Author Topic: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride  (Read 6320 times)

The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« on: July 05, 2009, 11:29:40 AM »
I packed a ride yesterday. It wasn't the first I've ever packed, and it won't be the last.

There are all sorts of reasons for packing. The obvious one is when your bike breaks in half, or is assailed by some other terminal mechanical situation. These barely need discussion - beyond the one or two legendary cases where randonneurs have tracked down a local Smithy and had their frame re-welded; or have made some other amazing comeback.

I was on a ride once where the rear wheel of the rider in front of me folded in half for no immediately apparent reason. "It's alright." he said, and pointed "That's my house over there." whereupon he slung his unwell bike over his shoulder and strode off to his garage for a replacement. Jammy sod ;).

No, the Packing I'm talking about involves the rider - not the ridden. That voice in your head. The nasty little horned devil sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear - "There's no need to carry on. Your RRTY is safe for this month. It's going to rain later. You are near a railway station...".

This is what separates the men from the boys and... erm... the women from the girls. Getting past that point of no return when all you want to do is return - to base.

It's a mental thing, I'm sure of that (Yes, audax is mental - you've only just noticed? Ed). Last week I did the hardest ride I've ever done in my short audax career - the Midlander Super Grimpeur. That voice was giving it welly as I entered a mentally dark place on the climb up to Axe Edge Moor. "Find a B&B at Longnor. You'll never make it - it's still 90km to go after Longnor, and you know it won't be flat...". I resisted that, despite great pain and discomfort at the time, and finished the ride. The ride had been on my plan for this year for a long time - it meant a lot to me, and I was highly motivated.

Yesterday, I was riding a much easier ride - a DIY 400 encompassing the Dunwich Dynamo. After 100km and five hours of waiting for the cyclist in me to turn up, I packed at a convenient railway station and went home. The ride was expendable. I didn't need it for some long targetted achievement and I got to the stage where I didn't see any point carrying on.

So is that it? Does it all come down to motivation?
Quote from: Hodor
Hodor.

gordon taylor

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2009, 12:23:49 PM »
I can only enjoy a ride, and finish, if I have nothing else nagging in my mind.
I've driven to an Audax and turned round without even getting out of the car... twice I've actually started and packed within ten miles... today I never even left the house, even though I was all ready to go.

It's little things - the grass needs cut or paperwork at home - that niggles me into thinking that my ride is selfish and I need to get back and do proper husband/dad things.

I find that a Saturday Audax is much easier, mentally, because I can decide to do all the weekend chores on the Sunday.


Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2009, 12:46:25 PM »
Because it's only a bike ride.

I don't want to spend several hours being totally miserable on a bike.  There is an enjoyment of achievement, which sometime involves overcoming the difficult moments.  Howeever, if the whole ride is going to feel shit, it doesn't seem worth slogging it out for hours and having the 'I never want to see that bloody bike again' sensation.

A lot of rides I have packed have been when it's raining.  Much easier to get down about it all in the pissing rain.

Martin

  • KMFYACF
    • WWW
Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2009, 01:03:41 PM »
the closest I've come to packing in the UK was on last year's Dean; not because I didn't think I could finish but because staying in the warm in Membury services was preferable to sitting outside Oxford station all night; fortunately DaveB solved that problem with the kind offer of a bed.

On the 2004 Invicta 200 I was about 5 mins away from going back to Whitstable station rather than battle 80km into a 40mph headwind when the Gravesend CTC train came along and I battled back with them (taking my turn on the front BTW)

Other than that I've been fortunate to feel happy to continue on all the other rides; although I admit I do either choose the day I ride perms carefully or have just been lucky and have never done one in bloody awful weather conditions. One way DIY's are very good at overcoming this; there is no choice but to carry on if you have a train /plane booked at the other end (especially with the price of walk on train fares these days).

