Welcome To The Castle (we got fun and games)

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.
My journey started when I decided to ride the 2020 Tour Of Sufferlandria.
I had my hesitations because I'm in the final block of a 12-week training plan and wasn't sure about the ToS' impact on the training load and how it would affect my upcoming 4DP test.
The "Focused" option answered my concern with overall slightly reduced intensity across all stages of the ToS, to keep things hard, near impossible at times, yet manageable. And so I plunged in with joy, murmuring a poem by Grunter von Agony to myself.

On the morn of the Attempt, my remaining rides for the ToS were 14 Vise Grips (Stage 8b); and Power Station + Angels + Thin Air (Stage 9: Grunter's Gran Fondo). I went right ahead, a wee bit sluggish at 4 am, with muted audio and darkness overpowering.

(As an avid reader of The Scrolls of A Knight To Be, you already know all this, of course, so thank you for bearing with me as I recap for the weary traveler wandering in from the Mist Of Agony.)

Four hours later, with the Tour Of Sufferlandria done, and Grunter's Gran Fondo complete, it was time to storm the Castle.
I decided to backtrack and flank with to "Hell Hath No Fury."
Eighteen minutes in, a power surge had reset the computer. BAH! Those eruptions on Mt. Sufferlandria never stop.
I started my attack on HHNF from the beginning to be on the safe side.

I then reached A Very Dark Place. Only this time, with so much backwind (and slightly reduced intensity...), I had managed to retain my stomach's contents - a rarity!

Making my way back towards the light, G.O.A.T (and Mike) guided my path up the mountains to get a better view of the road ahead.
It was a tough road, my legs objecting to the enforced torque and mental determination to keep pushing.

"You. WILL. Do. This"
"Sufferlandrian, Obey!"

I was suffering, and also beginning to worry if I was going to make it in time or not (kids back from school at 2pm!)
It was around the 7-hour mark, with a slow creeping headache and a craving for a good strong coffee that I decided it was time to have some fun.
My morning coffee was at 4 am upon breaking my fast. Now, with no esquire to wait on me, I had to settle for a caffeinated gel - my first since embarking.

I qued up Revolver. I've said it before, and I'll repeat it: I can do this all day long.
I don't know what it is about 1-minute On, 1-minute Off at these intensities, but the interval predictability and how my legs respond makes Revolver a favorite. I got my mojo back and almost euphorically announced that "it's The Best Thing In The World."
TBTITW kept the pace high, the will strong, and the Suffering scalding hot. I was immersed, with mind and body alike.

Last came There Is No Try. I planned to finish it off with this, knowing well that there will be no Try, only Do, when it comes to a Sufferlandrian Knighthood.
In my haze, I did not remember the workout details when I started; I forgot about going faster when it gets harder. Yet, for now, and forever, it will be an element of my mantra.

What a glorious finish, on the cobbles of the Champs-Élysées sprinting towards the Arc de Triomphe.
I basked in glory, overjoyed, taking my first breath with the might of a newborn.

Three or four minutes later, my kids returned home from school, and that was that, rather nonchalantly.

I was tired but not overwhelmed. Aching, but not in pain. I needed a coffee* more than anything else.
(* I roast green coffee beans myself for my secret special blend - maybe a post for later?)

Today, I added an extra Yoga session to give my legs some extra love, but otherwise went right ahead with my scheduled plan (The Hunted, 90%). Yes, it hurt a little bit more, and yes, I have some chaffing that will need (medical?) attention for a couple of days, but my Duty to the Nation comes first!

I have a scheduled 4DP coming up in 8 days, after all.

The regular reader will note that this Knighthood ride differed somewhat from my previous plan in the selection and order of the rides. There are two reasons:

  1. I brought the wrong note into the Torture Chamber and rode HHNF even though I didn't finally mean to
  2. The power surge and the resulting loss of about 40 minutes combined (20m lost ride, 5m power out, 15m unplanned extra session duration), together with my deadline, forced me to select slightly shorter sessions to make up for the lost time. So while I really wanted The Chores and The Bat, I had to find time in AVDP.

Otherwise, I kept the breaks to the absolute minimum, quick water fill, pee, and go.
More than 20 years ago my coach, who trained the national Tri team at the time, used to say that he could tell by your riding if you organized your shit (i.e., gear, kit, food, drink, etc.) last night, methodically and thoughtfully, or just threw all your crap in the car this morning to make it in time for training. Very true: the quality of your prep will reflect and shine through on your rides.

Overall, from Feb 10-23: 1500TSS, 27 hours bike duration :)

My Sword: Trek Madone 7S on a Tacx Neo
My Armor: Assos Clothing, Bontrager Balista shoes, Sportique cream
My Shield: 2 Clif bars, 3 gels (finally tasted that Salted Watermelon, yuk), a handful of salty pretzels, 1 banana, 3 sandwiches with chocolate spread, 8 bidons of GU Energy Mix, and lots and lots of water, holy and otherwise.

Here's the raw data from the Garmin: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4582019931 44,673 pedal strokes, holly shredded chamois.