Psychology of Endurance Racing

Endurance racing is a headgame - before, during, and after the event. 

Before:  the blogosphere has changed the nature of these events somewhat.  Blogs get squawky, or not; riders release goals, or not; whichever side of the fence you are on, it affects you.  Then there's the taper:  do you have it nailed?  Doing too much, too little?  Does it make you restless?  Anticipation is half the fun of these things.

During:  in long events, energy levels are in a constant state of flux.  If you're in a tight race- and actually racing as opposed to riding to finish - there will be times when the competition is stronger, times when you will be stronger.  Especially as the race progresses...getting passed with authority is demoralizing and can lead to negative thoughts if not placed in context, that context being that that rider is at the same point in time as yourself, so they aren't really any faster.  The trick much mental/emotional energy does it take to overcome those thoughts, how much can you take, and how much can you dish out...

After:  the nuttiest part by far.  After goal events you can find yourself anywhere on a continuum of cloud nine to depression.  It all depends on how the race went down.

For 2 years running I find myself in the middle of that continuum in late February - 2 years running forced to pull out of the season's first big event due to factors outside of my control.  Frustrating, yes; but each year there were many positives to climb out of the smoking heap.  All the same, a purge was required, which leads me into Sunday's ride.

Arizona is such a varied region.  I pulled out the trusy old wrinkled Tonto NF map and chose another dirt road route from Pine (north of Payson at the base of the Mogollon Rim) to Childs.  Childs lies on the Verde river, 1 mile downstream from the Verde river hot springs.  I've been to the hot springs via raft a few times, a spectacular place.  As it turned out, the roads in are equally spectacular.  By rides end, I had climbed something over 7,000', but the pace was relaxed so I'm calling it active recovery.  4.25 hours & 225 TSS, nice and easy.  Good for the mind & legs.  A photo blog:

Near the start of the ride. 

These guys have their hands full in this region.  Mogollon rim in background.

Water!!!  Fossil creek.

I'd show the hotsprings, but some folks apparently missed this sign...

The Verde river. 

What a great day on the bike...again.  The head is clear, the legs fresh.  Anticipation is once again building. 

Next up?  Humboldt this weekend, a "road" race that includes some dirt road and a summit finish up a 10-20% grade 3.5 mile climb.  Totally euro, narrow road, old pavement, it'll hurt.  I'm going to throw an XT rear mech and 11/34 on the back of the road bike for that climb.  The NORBA marathon just up the road will round out the winter's AZ experience Mar 24, then it's back home to Colorado, just like the swallows to Capistrano.

Published Tuesday, February 28, 2006 6:09 AM by Dave


# @ Tuesday, February 28, 2006 6:53 AM

No Nudity.

Jeff Kerkove

# @ Tuesday, February 28, 2006 3:54 PM

Looks like a tinder box out there! Be careful!

Guitar Ted

# @ Friday, March 03, 2006 2:49 PM

I recently read your article on regarding 26" vs. 29" wheels.

First let me say that I'm not trying to shmooz up to you, I'm a heterosexual guy that is happily married. BUT I was shocked by our parallel obsessions. I'm also an engineer, obsessed with wattage in cycling, have finished on the podium with Tinker, been in the $$$ at TransRockies [not sure if you have yet - but based on your results - you would], sponsored by Trek [I've raced 3 different Fuels over the last four years], racing for 16 years, love epic climbs/long races AND am very intrigued by the 26" vs. 29" debate.

I just bought the Paragon 29er [hard tail as I'm sure you know] and had it shipped down to my new but temporary home in New Zealand. I've researched and studied the physics behind the argument and have decided that the 29er is the way to go.....of course field testing is the true test - so I enjoyed your article/study.

One thought I think is worth pondering is the following:
First lets look at the rider and the bike as s system - a singular unit going from point "a" to point "b".
We also know that the 29er will weigh more and carries much of that weight difference in the wheels/tires [frame and fork account for the rest but are non rotational contributions which have a lower impact on a accelerating + or - cyclist]
So lets compare a Trek Fuel [system "T"] and a Gary Fisher 292 [system "G"]- both full suspended. And lets assume the weights are made to be relatively close - say around 450g....and to give the 29er a "worst case situation" - lets assume that the weight difference, the 450g is all in the rim/tire region [i.e. rotational with the largest radius from the hub]
The only significant factor that would change the amount of energy to ride one vs. the other is the deltas in velocity [or accelerations]. So given that we have set the bikes up to similar weights with the 29er coming in at ~450g heavier one can readily see that when the rider is navigating terrain that requires frequent accelerations the 29er will be a handicap. However terrain that can be ridden at a near constant velocity would require less accelerations.
I also consider that the bigger wheels will roll over many obstacles without as much of a negative acceleration vs. the 26" wheels - this helps avoid additional + accelerations.

Blaah - blaaah blaah.....jez that even starts to drive me nuts just reading my own rant.

IN SUMMARY: I ask my friends to consider two questions - and really think of their thoughts/answers before giving them to me. FIRST - Why have MTBs been built with 26" wheels? [the answer as I understand it is that these 26" wheels were already in production and easily available to the mass MTB builders in the 80s - NOT as a result of science but by people think that the builders got lucky in the 80s and just happened to pick the best/most effective wheel size? - I think not.]
and SECONDLY - If the bigger wheels [29"ers] are seen as a negative [weight/acceleration/etc.] - why aren't MTB's built with 20" wheels vs. 26"? Or are those wheels "too small"? :>)