I'm not sure how unusual a 100% finish rate is but I'm determined to keep it. Even if it means not starting some rides on the day I had in mind.  And I have DNS'd 3 rides; one becuase a certain part of my anatomy resembled a tennis ball; one a 400 with a borked knee and one becuase I hadn't realised it was on Mother's Day  ;)

Flaatuus

  • Behold!
Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2009, 01:41:38 PM »
I've packed twice, within 3 weeks of each other and for the same reason... crippling knee pain with no possibility of continuing.

That said I've DNS'd loads of rides, either because I don't fancy riding in crap weather at that given moment, or because something better to do occurs to me, or simply because I can't be arsed and fancy spending the day on my arse eating crisps.  If and when I feel I have something to prove to myself or others, then maybe it'll bother me, but at present I couldn't care less and agree totally with Jasmine. That said, different people have different levels of motivation, and maybe I never get to the mental battle that some face.

ludwig

  • never eat a cyclists gloves
    • grown in wales
Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2009, 03:36:12 PM »
Yes, it's all about motivation. To do audax at all you must be highly self motivated as there are nearly always low patches on a ride and the only motivation really is the achievement of doing it and the good feeling that it gives you. I think that given a high level of motivation most reasonably fit people could get around a 200 in the time. It would be hard. It would be painful but it would be possible. There must be a point where a challenge becomes a physical impossibility for an individual. For me averaging 25kph on a bike over 200km would be very hard. I've not done that on any ride. I wonder though if there was some huge inducement say..........my mortgage being paid off if I could do it. If so could I manage 26kph. We have a flimsy inducement to finish in audax and sometimes when you are not enjoying yourself it's enough to say "that's it I'm going home" it happened to me on the dean this year. I was quite disapointed though.

alan

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2009, 04:27:53 PM »
Does it all come down to motivation?
I reckon it does to a greater or lesser degree & it applies to all rides I do.
I had no problem at all with the E2E,jumped on the bike for 8 to 10 hours every day for 21 days & never a nano-second of negative thought,yet I have lots af trouble getting off my backside to do a ride locally.The difference is something new compared to the boredom of local roads.Motivation seperates the shall-I make-the-effort   from been-there-done- that.

I find that a Saturday Audax ride is much easier, mentally, because I can decide to do all the weekend chores on the Sunday.

Same here.

simonp

  • Demented bonobo.
Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2009, 04:37:28 PM »
Well, I didn't even start last year's 400k Dunwich Dynamo DIY because I didn't feel up to it.  You got one step further.

Packing has only occurred for me when it's been pretty bad: Bryan Chapman 2007 (felt ill), Border Raid 2008 (weather), and a December 2007 DIY 200k when I realised I was going to be riding on sheet ice for the last 100km.

I tend to have more negative thoughts about rides beforehand, and if I start then I generally feel better about it once I'm rolling.  I'm much more likely to DNS than DNF, though most of my DNSes have been DIYs.  I've also DNSed due to knowing I needed to give my body a rest a few times.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2009, 04:45:17 PM »
I've only packed two Calendar audaxes - the Sileby 200 in 2006, only my second ever 200 (wet through and freezing cold at 100km) and last year's Asparagus & Strawberries (b0rked knee).

I've packed more perms - I think they are more expendable, and therefore the packing threshold is lower.
Quote from: Hodor
Hodor.

Hummers

  • It is all about the taste.
Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2009, 05:08:00 PM »
So is that it? Does it all come down to motivation?


Motivation and perspective I reckon. As has been said on this thread, it's when things don't go so well that both are tested.

I had all the motivation to finish the Hellfire this weekend as it was the ideal timing to complete the Wessex SR. My next and probably final chance this season will be one week after LEL and who knows how I'll feel about riding the bike then.

