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.