Uncommon people, uncommon things, but above all, they accomplish the incredible . My friend Shane’s recent STRAVA challenge is the focus of this post.
“A Different Drummer”
What the fuck possessed you ride 100 miles and climb over 12,000 feet by doing repeats on a single hill?
I have Strava and their Rapha Rising challenge to thank for that. The challenge was to climb 8800m (28,871.4’) over 9 days. I got some solid rides in the first weekend, but I am limited on climbs here in Kodiak, AK (the biggest road climb is 330’ over .75 miles). So I had left myself a lot of vertical going into the last weekend.
While you were riding, what the fuck kept you going mentally?
It was tough. The mental part was by far more challenging than the physical. Especially since the hill I did repeats on is 7 miles from my house. Several times I thought about turning around and accepting defeat. I just tried to keep positive things in mind, like the nice weather, beautiful scenery, and how much I love being on a bike. While blocking the hassles like how silly it was for me to do 38 repeats in over 7 hours for a Strava challenge. Plus, I kept thinking about my limits, physically and mentally, and how you can’t determine what it is until you reach that point. I was trying to reach that point.
Why did you accept the STRAVA challenge?
I had attempted the Rapha Rising the previous two years with no joy. I really wanted it this year. Of all the challenges I’ve done, this one has always been one of the hardest. Not only is it physically challenging, it is challenging just to find the time required to get that kind of vertical gain.
Where there any odd ball adventures going on in your psyche?
I made a conscious effort not to look at my total elevation on my Garmin computer. When I did periodically, it was a mind fuck. I was nowhere near the amount I thought I was. So I cursed allowed to myself a few times. The last twelve repeats I would shout the number left at the top of each climb. Nothing too unusual.
What is your cycling background?
Standard kid stuff around my neighborhood, never too serious. I got a road bike 5 years ago so I could do some triathlons. My love for the bike has grown every year. I surpassed 10,000 miles on my Bianchi this spring. It’s taken me to some pretty amazing places.
How would you rate the difficulty physically and mentally as you reflect on your effort?
To do that I need a base. For me, the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted is the Mt. Shasta Super Summit Century. 139 Miles with 16k of elevation gain. I have never been more physically and mentally drained than I was on that day. I did not finish. I turned around at mile 125, 5 miles from the final summit (that’s another story entirely). So with that being a 10/10, I would say this was a 7.5 physically and 8.5 mentally.
What advice would you give to others that are thinking about tackling a personal challenge similar to yours?
Give it a shot! You never know what you are capable of until you try. The easiest thing to do is to talk yourself out of it by saying you won’t be able to. The human body is the most amazing, resilient, able to suffer-machine ever created and can take you any place on earth.
Were you listening to any inspiring music while you rode?
I was listening to a “spin” playlist that I use when I’m on my trainer sometimes. I try to find songs that have a similar BPM to the cadence I’m looking for. One of the essentials on any workout mix is “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch. A classic!
What are your next challenges, and or challenge?
I’ve had some ideas over the past few months. I’m trying to get back into trail running mode. There is a local mountain here in Kodiak called Barometer. It’s around 2500’ at the summit and the base is just over sea level. I am thinking about attempting to see how many times I can summit it in 24 hours. I’ll have to see what kind of shape I’m in come mid-September. I’ve also been thinking about doing a self-supported 50 mile run here on Kodiak, or possibly a half or full iron distance triathlon.
How has your accomplishment affected your self-esteem and confidence?
I don’t think it’s changed much. I knew physically I would be able to complete it. It was overcoming the mental aspect I was pleased with most.
For a blue collar family man this is pretty amazing, many people dismiss themselves from trying to stay in shape because they do not have the time due to the same commitments you have. Do you have any hacks or advice for those who doubt they can juggle a family and full time work commitments? Maybe something that worked for you?
I was able to put the time in for this particular challenge because my family has been out of town all summer. I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands to do the things I enjoy. When the family is around though, it helps to have an understanding and tolerant spouse. I wife knows how important endurance sports are to me and my sanity. It can be tough to juggle everything. There are always areas I’d like to spend more time focusing on. I’m currently taking online college courses and that has added to managing my time. It can be tough, but if something is important to you, you can find time. Sometimes I have to get up a little earlier than I’d like so I can get a solid workout in. If you don’t have much time, use it wisely. Substitute a longer workout for a high intensity, shorter one.
Thanks to Shane for his contribution. What challenges are inspiring you? Sometimes it is best to just begin. “Do the thing and you will have the power” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
As promised, here is my interview by a friend and fellow blogger.