Saturday, February 25, 2006
The Rain and the Parade
Tuesday was the last day that I did any exercise, so I knew the exertions of today's 110km race would be a shock to the system. It was, but dampened to some extent to soft rain falling for almost the duration of the race.
You might think rain is the last thing a cyclist wants, but it's not necessarily true. Lance Armstrong likes rain and adverse weather, because he trains (or used to train) whatever the weather. It can dampen the morale of a pack of a riders, but in my case, given the slippy roads and reduced visisbility, it held the pack together a lot longer than it would have otherwise.
This can create a very dangerous scenario, with elite riders mixing it up with people who ought to be cycling with huge red L's on their backs. Not Losers, Learners.
There were no falls in our pack, which exceeded a hundred for up to 45km.
My race started off at the 110km post, where only 5 riders had gathered. Because it was raining, the thought crossed our minds that the majority of 110km riders had stayed home. But what had happened was one bunch had already departed, and now the 110km bunch were situated one group up (not at the designated post). As a result, when the race started, I was right at the back and had to make my way through to the front.
Once the riders turned onto the N1, the front group had made a gap on the whole group, and I expended valuable energy to catch them. I did, and enjoyed their company until the climb up the Kimberley Road to get back on the N1 highway.
I knew they were going to surge, because it's a long, hard climb, so as the road tilted upwards, I delicately eased into the front of the whole pack. Seconds later they shot out of the blocks, and while my bike was ready to fly up the mountain, my flab held me back.
That's when I lost the elite guys, and then, on the downhills that followed, reeled in a few guys, formed a small bunch, reeled in another fugitive fleet and then one more. Now we were the runner up group, of about 40 riders.
I knew the race would come down to the long uphill on the N1 (after Pitstop), and it did. With 85km done and about 25km to go, we began the long climb and I did the same thing, eased into the front to soften the blow of the climb. I looked on the graph (of my heart rate) and I see I pushed myself about as hard as I could: 170's. The bunch spread out into a long trickle, and regrouped on the downhill, but 5 of us, including me, got left behind. I should have raced as hard as I could once over the top (at Engen) and used the momentum to hop over the little hill after the bridge. But, I decided to be more conservative and work with the guys with me. I thought we might catch them, but my companions were all too tired to contribute, and after setting the pace for long stretches, I resigned myself to staying with my little group.
And that's how the race ended. The guys I ended with are not top cyclists, and so I feel they reflect on my performance. My bike aswell, was very light today (removed a CO2 cannister, and through away a water bottle at 60km) - so the finger should be pointed my flab, and lack of training. YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
On the positive side, last year I was too sick to do this race, and remained sickened and weakened until the Argus (3 weeks later). Perhaps I can use this period to close the gap on my perceived fitness last year, and try to throw off some weight, targetting the area immediately surrounding the belly button.
Distance: 104.2km (Odometer showed 107 before downloading it)
100km @ 2:41
Average heart rate: 158 (Maximum 173)
Average speed: 36.9km/h
Average time per km: 1:41
This ride was only a little slower than last weeks, and given the many hills, that's a reasonable achievement.
Francois Vorster came 2nd in his age group at SA Triathlon Champs, so he has been selected for the SA Team, competing in the World Champs in Switzerland. He'll be right next door in France, when the race comes up.
Overall time: 2:07