Sometimes, the toughest part of the journey is getting to the journey. This is probably more true of ultracycling events than anything.
First, there's the training. Regular cycling events require months of training, but a lot of ultracycling events actually take years of training. You don't just jump on a bike one day and say, "I think I'll go ride a 1200K next year."
Well, most people don't.
Of course, Quadzilla isn't a 1200K. Normally, it's a 500-mile race that you have to finish within 40 hours -- and by most accounts it's hard to make that time cut. What we're doing this week is even easier -- four back-to-back 200Ks, most of them with over 10,000 feet of climbing, starting tomorrow in Ithaca, NY. That means that you may not have as much saddle time as you would on a 1200K, nor the potential sleep-deprivation issues that you would with a 1200K or the "normal" Quadzilla, but you'd still better have some good stuff in your legs.
So getting ready for the staged Quadzilla means months of hard riding. Fortunately, I've been doing that, so I may be prepared. It also means getting your bike ready, which I've done with the help of my friends at The Bike Route back in Naples. Finally, it means getting up horribly early, driving to the airport, and paying U.S. Airways another $200 to put my bicycle in its case on their plane.
Now that is what I call pain.
I had a short layover in Philadelphia, then landed in Ithaca before noon. I retrieved my bike case from the Island of Misfit Luggage -- where it was very sad, since it was the only thing there -- and opened it to check the contents. That's when I found that the TSA had once again protected me by going through my bike case and not closing it back properly, so that one of the catches was now broken.
Of course, if they don't do that, the terrorists win. I'm always happy to take one for the team.
I sealed the case back up as best I could, caught a cab to my hotel, then walked to the college for lunch. When I got back to the hotel, I took the case to my room and began putting my bike together. That's when I discovered that, when they went through it, they apparently decided not to put my pedals back in the case. Maybe the lube that I had sprayed on them had flammable tendencies.
Or maybe the terrorists are winning. The terrorists in the TSA, at least.
Fortunately, there's a bike shop just over a mile away, and they had pedals that would work. They weren't the same as the pedals that I had, of course, but the next level down. Functional ... just not optimal.
Thanks again, TSA.
But at least that was the end of the journey. I got the bike together, went for a spin to make sure everything was good, and then checked in with ride coordinator Mark Frank. Other riders were coming in, some of whom I had ridden with before, and it was good to catch up with everyone. Then, my friends from Nashville -- Vida Greer and Mary Beth Chawan -- got in, and we went out with Vida's son, Justin, for big burritos.
Now my stomach is full, and I'm exhausted. Time to sleep ... perchance to dream ... nightmares stoked by spicy food, wherein the zombie apocalypse of TSA agents begins climbing out of my bike case. Oh joy.