Rasputitsa is Russian for the mud season when roads become difficult to traverse.

Is that clear? Not to me, so I googled and get the following:

Rasputitsa was the name for the severe weather conditions that occur seasonal(ly) (sic) in Eastern European areas, namely the Soviet Union. These conditions are typically characterized by thick mud caused by the recently melted snow and rain.

However, in the race website the definition is as follows:

“The Rasputitsa is a psychotic 40 mile, insane, drop to your knees and cry suffer-fest with an absurdly section so difficult that people won’t believe your stories called Cyberia”.

OK so it’s hard. And not just the bad sentence structure. For 40 miles. Not exactly the road to Siberia. Maybe to the store and back in Siberia.

I heard about the race from friends, signed up, joined the wait list and three weeks later got the call to actually join the race. Associate level cool.

I thought about racing gravel a lot.

Watching the Strade Bianche was great motivation for the Rasputitsa as we rode indoors together – sort of felt like we were closing out the final 15km together! Note to Strava. Puts a killer buzz on a workout.

 

Well, that was at the beginning of March, some time ago, and a few weeks have passed – some serious snow and a lot of indoors training. Race season start is only three weeks off and it’s time to dial in the machine.

Rasputitsa is the second race on my calendar this year after an 80km road race the weekend before (incidentally my first ever road race), followed the next day by another 80km road race. It’s a road – gravel – road sandwich to start the year.

Hopefully the snow will melt. But if not, then propane and lighter fuel is acceptable.

 

How about that taper? How about that packing list?

Well, this year it’s not such a big deal since all the races are local, or at most a 3 hour drive away. No plane rides to exotic lands right now. On the upside, it means a lot of hard local races every week until Halloween if I want it.

So in order to prepare for more frequency and higher pacing I have some different work to do. Namely lots of high end power work.

Lots of recovery rides to clear the legs, some forays into the outdoor world for café commuting when possible. Being outdoors to ride instead of train is a whole new possibility. Starting April I have over 3,000km of legitimate hard training on my legs. Most years I’d be in June before I got there.

What else matters? Good food for sure – I’m starting to feel the pounds coming off now – and that’s a great feeling. Sort of stalled in late February weight wise, but now the winter fat is coming off. Goodbye Xmas Pudding baby. It’s great to feel the pull to the veggies and not to the desert tray so much these days.

Having said that I don’t ever break the cardinal rule, which is always train for the intense sessions after a decent feed. Trying to push high end energy on an empty stomach is a recipe for feeling like kak for a few days after.

Something like  the opposite of a field of creams fantasy.

 

Oh wait, is that right?

Well, whatever, we know who’ll be looking better covered in mud come race day.

Part of the last few week’s preparation is doing some simulated race efforts. Our esteemed team leader suggested a 2 hour indoor session to mimic the effects. On Saturday we put it into practice, but it didn’t play out quite as expected.

You could say we sort of backed into it actually. But it broke into full bloom in the 2nd half when me n Andy gapped off the front and then worked for the next 45 mins to keep the lead. In fact, we were able to grow the lead to over 3 virtual kms. That’s not much more than 5 mins lead time, and we had to stay on the rivet to keep it. It’s enough to remind me that the days after training like this when I feel sick and exhausted and emotionally spent are the days that deliver the biggest bang for the training buck.

 

Without going into the red zone so deeply there’s simply no way to get faster. I think anyone who tells you that there is might simply be living in a fantasy charity polo match of their own making.

So there it is, ready or not. 21 days on LV-426 is a long time, but if you pace yourself and don’t lose your cool you might just make it.  Just don’t ask me why the Prometheus didn’t pick up the signal from LV-426 that the Nostromo investigated?

The final part of the deal is the dream of my MITTE 3in1 Road bike turning up before race day, delivery and setup included, cherry red and ready to blaze. In the absence of that, I’ll pace the stronger cell of aluminum poverty and plan to jam a line along the streams that other roadies will feel compelled to get off and walk. Equipment accessories will be key so remember the list below. It’ll be cold, wet and pretty horrible conditions. Burke Mountain sure ain’t a walk in the park. Or is it ?

 

Don’t forget:

  • Extra chain lube
  • Ass saver (maybe 2!)
  • Some kind of jury rigged front fork mud flap (some kind of mickey mouse adventure looming)
  • Running tubeless – what could go wrong?
  • Face mask aka warm face = happy race

 

Let’s rock!

 

Useful links:

https://www.rasputitsagravel.com/

http://teknecycling.com/how-the-race-was-won-rasputitsa-2015/