Monday, May 12, 2008

First Place Solo Women

I was looking forward to this race. Six hours might sound like a long time but after doing a 12 hour race and attempting a 24, 6 hours seemed like a sensible amount of time to spend on a bike. Break it into three 2 hour blocks, nutritionally, mentally and physically: it all adds up to a nice day in the forest.

Someone asked me how the track was after the first lap, “great," I said. There were some really nice parts to it, some great challenges and it was nice to be riding somewhere new. After three or four laps I wasn’t so sure. The one and a half hour mark felt like the two and a half hour mark, the two and a half hour mark felt like the 4 hour mark. A long day was emerging.

I’m lucky; I’ve inherited the services of Jeff’s support crew for these races. His sister Karen and her husband Ratty had left home when we were still in bed and by the time we had arrived, the tent was up, the esky out, and their faces plastered with smiles and encouragement. They set the benchmark for what support is in these races. As my spirits started to shrink, they picked it up another notch. The most enthusiastic face you can imagine greeted me each lap on a section of course that somehow made my wheels square! For some reason Karen was saying I looked fantastic. It must have been the square wheels. As I came around the next bend, there was ratty, cold drinks, food and best of all something to set me laughing up the hill. “How’s Jeff going?” i said
“oh, he’s going great. Missing you though.” I got some good mileage out of that one. These guys were going to make it really difficult for me to give in.

After three hours I started gaining confidence in a suspicion I’d had earlier, this was a really tough course for endurance. With no rest sections, no easy down hills and lots of rocks, we were working all the time. Jeff passed me every three or four laps. We'd chat for the brief moment it took him to disappear. By the third time I had a confession, “ooh, I’m tired Jeff.”

There were lots of riders doing their first race and with the hills, the rocks and the sand there just wasn’t time for gentle peddling and scenic riding. It took me back to my first race the previous year. It was a lesson in staying positive and looking for the entertainment value in every rock. It was amazing how many people were obviously going through this process, the Matrix and KBR guys were so impressive: without the experience of other races, many of them didn’t have the satisfaction of knowing they were doing a really tough course.

As the day wore on, the crowd gathered around the start finish area. The teams started to gather and for once we got to see them all together in their matching outfits and dusty faces. They’d obvio
usly had an adventure. I rolled in to the finish area. I was looking forward to seeing Jeff knowing he’d had a great race, I was thrilled to see Karen and Ratty still full of enthusiasm and sat down next to Cam who looked how I felt!

I think the race was a bit of an equalizer really. There was no easy way to get around that course consistently. It just demanded and demanded, so more experienced riders and beginners all ended up in survival mode. It’s not always pleasant there but gosh it feels amazing after.

Jeff won the Mens Solo (20 Laps) and 2nd overall including the teams. I won the Women's Solo.