Having signed up for an arduous multi-hour affair on the singlespeed in the coming weeks, I thought that it would probably be a good idea to hit this one up in the solo singlespeed class, which is non-gendered. Like many good singlespeeders, the class is part androgyny and part asexualism.
Anyway, Aido has been away for a week at Tour de Cure (if you feel like flinging some money this way for a good cause then feel free to!) so as a result my week of training consisted of sitting on the rollers and trainer in the shed for short periods of 'nap time' wanting to gouge my eyeballs out. Plus I had acquired a cold thing, which is probably as a result of a diminished immune system after the gastro I had recently.
Yeah, fuck you immune system!
But anyway, a race is a race and so we headed out to the Kaingal Scout camp with my brother and his mate Dave in convoy. For those who haven't been following/don't really give a shit about prior posts, my brother has recently moved to Lennox Heads, where he is pretending to ride bikes and get fit again, but admits to mostly riding to the coffee shop and back. (To think, he used to be the 'guru' singlespeeder, Josh, what has happened to you!?).
We arrive. Late. Aido goes to register me with Elva while I get ready for the 'assault'. Except they are calling 'ten minutes to start' and I need Aido to get the bike off the roof AND I need to feed Little Pea. Cue crazed crazy wife who finds the baby to feed perched on some poor hapless fool's esky. There's nothing quite like a warmup spent with your boobs out in the midst of a busy transition area.
Anyway, I manage a couple of minutes of freewheeling down to the race start (aka: the singlespeeder's warm up) and then we're off. It's fast and furious. From the moment the gun, horn, bike bell...whatever, goes off my legs hurt. They're spinning at 200rpm* along the straight. They hurt up the first climb. They, of course, don't hurt down the descents 'till later, because i'm 'a freewheelin'.
I'm in a good position. Third SS. This is because I am BUSTING MY NUT!
Seriously, it's not a great place to be in, not knowing what lap you're on, when you're less than an hour into the race. May signal slight hypoxia and overexertion combined with crap nutrition.
Somewhere near an hour, fourth singlespeeder Nick passes me. He's skinny and is climbing really well. I am less skinny and look like I am rooting a donkey up the climbs.
I ride behind Marianne for a while, who is smashing the climbs in a two person team. We play elastic band for the best part of a lap. You know the game, where I am sucking in cubic tonnes of air and turning purple up the climbs she's flying up, then hot on the heels on the descent. There's going to be a great elite women's field next year.
|At least I kinda look fast, right!?|
I have multiple trains of thought as I'm battling along. Some standouts include:
"Wow! I nearly crashed (my wrist bounced very close to off the bar down a rough descent)! If I got taken off in an ambulance I wouldn't have to finish the race...."
"Shut up brain, you're no good to me now!"
"If I get taken away in an ambulance, I would probably know the paramedics or nurses at the hospital so I should probably avoid that shit"
"I wonder if it would be obvious if I let down both my tyres and walked back and said I double flatted?"
These were the gems, but there were many more. More than I think I have had to deal with in a race at any time before. It was pure head tactics and pain tolerance out there.
There was heaps of "I can't do this for another x hours" which I had to just smash through every minute or so. Relentless. My head is relentless!
And so it went until about 2 hours in I found what would be the closest I would have to 'legs' for the entire race. It lasted about 2 laps. Then I cramped throughout the final couple of laps. I stopped every couple of laps from lap 3, so really it wasn't a 'quick' race. I took a minute or so, got fresh bottles, ate at the tent and then headed off again. I wasn't lapping fast and furious but plowing through. I felt more like a plow than a speed whippet anyway.
My nutrition was rather dubious, having 2 gels and 2 bars the whole race. It would have been better, but it was a mixture of my shoddy preparation in addition to Aido doing AWOL as daddy day care/wandering off and getting a coffee midrace and taking the bag of gels/food in the pram with him. Perhaps a better nutrition plan would have seen me struggle less with the negative head talk? Highly likely.
The last lap I was descending with cramped up legs, standing bolt upright with level feet through all the corners. This is very difficult to do and must look extremely awkward. It was with about half an hour to go that I had headed out for my final lap, vowing to ride as slowly as possible to avoid having to go out for another. It wasn't pleasant with my legs 'twitching' the whole lap. I succumbed on that final lap to walking up the steep pinch over the creek, legs twitching while walking up.
I let everyone I could get past me. I freewheeled wherever I could, and when I made it up the second last pinch, to where Sara and Kylie were hanging for the duration of the race, I was distressed when they said I still had about 8 minutes until 4 hours. I had tried SO HARD to ride excessively slowly that lap! Luckily for me they also had beer shots. I questioned the excessively small size of said beer shots, and drank four to make up for the limited quantity in each cup.
"How long now?" I ask.
"Oh, about 4 minutes..." Sara responds.
Are you serious! I creep around, I wait at the tent having beer shots and there is still FOUR MINUTES until the end. I wait a bit longer, have some more beer shots, then head to start finish.
"Go again, go again!" They yell, at 3hrs 58min into the race, 2 minutes to go, as my whole thigh is quivering with cramp up the final short but gruelling pinch.
"Fuck that!" I say.
Meg rolls in shortly after (good thing she didn't catch me in my beer swilling mode!) and the next singlespeeder was well down. So 4th in ss, and first solo woman (which doesn't count as I didn't enter that category). Not bad. Would have had a better chance of hanging with 3rd but for the nasty cramps. And the whole sucking at climbing thing...though Nick was on a rigid and on the descents I was right up his bum again. Figuratively speaking. Let's face it: I had no hope.
I step off my bike, and as I swing my leg over my glutes cramp. My quads and glutes quiver. Then, I am talking to some of the juniors and hello! Random transversus abdominal cramp. Now that's an odd one to get from riding a bike! My kit, usually black, was crusted with white salt crystals. I was a saltasaurus. Salty dog. I taste like chips, but without the deliciousness.
My brother is sitting on the ground going "when did I pass you?" cheekily, as his cafe rides saw him deciding to sit on his ass on the grass instead of race the last hour. Josh, the problem with your cafe ride 'training' is that you live less than a km from the cafe. Just a heads up.
All in all, a good hard day of hurt. Though I look at the results and think 'yep, should have gone out for another...' I probably would have walked all the pinches with dem' quivering legs. Hopefully I have another 2 hours or so in me...it's a big ask but the longer marathon events don't generally have xc profiles for 100+km, so we may be ok.
The plan was for me to ride home, but the weather looked quite foreboding and it was 55km...of which I didn't fancy being stuck out in the rain without a jacket and lights. Call me soft, but the Grill'd was delicious. Add an Asahi and a few salty chips and I was in heaven.
If you did call me soft then, you can take it back, as I did a bit over an hour on the trainer when I got home, in 'endurance preparation', which was more like an hour of fatigue management and pain tolerance; fitness-wise I don't think it was overly helpful. It was cruel and mind-numbing, but hopefully a worthwhile exercise in pain tolerance. Noone likes doing efforts on the trainer. Much less once you've raced a 4-hour enduro on a singlespeed, but hopefully it toughened me up.
It really is all a huge case of mind over matter.
It took a fair while to recovery from all that jazz, but fingers crossed i've done enough. Having to take more time off than I would like early in the week to avoid getting a post-race lurgy, I somehow managed to average 19km/hr on a local loop which featured a fair bit of climbing, singletrack and fireroad. Fingers crossed for adaptation!
Anyway, this long stuff hurts. Give me XC any day!
|I know, I know, pretty sexy right!?! Who doesn't think a chick on a SS is hot!?|