Mostly just questions I ask myself, and some numbers:
How far can you push yourself before you break? When you think you break, did you really just brake? As I struggle to motivate myself to push harder in training, I cannot help but imagine how far I can actually push myself. Im pretty sure that at this point in my life, it is clear I will never be a true 'world class' athlete, or someone who makes a living off of a sport. That may sound grim and like I'm giving up, but I'm just trying to keep it real, I have every intent to continue to push myself and improve my own strength, pace, and skill.
My longest single day ride to date is 210 miles, about 140 paved and flatish, and 170+ mile days before and after (Pie Town day in TD.) Just 2 years ago I had never ridden a century. Bikepack racing has so many more factors than mileage, and time in the saddle for that matter. Terrain, climbing, sustainability, fuel and water supply, etc. I must sadly admit I have never raced a 24 hour race, but it is certainly on my list. Lets take it a step farther; do 48 hour races exist? What length of race must riders start to plan to sleep or camp? I haven't looked at specific names, mileages and times, but bikepack racers everywhere are pushing the envelope with sleep deprivation and impressive durability. With so many ultras* having nothing but bragging rights for prizes, what is motivating riders to push so hard?
Let's throw The Munga into the discussion. 1000k, $1,000,000, yes, One MILLION Dollar purse. I'm not saying I can win it, I may never have the opportunity to try with a $10,000 entry, but I am pretty sure that given another year of training with motivation, I could ride 1000k without sleeping. It is exciting to think about pedaling essentially continuous for that long, but I'm not convinced that would be the fastest tactic. Does the turtle or the rabbit win this race? Safety aside (yes riding 620+ miles non-stop could potentially cause some bodily harm) a few hours rest in between two triple+ centuries may be the solution, or maybe take two brief naps and split the race into double century segments.
With Cloudride 1000 as my current goal, I am trying to train as though it has a 6 figure podium payout, but I can't even wrap my head around that kind of money. My motivation is purely unfounded. I got into this stuff for the same reason we all did: we love to ride our bikes for a really long time, and we like to find our limits, and see how our limits stack up against those of others. My mind has just shifted from chasing double century weekends to double century days, back to back, (to back?) What about the triple century? On a road bike I can honestly say I think I could do one without too much struggle. Its not hard, all you need to do is pedal farther, right?
*Ultra: My definition: Multiple day, single stage race