By Mike DeLong
Greg LeMond was once quoted as saying something to the effect that as he rose through the ranks of the professional peleton, bicycle racing never became any easier but that he just became faster. As I begin to prepare in earnest for BMB-2000 I'm hoping that Greg's racing experience doesn't necessarily apply to randonneurring.
I rode my first Boston-Montréal in 1998 in a rather pedestrian 84 hours and my goal for the upcoming BMB is to duplicate that very time. Only this year I'd like to finish with few if any of the physical ailments which plagued me in 1998. I'd like for my knees not to fall apart after 500 miles. I don't want to hobble around for the next 2 days after the finish. I'd prefer that my right foot not be numb for months following the event. And I'd like for my brother, who meets me at the finish, not to be shocked by my wasted appearance. In fact, my idea of the perfect BMB is one in which I finish feeling strong enough to turn right around and ride it again.
While I may never achieve my "perfect" ride I think I can certainly improve upon my first attempt. No doubt the fact that I've ridden quite a few miles in the intervening two years should go a long ways in preventing some of the above problems. I anticipate that my training mileage for the 3 months leading up to Boston will probably be somewhat higher this time around simply because I'm stronger than 2 years ago.
On the other hand, unlike two years ago, I'll ride the vast majority of my weekend miles at an easy pace on a tandem with my wife Penny. While the main reason for this is the simple enjoyment of tandeming with my wife, I do find that, since we tend to spin lower gears than I would on my single, these tandem weekends allow my legs to recover from my weekday gear mashing.
I hope to insert a few BMB-specific sessions to my training this summer. I intend to make several Sunday excursions to the North Georgia mountains to practice my climbing. I'm also planning to participate in a long distance event between our 600km which is in early June and BMB in August.
Currently I'm contemplating either the Finger Lakes 555km or perhaps an unofficial brevet on the Blue Ridge Parkway with some of our local randonneurs. And whereas I might ride the spring brevets fairly hard, any long event within 6 weeks of Boston will be ridden at an easy pace for fear of injury.
In 1998 my goal was simply to ride BMB as fast as possible. That year I rode to Middlebury the first day; to Montréal and back the second day; and then tried unsuccessfully to finish on the third day. And while I don't know that I would necessarily recommend that plan to a first-timer, it was certainly a memorable experience. However since my goal this year is an 84 hour finish, I'll ride just to Rouses Point return control on the second day and then to Brattleboro on the third day.
In 1998 I felt like the rabbit in "Alice In Wonderland." Watching the clock, I was always rushing and constantly late. I'm expecting this year's more relaxed schedule to keep me in better shape, mentally and physically, throughout the ride. This doesn't mean that I'll ride slower. Quite the contrary I'll probably ride a tad faster and will linger less at the contrôles since I'll be pacing for each day, instead for the whole 750 miles.
All in all, I was satisfied with the bike, lighting, clothing and other equipment that I used two years ago. Prior to BMB, I invested in a huge quantity of AA alkaline batteries in anticipation of many hours of night riding. Since I now have a digital camera, I figured out how I'm going to use all the batteries leftover from BMB 1998. Since I don't anticipate much night-riding with this year's approach I'll start with only 8 AA lithium batteries and would love to be able to finish with 4 still unused. I'll definitely pack ear plugs for the sleeping contrôles. I think the only person who slept at the first Middlebury control in 1998 was the gentleman who was snoring. I will also change my inside ring from a 42 tooth to a 39. If the return trip through the mountains disables me again this year then I guess I'll be forced to invest in a triple.
Lastly I'll include a razor in my Brattleboro drop bag so that I when I greet my brother on Sunday afternoon, I'll look fresh as a daisy.