So I did the 200 mile race. ..but I stopped at 100 miles. I had a good time though. The first 50 miles were great. The gravel was packed down and fast, and there were several rocky downhills that were fun to fly down. The second 50 miles were a little tougher. a lot more climbing, and I had burnt up a lot of energy by that point. I ended up walking several hills, but still made a decent pace. (averaged 12mph) Towards mil 100, I started struggling, but not for the reasons I normally might.. My heart rate was super low, and I wasn't exactly tired. I think it was mostly that my arms were exhausted - something that I usually don't ride enough to encounter. I'm sure the rocky terrain didn't help. I just didn't have the mental toughness/strategy to cope with that flavor of discomfort. I think I also was a little dehydrated. I stopped at the 100 mile checkpoint and decided to stay even though I didn't feel particularly bad. It didn't help that I was dumb and entered the race on a single speed bike.
FTR, I felt the strongest that day that I have in months. I think I did a lot of things right, especially nutrition and hydration. The first 50 miles I was feeling so good, I didn't drink as much water or energy drink as I should have. But I ate hourly, and it worked ok. My bike worked well too. I was worried about my tire situation.. especially the front, which wasn't intended to be used tubeless, had blown off the week before, and was observably leaking the day be for the race. it worked fine during the race. the rear seemed low a couple times, and I stopped to fill it up, but I think it was just my mind playing tricks on me. I also managed to get rid of all the creaks and rattles that I'd been dealing with prior to the race. Saddle didn't hurt until the last mile.
In retrospect, I think I would have done ok had I continued on. My performance and feelings at the end would mean "you're done" on a regular length ride, but I think for this distance, I was really ok. My brain just wasn't ready to accept that.
I'm glad it's over with. I had told myself that I wouldn't do this again. Really, I think that was mostly because the anxiety of having had to enter the race 6 months ago and worry about training all that time really wore heavily on me. After having done it, I actually enjoyed it, and part of me is a little bummed I didn't complete it. I could see trying it again, and maybe using a regular multi speed bike to finish it, but I'm still not sure about that 6 month worry time, and honestly, the whole thing was pretty expensive when you add up a $250 entry fee, couple hundred support crew fee, two days vacay time, gas to drive to kansas and back, hotel, equipment/nutrition used, etc, etc. We'll see. Right now I'm happy to just be able to ride for fun on whichever bike I feel like at the time.