a boost is to ensure you are capable of riding the race distance. Fortunately, I was handed the opportunity by FUTURUM. They organized a perfect ride through the Veluwe, covering 138 kilometers and 1000 vertical meters (yes, there are hills in the Netherlands) just a week before my trip to Basque Country.
For this ride I vowed to keep up with the fast guys the whole way, and managed to stick with them without any considerable damage. The best confidence boost there is.
Don’t panic train
One of the worst things you can do is train yourself to exhaustion in the last week before your big ride. Remember, a good rest is just as important as training!
Don’t let other riders put you off
Just get on with your own way of finishing the ride.
Plan in advance
Make sure you have all your gear laid out, you know where you are cycling the next day, and that you know how to get to the start in time. A good, relaxed start of the racing day is the best prep there is.
Remember, it’s just a bike ride
You probably entered because you thought you would enjoy the ride. So don’t forget your initial motivation and have a good time!