Monday, 2 December 2013

Karen writes: Taupo cycle challenge - number 7

Sunday evening, home tired and satisfied after yet another challenging Taupo experience. The Taupo round the lake cycle  weekend always starts with a rush to organise everything at home so I can have a couple of days away from the whanau, thank goodness for Grandma and Grandad who could step in to help out. Every item of cycle gear packed to cover (hopefully) every weather or condition eventuality, and of course FOOD.  Pick up Kate, onto the motorway south, play spot the other bikes on the trip, eat and eat all the way.

We stayed in a cute little bach looking out over the water, had a nice dinner on Friday night at a Restaurant we visit most years where we watched the trees rock'n roll in the wind and the waves thrash the top of the lake. Saturday morning up, a bit of a breeze but not too bad, overcast, on with a mixture of clothes to cope with weather predicted to range from hot to cold/wet/windy then out the door with fingers crossed.

On the road, I was planning on about 8 hours because I  was so under-trained, and with a half Ironman in two weeks I couldn't afford to tire myself out so much that I put myself into recovery for that time.

Musings on the bike

  • wouldn't you know it, I got a new cycle computer, but it was sitting on the bench at home because I was worried that if I connected it up in a hurry it might not work right, so of course the old one decided it didn't want to work AT ALL.  I missed knowing my speed and how far I had traveled and hung out for the road-signs indicating distance.
  • how come everyone rides faster than me?
  • why did I choose to make a snack out of a chewy bap rather than soft bread?
  • at 30km I had had enough and I wanted to go home.  What stopped me...big hills behind me that I didn't want to go up again, what would I say to people if I didn't finish without a good reason (at the very least a broken leg), and when I did an impromptu stocktake as to why I felt like like giving up...nothing hurt, legs turning ok, bike fine, weather not too bad, so it was just lazy head syndrome which always goes away if you ignore it.
  • how come everyone rides faster than me?
The wind got stronger and stronger but being a headwind I thought at least I could look forward to a tailwind for the last half of the ride. Not to be, the wind changed direction and it was a head or cross wind on the other side of the lake too.  I didn't talk to many people this year, perhaps because people were working hard dealing with the tricky conditions and staying upright.  Nothing puts a dampener on being sociable like wind and rain on a bike, it almost made me wonder if I was meant to be there to work hard?

The only real conversation I had was with a young man at the foot of Hatepe Hill by which time I had been riding for over six hours.  He was stopped on the side of the road and as I pedaled past he called out "do you know how to change a tyre?".  I said "not well" and kept going, I mean it was Hatepe Hill after all.  I felt guilty a few meters up the road and turned round and coasted back.  "Have you got any tools?" I asked, looking at this fresh faced young thing with his flash red bike.  "No".  "Pump?"  "No".  My guilt at not helping a struggling fellow human-being evaporated at this point and I now felt cross. What kind of idiot gets on their bike to ride 160 km with nothing?  I handed him a tyre lever, my pump, and pointed at the bits you undo and then I got back on my bike and started slogging uphill again, he could flag down one of the following mechanics as far as I was concerned.  Of course I was then in a state of anxiety that I would end up with a flat tyre myself in that last 40km having given away my pump, but fortunately that wasn't the case.

Sea of umbrellas
I finally came in to Taupo in a time of 7 hours 51 with about 8% of the field behind me.  Kate had been waiting for over quarter of an hour, she had made good time in the tough conditions as expected (well, I'd expected, Kate never does!). Shortly after I arrived at the finish the rain got really heavy, whew, good timing. As we drove back to the bach for a steak recovery dinner cooked by Kate's wonderful whanau we felt sorry for those still coming in with their heads down, shoulders hunched into the wind, pedaling hard.

Am I as fit as last year? I dont think so, I have spent very little time out on the bike and some of that is to do with having run a late season marathon, but my feeling is that the hard-out spin sessions have helped pull me through. Rotorua half-Ironman will tell me more, then I will have 10 weeks in which to get ready for the full Ironman in early March. 10 weeks, next thing I know it will be down to single figures!