Sunday, March 23, 2008

Race Time - Wee McGregor

I'd "encouraged" Pete to join me in entering the Wee McGregor race in Tekapo that was on yesterday. I was hoping all the work in Hanmer would have paid off and I'd make it to the end. I've never done a race this big before, it was 40kms with a 350m climb.

Pete and I were staying in Fairlie and the day of the race dawn cold and wet, yuck. Luckily by the time we got to Tekapo the drizzle had stopped but it was still chilly. We registered and I was super stoked to get 007 as my race number (which meant that I now had the Mission Impossible theme music stuck in my head!). We saw a few familiar faces from previous races and after the race brief positioned ourselves for the start. Pete near the front and me at the back. The race started off with about 15ks of riding on a gravel road, which unfortunately had been freshly graded. This mean everyone riding in one narrow track through the thick gravel. I took it easy on the this section as I didn't know what the climb was like or how the course was. I chatted away to some people, passed a few people and made it to the turn off up the hill feeling pretty fresh and confident about tackling the hill I saw in front of me. I managed to ride most of the first hill, but I forgot one important fact. In these races there's always more hill than you expect. There was plenty of pushing to come and shoving my heavy dual suspension bike up there was bloody hard work. I tried to ride everything but still had to push for a couple of ks. I also managed to fall off in a sandy bit after taking a corner too quickly. Only my pride hurt though (and even that not badly as no one was around me at the time).

I was still with them same people I'd been on the road with and we were chatting away, when not struggling up hill. The track we were on was good high country farm track, super rocky, full of pot holes, rabbit hole and spike matigouri. This made climbing a technical challenge, but I managed much more of it than those around me so I was feeling pretty proud when we reached the top. And the view was stunning, even in the mucky overcast weather. It really made you appreciate how high we'd come up.

Now for the fun. 22kms of down. The track was still uber rocky and I was feeling very happy I'd dragged my heavy dual suspension bike up the hill. The top was bitterly cold and in a moment of extreme cleverness I stopped and put my jacket on. Off I went at top speed, well not really top speed. The track was extremely rocky so it was difficult to get too much speed up. But I was reeling in all the people who'd passed me on the up hill. There were a few nasty stream crossings where my already cold feet got very wet and soon I was vowing to ride all the crossing. This turned out to be a mistake.

The last crossing was through the main branch of the river and it looked rideable. Not too deep, good visibility. If I'd been paying more attention I might have noticed the rocks on the bottom seemed a slimy brown colour. About half way across the river it all came unstuck, literally. Both my wheels hit slime and as I went over I managed to unclip, but then my foot hit slime too and I was sitting in the river thinking I was very glad not to have the camera in my bag. I knew I'd bashed my legs and elbow pretty well when I went over but I couldn't feel anything because the water was soooo cold. (Apparently it had been sleeting about an hour before I'd got there!) I let all the water out of my jacket, assured those around me I was all right, zipped my jacket back up to keep the wind off my now soaked torso and walked out the river. I jumped back on my bike and took off back down the hill, determined to get my body temperature back up and to pass the ladies who'd passed me while I was taking a bath.

The track had improved a lot so I was able to go faster now, but my legs were very achy from the dunking. This last 8 or so ks flew by and I had a great time whizzing over bumps and zig zag about obstacles. Once I got back into the forest we started in I put my foot down and realised that I obviously hadn't gone hard enough for the rest of the race as I still had heaps of energy. I really went for it and flew over the finish line, pretty sure I wasn't the last person in my division.

My wonderful husband was waiting for me and as I hobbled back to the car I felt really proud to have completed this race. Lucky we had a fuzzy sheet in the car so I took my wet shoes and socks off and wrapped my completely numb feet in it. It didn't take long for them to warm up a bit and I was feeling very happy I'd bought my woolly slippers with me. One of the guys I been riding with turned up a few minutes later at the car next to us and congratulated me on my speed at the end. He'd been wanting to catch me on the last section, but I was way too fast, so that was really nice. Once I was into some dry clothes we headed to the bbq for our free sausage and chatted to some people in the line. I saw one of the race organisers put the results up and am super pleased to say I got 9th in the Open Women group (no idea how many there were in this group, but more than 10 so yay), with a time of 3hrs 10mins. Very happy with that. Pete did extremely well and got 14th in Open Men with a great time of 2hrs 14mins. Amazingly the guy who won did it in just over 1hr 36mins! Amazing.

And just to cap a great race off nicely Pete and I both won spot prizes!


Muddy Water Jack said...

Hey well done. So pleased the b icycling lessons in Cromwell and the swimming lessons were all useful at the same time. Bit worried about your apparent lack of fear at going down hill very very fast on very rough tracks. Keep up the good work. hugs to you, Jack

Tinkerbell said...

Don't worry I have plenty of fear on steep downhills, but this wasn't steep so I could let the bike do what it was made for. Thanks and nice nickname!