Over on the TABR Facebook group, last year's winner and the current course record holder (17 days, 9 hours), Evan Deutsch, has posted some thoughts on the furious pace being set so far on day one. Deutsch isn't riding this year, but it seems he's only too keen to join us in a bit of dotwatching for the 2018 edition. We hope he keeps this kind of insight coming.
Evan Deutsch: "Exciting to start watching the race unfold. In appreciation of the loyal dot watchers, thought it would be interesting for prior racers to post some perspective and insights of what it is like during particular segments of the race.
I will certainly say that day #1 is flat out exciting and, mostly, a big relief. I was always so anxious to just start riding after all of the prep time, travel and lead up. For me, it was always a balance of wanting to meet other riders and take in all of the fun of the event while, ultimately, looking forward to simply finding my own mental space and fall into my own pace.
There is a lot of energy and the pace is always fast with everyone having fresh legs. Power in wattage is an absolute measure of how much force one is putting into the pedals. Unlike speed, it is not affected by the constantly changing terrain and weather conditions. I have often heard that racers feel they are riding stronger once the race gets established---ie. the Perceived Exertion is higher. That said, I think it is a safe bet that almost no riders truly ride at higher absolute power at any other time during the race compared to day #1. I certainly would not argue that racers get more efficient in their stops and handling gear, and establish a better rhythm. Based, however, on knowledge of my own power(at least 10-15% higher on day #1 vs my next most powerful day) and my place in the field at particular times, I think it is a safe generalization that riders are riding hard to start the race. This makes sense and obviously need to take some advantage of fresh legs. Goal is to keep it in check and not over-extend too early.
As you all know, the race will get interesting night 1 when lead riders will decide whether to push through the night to get over Mackenzie pass or stop for some sleep...certainly an individual choice and I still am unsure which is the better strategy. Will be interesting to watch...."