Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Merida 24 hour.

Over the weekend I had the privilege of racing in the Merida 24 Hour mountain bike race. I was hoping to use the race to qualify for the world championships in Canberra this year but just couldn't pull the goods for that goal. While I am a little bummed about the result I am not really surprised given my lack of training and preparation for such a big undertaking.
Anyway, enough whining about how I could have done better and how I could have trained harder. I didn't. I did however get to ride a top track and even surprised myself with a few good laps. There is also the undeniable pleasure of hanging out with some mates and the camaraderie of your fellow racers asking you how you're travelling at 4am. Gold. By the way, I was travelling pretty badly.
The first couple of laps were really good. I got a great first lap and passed a few riders after taking it real easy off the line. I was almost last to leave as I couldn't really see the point in tearing off to only be caught in the mess of riders at the first corner. I rolled out and then hit the first climb a bit harder to pick up some places. All going well so far. Lap 2 was really a carbon copy of the first only that I had a clearer run in the single track and had a bit of fun railing the corners and bombing one or two sections. The sections through rock bottom and 007 were awesome but after 8 hours I was ready for some easy fire road. My arms and wrists were shattered and the dust was choking me. I had trouble seeing out of my left eye and under lights the trails became pretty scary. Nick had been filling me with food and coffee to keep me going up until this point and encouraging me to keep plugging out laps but my resolve failed at 8.30pm. I dropped my bundle big time and decided to get off and have a sleep. A hot shower and some food later I was tucked up in the sleeping bag quite comfortable. I didn't sleep much though.
The internal battle raging in my head kept me awake. I could have toughed it out and kept riding. I could have made a few more laps. My mental state was really fragile and it took a huge toll on my physical state with the prospect of more laps leaving me in a very dark place. I was struggling with every little climb and battling through the single track at night meant my lap times were going up faster than my emotional state was coming down. Finally at 2.30am I got up, put on the riding gear and went out for some more laps. I'm glad I did, but boy it hurt.
The dust had settled with the dew and I could see again through my left eye. I went out slowly to try and last through the morning until midday. I was a mile behind qualifying and had no real hope of getting back in the game. Each time I came around I would stop for a minute and eat a little and drink as I was finding it hard to eat on course. I had a chat to a few riders during those first two laps back and that was nice. It lifted my spirits quite a bit. As I came around for lap 3 Nick was waiting with coffee and some kind words. I thought he had been asleep but he said he had heard me slip out but had stayed in bed as he thought I was going for a comfort stop. The coffee was great and gave me a little bit more of a lift and saw me through that third lap quite nicely.
Really after that the whole thing became academic. I pumped out a couple more laps to total 15 for the race. This sat me in 10th in my age category and 46th overall out of 81 solo male competitors. Not good enough to qualify for the worlds but it just wasn't to be this time. The painful truth that my lack of preparation had meant I had not achieved my goal this time was a pretty bitter pill to swallow. It was made even worse by the fact that it was my mental strength and not my physical condition that let me down. I got to a point where I really did not want to complete any more laps and was happy to admit defeat. Oh well, back to the drawing board and lots more hours on the bike.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Green Light for Punishment

No choppy choppy for my knee! The doctor has said that I will not require surgery at this stage and that I should be fine to ride in the Merida 24 hour next weekend. I can't wait. I have nursed my knee for the last few weeks and been really scared to push it hard in case the effort did more damage. One week out though and I can knock over a few big rides over the weekend and then some quiet spins during the week and then it's on.
Nick has kindly offered to be my support crew still and whip my butt if I get slack and decide to get off the bike. He is also helping me feel bad about not training by going out and doing 125km on the road bike today with 1890m of climbing and then backing up for a spin around Daisy Hill tomorrow.
I managed a run around Camp Mountain today finished off with a single track blast at Bunya and felt really good. At least recovery rate is still very good as if I was a bit puffed I could stop for a minute or two and bounce back strong. I ran into Matt Powell on the way back as he was completing a ride with 3000m of climbing as his preparation for the race next weekend. Luckily he is not in my age category. Unfortunately the guy he was riding with, Jeff Toohey is. I am not even in the same school let alone class as Jeff. He is a machine and it will be good to watch him tear apart the field over the race.
So do I have a plan? Nope. If I feel tired I will stop and eat. If I need sleep I will rest. Other than that it is go as hard as I can, enjoy the riding as much as possible and generally have a top time on the bike. I may qualify for the worlds if I am lucky as there are already a number of riders qualified in the field. Overall I and very excited about the prospect of another test for myself. I have been pretty slack in the last couple of months and found plenty of reasons not to train or push myself. This weekend will be a real wake up call and remind me how much I like riding and racing. Giddyup.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whoosh clatter rattle.....

I am sick and tired of thinking about work. I am sick and tired of not riding my bike. I ma sick and tired of being sick and tired. The cure temporarily is to bash out a few miles on the Gap Creek single track and just totally immerse myself in riding. I can't push too hard at present as "my little friend" on the back of my knee gets a bit tetchy and gives me gip for hours after a ride. I'll give you the tip though, unless the surgeon tells me I will lose my leg if I do the 24 hour race in two weeks I will be there.
Whats a whoosh clatter rattle? It's the noise my bike makes as I fling it through a corner and rumble over the braking ruts. It isn't a bad noise, it just means that you're hangin' it out and speed is bouncing your chain around and your tyres are chomping into the dirt making a very satisfying whoosh. My favourite sound today was the noise of the guys breath suddenly being inhaled as I nailed a tough line with gusto that he was walking up on "Dingo". A tricky little climb over a rocky ledge that comes straight after a rocky loose descent that takes all your speed and makes you either commit or fail. Truth be told I only make this section one in about four times I attempt it but today the frustration and disappointment of not riding enough bubbled up and exploded as a moment of sheer belligerence. I had too much speed on to be sensible and way too much to back out by the time I hit the base of the pinch. Fuck it, brakes off, sit forward and when the time comes pedal like your life depends on it. It kinda did. The reaction of the guy was like a cold beer on a hot day.
I really like riding my bike. Hopefully the doctor will say it's all good and the race will be on. I look forward to the hurt.