Sunday, November 29, 2009

Slip sliding away – Moa Hunt mud fest

The thing with weather is sometimes it just doesn’t come to the party. And being sturdy mountain bikers we ride on in spite of adverse conditions because we always go prepared for these eventualities. This is often the case with racing and this year the Moa Hunt was hit by a nasty southerly front that started dumping rain the night before the race. Driving through the cold mist to Kekerengu I was feeling nonplussed after a very poor night’s sleep, and was further nonplussed upon getting out of the car into the cold southerly wind and persistent drizzle. The thought of the start of the race with its multiple river crossings through knee deep river channels was very unappealing. But I was still keenish to compare myself to last year’s attempt. Only keenish though, more than once I thought about getting in the car and going home as we traipsed up to The Store to register. It was at registration that we found out that all competitors would be doing the same course. The 21km course, with 460m of climbing. Arse. I was psyched for 40kms with about 1,000m of climbing, it hardly seemed worth getting cold and wet for this reduced race.

Feeling very flat and pretty cold I lined up on the start line and being so apathetic I didn’t bother to get good line position. This meant the river crossing start went on and on and on and on as I was surrounded by slow riders and just didn’t have the motivation to blast pass them. Up the road and then up the hill and I just spun along, not really trying and chatting away to lots of walkers. My legs felt fantastic but my head just wasn’t in it. I had a bit of fun riding up a steep, technical walking track section, but soon there was no traction to be had in the slick mud and I was trudging. It was very unpleasant pushing up the ridge with the nasty cold wind and treacherous under foot conditions. That section was probably the hardest work I did all day. Then came the first bit of descent which quickly showed me that I wouldn’t be doing my usual trick of pinning it on the downhills. It was only a short dip, maybe twenty metres, but I managed to ride most of it completely sideways. Given the exciting exposure on the course, this experience made me take it quite easy on the downs. I was still faster than most people around me and a lot of them were falling off. Then I had a rather exciting moment when my rear brake stopped working. One moment squealing, but good brakes, the next nothing, brake lever to grip with nothing happening. This worried me a tad. I was pretty sure I could get off the hill in the wet with only a front brake, but it would be very very slow. Luckily after a bit of lever flicking my rear brake magically came back to life and I was able to push on a lot faster. The mud was both frustrating, no fun blast after the climb, and brilliant fun. I was getting lots of skidding and sideways action on my crossmarks with their inability to deal with the thick, sticky mud. I did have one very very funny low speed crash on an insanely treacherous steep clay 4WD section. It was so slick that I slide for ages even though I was hardly moving. I watched one woman do a great job of getting almost right to the bottom and then trying to take the corner and sliding for about 10m! She was laughing, just like I had when I came a cropper.

Further down, near the bottom the track got more gravelly and I was finally able to get up some decent speed. Unfortunately, as soon as I did I was instantly blinded as 10 kilos of mud flew off my front tyre and into my eyes. Using a very safe one-eyed squint technique I got down to the road in one piece and discovered that my legs felt like they hadn’t done anything. I cranked up into the big ring and raced off down the road. My race through the river section was really good until I was 5m from the finish line when my front wheel disappeared up to its hub in sinking sand and I had to get off and drag it out. I laughed out loud at the fiasco this race was for me and giggled sardonically as I crossed the finish line and the announcer congratulated me on my effort.

