Monday, April 20, 2009

Mt Somers – In it for the Grins

My favourite race of the year rolled around on Sunday. The Mt Somers Classic. This race has now been running for 4 years and I’ve been in three of them (I was going to say competed, but I’ve really only competed in 1 of them). This was my first "race" back from my broken elbow and with the grand total of 5 weeks of riding after 3 months of complete inactivity while my elbow healed under my belt I was only entering the Recreational Grade this year. Luckily for me I wasn’t the only one keen for a bit of a laugh at Mt Somers and I had plenty of company for my pootle along the farm tracks and back roads of Mt Somers station (which are really gorgeous).

Strangely enough I was still quite nervous the morning of the ride, but the drive to Mt Somers with Appetite for Destruction blaring loudly from the speakers, to drown out my Axle Rose impressions, sorted my butterflies out. Heavy fog descended on to the Canterbury Plains just outside Rakaia, but this year I wasn’t too worried because it was like that last year and it cleared by the time we got to Mt Somers. This year was even better though. We burst out of the fog into bright sunshine and clear skies, it was a stunning day. How I wished I was fit, the ride up the hill would have been well and truly worth it with such beautiful clear vistas as a reward.
The posse crossing

As usual the organisation was absolutely top notch, with marshals stationed on all the approach roads and junctions around the township to make sure no one got lost. We parked up and I donned my wings. Yep, you read that right. I decided a few weeks ago that if I wasn’t fit enough to take the race seriously, then I really wasn’t going to take it seriously and decided to live up to my namesake and dress as Tinkerbell. I think you’ll agree I make a charming fairy!

It was rather amusing checking my bike in full regalia and having the man from the car next to me ask if I’d lost a bet. "Nope," I told him, "I’m just a bit special!" I managed to lose my husband right before the race, but I found my crew of Vorbettes (and Thorg) and we made our way to the start line. The usual Mexican waves were carried out and then the Experts were off, and then the Intermediates were off. Finally we were off. Surrounded by children, winding back and forwards and up the first gentle hill. I quickly realised that the 2 laps of McLeans on my singlespeed the previous day, while very fun, were not the best idea when your legs are as feeble as mine, but not to worry. I was a fairy and would be flying most of the way! Down the first wee descent on the road I passed a few little kids and could hear them say "Look, there’s a fairy!" It made looking like a fool completely worthwhile.

The sun was warming and the sleeping was good.

The race went well. It was great to be chatting with friends, playing silly buggers, going brrrraaaapppp, brap brap, down the hills and generally having a laugh. I discovered on one of my favourite downhill sections that fairy wings actually provide significant wind resistance, so they won’t be the go for night racing. Physically I really gave it everything I had (cause there wasn’t much to give), pushing hard on the downhills and spinning the up hills. The steepish gravel road climb that seemed so easy last year was bloody tough this year, but I was determined to ride everything, especially after making the river crossing, even though there were people walking all around. The lovely sweet_p on her singlespeed put a big gap on me and scatter, who was a great support, up the last hill, but as the track pointed down we reeled Dirtdiva back in and the three of us put the chase on to get back on her tail. Back on the road the three of us wer all in the big ring, riding aggressively (ha ha!) and managed to whizz past sweet_p and thorg just before the hill dropped down into the town. Woooooshhhhh, through town (again fantastic marshalling keeping the intersection clear for the riders) and then into the long grass of the finish shoot. Dirtdiva 11th, Scatter 12th, Tinkerbell 13th, Sweet_p 14th, and Thorg 3rd(burglar!). Then we all had a fantastic feed, thanks to the wives for bringing a plate, and chilled out in the sun watching the more competitive among us come home.

Post race nutrition is important! 20 tiny chocolate muffins are great, especially if all eaten at once

As usual the atmosphere was fantastic, laid back, but well organised. And best of all the proceeds of the race go to charity, with over $50,000 raised in the last 3 years. I will be back next year and back on track to reach my goal of a top 5 finish in the intermediate race. The one thing I’ve learnt from yesterday is that a race doesn’t have to be all about winning, or placing or beating anyone. If you’re surrounded by friends and equally silly individuals a race doesn’t even have to be technical or hard to be fun. The grins are why I race and they are still to be had even when you’re not very fit at all.

Dirtdiva's socks are why she's so fast

PS - Thanks to scatter for the title!

1 comment:

GenghisKhan said...

Sounds like a great event and the weather looks like it was fantastic!

Peace and happy trails!