In terms of perspective, I felt off-form all day (and pretty ill after 269k) but experience told me that there was a 50% chance that if I pushed on, I might ride through it.  My concern was that should things get worse, I might knacker myself for LEL. In truth, deciding to do this ride so close to LEL may not have been a smart move but until today, I have never felt stronger on the bike. As Mr Phipps said "No Hummers, you are only as good as this ride"

I don't like packing, especially when there is an overall objective at stake as where time is precious, it puts pressure on other areas of my life. I wish I had the forsight to DNS but reckless optimism and over-confidence in my abilities tends to win the day.

H

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2009, 05:29:52 PM »
ChrisS,
Do you see yourself as a competitive person?

I am.  I have to date, not packed.  I would rather die on the bike than admit defeat.  I don't say this proudly.  Perhaps it is an Australian thing.  I don't like giving up.  Never have even when it is the right thing to do.

Motivation is the key.  So is blood sugar.  When it goes too low I believe so does your 'will' to suffer.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2009, 05:33:59 PM »
ChrisS,
Do you see yourself as a competitive person?

No.

If I was - I'd have beaten you on the BikeJournal league when we were slugging it out a couple of Januarys ago  :demon:.
Quote from: Hodor
Hodor.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2009, 05:40:56 PM »
ChrisS,
Do you see yourself as a competitive person?

No.

If I was - I'd have beaten you on the BikeJournal league when we were slugging it out a couple of Januarys ago  :demon:.

Yes, I had not forgotten  ;D

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2009, 06:50:57 PM »
I am not really sure what the question is here ? "Does it all come down to motivation ?" What ? that people who don't pack are motivated ? I disagree ? I have seem people battle on and wreck themselves for several weeks. Sensible people pack or DNS, this doesn't mean they lack motivation. I have packed one calendar event in my short audax career (500 250 points). I would have battled on but the chap with whom I was staying and riding had had enough so we both quit. He is motivated, so I am, but it wasn't much fun

plug

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2009, 07:50:16 PM »
I've finished every audax that I've started.  It's never occurred to me on a ride that I could actually stop and go find a pub or train station and I don't think I'd want to if I'm capable of continuing.  I'm still waiting for the ride that I cannot finish for whatever reason, physiological or mechanical, it's bound to happen sooner or later, but until then I'll just keep on riding...

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2009, 08:20:33 PM »
I've had a few mechanicals over the years, two or three bio-mechanicals, and an abandonment to collect a fellow rider from hospital (I needn't have bothered - they wouldn't let him out).

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2009, 08:28:05 PM »
I am not really sure what the question is here ?

Although I finished my OP with a question, I guess I wasn't really meaning to ask a question - just opening up what might be an interesting thread about Packing.
Quote from: Hodor
Hodor.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2009, 08:33:55 PM »
I've never not regretted packing on a ride.

Every time I've thought that I should have carried on until out of time, or finished. Luckily I applied this on the BCM, where I had made my mind up to pack coming back from Menai and ended up finishing the ride strong (albeit it with not much time to spare).

Today was another close call, not be cause of legs (or lack thereof), or for the weather (it was nice after that single hour of rain at about 7.30am) but because the route back is just exceptionally dull, especially the run in from Epping to Hackney.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2009, 08:40:48 PM »
My only DNF was yesterday,Resevoir 200 starting at oundle.Nice summers day,warm drinking a lot.100km struggling to eat .140km needed to stop for extra water at a pub.150 km nasty headache ,and needed to vomit outside the top of the hill from Launde Abbey .Did the sheep look suprised :sick:BTW sports gells look look just the same when they come back !
150 km felt weak,and needed to rest in the shade.
160km Oakham 45km to the finish or 25km home on roads that I know?
A pint of shandy and a bag of Walkers crisps made me feel more human.
I think it was heatstroke.Which do think was the most sensible ,driving my car home or riding home on my pushbike ?  

border-rider

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2009, 08:45:22 PM »
but because the route back is just exceptionally dull, especially the run in from Epping to Hackney.

The only calendar event I've packed on was a 400, the first 200 of which was great but the second 200 was going to be tedious main roads in the dark.  A B&B bed with Mrs MV in it was within striking distance.  No regrets.

