The Spoked Traveller | Epic Israel – training begins.
Trails and advice cycling around the world as solo female cyclist and adventurer
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Epic Israel – training begins.

Epic Israel – training begins.

Ok. I’ve never trained for any kind of sporting event. Yes, I rode in the Ontario Cup mountain bike races last summer, but honestly, I really didn’t change my fitness routine that much. I drank a little less, and maybe, just maybe, I worked out a little longer, but I wasn’t making any sacrifices. That has to change.

In 43 days I will be the only Canadian (along with my partner, below), to ride a stage race through the desert of Israel. Epic Israel is three days of mountain biking through the Golan desert, climbing over 16,000 feet, and roughly 260 kms of trail. Gulp. Yeah, friggin right, gulp.

It is helpful, and quite comforting, to know I’m riding with someone, and not just a novice, a true-blue athlete with tons of experience. My partner is friend Karen Duff who trains people for a living and owns a fitness company ( Karen is my female fitness mentor.

But, as of this week, training has to get serious. It has to. I’m asking more of my body and mind than I ever have before. My one or two hour rides (five times a week) has to become multi-hour rides–considering that the first day of the race is 98 kms, it’s a full day of riding, and riding hard. Riding out of breath in 30 degree desert sand storms. Racing. Passing other riders. Heart-in-the-throat adrenaline. Burning legs that want to stop. I’m not ready. But, I will be.

Here is my major obstacle: focus. “Melanie, you have to ride and only ride. No more boot camps. No more lolly gagging. Just riding.” So says the riding expert whose message is only now starting to sink in. What can I say, I’m stubborn.

But more than that, I like change. I crave change. Doing one thing all the time? Really? I travel for a living so I have a low boredom threshold. But, training, to some degree, isn’t about balance. It’s one thing, all the time and a lot of it!

And now, since this one thing has taken over my life, I MUST make sacrifices. And the worst, the absolute worst, is no drinking. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy a glass of red wine. A beautiful full-bodied red calms me down. And the taste, oh god, the taste. A single sip hits your lips with one taste then changes as it slides on the tongue, and throat. Then, like magic, it makes your entire body warm.

But a weird thing has started to happen after I drink two glasses of red wine. Automatically I will wake up at 4 am and not return to sleeping. Every time. So, not only do a I wake up tired, I wake up with a little ache in my head, and a feeling that everything is a little slow-mo. I drag myself through the day. Basically, alcohol is killing my training. It also kills my motivation too, because I just don’t feel optimal.

So, for the next 43 days, I will not only be tracking my training here, with videos!, I will be giving some advice and thoughts on my progress and challenges, because this isn’t going to be easy. And, I’m also writing this blog to keep me honest. For me, my partner Karen who is also working so hard, and to all the female athletes out there willing to make bigger sacrifices than me (family, work etc).

Today, I begin training.

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