All in all the race was disappointing and not at all what I signed up and trained for. Sure, a bit of mud can be fun, but not when you have a 3 hour car ride home. Having said that there were some brilliant moments and if I look at it as a bike ride instead of a race it was really fun. I loved being up in the hills, even though there was no view because we were shrouded in mist. The air smelt so sweet and clean it was a pleasure just breathing. I had lots of great conversations on the way up because I was taking it easy and had plenty of lungs for talking. I got a push up a little nasty pinch from a lovely runner, 706 Rebecca Redmond. If you’re reading this and I’m pretty sure you won’t be, thanks heaps and sorry for not waiting on the finish line to cheer you over, I was just too cold and wet. And finally the crazy mud was heaps of fun while I was sliding around, if the race had been closer to home the mud would have made it fantastic. I’m trying not to think about what all that mud and water has done to my poor bike, it will be getting a very careful clean today, but I still foresee an expensive trip to The Hub in its future. And then, bring on the Hammerhead, I want to push myself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Short Track Lessons

Sunday was the final short track race for the year, and under a gloomy grey sky it was the funnerest (yes, that’s a word) one yet. I was hoping to finally break that magic 5 lap mark in my 20 allotted minutes and not to feel like it was time for lung replacement surgery after the race. Amazingly I achieved both these goals and now feel qualified to pass on the important lessons I learnt from these 3 races. Note that these lessons apply specifically to the Kennedy’s Bush course, which I like to think of as my own since it’s where I learnt to ride my bike properly.

Lesson 1: First at first isn’t a recipe for first
Or in actual english, just because I can get the hole shot (or get into the singletrack first) doesn’t mean I should. In the first race I didn’t get the hole shot, poor line position, but was in the top 3 and had to work really hard through the singletrack. In the second race I went all out and got the hole shot and then proceeded to explode as I went far too hard on the singletrack again. In the third race I went out hardish, was in second, actively took it easy through the first bits of singletrack and hit the hill climb with lungs still intact.

Lesson 2: Lungs help you breathe
Sure this seems self-evident, especially to cyclists, however when you’re out on the short course and you’ve got that big hit of adrenalin off the start line and all you can think is “GO AS FAST AS YOU CAN” you can forget this. In fact you can almost disregard it, and that’s what I did in the first two races by taking my lungs out of my chest on the first lap and leaving lying at the bottom corner of the course. It was very irresponsible of me and made it extremely difficult to finish the race. In the third race I looked after my poor fragile lungs and they looked after me. Nary a cough was heard after the third race.

Lesson 3: Spin for the win
Well, not the win, overall anyway. Well, a win of sorts, for me personally. Anyway, the first two races I pushed a big gear up the hill because I could, for the first 3 laps anyway. It hurt and was hard, but I didn’t go fast and got progressively slower through those races. The last race I dropped down into my baby chainring on the first lap and spun up the hill as fast as pushing a bigger gear. On the second lap I spun up faster than pushing a bigger gear and on laps 3, 4 and 5 I got faster each lap rather than slower.

Lesson 4: I like to go downhill
Well duh! Not so much of a lesson this one, more a bit of showing off. I went down that course fast. As fast ,and in some cases faster, than the sport guys. It was really, really fun and I want to do it again and again and again.

Lesson 5: There’s nothing like support
A good sports bra is mandatory. No, that's not what I meant to say. I ride recreational, but that doesn’t mean I’m not competitive. I’m out to push myself as hard as I can. For me it’s not about winning, it’s about improving and I do take these things pretty seriously (blush). Having people cheer you on is great. I loved having all the people cheering me on and heckling on Sunday, it made me go faster. Having the 3 races one after the other means there’s always plenty of spectators on hand to yell support no matter which category you’re racing in.

Lesson 6: Not all pain is good
Burning, jelly legs are good. Burning, jelly lungs are not good. Flopping down because you’ve expended all your energy and your legs don’t work is good. Flopping down because you can’t breath is not good. Flopping down on gorse, matagauri or rocks is not good.

I loved the short course series. I’m not a sprinter, and I never will be, but I loved every pain filled insanely fun minute of it. We had lots of people along to these races who all looked like they were hating it during the races (especially the uphill bit) but were all grinning and laughing on the finish line, so hopefully there will be more in the future. Huge thanks to Craig and Rebekah at the Christchurch Singletrack Club for organising these races.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unexpected Benefits

This year I’ve taken a different, and I think more successful, approach to my “training”. I say “training” in inverted comma’s because training is about competing better and what I do on my bike isn’t really competing, it’s more about participating as fast as I can. Last year I rode my bike lots and lots and lots and went to the gym quite a bit. I didn’t really think about the sort of riding I was doing and after early strength improvements from the gym I didn’t really get that much benefit on my bike from the gym work.

