Pit in the Stomach

Posted by on Sep 2, 2009 in Bike, Races | 9 Comments

It is entirely possible that I am alone in feeling this most disconcerting of emotional and physical phenomenons. But I doubt it. In the days leading up to a big race, and by big I mean the effort and distance, I develop a sickly, nervous pit deep within the recesses of my stomach. Self doubt tries to creep up from the void and poison my mind with thoughts of failure, abandonment, and despair. Comfortable sights and sounds, like the warmth of the kitchen at home, or the glow of city lights seem a cold contrast to the looming solidarity far off in the desert or high in the mountains. For whatever reason, unknown to me, dusk seems to be the time when this emotional distress is most manifest, most apparent.

It is especially present during a solo 24. As the sun sinks into oblivion and the lights start to glow I find myself looking with bitter resentment at the literally happy campers around me who are enjoying the down time between laps around the fire, and hot food.

And so, this week I have been fighting off bouts of that reoccurring nervous doubt as the Point to Point approaches. One comforting thought is that as the race grows closer, the questions and the nausea fade. By the time I am sitting at the line they have been entirely replaced with a more positive energy – an anxious and exciting desire to simply ride. And ride fast.

Saturday cannot come quickly enough.

Exit Question: What pre-race jitters do you experience?


  1. KanyonKris
    September 2, 2009

    You do know these events are not mandatory? And some you even pay to enter. The things we do in the name of fun.

  2. mark
    September 2, 2009

    I try to sleep well two nights before, because the night before, I’m hopeless. At Leadville I slept in five 40 minute increments the night before. The night after, I was up at 4:00 and unable to go back to sleep because even though the event was over, the stress hadn’t yet dissipated.

  3. Grizzly Adam
    September 2, 2009

    KK: The events themselves are usually beyond fun. I love doing them. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t. But the self-challenge is something I get a lot of satisfaction from. The pre-race stress is part of that experience.

    Mark: That is especially the case when I have to get up extra early. Drives me crazy.

  4. Aaron
    September 2, 2009

    I’m the same with the self doubt. Perhaps it’s because I try not to ride much before the race so I start to feel out of shape. Maybe I should go put in a hard 4 hour ride tomorrow so I can start feeling more confident!

  5. KanyonKris
    September 2, 2009

    I was mostly just teasing. I know what you’re talking about. I got anxious before RAWROD and STP – and even Slickrock still gets me a bit nervous. The anticipation is part of the fun.

    But some folks get REALLY worked up before an event, EVERY event. Yet they keep doing it. If a person is getting seriously stressed every time I’m not sure that’s healthy. There’s a fine line. Whatever, everyone chooses their own path.

  6. Keith
    September 3, 2009

    I hardly slept before RAWROD, mostly because Grizzly was snoring..(kidding). But I think learning to manage the anxiety is a skill that has to be developed and practiced.

  7. PAlt
    September 3, 2009

    Right there with you, brother. As a raodie who’s done Assault on Mt Mitchell, Ride Across INdiana, El Tour de Tuscon, as well as numerous local centuries and climbing events, I get that gnawing in the gut generally as I eat the pre-ride breakfast. I tick down the list of all the things I need to remember to do, bring, or check prior to the start and along the way.

    And yet, I sign up to do them again, look to find some longer, higher, tougher event to ride, and train my tail off to have a respectable showing. The cure to our collective angst is the start, the challenge of the event itself, and the satisfaction of accomplishment of finishing.

    Riding’s the drug got a hold on me…

  8. derrick batley
    September 4, 2009

    I usually start getting my bike ready, start looking at every little bit of slop,creek in the bike. Working on my bike I start finding all the worn out parts that need replacement. But,they are special parts that need to be ordered, and you know how that goes! Then I start putting things in my pack. Then I question do I really need everything that I’ve put in my pack? Then I start to think my bike might fail, which leads to the worst failure ever, not finishing because of your bike!

  9. bob
    September 5, 2009

    If you keep having pits in your stomach you should just remember, generally speaking, that is the least flavorful part of a peach

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