CHeaha course preview
Ok, so training is going swimmingly. You’re doing all the right things and putting in all the right work. Perfect. Now, we need to strategize to ensure that all this good work doesn’t go to waste on race day. So, this post will provide a course preview along with my recommendations on how to survive…err I mean attack…the Cheaha Challenge and Ultra.
First things first, show up early. I hate getting to races early and sitting around waiting anxiously. But this is one race that you’ll want to show up early for. That’s because there are a lot of people that do this race. Simple things like getting into the parking lot, going to the bathroom, etc. all take just a little bit longer. If you get there earlier than you need to be, you can always occupy some time by taking your bike over to one of the many free mechanics that are on-site. Nothing wrong with a quick checkup before you head for the mountains.
Cheaha starts in waves corresponding with the race distance that you're doing. Get to the start line early enough to hear the instructions, then get in your wave. Once you clip in, you'll be pointed towards the mountains, but first...
Another benefit of getting to the race early is that you can start to scout out people that you might want to ride with. This is important because I’ve found that it’s very, very worthwhile to find a group to ride with for the first hour of the race. Why? Well, because with the exception of one small little pitch upwards at mile 4.5, the first hour of the ride will be spent in the valley. Flat, fast, and perfect for a pace line. Get in a pace line and take advantage of the draft. No one is giving out medals for the hardest working cyclist in the first hour of the race.
I’ve seen many a cyclists that didn’t look like they belonged in the pace line that they were in. You could tell they were working too hard. Inevitably, they all look like they’re on their last legs by the time you see them again on the Adam’s Gap out and back at mile 50. Don’t be them. Get in a group that is comfortably paced and cruise. This is going to be one of your few opportunities on the day to take it easy. Take advantage of it. I cannot stress this enough.
I'm a proud Big Brother, and despite my Little wishing that I wouldn't run so much, a proud endurance athlete. I started my endurance career by signing up for a marathon when I couldn't even complete a 10k, and I started my Big Brother career by volunteering when I wasn't sure I even could offer a youth much. Both processes have showed me that stepping outside of your comfort zone serves as the best method of improving yourself.