This year my training was different almost out of necessity. I had to rehab my arm for about six months when I got back to riding again and this meant that a lot of the strength stuff I did at the gym last year I’m doing in my office this year. What! I hear you say. Well as all those of you who are tied to a desk throughout the working day will know, you are supposed to take regular mini breaks to prevent RSI, OOS, or whatever the current buzz acronym is. I’ve turned my breaks into mini workouts, where I lift weights, do push-ups and do weighted Swiss Ball crunches. It takes under 5 minutes to do one of these workouts, but I usually manage to get 3-5 of them in a day so my core and my arms are stronger than they’ve ever been.

Also I’ve been much more strategic about my riding. I’ve focussed on getting long base rides in and also been using my roadie to up my cadence. Now I’m starting to focus on getting faster and I see plenty of hills and pain in my future.

The other thing I’ve done this year is started doing yoga twice a week. I started off doing it through work and loved it so much that I’ve picked up another class. I’ve often read that yoga is great for cyclists, it loosens up all the bits that tighten up from lots of riding. I’ve also heard that a lot of the top female downhill riders swear by yoga and if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me. So I went into yoga hoping to get more flexible and maybe a bit stronger. And I have got much more flexible and am slowly getting stronger. But the best thing is all the unexpected benefits yoga has given my cycling.

The yoga I do is called Anusara yoga and is a new form of yoga that is based on tantric principles. All the poses in Anusara focus on opening the heart, or, in layman’s terms, softening between the shoulders and opening up the chest. So what’s this got to do with riding? Well those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while will know that I’ve always hated hills. It’s only relatively recently that my hatred softened in to acceptance and only in the last month or so that I’ve actually started enjoying hills. And the thing that’s really helped me with that is all the things I’ve been learning in yoga. The softening between the shoulders, opening the chest up poses that I’ve learnt in yoga are transferrable to the bike! I’ve discovered that when I’m riding up a hill and its hurting and I’m gasping for air, if I remember this basic yoga softening everything becomes easier. Breathing is easier and my legs seem to work better, probably from the additional oxygen available to them, but I’m not a physiologist. It’s not only this physical change that helps, when I do remember to open up my chest so I can breath, I’m accepting that I’m riding up a hill and it does hurt, but I can do it and I don’t have to fight it to get it over with. In fact the less I fight and the more I relax the easier it is to go up. I’m not saying that I just lean back and slowly cruise up the hill. I’m still working as hard as I can, I’m just not wasting any energy on struggling with the hill. This has been the greatest benefit I’ve gotten from my yoga practise and it was completely unexpected. In fact the more I learn in yoga the more I see how it can help me be a better rider, so I’ll just warn you, every now and then I might pass on some of the things I’m learning that help me on my bike. Hopefully they’ll be interesting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Break’s over! To the hills!

Last week I rested and recovered from my 2 races at the weekend. To say I was feeling a bit spent on Monday morning would be to massively understate how terrible I felt. My whole body hurt, particularly my legs and my back. Luckily I had yoga that evening and that helped greatly, as did liberal application of Anit-flamme. Tuesday and Wednesday I just chilled and Thursday I had yoga again. After another fantastic and challenging class I was ready to get back on the bike and what better way to ease into it than to practise the short course track with Michelle. *

* Better ways could have included laps of McLeans or Bottlelake on the singlespeed, a leisurely ride up Rapaki and across the traverse, sifting Flying Nunn repeats or even shuttlez.

