Monday, November 29, 2010

The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]

Catch Wurms! - by Nick van der Leek

Despite some domestic distractions over the past week [don't ask!] I was one of a few hundred triathletes lining up at Pollock Beach this morning. An overcast day after a very warm and humid night, and fortunately just a slight offshore wind blowing.  I was anxious about this swim because just 2 weeks 'ere my wetsuit had felt like a giant black boa constrictor choking the life out of me.  I took precautions this time - lots of aqueous cream on arms, shoulders and even over my trisuit.

The swim was a massive improvement on 2 weeks ago; although I think I felt a bit of yesterday's surf in the arms.  I finished in the front third, although made a hash of the beach bit, missing the first wave and then being somersaulted by the second.  Couldn't have looked too pretty.

The cycle was an interesting mini epic.  In the first kilometre a dude wearing glasses, with shaved legs and a black and white Orca suit with the word WURMS on his butt came shooting past.  I decided to mark him; and decided a good ride would be finishing with him.  But for that I'd need help. It didn't take long for the first train to come steaming past, and so I hopped on.  WURMS was impressive.  He stayed ahead of the six of us despite the longish uphill drag that bypasses the university campus.  Just as soon as we thought we had him, he'd kick again.

Then about 1km from the turn-around, we caught him, and by then our train had sucked in a second train and we were about 15 guys.  I noticed WURMS sneaking up to the front as we approached the final metres to the turnaround, and since I knew he was the sort of guy who doesn't like riding a timetrial with parasites for company, I knew he was going to kick again.  So I made sure when I got to the turn I was on his tail.

He was going off like a rocket and when I looked behind me the huge train was a shambles.  I caught him but as soon as he realised he had company he did another surge.  I decided to wait for reinforcements.  It came in the form of just 4-5 riders, and they zoomed by me at such a pace it took a lot out of me to catch them.  So much so that I'm embarrassed to admit that once we'd reeled in WURMS and were just riding at a high steady pace uphill, it was just too much for me, and I fell off.
The little manoeuvre I did at the turnaround was instinctual, but it didn't really suit my level of fitness [which is minimal].

The second train did pretty much the same, and I suppose I can't blame them.  They probably thought I was trying to get the jump on them.  I stayed with these guys for a bit; but I was winded and eventually fizzled.  Finally a final quartet of the tattered remnants of the supertrain  reeled me in with about 4 clicks to go.  These guys weren't that strong, so I sort of impatiently picked up the pace every now and then, and eventually me and a dude in blue finished together.  So much for sticking with WURMS.

In the transition, while I was changing my shoes a TV cameraman shoved a camera into my face, quite literally. "I'm buggered," I spluttered, "but I've improved on my race 2 weeks ago."
For the run, and with the hamstring injury in mind, I had a more modest goal.  Simply to run the whole distance at an even pace [2 weeks ago I had walked when the muscle strained and the pain was too much].  The first 2km were painful but then I quickly started feeling fresh and strong and started picking up the pace.  At 4km the camera was stuffed into my face again and this time I offered a small smile and said things were going well.

Although I felt stronger my time didn't seem particularly good.  1:25:08.  16 in my age cat, and 72nd overall.  Claude Eksteen, the winner, dipped just under the 1 hour mark.  Oh well, there's a race again next weekend in Blaauberg; and unless I'm in prison I'd like to try to get under 1:25.  Last year I did a 1:17 in my first race.  I think my best is 1:07. So let's see if I can continue improving.

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