Saturday, 10 January 2015

Karen writes: Truck

Yesterday I had a bike ride. It was significant for a couple of reasons, firstly it was my first real training ride in the final push for Ironman, secondly, it was very nearly my last ride.

I started off well enough, I managed a steady pace, it was warm but not at the melting tar stage.  The roads were busy but the traffic was relatively well behaved.  I did the bit I liked least first, buzzing around the straights of Takanini, out towards Papakura, doing loops, clocking up the kilometers and had planned on doing my favourite bit last, the stretch out to Kawakawa bay and back. I had done about 50 km when I noticed that the number of trucks was building up, great big units with trailers, showering dust and dirt behind them.  It became clear after a while that they were all converging on a common destination, a piece of land near Alfriston was acting a bit like a beehive, with the trucks being the big ugly bees coming and going in all directions.

If I had known this was happening I would have stayed clear of the area, but it was only when I got stuck in the middle of it all I realised I was in 'truck' zone. It was too late to back out, I had to keep going. Most of the drivers were really good, I would hear the hiss and huff as a truck slowed behind me, they waited till a clear space before overtaking, and gave me plenty of room, I would wave, sometimes get a toot back.  Except for one.  For this one there was no change of engine sound, I realised something was wrong when I felt the buffet of hot air and saw that if I shifted my elbow I would hit the thing.  Then it apparently finished it's overtaking maneuver and was moving onto me, I did the only thing I could, screamed my lungs out and lurched off into the gravel.

Now when you hit the gravel on the side of the road doing nearly 30 km/hour there is only one possible outcome, you will fall off at some point. The question is where, and how fast. I hung on as my bike juddered and danced in the gravel on it's narrow tyres, my biggest fear was that I would fall towards the road and under the trailer which was now going past.  Fortunately I managed to hang on, slow down and get a foot out of the cleat, and from then on the descent was pretty gentle.  I sat on the side of the road shaking and making horrible whooping noises trying to breathe for a bit, the cars going past must have thought I was nuts.  Eventually I got back on the bike, but had to stop every time a truck went past because I got into a minor panic. As soon as I could I headed straight home, and by the time I made my way up the driveway I was exhausted.

So yesterday I was upset, really really upset.  I felt desperately vulnerable, reminded of how fragile you are out on your bike in a world of much tougher, much faster vehicles. I put my poor bike in the shed and thought I never wanted to see it again. Today I'm angry. That idiot could have injured or even killed me, but most importantly, I only got 75 km done of the planned 110 km training ride, what a waste of a good cycling opportunity, it is so HARD to find the time to train!