It was a tad blusterous on Kennedy’s Bush and up on Siberia it was freezing and howling. I decided to go full on for 20 minutes and see if I could break the 5 lap mark. The wind quickly put pay to this plan as I was struggling to pedal down the steepest sections. After 18 and a half minutes I’d managed 4 laps and my throat and chest was agony. It didn’t bode well for Sunday, but I try to ignore boding where ever possible.

Friday was much better fun. Lovely hubby and I put some new, wider Kore bars on my bouncey bike, at the suggestion of the fabulous local supplier. He was right! We also tweeked the suspension which was set up waaaaay too hard and moved the brake levers and shifters around, all of which resulted in a much more stable and fun bike to ride down a hill. Which is what I did and met up with the girls for some shuttles. Frist run down Vic Park and my brakes and shifters weren’t in the right place so I adjusted them for the second run. The second run we went up to the Nun, where I hammered my legs by forgetting to put my seat up for the climb. The Nun was flowing sweet and we had a great ride down to the Kiwi. I love my new bars. The down Vic park and grins all round. Amongst our party was a lovely Vorbette from the tree covered north and it was fun showing her our trails, which are somewhat more exposed, rocky and full of wonderful corners than she was used to. However this didn’t stop her riding fast and well, it is so great showing the trails you love off to others.

Saturday I spent the day watching horsies race round and drunk slappers stumble over. I enjoyed the horsies a lot, and got my yell on regularly to try and urge my horse into the money. Unfortunately my horse choosing skills leave a lot to be desired and it was not a financially successful day. It was fun dressing up though.

Sunday was short course again. After Thursday’s efforts I wasn’t feeling optimistic and was also worried about running into children on the course. Because of this I was determined to get a good start so I could have a clear run down the singletrack on my first lap. This part was achieved and I steamed into the singletrack in first and blasted down, with my usual insane grin fixed firmly to my face. I needn’t have worried about being held up by children too much, I’d gone out far too hard and was destroying myself wheezing up the first climb and everyone streamed past me. I was held up a bit on the singletrack, but not much and then Megan zoomed past me on the hill climb like I was standing still. That woman has mad-core skillz to come down and race at great speed on a track she’s never been near in her life. I’d catch up with her on the singletrack and then she’d pull away again on the climb. In the forth lap I got badly held up by a number of elite riders who were pre-riding the track, but managed to get past eventually and also past Megan in the chaos. I felt stink about passing her like that and was pretty happy when she went back past me up the climb. I didn’t hear anyone telling me how long there was to go at the top so I figured I must still have loads of time for another lap and headed out. I pushed hard down the singletrack and headed up the climb thinking “Thank god I don’t have to go out for a 5th lap”. I was so knackered that I had no idea how many laps I’d done and when I heard the hooter sound I thought it was the 3 minutes to go signal. After I’d collapsed at the end my husband informed me I was really close to getting my last lap in and I was horrified I’d only managed to do 3 laps, talk about pushed past the point of comprehension! As it was, I got 4 laps again and was 30 seconds off getting that magic 5th lap. Next week is my last chance so I’ll have to be more strategic about my start and not destroy myself in the first minute of the race.

Looming large on my calendar is the Moa Hunt, only 11 sleeps away. I don’t usually count down to races in sleeps, but the Moa is the day before the Pearl Jam concert and that is ONLY 12 SLEEPS AWAY! The excitement I feel about this concert cannot be contained within a mere blog so I’m not going to attempt to quantify it. Back to the Moa. Being so close and being made primarily of enormous climbs I’m heading for the hills to sharpen my legs up for the task of breaking the 4 hour mark on the Moa. Admittedly that’s only 3 minutes faster than last year so shouldn’t be too much of a big ask. Hopefully I’ll do it in 3hrs 30, but I’m not overly confident about that goal, I’ll just have to see what the day has in store for me.

I’ve started out this week with a new commute via Kennedy’s Bush Rd and then down the Croc. This gives my legs a really good work out hammering up the road and puts a big grin on my face with its yummy switchback descent. I’m off to do Nun repeats tonight so that should give me more hill climbing kilometres in my legs. I have big plans for the weekend, but that’s another story. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 9, 2009

From one extreme to another

All the training I’ve been doing seems to have had a strange effect on my mind and I’ve started to develop a disturbing masochistic streak. It was this fascination with pain which lead me to get my dust covered bike back out of its secure and restful home and take it up Kennedy’s Bush. To race again. The day after doing the Molesworth. Really really fast. I was basically saying “Yes, the Molesworth hurt me a lot, but I’m feeling a tiny bit better, please can I have some more pain”! What has happened to me??!!

Pinning it and grinning into the tight corner at the bottom of the singletrack

It was a beautiful sunny day and the track is my favourite little piece of singletrack for descending. The laps were short, it was Short Track racing after all, and most importantly I only had to ride for 20 minutes. Surely I could handle that, even after the Molesworth. I was running late so ended up riding harder up the hill to get to the start than I intended. I was surprised that my legs weren’t feeling too bad. There weren’t many of us in the Recreational division, so we lined up on the start line and I decided to give it absolutely everything I had for the first lap and see what happened. I managed to get into 3rd into the singletrack and was keeping up with the guys in the front the whole way through the descent, yay madcore skills, but as soon I hit the climb the rest of the boys streamed past me and I was hurting. This was a very very stupid idea. I managed to stay in my middle ring and cranked out the first lap in good time. Into the 2nd lap and I could tell it was all over. Managed to push fairly hard through the singletrack, but backed off a little in a couple of places to try and get my breath back. Up the farm track and things were bad, still stayed in middle ring but vision was going blurry and all the pain from yesterday was back in my legs and had found some new friends to add to the party.

Third lap was just a blur of pain, descending still good, hoping not to get lapped. Managed to hold the boys off on the climb and was back into the singletrack for my last lap. Pinned my ears back and went for it down the track and found my legs had absolutely nothing in them for the climb and was quickly lapped by the leaders. Down into grannies to crawl over the line at the top. Knew I was broken so didn’t use the last 3.5 mins to flog myself unconscious. I just lay face down on the ground with my shaking legs and blades of grass up my nose. It was very very fun and very very sore (the racing, not the blades of grass – they were just a bit tickly). Next week I’ll have fresher legs and hopefully put on a better effort.

The Sport category only had 3 entrants which was a bit of a poor showing. They still flogged themselves ragged around the short course for 25 minutes. Then was the Expert race and it was looking to be a goodie. With Anton Cooper, Oliver Whalley (complete with lovely belt driven singlespeed ventana), Craig Tregurtha, Kyle Wood, Sara Taylor and even Craig Sharratt lining up to push each other to the limit. With a field of 11 the race was extremely fast and furious with Anton completing laps in a scorching 2mins 20 secs per lap! It was a brilliant race to watch. With the course being so short and having a few technical challenges for the over-enthusiastic it was great to see the amazing skills of these fast talented riders, all pushing their limits. It was almost as much fun watching this race as it was racing in mine. I can’t wait till next week, and if you’re in Christchurch next Sunday I’d highly recommend you come along for a look and maybe a race (especially if you’re of the female persuasion), they’re only short!
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Molesworth Muster – Now with added Southerly

If there’s one thing I dread when biking for long distances, it’s a headwind. I find headwinds totally demoralising. Headwinds make you isolated, you can’t hear much except the wind blasting past your ears. Moving forward is a battle and what would normally be a pleasant ride is drawn out into an excruciating form of torture where time stands still. With this in mind I was worried about the weather for the Muster, there was talk of a southerly change, and a southerly is a headwind when riding the 80kms from Molesworth Station to Hanmer. A headwind the whole way.

Taking some very good advice I put all thoughts of wind and weather out of my mind as I prepared for the trip north. Food, clothes, camping equipment, tools and bike were checked and rechecked and then loaded into the car. My lovely hubby’s bike drew the short straw and had to travel on the back of the car which meant it got to be mummified in plastic to protect it from the dust.