I've packed on a the odd perm, usually when it's been a good idea to stay at/head for home.  To be honest, I'm not overly exercised about perms.  There's always another day.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2009, 08:48:44 PM »
My only DNF was yesterday,Resevoir 200 starting at oundle.
<snip assorted gruesome symptoms>

Sounds like heatstroke. That is quite a strenuous section, through the Launde valley - full of chevrony goodness.

Nuun in one bottle and water for head squirty duties after each climb? Might help.
Quote from: Hodor
Hodor.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2009, 09:04:43 PM »
I am not really sure what the question is here ?

Although I finished my OP with a question, I guess I wasn't really meaning to ask a question - just opening up what might be an interesting thread about Packing.

I am not really sure what the question is here ?

Although I finished my OP with a question, I guess I wasn't really meaning to ask a question - just opening up what might be an interesting thread about Packing.

I could be way off the mark here Chris, but I read your post as an example of packing being a result of you not being really interested [and therefore not motivated, not really 'wanting it'] in the first place. For me, it reads like packing that happens as a result of your real feelings about doing the ride in the first place coming to the fore.

That 'cyclist in me' you talk about not showing? How long do you think you would have needed to wait for him to 'turn up'?

Or maybe, I'm just putting myself in your shoes  :)
Garry Broad

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2009, 09:07:36 PM »


Nuun in one bottle and water for head squirty duties after each climb? Might help.

I head for a pub and a pint or two of orange and lemonade, no ice. It goes down a a lot easier than just water. Perhaps a packet of crisps for the salt. Good low-tech stuff.

LEE

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2009, 09:43:55 PM »
Packed once.  BCM600 this year.

I'd done the hard part (getting through the night to the Youth Hostel again) and was feeling great at 8am Sunday, full of beans (literally).  180km to go and feeling strong.

I then immediately had a big scare on a descent, my hands started to get painful with cold (someone took my gloves at the hostel) riding in a hail-storm and my ever-present shoulder cramp came on strong (probably as a result of cold and tension from the descent).

Stopped to try and get warm and to get over the descent, looked to my right and saw a small hotel. Hmmmm, fate? At the time it was an easy decision and one I was happy to make at the time (despite wondering why I quit the next day).

If my SR had been dependent on it, or there had been no hotel, then I imagine I'd have carried on but I was in a "I don't need to be doing this" zone at that crucial instant.

Apart from physical injury or mechanical breakdown it's all about motivation I think.  I felt stronger on the BCM than I did on the 600 I completed previously, I just lost the motivation to carry on. 
I'm not saying that Audax riders who pack aren't motivated people, far from it, actually getting to the start of a 600 Audax requires more motivation (months of training rides and lost weekends) than actually doing the ride itself.  Once you are at the start of an Audax you don't need much motivation to start riding, what else are you going to do?

At the end of the day though, it's not worth making yourself miserable about.  I treat my scary descent as a lucky escape and console myself by imagining that it could have gone a lot worse on the next descent.

Re: The whys and wherefores of Packing a ride
« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2009, 10:23:26 PM »
After my first PBP I was recounting what I'd done to my 87-year old neighbour. He looked at me quizzically and said: "You did that for pleasure?". And he has a point. If you're not enjoying it, what's the point doing it? Life throws up enough c--p without adding your own.  So on that basis, if I am not enjoying a ride don't continue.  On the other hand, for some people pushing themselves through that mental wall is itself part of the pleasure. I've packed on rides where I have been physically ill, where the route sheet was so bad that I've got fed up having to revert to the map and where a crisis at work has meant that I have spent so much time at the roadside on the phone that I've no chance of finishing in time, but like to think that I don"t enter events that I'm not capable of finishing so I would be disappointed to have given up a big chunk of my weekend in vain.

It's also worth observing that some events (eg. those that return to the start several times en route) make it easier to pack than others ;-)
I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation