Monday, 8 September 2014

2012 - 2013 Season

So after getting underway with Mission 1 at Bike the Lake I decided a few more rides under the belt would help me decide exactly how I wanted to get back into being a competitive cyclist. Not to mention whether or not it was actually going to be possible to do what I felt was going to be needed around the commitments of work and family.

I'd already made the call that it would be a year or two before I'd consider club racing again. I'd only just come back into the sport and turning up to club races and getting my ass handed to me each weekend wasn't in my game plan plus I didn't want to waste money on a racing license if it didn't come together. That left the fun ride circuit as the best option. I also didn't want to squeeze too much in for a first season as I had A LOT of training to get behind me before I would be even remotely fit enough (or skinny enough) to assess how I was headed.

Taking a look at the selection of fun rides there were quite a few more options that back when I was originally racing. To narrow down the choices I figured around the 100km mark was a good distance target and one close to home and one away would be a nice mix for the family. Ruth decided to chuck in a fun run in Wellington as well so that left me with the Tour de Ranges around Hunua, Taupo to Rotorua 100k Flyer & the Cycle for Life (similar course to the TdR).

Needless to say (otherwise I wouldn't be where I am now) it worked out moderately well although was a steep re-learning curve but successful in the end. To sum it all up here's how it generally panned out:

By the time I got to the TdR in January 2013 I had a solid whack of regular training miles behind me and was starting to feel a lot more comfortable on the bike. The race went quite well in general. I didn't aim too high, I just wanted a solid time and to feel like I belonged in the bunches again. I ended up hauling along the bunch I was in between Mangatawhiri and Kaiaua (much to my surprise) and even rode off the front up Snake Hill (wonders will never cease). After that I settled back in to the bunch and waited to the finish for the bunch sprint which I started a little early but only lost out to 3 people out of the 30 odd in the bunch......... Mission 2 was accomplished!

Mission 3 was the Taupo to Rotorua 100k Flyer in April 2013. By this stage I was feeling pretty good and a lot more confident but due to work had an absolutely shit run up with training. The first 50km went brilliantly, I was in bunch #2 with G and cranking along into Reporoa around 40km/hr....... then we hit the hills and I got spat completely out the back and had a lonely, extremely painful final 40km to ride to the finish which was a bit demoralising. But although that might sound like a failure I still felt it was a success. My time actually wasn't all that bad, nor was the average speed, most importantly I stuck it out and actually enjoyed it regardless...... Mission 3 was accomplished!

Work finally settled back down and I got some decent training in again, plus I got to know the team at Avantiplus in Manukau who have been great support along the way and so the final mission for the year was conceived to do the Cycle for Life which is pretty much a duplicate of the TdR. By this stage I had figured out how this was all going to work. Ruth was in full support so we used a bit of my bonus money and I kitted myself out with a new carbon Avanti Corsa DR2 race bike....... not the top of the line as our budget wouldn't survive that but at least a good solid investment that would get me through the next few years of training and racing.

Mission 4 rolled around in mid May and I was at last on top of the training again. I wasn't feeling like I was having a cardiac arrest at the top of every hill and my old strengths were coming back on the flat and time trialling. The morning dawned and the weather was shit,.... totally and utterly crap. But the money was paid so the event had to be done or Ruth was threatening to rearrange my nether regions with a hot poker.

At the start line I formed up with the Avanti boys and girls with the weather at least holding off and we shot off like a bullet from the back of the pack, I had a good climb up Monument Hill and settled into a solid bunch right as the weather broke....... rain........ hail........ wind......... a couple of times I wondered why the hell I was doing this but the reality was I was still enjoying it. I was riding well and spending a lot of time leading the bunch again as we picked up little groups constantly. Then after getting through the hilly bits and on the last major decent I locked up and hit the tarmac..... the only saving grace was it was not my fault as a young fella got the wobbles and took out a couple in front of me I still suffered a few grazes and nearly broke the rear derailleur off the bike. A bit of judicious straightening and I limped the last 15km home, still in a reasonable time given the crash and conditions...........

After swearing a few times on the finish line about the crash I realised it still didn't bother me and I wasn't losing the motivation, it was all just part in parcel of racing again and I still wanted more........ Mission 4 was accomplished.

So Season 1 was done and dusted, I was happy with the effort and decided on an expanded race calendar for the 2013 - 2014 Season. It was time for a bit of R&R before hitting the training again (as well as putting a bit of time into work). All in all I was feeling really good and positive, the next season was about seeing exactly how good I could get in what was still a pretty short period of time being back on the bike.........

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The First Race....... well Fun Ride :P

Well the first "competitive" ride was always going to be a bit interesting..... let's face it I hadn't ridden in a bunch in years, was rather rusty and while the fitness was starting to come back I was at the time quite heavy and hardly in the frame for a decent hill climb!

What this meant was that I needed to be a bit canny about the ride I chose as my first outing. I'm not a social sportsperson, never have been so if I chose something where I got my ass completely handed to me it was probably going to dent my future motivation.

Originally I chose a vineyard sponsored ride in Tauranga, however that ended up getting canned so I went back to the trusty web and found the Bike the Lake ride in Rotorua. 2 laps of the lake at 84km in total and barely a hill worth mentioning..... kinda fitted my requirements nicely.

Regardless I was nervous as all hell and wasn't sure what to fully expect as back when I was riding the races and fun rides were a lot smaller. Having looked at the size of the entry list I realised the start was probably going to be utter havoc. To make everything somewhat better though my good mate Graham agreed to come down and support the first outing which was a god send as it settled the nerves a lot just having someone else there on a bike that I knew.... even knowing he was going to smoke me without blinking :P.

The morning of the race was pretty nice but a brisk wind was starting to blow up from the south east which meant the end of the first lap and the finishing 5km or so was going to be a bit of an effort. With a bit of a warm up G and I headed for the start line and were positioned pretty well.

With the obligatory safety briefing done and dusted it was the countdown to the start............ and we were off, well at least everyone else was as I proceeded to spend what felt like 15 minutes trying to clip my right foot in...... you'd think I was doing it for the first time it took that many attempts and about 200m of scooting!

All in all the race ended going quite well after the initial moment of nerves and once I was clipped in I belted out of the gate trying to catch G and a reasonable bunch to ride with. Mission was accomplished about halfway round the first lap just as we hit the one slightly mentionable hill at which point i got shot out the back (along with a few others) and formed a small bunch to soldier on with..... that was the last time I saw G till the finish :/.

Still I rapidly found that apart from the hills I was the strongest in my bunch by a mile which was bloody good for the ego and made the training all feel worth it. After dragging everyone round for the next 42km I bolted with about 6 others in a little breakaway and soldiered home for the last 20 odd kilometres. 

I hit the finish line at 2:35:10 with an average speed of 32.2km/hr but completely knackered. After collapsing for about 15 minutes I had a little think about the result and realised that all in all it was a pretty blasted good nudge given all of 3 months training from nothing.

Suddenly I had the bit well and truly between the teeth and it was time to see how well I could really go if I put my mind to it.