Flirting with Disaster

100km is not that far on a bike. 62 miles. On a road bike that’s not an unusual Saturday ride. Switch it to gravel bikes, dirt roads, some single-track, and it stretches, gets longer. It becomes more about your whole body, not just your legs. Maybe it’s equivalent to a road century.

I am in no way ready for that.

And yet, I’m signed up for a 100km mixed-terrain adventure on Saturday. I’ve been riding one day a week, occasionally two. I have very few base miles in my legs. Maybe muscle memory will carry me through. Maybe kind friends will usher me across the line. Or maybe they will find me dead by the side of the road.

Really, the distance becomes almost theoretical. It’s probably double what I’ve done on my dirt bikes in any one day for more than a year, and at that point, it’s not even useful to think of it as a distance. It’s more constructive to ask, “How can I ride for six hours, maybe more?”

“10mph?” ask the experienced cyclists. Yup. Once roots and rocks come into the mix, mph plummets. Don’t make the false equivalency between road speeds and gravel. They don’t translate. I’m not sandbagging. This is just realism.

How then?

The answer is as obvious as it is painful. Slow down. Keep moving. Eat as much as I can. Stay fucking cheerful. Keep moving. Yes, I know I said it twice.

Here’s what I know. When endurance events go past the two hour mark, it becomes easier and easier to take long breaks. And the more tired you get the more often you will break. And the more often you break and the longer those breaks get, the more impossible it feels to finish.

At some stage, momentum is your only friend.

I have, for a long time now, been flirting with disaster. The winter’s aches and pains have matured, accrued, become chronic. My left Achilles has a knot in it that feels like fire. My middle back is perpetually sore. I have something going on with one of my hips. I can’t externally rotate that leg sometimes. Why? No clue. When I pull out the Theragun to have at it, I can’t even figure out where the problem is.

The ship is taking on water. She’ll still make a fair few knots with the wind in her sails, but the sea is getting choppy. The pumps can’t keep up, and though the crew is brave, at some point we pass straight through foolhardy into blazingly stupid.

Adventure is what happens when your plan falls apart, right? Well, here we go.