Earlier this year, when I started getting up to do UCI laps of Kings Park at 5:30am every Wednesday, I never dreamt that I might actually make it to the final…..this could be to do with the fact that I was struggling to hold on during the warm up lap!
Saturday 18 August
Myself, Amanda, Jerry, Lisa and Di set off for Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, about an hours drive North of Durban. Having qualified for both the time trial and the road race, Jerry was wheeling two bike bags around the airport like a pair of Rottweiler bitches.
You’d think my trip highlight would be completing the race, sadly it was that a taxi man was waiting for me at the airport with my name on a sign. International athlete status achieved.
Carl (said taxi man) kindly drove us through the town of Pietermaritzburg before taking us to our hotel,he did this I think to warn us that we should only stay on the main high street and not get adventurous. Excellent. I have also never been to a place where all the houses have ‘Armed Response’ and barbed wire, or where they still have elephants and lions in cages at the zoo.I digress.
Our hotel was full of fellow competitors, mostly Australian, and on day one we were all itching to get out the door for the first training ride. As with any situation, any more than 2 cyclists together becomes a race, and this ‘training ride’ was no exception. Not wishing to get covered in urine from the p*ssing contest, Amanda and I dropped back.
Day two was a ride of the course. A few words that sprung to mind ‘up’ ‘down’ ‘speed bump’ ‘hole’ ‘long’ ‘windy’ ‘sugar canes’ ‘road hell’ I think that just about sums it up, oh wait, times that by 96km.
The arrival of Jim Flynn, Mike Bonner, Luke Ellis and Ben Madsen to the hotel. Now, imagine a hotel, full of cyclists, all packed with nerves. If you cant, this might help….
“Are you doing the time trial or the road race?”
“How often do you ride?”
“Who do you ride with?”
“What races have you done this year?”
“What wheels are you going to use Saturday?” …….i could go on, but instead will end with my response to these questions…
“Mate, I wouldn’t worry, I don’t think im in the men’s 50-54 category”
TTT – Time Trial Thursday.
You got your sperm hat, you got your skin suit, you got your booties, you got your TT bike that is just over the legal weight, you got your disc wheel on, you’re on the ramp, you’re looking pro, you da man, 5,4,3,2,un (insert man pressing timer on stop watch) Yes ladies and gentlemen, the timing of the World Championships was manual!
We all went out to support Jerry, Lisa and Di on the nasty 26km course, and congratulated them after, oh except for Jerry who could have done better ;p
Being an ‘amateur’ event, we thought it only sensible that the day before our road race we spend all day out in the sun on safari and then have dinner a good 1hrs drive from our hotel. If you’d like me to write you a training program anyone, im a pro now!
Saturday – Race Day.
Our race was not until 1pm, so we had all day to eat as much food as we possible could,……then get nerves….then sh*t it all out. It’s a glamorous life at the top.
All week the weather had been at about 18 degrees and most days had had a layer of mist around too, which cooled it down. Nope, race day was clear skies and 40 degrees. Excellent. So not only am I going to chase ex-pros up hills, at altitude, im going to sweat my box off doing so.
On the start line it was only really myself, Amanda and some of the South African girls in country kit. The rest….well they were in their team kit. Not SPR club kit…..team kit. I honestly felt like I was about to be executed.
The first 10kms were just awkward, like any race start, everyone was moving around and finding their position and legs, plus we were on roads with more obstacles than a kids fun gym.Then came major obstacle No.1, the steepest climb of the day out of town.
I felt pretty good to start and in a comfortable pace, but my pace wasn’t comfortable for Miss Lynette Burger, and she wanted to lift it. As my heart rate rose to 204bpm and I started to question fainting, I watched the front girls move away.
Luckily I was dropped with two others and I quickly said that we’d have to work together. After 5km I dropped them and I was solo for the next 10km of long, straight, crap roads, with a headwind. And so my counting to 100 began (thank you Busselton training)
After I’d passed Saint Andrew Ballam who gave me some water, I found a Canadian girl who’d been dropped by the group. She was still riding ok up the climb and was telling me about races she’d done, so I was confident her and I would get to the finish quickly as a pair. I enjoyed the next 30km with my new buddy and thought we’d be ok when we turned for home and there was a tailwind. Sadly she was not a climber, and after waiting a few times, I decided it was time to hit the long straight road solo again.1-100, 1-100, 1-100….why do I do this…..1-100, I’m never doing this againAt the 20km to go sign, I was half relieved but half concerned. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get my body to take me another 20kms. I knew there was a long descent back into town but it just didn’t come quick enough. My legs were pedalling themselves. When I hit the descent, I was more concerned with how on earth I was going to stay up right, I was so tired, and my concentration was not good. My fears only made worse by a guy being stretchered into an ambulance.
5km sign. By now I am pretty much starting to cry, I know 5km is close but I have nothing in my legs or my body to get me there, and I have come this far, I cannot give up now.
Crossing the finish line was pure relief. I was so grateful to have the SPR team around me because all I wanted was to be home, with my loved ones hugging me. Amanda finished just after in identical style.
That 3hrs 40mins was the hardest thing I have EVER put my body through but I can say now with the upmost pride that I have now represented Australia and I gave it everything that I had……..including 20mins of stomach contents after!
I do not train every day, I do not own a fancy bike, I do not have a coach, I do not have a special diet…but I do have the balls to give things a go and not worry what other people might think of me.
Give it a go sometime, you might be surprised at what you can achieve.
Hugest congratulations to Mike, Di, Amanda, Jerry, Luke , Ben, Jim and Lisa, I think we did a recreational club very proud. A massive thank you to Michelle, Robyn and Andrew for their invaluable support. And thank you once again to everyone who helped us get there.
Anyone doing the State Team Time Trial on the 7 October?!