Training for this event will begin after the first of the year. The plan is to ramp up the long rides on the weekends. In late March and early April increase to some 150-200 miles rides. Most of my long rides will be on the roads but I will have to throw in some gravel riding as the date gets closer.
Equipment choice for this race will be very critical. The bike of choice over the last couple of years has been a cyclocross bike or a 29" wheeled mountain bike with cyclocross tires. I don't have either. I am hoping to borrow a cyclocross bike from one of my riding partners for the month of April.
Lights are also a big choice. Riding on the pavement you can get by with less of a light then you can on the gravel. Most paved roads are well marked with very few obstacles. Gravel on the other hand has no white lines along the edges and many potholes and other obstacles. My plan is to us a Schmidt Dyno hub. The output of this light is great and I won't have to worry about carrying batteries. The only problem with this light is that when you stop the light goes out. To over come this I will also have Connie's adventure race head lamp on my helmet. The helmet light will be needed anyway to read the cue sheet and the street signs.
Being unsupported means that you will have to carry extra clothing for temperatures changes plus food to get from town to town. It will be a little hard to find food at 2:00 in the morning when you are in the middle of no where. I have not decided if I want to wear a Camelbak Mule or put a seat rack on the back. Right now I am leaning towards the Camelbak.
Now that winter has arrived the training has tapered off a bit but the goal is to try to get at least one 60-70 mile ride in each week. I am not looking forward to the week that I will be stuck in the basement riding for 3 to 4 hours. I am on target to get 13,000 miles this year with 12,000 being outside.
To mix training up a little I entered the Devil's Cross cyclocross race in Bettendorf a few weeks ago. It was a great workout. I raced the fat tire division first and got first place of 6 and then entered the 40+ open race and got 7th of 8. The open race had 29 entries and I got 19th overall. I was the only rider on a mountain bike. I was in it for the fun and work out and accomplished both.