All the disciplines of endurance cycling have their own key aspects to success, be it packing right for the Tour Divide, the right support team and program for RAAM, tolerance for the usually crazy weather on Trans Iowa, the ability to pedal alone for 4200 miles of the Trans-Am Race. They all have some unifying factors such as training, fitness, mental toughness, etc, but there is one true common denominator:
Knowing when to say when.
Ending your bid at an endurance sport attempt isn’t a failure. Carrying on past your limits into the danger zone can cause catastrophic results. Physical injuries, mental health issues, or worse. You can end up too injured to carry on training or riding for an extended period of time, which happened to a good friend during his bid to finish the Trans-Wisconson some years back. He eventually recovered from nerve damage in his hands (a common injury in endurance riding), and went on to finish the Tour Divide in 2015. In my experience it’s tough to gauge the severity of hand numbness while on an intense ride, but had he pulled the plug earlier at TW the need for being off the bike so long could have been avoided. Just an example, sorry to bring up hard times, SF.
Know whether you are running in the red or running into a wall.
Today Greg Gleason pulled the plug on his Tour Divide. Greg is a beast of an endurance athlete, a Salsa Cycles sponsored rider with an inspiring story, Trans Iowa wins*, and more. He was having a number of problems including neck and breathing (not un-common issues in these races), and recognized that it would be a much better idea to face the facts rather than attempt to pedal through these maladies any further. His Tour Divide was over for 2017, and he will go on to tackle the race in 2018.
It was an emotional moment for Greg, which he shared via video on social media, but he was resolute that this was the right move and he will be back next year. That is a winning moment. I, for one, am going to miss watching the “GG” dot at Trackleaders, but you can bet that he will be back in Banff next June and all of us Gleasonites will be eagerly watching him work his magic. In the beginning of the race he was in the lead ahead of Josh Kato, Brian Lucido (current leader), and Stephan, and killing it. I believe had it not been for this breathing and neck issue he could have pulled a top 5 finish, if not better. But Greg is a smart rider and knew it was time to pull the plug, and that is the true mark of a pro. Thank you, Greg, for being a bad ass, a great guy, an inspiration, and self aware enough to keep safe. Your family, and your cycling family, will appreciate seeing your future exploits!
*Greg took second place at TIV13 this year, which may been first had he not insisted on riding his Tour Divide rig for the whole thing. Greg, using TI for loaded GDMBR training. Whoa. Beast Mode.