With little over two weeks to go until the second edition of the Pan Celtic Race, I must admit that my nerves are surfacing. Usually before races like these I am unperturbed, calm and collected, simply delighted at the prospect of riding my bike all day for multiple days on end. This quite possibly has something to do with my level of preparation before such an event; typically, I am rather underprepared. To give you an idea of just how so, the first race I ever signed up for, the NorthCape4000, I entered knowing I had only ridden my bike once in the previous two years. Being severely underprepared of course presents its own challenges, but for me, that’s half the fun! I’ve always liked making things harder for myself than they necessarily need to be – in this instance, setting what appears to be an impossible challenge yet somehow being able to achieve it is a feeling I enjoy, even crave.
If I am completely honest though, this lack of preparation is most likely a tactic I employ to try and take the pressure off myself. It may seem counterproductive (because it is) but I have always had a slight reluctance to try my hardest at anything, for intense fear of failure. Knowing I have a myriad of excuses ready if something were to go wrong, or if I was unable to finish a race for whatever reason, indulges this fear and quietly promises to ease my disappointment. Last year, however, after a summer of racing and thoroughly enjoying almost every minute of it, I found myself wanting to push myself, wondering what I could do if I really put my mind to it.
Fast forward to now, and I feel oddly prepared! I have stuck - for the most part - to a regimented training plan the last 6 months, learnt to fuel myself properly, and have managed to streamline my kit through practice rides such as the TransKernow at the beginning of this month. The TransKernow itself was the perfect test event before the Pan Celtic – both to see how my legs would cope with the insane gradients of the Cornish Hills, and to give my new custom frame bag a shakedown ride (spoiler, it works just as beautifully as it looks, and fits in even more than I had conceived). Perhaps foolishly, I entrusted the route planning to my ride partner, Harvey, who decided to devise a much more scenic (read: coastal and therefore ridiculously hilly) course than the majority of other riders, racking up almost 8000m elevation in 350km. I certainly got a taster of what’s to come!
Training has been going well, helped enormously by the amount I am able to fit in my bags – the friends I ride with often make jokes about how many change of clothes I need for one ride. These jokes are no doubt warranted, as I rarely leave the house without three pairs of gloves with me: a deep winter pair, a fingerless mitt, and a casual pair for the café stop. With those, a rain jacket and tools filling up my frame bag, my camera comes with me next, safely nestled in my handlebar bag. The remainder of my space is entirely devoted to foodstuffs, and whatever eaten mid-ride is quickly replaced by another assortment of treats picked up en route – predominantly apricot flapjacks from Middle Farm, lovingly transported home to Mum and Dad… I’d say they arrive home safely about 90% of the time. Take from that what you will!
A few last-minute tasks, such as meticulously analysing the route and making that final decision on whether I take my full sleeping setup or not (insomnia sometimes makes me question taking anything at all), I think I’m more or less ready. And though the nerves are present, they are completely and utterly outweighed by how excited I am to be on that start line surrounded by friends old and new, all geared up – pardon the pun - for an incredible adventure on our bikes. The only thing left is to dream about Cornish pasties, cream teas and Welsh cakes, write my hundredth colour-coded list of items to pack, and painstakingly curate a playlist that I won’t get a chance to listen to because I’ll have forgotten my headphones.
Oh, and charge my SRAM batteries.
India Landy (@indialandy)
Follow India's progress during the Pan Celtic Race at https://www.pancelticrace.com/