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.........