I've been going over bits of the training plan that I got from LW Coaching and I'm really excited to get on with it. I won't officially start with them until April 9 so, in the mean time I'm just going to ride when I feel like it. I already have more base mileage in than I did for that first attempt and I'm very confident I can work through the plan without candy assin' it. One of the things that shouldn't surprise is the difference in zones between where they want me to be and where I normally ride. I ride in zone 4 routinely and often flirt with zone 5.
My strategy this year is going to be a bit more like a diesel motor and just hum along at a lighter pace than in year's past but to also travel lighter than I've done before and move through the night. I have no idea how the sleep apnea is going to impact me. It can't be much worse than in the past but the concern for me now is that I'll be on the CPAP and oxygen for several months and then be forced to race without them.
One thing that I've been kicking around a bit is using aero bars for this year's race. I know that sounds odd on such a gnarly trail but the rationale behind it is that if I come to a detour on pavement, or fire roads at 4 in the morning, I intend on grinding it out. If a different position that puts different pressure on my saddle, triceps, and gives my numb hands a break from the grips means that I can ride even just 2 hours more each day then it's at least worth investigating. I could use them through Bailey and to the top of Kenosha Pass, into and out of Leadville, into and out of Buena Vista, along the fire road towards Fooses Creek, from highway 114 until I start the high altitude sections, and maybe along highway 550. A lot of mountain bikers aren't comfortable with aero bars but I got my start by racing duathlons so I am quite comfortable in that position.
My friend Marshal loaned me the clip ons he used for Tour Divide last year and I started playing with them last night. Some guys use a pretty radical stem to get the bars high enough but the saddle to bar drop on my bike isn't very much to begin with. The pads were a tad low so I swapped out the hardware that he had been using for longer bolts and 1/2" nylon spacers to bring them up. I've only ridden up and down the street but they are super comfortable.
Here you can see the new spacers. Don't worry Marshal...I took measurements before I made adjustments.
They do add a bit of weight but not that much and I am dropping more weight off my total from last year (see....I didn't have to use that one word). Right now I don't think they're going to get in my way on tighter trails but we'll see. The other added benefit of these is that they give me a very organized way of adding my heart rate monitor and a light because you know I like things to look a certain way from the seat. Running a light off to one side would make me cringe. I already know how I'm going to do it if this works out.