Monday, October 13, 2008

Ninja’s rock – McLean’s Island 12hr Race

My first ever 12 hour race, and I guess my first ever “sponsored” race (and by sponsored I mean that my entry was paid for by work). I was up bright and early on Saturday morning, before 6am – horrific, packing food and making sure I had everything loaded into the van for the long day ahead. Swung by work at 7am to pick up 2 more team members and their gear and headed off to McLean’s Island, where we were meeting our final team member. With Iron Maiden and Metallica blearing from the sound system at the venue we scored a primo corner site close to the loos (very important) and in no time had a very comfortable site put together, complete with changing room, chairs, indoor hammock, comfy napping cushions, more food than you could shake a stick at, tools galore and most importantly, heaps of shade.
The team. A fantastic team it was too. Leading out (because we told him he had to) was Andy. Experienced 6 hour solo and 12 hour team racer, fresh back from completing the Whaka50 in Rotorua and IT systems genius. Bravely volunteering to go second after the cracking pace set by Andy was Liv. Elite women’s downhiller, cross country speedster and crazy, fabulous, fun chick. After a furious rock/paper/scissors battle it was deemed I would be the third rider, followed by Marty. Veteran of the CatEye Moonride in Rotorua, international jet-setter and hammock owner. Our team wasn’t out for prizes or glory, our team was there to have fun and with the help of the fantastic weather that’s exactly what we did.
The start was managed chaos and I was feeling extremely glad to be on the sidelines cheering Andy on. He blitzed the first lap and in just over 28mins Liv was out on the course. She was back only 5 secs slower than Andy and then I was off. My lungs protested as I got up to speed through the tents and took off across the field towards the stop-bank. In what was to be a theme for my day (and not really an unexpected one) people streamed past me. Sorry guys! By the time I got into the forest I’d found my legs and my lungs had settled down and I was, da-da-da-da-da loving it. All the practise had paid off as I pinned it down the stop-banks into the tight corners without braking. A big silly grin was plastered on my face as I kept pace with the fast guys who’d just passed me. Of course as soon as the swoopy sections finished they disappeared into the distance, but I was having a great time and didn’t care. Unfortunately it came unstuck when I left the forest and was on the last section of windy singletrack before the 4wd drive track slog back to the camp site. A rider called to pass and against my better judgement I moved to the left thinking he’d whip past on the little straight, but he didn’t make it past and I was forced to take the next corner wider than I’d like and my wheels disappeared from under me in the loose gravel. My left leg didn’t unclip and I had the very unpleasant sensation of the ligaments on the inside of my left leg being stretched way further than they like. It didn’t hurt at the time, but I knew things weren’t going to be good in the future. I was back on my bike straight away and pedalling furiously to keep my knee warm till I could get some Anti-flamme on it.
I trundled through the timing tent to beeps and then accelerated into the chicanes of the campsite. Our site was on corner 8 and those 7 other corners leading to it sucked. I blew into our transition area and flopped down into a chair as Marty sprinted off through the tents and out over the field. I was pretty happy with how my first lap felt, but I was under the mistaken impression that I’d done it in 45 mins (eeep!). I’d actually done it in 33.29 which was fantastic for me over the 12.5km distance. Unfortunately I hadn’t cleared my speedo after my warm up. This lead to a little confusion on the next lap I did when I arrived 10 minutes before anyone was expecting me after a fantastic feeling lap of 33.40. Marty was relaxing in a chair as I pulled in and looked pretty surprised. Ooops, my bad.
The day got warmer, the music was good and the cold chocolate milk rocked. Being on the bike felt great, but my knee was getting sorer and sorer when I was off it. Luckily my lovely hubby showed up with my knee brace and that helped a bit between laps. My third lap felt great, but I was held up a wee bit by a few people (yep, I did actually manage to pass some people!) and my time was 34.16. Still pretty damn consistent. My fourth lap was probably the windiest of the day, and didn’t feel too good and the sun was at an awful angle, but I pushed as much as I could and managed to get back in 33.53. My fifth, and what was to be my final, lap was the last lap without lights. It was pretty gloomy in the forest and I managed to past a few more people who weren’t so confident in the corners. My legs were really starting to burn in this lap and it was the first time I felt my knee hurt on the bike all day so I knew it was going to be my last. Climbing the stop bank for the last time was not fun. Especially when the guy I’d been chasing through the forest and finally caught mere minutes earlier, went past me again along to the top. I pushed for all I was worth across the paddock and back through the tents, damn it hurt, and am proud to say finished my last lap in 34.27.
So all up I did 62km, just under 3 hrs of riding and there was less than a minute’s difference between my first lap and my last lap. Yipeee. Also I managed to do a tiny huck down one of the ditches in the paddock (very important achievement). It’s the longest distance I’ve ever done competitively so I’m pretty stoked with that.
For a team that was out to have fun we did great, getting 19th out of 36 in our category, completing 23 laps and finishing in 11:45:39. It was definitely one of the most fun days I’ve had on the bike and that’s mainly due to the fantastic team I was in. Cheers guys – bring on Hanmer!
Unfortunately things weren’t boding so well for my knee. I could hardly walk by the time we’d packed everything up and getting home to discover there was no hot water didn’t aid matters at all. Luckily we had some Voltaren pills from when Pete hurt his back so I was able to get some sleep. Surprisingly the next morning my legs felt good, and my knee was much better. I’ve made a physio appointment for Wednesday to get it sorted as we’re off to Rotorua this weekend. Yeeeee-haaaaa. My legs felt tired on the ride to work this morning, but they also felt stronger. With the Molesworth now only 4 weeks away I feel like I’m in pretty good shape to finish it in under 6 hours.


Ant said...

Great write-up. Wish I had gone afterall.
You should be ready for the mighty Molesworth now...
I just hope we all don't have to face a southerly headwind all the way to Hanmer!

Celia said...

Great stuff!! :) Glad to hear you had fun at your first sponsored event! 12 hours are fun aren't they?! Hope the knee feels better soon and it's not too serious to impinge on your riding in Vegas - jealous!!

Pink Lady said...

Go Ninja Mel - sounds like awesome fun. You are certainly on track again. Look after that knee