I train every day. It's as simple as that. I don't have a coach. I alternate between running, biking, and swimming. I log my miles, fill my own water, and fix my flats.
At times the tedious ritual plagues me. Then I clear out the old and come up with a new vision. I create a new ride, a new distance. When I aspire to higher mileage, I know I have pushed myself.
Considering the factors of distance, altitude, climate, and terrain, I was moderately confident I could finish the Subaru Cup in Wisconsin. I had completed three M.A.S.S. races and had just finished the 100-mile Subaru Elephant Rock ride through the Rockies. Still, I harbored a respect for the unknown.
Ready or not, it was time to leave the familiarity of New Jersey. My flight from Philadelphia to Milwaukee was the first leg, followed by a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Wautoma. From Wautoma, it was a scenic seven-mile back road drive to Mt. Morris.
Pulling in, I felt energized. Exposed trails remind me of my race and my stomach flutters. I would ride the same trails as the pros. Maybe I should watch and cheer instead. No, I could not go home without doing this race. This is an opportunity of a lifetime; you are not going to miss this. I push away the butterflies.
Colorful camping tents lined the dirt road up to the main race area. The mountain, which doubles as a ski resort in the winter, was bustling with promotional vendors, Subaru cars, and the ever-important refreshment tents. Mountain bikers of all sizes, men, women, and even their children, dodging here and there, were testing the trailheads at different entry points.
I made my way to the Subaru Trek team trailer in the pro racer area. Wow, this is serious; how cool is this? Every pro rider's name is listed boldly on the trailer.
My jaw dropped even further at the site of at least a dozen gleaming specimens of cycling perfection. I am in heaven; pinch me! I don't know how long I stared at those beautiful bikes, but somewhere in that time warp, a friendly hand was extended to me along with an equally engaging smile that belonged to the team's manager, Jon Rourke. Introductions were made to the team mechanics, Matt and Shep, I knew their expertise and devotion were responsible for the pristine mountain bikes in front of me. I launched into a myriad of questions ranging from bike parts to bike paths. Clearly cyclists themselves, they were both engaging and professional.
There was still daylight to walk the course. I needed to inspect it.
I managed to walk roughly one whole loop, about five miles. Satisfied with the inspection, I would return in the morning at the start of the pro race. Sunday would be the amateur race.