This is the first entry in my blog, "The Most Pleasant Exhaustion." Its name is based on a quotation from the great Czech runner Emil Zatopek, after he won the Helsinki Olympic Marathon: "I was unable to walk for a whole week after that, so much did the race take out of me. But it was the most pleasant exhaustion I have ever known." Although I'll never win a gold medal (or four, like Zatopek did), I believe that I understand his sentiment. I have spent much of my life in search of this "most pleasant exhaustion," and I have, at times, felt it.
The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my efforts to become an ultra-cyclist. In February, eleven weeks from tomorrow, I'll be competing in my first ultra race, the Sebring 24-Hour. It is a step toward my major goal of the spring, the Heart of the South 500 in early April.
This is not to say, though, that I have not yet begun. Rather, I'm a former runner who began cycling seriously about two years ago. I did several races, but after a rather severe injury in March, I decided that aggressive pack racing was not for me. Because I am someone who likes training and being fit, and because I need a goal to focus my efforts, and because I have an endlessly supportive wife, I decided to give ultra-cycling a try. I trained for a double century in October and completed it successfully in 11:08. Only a flat tire in the last fifty miles kept me from my goal of sub-11:00, even though I flew through the second century. I decided then that I should give ultra-cycling races a try. Since October, I have completed several long rides, including 118 miles two weeks ago and 150 miles last weekend. This is a down week, but I'll be doing a ride of roughly 170 miles next Saturday.
I had once considered being an ultra-runner, but repeated stress injuries always interrupted my training. I tend to perform better as the distances grow longer. Thus, I feel as if I can be competitive at the ultra distances, provided that I can do the training. I'm hoping that this blog will be one of many things that will keep me on track. Further, I am hoping that can use this space to record all that I learn along the way. I expect that there is much I will discover.