there are a lot of people that are racing these longer races solo for the first time this weekend and I want to throw my .02 in on how to make the experience more enjoyable:
power and pacing - this is probably the hardest skill for an endurance athlete...to be able to throttle themselves over a long period of time. You are really excited at the start of the race and there are riders doing relays that are in the mix that will be going faster than you will want to. If you look at peoples lap times 90% of the people start off doing lap times that they cant maintain over the whole race - this causes them to have a slower overall time than if they would have broken the race down in to sustainable speeds and break it down into 4 easy to follow segments. (remember...you cant win the race on the first lap but you can lose it on the first lap)
segment 1: (first 1:30 of a 6 hour race)
In this segment - fight adrenaline/excitement and just hold back. You cant really rely on your heart rate monitor for this because you will be excited. most of you dont have power meters so you will have to rely on PE (perceived Exertion) How easy should you be going MUCH easier than your mind is telling you at this point. If you are breathing so hard that you couldn't have a conversation with somebody riding beside you, you started too fast. remember most people are making big mistakes at this point in race and if you are getting passed...you are going correct pace...if you are passing a lot of people..you are going out way too fast. (remember the tortoise and the hare)
segment 2: (this takes you up to the half way point)
at this point....you are settled in and you can start relying on your heart rate monitor for accurate information. stay in your goal zone (right below lactate threshold - basically if you road for 1 hour as hard as you can what your ave HR would be) remember to not get caught up in "racing" other riders...you will be getting passed by people that are doing relays etc. you race your own race and you will have your best finish.
segment 3: (hour 3-4:30 in a 6 hour)
You will start having arguments with your mind at this point - it will be telling you lies like 'I am not doing very well, I am going too slow" this is normal...expect it. at this point to keep for over exertion you can play "pedaling games" like: 1-2 3 apply force on 1 and less force on pedals for 2 - 3 and keep repeating...this also will take your mind off the PE that is starting to make things seem harder than they really are (remember that you can rely on HR at this point) this is by far the most challenging part of the race mentally. If you blew section 1 you are probably arguing with yourself whether or not to give up at this point.
segment 4: (the last 1:30 of a 6 hour)
Mentally things start to get better because at this point, the end is in sight. You can finish strong at this point because you didnt burn up all your matches..you left gas in the tank. You can start concentrating on passing people at this point - there will be a lot of people that didnt pace themselves correctly...focus on them and pass them. You will be able to chase some relay riders at this point as well. Go for it here and finish strong. You will be surprised at how many riders that are racing solo have either given up and arent even on the course now or are crawling around and you are passing them. This is where your discipline has paid off. The race will really be spread out at this point so there wont be as much traffic to contend with and you should be able to fly around the course to a fantastic finish.
this is much harder to do than it sounds...trust me, if you use these tactics and can stick to them, you will finish better than if you didnt.
DROP HAMMERS (in the last part of the race when nobody else has hammers left