i went deep today. deeper than i have ever pushed on a bike. so deep, in fact, that there were a number of times that i just wanted to stop pedalling. that was, of course, in between the 3 or 4 small spews that i did on the way home. so let me back it up a bit.
state team time trial championships. held at pinjarra on a new course that added an extra 10kms for a total of 50kms. 50kms isn’t far, we do it every saturday morning. hell, we do close to that in almost every ride. this year, though, that extra 10kms was almost the death of me.
the team consisted of myself, stu g, john (gilbert) and rob. we had ridden together before in various team events (ttt, cyclo) and i thought that we should be pretty well matched. we all had tt bikes or bars and have all done tt’s of some form or another (tris). and again, it is only 50kms so it should be fine.
the talk of the day was the wind. strong north easterlys that were blowing down from the scarp and since the route was pretty much straight north, it was going to be hard on the way out. we had 8 teams and one combo team so pretty much had more than half of the senior field. if anything, we were well represented. our team was off 3rd of the masters teams at 10:15 and with a predicted top of 35 deg, it was already warm by that time.
straight into the headwind, the plan was to do 15 sec turns and see how everyone goes. the course wasn’t exactly straight north, there were a number of right left turns in it so the wind direction changed often. as it generally wasn’t a straight headwind, this made it hard to find the “sweet-spot” when drafting behind. that along with the sudden gusts that would push the bikes sideways, made for an interesting ride.
we may have gone out a bit too hard and after 7kms, we lost rob. the plan was to stick together on the way out, but he waved us on as he had pushed too deep, too early on. besides the occasional turn, the other feature was a very slight, slow uphill section, that when combined with the headwind, made the going tough. the roads were very open farm land so there was no protection at any time. i was beginning to suffer before we even got to the turn around so was dreading the return trip, even with the added “benefit” of a tailwind. the warm day had turned hot and i was suffering from the effort. my decision to only take 1 water bottle (it’s only 50kms after all), a not very well ventilated sperm helmet and long sleeve skin suit were starting to take affect.
we hit the turn and instantly the speed was closer to 50. ok, this is actually not much better. the wind was in our favour, but it was not like the effort had diminished. the next 10kms were constant turns at the front with about 30-40 sec rest in between. i was feeling bad. my stomach was churning and i was running out of water. i forced myself to take a gel, and washed it down best i could. i had unzipped my skinsuit by then, figuring that colling down was more important than aerodynamics. we crossed the only main road on the course and this meant 15kms to go. i was only just hanging on by now. stu and john were doing turns and i was just trying to hold their wheels. john had been suffering on the way out, but now he seemed to have found his second wind. stu, as normal, was just a machine from start to finish.
10kms to go. last years course was only 40kms, we would be finished now, if we were doing that course. my brain was starting to wander. i was losing concentration, which is not particularly good when you need to hold someone’s wheel. i had already shouted out a couple of times for the guys to ease back as i was losing contact. the team starts with 4 riders, but the time is taken on the 3rd rider to cross the line. this was both good and bad. good, because they couldn’t leave me behind, but bad because i could see that my riding was losing us time.
skinsuit was fully unzipped now, gloves were off and shoved in the top, quite frankly, i didn’t care if they fell out and i lost them. i just wanted the pain to end. the last 5 kms, unfortunately, were not a blur, they were an endless agony that i just wanted to stop. i wanted to stop pedalling. i wanted a puncture so i could stop. i wanted to crash so i could stop. i wanted it to stop. in between the occasional vomit burp, there were the small bouts of being close to tears. i wanted to stop, but i didn’t want to let the guys down. a few years ago, i remember screaming at a team mate to hold the wheel in the last few kms. i was now that team mate and i didn’t know if i could keep it up.
looking at the speedo, and we had a couple of km’s to go. “these events are always short”, i reasoned with myself. “i am sure that it will be 48kms and it will all be over soon.” not so. the guys at peel had done an excellant job of getting the course right down to the nearest metre. combating calf cramps in the last km, we finally limped home at an average of 38km/hr. i didn’t care about the time, the average, the competition. i just wanted to get off the bike.
no warm down for me, it was straight back to the car and into the esky. 600ml of powerade didn’t even touch the sides, and i just sat on the grass trying to cool down. slowly, the other groups all came in, all feeling pretty much spent. there were bodies everywhere as people collapsed under the tent after raiding the esky.
so, it wasn’t all bad. the open men’s team, lucked out when the decision to combine the two u19 teams together and entered them in the open. the young kids ripped it up and the spr open team 1 came in second. the women suffered a similar fate with u19’s taking the title, but spr teams took silver and bronze. the masters event was taken out by a combined eddy holland/spr team with half in each kit.
well done to each of the category winners, but also well done to those that stepped up and had a crack today. we had a few riders that were new to racing so well done to them. also, thanks to those that stepped in at the last minute to fill in for our injured/sick riders. it was a good showing by spr and i think we made a good impact today, even if it was by sheer numbers of participants.