Wow. That was an exercise in pain tolerance if I have ever done one.
The 2012 Flight Centre Cycle Epic had me floored. Having raced pretty well last year after 5 weeks of training and doing some longer rides, I had thought that the 50km event would have been easier, after all it's the distance I ride mostly when offroad (or thereabouts). But I was wrong. I don't think I am hugely different in terms of my fitness from last year, I think I just lacked a few vital ingredients that would have made the day a bit more enjoyable.
The legs were still sore from Monday's gym on Friday, so that set the scene for some heavy legs. All my lead up was really good, nutrition, riding sensibly etc. Aiden had a nasty virus (which he raced with) so I was lucky enough to avoid that one with just a sniffle—immunity win for me for once!
I have been lucky to get some awesome, fun and sunny rides in through the week prior as well. It was all good. Life was great, riding bikes was fun.
Coming off an awesome feeling race in Coffs Harbour last week, I was a little tentative. After all, my consistency isn't a strong point, and I was still feeling tired.
The day before race day I spent as usual; cleaning, cooking, looking after a small child and doing some last minute runarounds. I was very, very lucky to realise late on Saturday that I had a blocked duct in one of my boobs, and related it to the heat I was getting between my shoulder blades; no doubt if I had left it any longer it would have developed into full blown mastitis. But I jumped on it, and I had dodged yet another bullet!
I had one lucky lead-up to the event.
But the next day, the gun went off for my 50km event and it pretty much hurt from there. The first few km's was turning myself inside out to try and get the front group of four or five, then resigning myself to the next bunch. Which spread out up the first climb. It was on that climb that I knew it was going to be a long day. Plus we were sent off after the more recreational long course riders, so the whole day was spent yelling 'on your right', 'when you're ready can I pop past?', 'track!', 'rider right!' and other phrases to that effect.
I know where I want to be at these races. I know, reasonably, where I can be at these races. And at that race, I was where I was—hurting the whole time, dead, slow legs.
The road section I was with some guys, but had to stop to refill my bottle (my spare had bounced away from me within the first 5km). So I was in no man's land, ending up dragging less fit people along, already feeling pretty busted but just going with it.
I remember enjoying the main climb last year, it's a nice gradient, nice views at the top. This year I just pedalled tiny circles and put my head down and bum up. There wasn't much enjoyment there.
Despite riding everything except two sections lined with rows of riders, I was aware I was going painfully slowly. I was riding up some sections slower than others who were walking! But that's all I had. There was no zip or zing in the legs, not even at the start. I kinda felt like I did at that nationals 2010 where I just hauled my arse around the course just dreaming for the finish, not enjoying it one bit.
However, unlike that race I did enjoy sections. I enjoyed the scenic singletrack off the top, even though it was enjoyed while being stuck behind trailing long course riders (hats off to them, it would have been a very challenging day being out there for 6+ hours!). I enjoyed the fast, loose and sketchy descents like I don't ever think I have in my life. I enjoyed the welcome reprieve of singletrack towards the end, I didn't even mind being stuck behind people as it means my busted legs could have a break. There was a few minutes after a Torq gel with guarana where I felt a little spritely, but it was shortlived and my slow legs reemerged soon after.
It sounds like a case of being a sore winner here, I don't mean it to be that way! Yes I took a sneaky 50km win by about 40minutes and I goddamn hurt for it, but I was just disappointed at my lack of legs.
Days like this, I am sure, can make you tougher in the long run. They also have me asking when, if ever, will I feel fast and like AB again the one who can climb with gusto. It seems my climbing legs have been traded for descending ones, even though i'm almost at pre baby weight and only a couple of kg's away from fast riding weight. Hopefully I can hang onto my slightly better skills while improving my uphill bits and endurance for the coming season.
It was an awesome party the Epic people put on, as always it was a great event and atmosphere. The best part of the day was the bit after—enjoying a picnic lunch and a beer in the shade with my parents (who were babysitting Elva) and of course Elva and Aido.
Aido smashed through the 87km and came in third, an outstanding effort for someone who has a nasty case of sinusitis and a cold. To say he felt a little fragile at the finish line is an understatement. He had a full blown meltdown and drank six bidons of water, still not peeing till we got home hours later. Dehydrated much?
So, hitting the gym today, and back down to nose down and bum up. I'll get there, i'll have those fabulous legs again. Because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
(photo's to come if photos do get put somewhere!)