Then we were off. This year’s journey was much more pleasant and relaxing, with no snow or bad weather to freak me out, although having some air-con in the car would be a good thing. Just lots of glorious sun. We made good time and had the tent and dinner cooking in the day light and then hooned about the camp on our bikes and took pictures of the stunning sun set. Molesworth Station is truly a gorgeous piece of New Zealand. Surrounded on all sides by towering mountain ranges, with deserted stretches of flats and beautiful emerald rivers flowing through it. The air is so clean and sweet, perfumed with rose-hips and the sky is a canvas of blue with amazing cloud paintings ever changing above the landscape. We are very lucky that the generous owner of Molesworth station loves to share this place with cyclists.

As the sun disappeared a white horse galloped across the ridgeline in front of me and being the superstitious type I took this lovely sight as a good omen. Soon after we retired into our cocoon of duvets in our wee tent and snuggled down to a warm night’s sleep. In the morning there was a light coating of frost on the outside of the tent, but not on the inside like last year, and I was feeling well rested and nervously excited. Breakfast and V were wolfed down and the car hurriedly packed and hubby was off on the journey back to Hanmer. As I sat on the hill watching the chaos of the departing cars and trying to get my toes warm I knew I was ready for the race and I was resigned to a headwind.

A little aside to put the Molesworth headwind into perspective. The headwind is cold, being a southerly and unremitting. For the fastest riders it means about 30mins extra on their time. That’s about 10mins extra for every hour on the bike. So if you’re super fast and did it in 2hrs 30mins last year, you could expect to do it in 3hrs this year. I hadn’t worked this out till after the race, but this wind meant I was in for an extra hour of riding. I’m glad I didn’t work it out till after the race, it would have been rather disheartening on the start line to know that.

I met up with Amy Laird and her mother waiting for the start and had a chat which was good for calming the nerves and in no time we were off on the 1.5km rolling start. Up the first pinch and Mrs Laird was gone in a cloud of dust. I see where Amy gets her biking legs from! Knowing what to expect this year made a huge difference. I eased into the first 10kms, did quite a bit of drafting to keep out of the wind and just focussed on finding a nice rhythm over the rollers. I very carefully crossed the ford just before Ward’s Pass and managed to keep my feet pretty dry. Objective 1, check.

Up Ward’s Pass I settled into a nice slow spin. Quite a few people went blasting past early on, but this didn’t worry me. Most of them blew up half way up and had to push, but I just kept pedalling. In fact I really enjoyed the climb. I could have pushed harder, but that wouldn’t have been clever so early on in the race. My whole attitude to hills has changed a lot and now I quite enjoy the challenge of controlling the pain. At the top I decided my feet were dry enough to blast down the other side without stopping and find some people to latch onto for the haul across Isolated Flat. My speed down the hill meant I caught up to some nice big men who provided excellent shelter from the wind. It was now, though, that I began to realise what a difference this wind was going to make. Last year I was blasting across the flat in a small bunch of women at 30kph, this year, with big burly men to drag me on we were lucky to reach 22kph. I managed to leap frog from one bunch to another faster bunch regularly across the flat and was feeling good as we forded another stream and I kept my feet dry again. I was really glad to be wearing my woolie socks. Up the next big climb to Isolated Saddle and I was feeling good enough to pose for the race photographer before quickly pulling over to remove my damp cotton socks from under my woolie socks and replace them with a pair of dry merino socks. Now I had two pairs of warm wool on and was ready to take on the chilly and fast descent down the other side.

