BaseCamper Alyssa Biel shared her experience at Rebecca's Private Idaho 2023.
I'm sitting here today feeling thankful, happy, proud, strong, and feeling as though my heart is full. When I signed up for winter BaseCamp it wasn't with the intention to get back into racing, my intention was simply to do something that was for me, self care, and something that would help me not hibernate through the dark winter. Self care in any form is incredibly difficult for me with my particular flavor of mental illness, it's hard to tell myself I am worth it and make that extra investment when just doing the basics is already a struggle. As the mental and physical gains grew from Just Doing The Work my brain started scheming, thinking about the events I had wanted to do in years past. Continuing to train and signing up for RPI Basecamp was me choosing self care again, and deciding my bucket list of events could become a reality.
I didn't register for RPI until the last minute, as I was holding onto hope for a different event (which I will tackle some day), and when I registered the voice of Rebecca saying to challenge yourself was in the back of my mind. I knew I could knock out the French Fry in a short day, short for me at least. Having done 50 mile mountain bike races, 56 miles on gravel would be easy in comparison. I chose the Baked Potato, knowing it was a challenge to meet the cutoff time for me, spinning the mileage was less of my concern, give me about ten hours and I'd be back in town under my own power, I am tenacious if nothing else.
In the corral race morning, I introduced myself to the person next to me, his brother was one of the folks who have done RPI every year, and this guy was riding on one of his brother's bikes, he comes back into my story later. We started off and I was doing the thing, controlling all the controllables, gel every 20 minutes, water every 2.5 minutes, enough electrolytes mixed in, just over 100g carbs/hour since, and maintain a tempo-durance pace to make good time up Trail Creek (ok, I admit, I was definitely in the land of tempo the whole climb, but I was feeling good and knew the push was ok, RPE). I knew keeping my speed up on the downhills and flats was crucial for me, but still kept it in check a bit on the really washboarded downhills having a bit less front tire than I'd have liked, slow is smooth and smooth is fast was my mantra frequently.
I knew I was going to be close to the 11:45 cutoff, so I focused on staying as aero as I could and keeping my speed up, with no riders ahead or behind me that I could work with, for the whole Wild Horse to Copper Basin stretch. It started to rain on me at mile 36, no way I was stopping long enough to pop on my rain shell though, I just pulled my wool arm warmers up and reminded myself I was over a third of the way through the course (yay!) should I manage to be allowed around the Copper Basin loop, which I was still hoping for. I missed the 11:45 cutoff time by a bit, short enough that it hurt me to not go on knowing how well I felt, in spite of being soaked. Knowing I would be headed back I took a short break to top off my hydration pack, have some pickle juice, and swap my soaked gloves for a dry set from my pack for my return trip.
The guy from the start corral, Dustin, who I'd seen on and off in the first 24 miles was also at Copper Basin, and we decided before leaving Copper Creek to make the most of our day and ride back on the "hash brown" together. There were a handful of others we ended up grouping up with throughout our return as well, where we focused on having a great time, soaking in the scenery, chatting, encouraging everyone, and letting the Negative Nancy types continue past without raining on our parade of stoke and excellently timed Dumb and Dumber jokes.
The fact that I was full of energy, not sore, and was ready to ride again today, when I'd usually be feeling quite the opposite for a day or two post-race, is more than enough proof to me this coaching along with fueling properly is worth its weight in gold. Huge thank you to Tim, Namrita, Rebecca, and all the other BaseCampers out there!! It was great watching for the kits on course to give some extra encouragement to you all, go team BaseCamp!