SpiderTech is pleased to present the first is a series of blogs written by athletes, performers, medical professionals and other SpiderTech Fans with fascinating stories.
Jason “The Hammer” Lane is a Canadian endurance cyclist – he is the current Canadian RAAM (Race Across America) record holder at 9 days, 16 hours, 3 minutes. He is the feature character in The Hammer, a documentary chronicling the RAAM experience by Hornsby Films and appears in Inspired To Ride an ultra-cycling film by Mike Dion.
Spring endurance training + wind + rain – sleep.
By Jason Lane
In the wind and rain 4pm pre-ride weather check, winds from the north becoming northwest to west over the first 100 miles of SSE riding that is Sudbury to Parry Sound, sounds good. Mile 20: headwind. Uh. Rolling weather check: winds now forecast as SW gusting. Ummmm, okay, going to need a bottle refill prior to Parry Sound.
Eventually I hit Parry Sound and another forecast check: Saturday winds now also changed from the SE initial expectation to N. So headwinds home tomorrow, hmph. When does one have enough character? I guess Mother Nature reckons I need more.
At any rate, the plan is pedal until 2am, +- 10min, and search for a nook to sleep in for 3 hrs. Sleep on a 300 mile ride? Slightly silly considering I would typically go about 700-900 miles into a race before sleeping, but I’m going for a new Trans Am Bike Race strategy; sleep on night one. For a full three hours. The pace we went at in 2014 where over the first three nights I had no sleep on night one, about one hour on night two, and three hours on night three helped cover initial miles, but the accumulation added up and hit back hard in the final week. Self-supported racing isn’t like RAAM (Race Across America) where you can divest yourself of all tasks and strategy except pedaling, the trick is to maximize miles yet still be coherent enough to keep yourself safe.
So at 2:15am having made it through Gravenhurst and at a chilly four degrees, I found a building to tuck up behind on the outskirts of Bracebridge, with a small overhanging roof to hopefully ward off any moisture. As I tucked myself in, the 10% chance of rain happened, steadily for 2.5hrs. I awoke every 10-15 minutes or so, mostly due to traffic and the thought of someone coming to disturb my rest. Eventually the sun was up, the rain had stopped, and I packed up and rode into town for a gas station breakfast.
Herein lies the real education of this ride; food. Other than the odd couple of days here or there during TransAm, I’ve been riding and racing on spiz – powdered nutrition for the past many years. It’s liquid nutrition perfected, over hundreds or thousands of miles you can drink enough to never actually get hungry, and ensure all essentials are taken care of. It’s fantastic. Period. But that’s a lot of powder, weight, and logistics. I want to go “on the road” food and I need to invest more time doing so I think. Doing the quick gas station resupply with various bars and chocolate milk works for a while, but it’s not enough. Chewing 24/7 is one of the biggest challenges of long races with solid food sources, so I need higher calorie intakes, think McGriddles and cheeseburgers. And not just a quick dine and dash or buy and rolling dinner, but a few to cover the next few hours too. In the US gas stations often have this type of food. In Canada not so much – same with fresh produce, America for the win there. Sometimes slower is faster.
With breakfast behind me, an early morning section brought me back to Parry Sound, another quick bite and resupply, and time for the 100 mile jaunt up the highway to home in North Bay. This stretch of highway 69 inevitably becomes a mile by mile countdown, but with patience it always happens. People call me crazy for riding the highway, and then the four lane final 45 miles, but with a wide and smooth shoulder, a rumble strip to warn of encroaching cars, and excellent sight lines, I feel much safer out on the highway than riding a shoulder-less secondary highway with blind hills and curves, where cars are going nearly as fast.
In the end I was out the door for nearly 26hrs, covered 330 miles (530kms), and maintained a moving average of 17.7 miles per hour (28.5km/hr), which is not stellar but having missed the big March training camp this year, I can live with that. Next weekend there’s time for another 300 mile roll around the Algonquin and Haliburton highlands, and then after that the next real plan will be the Icefields Parkway in Alberta!