So I read Markley Anderson's write-up (http://teamcrank.wordpress.com/) of his Appalachian Mountains Loop (AML) ITT in March. I don't know if reading it will turn out to be good or bad. First of all, the guy wins just about every time he races. Second, he rode the AML straight without sleep, and by doing so set a time that isn't really touchable.
Now this may be a good thing because it forces me to realize that I will not be able to beat the course record. Instead of riding at a pace that is unrealistic in the hopes of beating a record that is untouchable, I will use this first attempt at an ultra-endurance event to evaluate my kit choices and see how my body responds to the prolonged effort. On normal days eating, drinking, and sleeping can be done for pleasure and without any feeling of necessity. Some of my longer rides (100+) remind me that eating, drinking, and sleeping should be done with purpose. During the AML and later during the TD, it will be absolutely essential.
On the other hand this may be a bad thing because some of my motivation is sapped knowing that I cannot beat Markley's time. I can tell myself "this is your first attempt," "you can ride it again in the spring," and so on, but it's only so effective.
Ultimately, it does put the challenge where it should be; on me. I have to do the fastest time I can manage. Holding myself to someone else's standard is almost surely a recipe for disaster. Let's just state this plainly. At best, I will still be carrying 40 pounds of body weight that I still need to lose before the Tour Divide. Getting that extra weight over 30,000 vertical feet will be an accomplishment in itself.
In other news, the requisite spreadsheet with kit options, cost in weight and dollars, and degree of necessity is shaping up and I'll start pulling the trigger on some purchases. Of course, all of the choices are made with an eye towards using on the Tour Divide. Some of the kit choices I've made so far...
Niterider PRO 1400
Some flashy red rear LED
Garmin Edge 605
ACA laminated maps
Ray-Way Tarp, Net-Tent, and Quilt
Ergon GP1 grips
Selle Italia TT saddle
One (1) 22-ounce water bottle (for drink mixes)
One (1) 6L Dromedary with Hydration kit
Stoker bar repurposed for additional handlebar space
Generic aero bars
Assos chamois cream
I haven't decided on a frame bag/bar bag combo or backpack. My plan for the AML is to save weight by dropping extra water bottles, rain gear, any extra clothing, and minimizing bags used since I will be over so much on body weight. I will publish my kit with pictures when I think I have it ready for the AML, probably around the end of September. A full review will follow the AML.