I have been seeing the image above this post every day for months now. It is my desktop background. I got that picture off the USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s website. It is a daily reminder of 2012’s key cycling event for yours truly.

As most of my readers know, I am off to Colorado on August 17th where I will be joining a group of twenty riders put together by Carmichael Training Systems. We will ride the seven stages and all of the 683 miles of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge which will be held between August 20 and 26. We will start about three hours before the pros and work together as a team to get to the finish line before we get caught.

I am writing this short post after spending the last couple of hours preparing the daily posts I will be blogging during the race. All that is left is to upload pictures and commentary on a daily basis. The rest of the work such as uploading links to maps, profiles and stage descriptions is done. Having already completed a comparable event twice (Tour of California 2011 and 2012) I know the importance of recovery and since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be fought at altitude, I will need every minute I have to lie down, relax and try to get ready for the next day, hence the need to get as much of the blogging prepared ahead of time.

As I write these words I am pretty relaxed. I know what to expect, I know the routine, the schedule, the food, the coaches, etc. I have prepared well and all my power numbers are encouraging. That being said, I just don’t know how the week is going to go for me because of one factor: altitude. My only experience riding at altitude was a four day trip to Colorado last year and we rode pretty easily – except for the seven hour ride that included the famed Phantom Canyon climb. That ride was the hardest ride of my life. Thanks Jim!

Anyways, I have a feeling I am about to embark on the hardest physical challenge of my life. I have spent the last seven months getting ready for this. I have ridden 7,777 (lucky?) kilometers, spent 330 hours on the bike and expended 183,502 kJ to get through it (more than in all of the 2009 season). For those who work eight hour days that is forty-one working days. The calories burned equal the calories found in 318 Big Macs.

So please come back to the blog for daily updates, stories about Hardening The Fuck Up, victories, losses, pain and happiness. I am ready to roll.