Eamonn here (aka “the navigator”) - racing Ireland’s complete Wild Atlantic Way by bike, non-stop with Joe being the fastest person on the planet to do so, is our objective.
However, in order to succeed there has to be a plan. A plan as to “how” Joe is going ride his bike from north to south, 2343km along one of the most rugged coastal landscapes on the planet, with over 22,000 meters of climbing.
There are no stages in this race, it’s just one long stage from beginning to end with minimum sleep or stopping. Our goal is to complete it in less than 110 hours so that allows 1-2 hour in every 24 to rest, pee, poop, change clothing, bike change, etc and that’s where every detail and possible eventuality has to be factored into the plan.
I believe in preparation and the old adage “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” which is why at TJB we always sweat the small stuff! Joe has to pedal his bike as fast as he can along the entire west coast of Ireland. Over this distance and terrain, we need to be efficient in every aspect of this race, for example carrying 1 water bottle and not 2 might sound trivial but that extra weight over this distance and elevation adds up and will affect the overall average speed.
First things first as they say! Joe can’t do what he does without a support crew aka ‘us lot’ and this team is currently in a transition period with some recent retirees and some new members (check out team profiles on our website). However, as a group we do have one very successful record attempt behind us and I am confident that this team will deliver when the pressure intensifies and the proverbial hits the fan, which it will – ultimately we are stronger together.
We do have a crewing strategy and without going into too much detail, it requires that we are self sufficient for the entire length of this race – so stuff like food, water, washing facilities, toilet facilities, sleeping quarters, spare parts, clothing etc., Whatever Joe needs at any given moment we need to be able to supply it quickly.
To make sure this is possible we have built our own “reaching further” team van which I look forward to telling you about. Suffice to say for now that this is bespoke, designed and built for purpose based on years of experience successfully racing bikes around the world. Again the essence of this build was to keep it efficient and yes we did sweat the small stuff because the devil is always in the detail.
My background is in engineering and I did have my engineering hat on when designing the layout of the van with the mantra being “a place for everything & everything in its place”. I learned very early on that Joe is a stickler for detail, and he always says “it’s important that we sweat the small stuff” because once we are in the race it’s too late, so knowing where every single thing is and being able to put our hands on it instantly is crucial.
Ultra endurance racing requires a good fuelling strategy, Joe’s nutritionist and partner Jillian takes care of all things nutrition. She knows how to fuel Joe’s body for maximum performance and these requirements change drastically over a race of this distance, for example his energy requirements vary significantly depending on intensity and heart rate and understanding this in terms of how the body is burning fat versus carbohydrates determines what fuel he needs to take in. Jillian is constantly monitoring and adjusting as we go. As Joe progresses through these type races his decision making and rational thinking capabilities seem to abandon him at times! Sometimes he is completely dependant on the crew to tell him when and what to eat or drink. A good nutrition strategy is key to a successful record attempt, Jillian will give an interesting in depth appreciation of our nutrition strategy in a separate blog (well worth a read)
Undoubtably there will be many obstacles along the way, which we will have to deal with such as terrain, weather, odd mishaps and oversights and so on. There will also be a steady breakdown of Joe both mentally and physically. The human body isn’t unlike a machine, it requires maintenance and running repairs along the way, as well as words of encouragement from all of us.
Just so you all know, we do read all of your messages of support and encouragement and relay some to Joe aloud from the crew car when he is struggling in the race and it really is like flicking a switch… so, please keep those messages flowing in.
I’m not a sports psychologist but it is worth emphasising that over these distances cycling is as much mental as it is physical and as such it is just as import to “invest” in the mental aspect as it is in pedalling the bike for endless hours. I have no doubt that Joe has already completed this race in his mind countless times and knows exactly what lies ahead.
I will sign off by saying Joe has prepared as well as he ever has and is physically in peak condition, the equipment is in pristine condition, the crew are ready to bring our “A” game so when it comes to setting a blistering world record time - LETS DO THIS!
Interested in your own endurance experience with Team Joe Barr? Check us out. We offer a bespoke service for your goals and challenges. Email Joe@teamjoebarr.com