Through the river valley was gorgeous and the next 20kms ground by pretty well. I was drafting as often as I could and concentrated on keeping my pedal stoke clean. At the 40 km point I made my next and last planned stop to eat lunch and massage some circulation back into my feet. I also donned my leg warmers as the chilly southerly showed no signs of abating and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as last year. After resupplying my pockets with muesli bars and plenty of lollies for the last 10kms I headed off with a bunch of people and tucked in. Up any of the many small climbs they would pull away, but I ended up passing them again going down the other side. Soon I was battling the wind alone and hoping to catch onto someone. I did manage to hook onto the back of a lovely English woman. We chatted for a while and she was happy for me to tuck in behind her when the wind got nasty. We cruised along chatting and riding for a while and then I said goodbye as she headed up a hill faster than I could follow.

On I pedalled into the wind. Feeling a little disheartened that my speedo said I’d been riding for 3hr 30mins and I hadn’t reached the 60k mark yet. My spirits were lifted greatly as I passed the first spot where I had to stop and rest last year, when I was going through my “ride 30mins for a rest ordeal”. No stopping this year. My legs were definitely hurting but nothing I couldn’t ride through. My biggest worry was the consistent ache in my left knee and my lower back. In fact my knee had got so bad that I couldn’t put any decent power through it and when I stood to pedal and give my leg muscles a change of pace it was agony (no pun intended).

Down the hill past Accommodation House and then across the Clarence river, I caught up with quite a few people who had passed me on the climb. I keep hoping that the wind would die down and the promised change to nor-easterly would happen, but to no avail. I was really hurting now, but managed to hook onto a large bunch working well and going at a good pace. They got me through the next 7kms and then I knew I could make it without stopping no matter how bad my legs felt. I knew there were two more nasty little climbs before Jollies Pass and I just spun up them slow and steady, passing those who attacked the climb at the start and then had to walk. On the downsides I was flying, taking the chance to stand and stretch my back and work my thigh muscles. And then the turn off to Jollies was just ahead. I was stoked. I knew this next bit would hurt, but I also knew exactly what I was in for from riding it two weeks ago. I managed to occasionally find some shelter behind the Tui team, who I’d been seeing on and off since the start. This was a mixed blessing. On the one hand they were nice big guys who didn’t mind me drafting them, on the other hand they were wearing white lycra which was more than a little see through by the end. I watched in horror as they attacked the last ford and got soaked. It was too much for my eyes and I let them get away as I spun up the last climb. And then all the climbing was done and the best part of the whole ride was in front of me. I let out a whoop of joy and released me front forks and took off. It felt so good. All those painful kilometres that I’d ridden to get to this point melted away. I was flying, completely in control and focussed on going fast and staying safe. I blew past people like they were standing still, laughing and grinning. My tyres were glued to the shingle and I took each corner at speed. In no time I was down the hill and smashing the pedals. 30kph along the grass and I zoomed past the Tui boys. The onto the singletrack where I had to line up, I rode it this year and almost ran over a small child crossing the narrow bridge at the bottom. Up a steep tight pinch and then I could see my amazing husband waiting for me. I grinned and waved and wanted to smash it across the line, but there were too many people in front of me.

I was broken, but so happy. My speedo said I had 5hrs 24mins of riding and my finishing time was 5hrs 33mins. I finished in 18th place, ahead of 11 other women in my category and 120 other riders. If conditions had been the same at last year I would have finished in around 4 and a half hours! I hurt bad today. I really did push my pain boundaries again, it seems every time I push them I find new levels that I can ride through. I don’t think I’ll do the Molesworth again, I’m completely happy with how it went, it’s time for a new challenge.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's that time again

As with this time last year, I have the chronic pre-race jitters. The usual questions are swimming round in my head like sharks waiting to pull me under. Have I done enough training? Have I done the right sort of training? Have I tapered right? Is my gear sorted? Will the weather behave?
This year is better than last though. I know what I'm in for. I know my training has been better structured this year. I know I'm stronger, I have muscles where I haven't had muscles before. I've clean and polished and lubed my bike to within an inch of its life and its running smoothly. I know I have the right bike for the job.

This year I am ready for the Molesworth. This year I'll keep warm and hydrated and feed. This year I'll still be alive at the end. Bring it on, I can't wait.