Friday, 15 January 2010
The Good, the Bad, the Rooted.
One day left. I can't quite believe we are here, just outside Balclutha (look it up) resting up, drinking beers, getting massages and talking the usual gibberish 31 tired people tend to spout. Its great. In Kiwi speak - we are all 'rooted'.
Of course the mood is upbeat however - how could it not be? 14 days in the bag, ~2100km of riding, 26,000m of swimming and 106km of running has got me to within 190km of Bluff and the end of sitting on a saddle for 6hrs a day! we go out with a bang though, the route profile looks very tough with about 2800m of climbing. I can see a few campers looking at my compact gearing with green eyes of envy! The route winds down the coast from Balclutha to Invercargill (no highway 1 riding! hurrah!) so the views should be spectacular. The forecast(s) are for sunshine, 20deg and easterlies (which is perfect as we are essentially tracking east for the majority of the ride)
Everyone is running on fumes and adrenalin. That we are so close disguises how tired people are - you can tell with the lulls in talking, the aimless staring at the walls, the effortless sprint to the ice cream station contrasting with the heavy leg dragging stumble at all other times. My mantra is No_Sudden_Movements. Mainly for fear of tearing something completely off if i jolt anything. We all look like an OAP group at dinner and breakfast (except for the ice cream sprint of course).
Still no complete blowups though - the difficulty and lack of 'competitive' elements to this camp are the main reasons for people staying on an even keel with each other. This is simply too long and too hard not to feel part of a team. Everyone has suffered together and their is a large element of mutual respect flowing both ways. We all admire guys like Clas and Molina for their talents and Steve Lord for his toughness, but I get the sense that the pros and rock stars also are impressed that many of the slower athletes have stood up to be counted, worked hard for the camp minumums and ridden as hard as they dared to.
Some peoples thoughts are now focused on their upcoming races, or smashing their training partners in the local chaingangs, or eating their bodyweight in pizza (i'll leave you to decide which of these is mine!) - as much as this is a trip of a lifetime, a massive challenge and an amazing adventure, its still 'just' a training camp. A means to an end. My race at Lanzarote in May is now weighing on my mind - how do I get the best from these 14 days and move forwards from here? Its something I will corner some people about in the next 24hrs.
Today you ask?
Today was good. And bad.
Good was a lovely first 30km along the stunning Otago coastline. Bad was snapping a spoke in my rear wheel at 30.1kms.
Good was riding on a wonky wheel, smashing it at 400W with a breakaway up the KOM designated climb, feeling fantastic about dropping the group and coming in second over the top. Bad was realising we had attacked on the wrong hill, the KOM was the next hill along :-(
Good was getting to a bike shop in Dunedin, getting a new spoke fixed at Cycle Surgery (for free - thanks guys) and wandering around marvelling at all the street names transplanted from Edinburgh. Bad was getting lost leaving the city, losing the group and riding the final 80km with no lunch.
Good was the 87kph i recorded on the descent of a monster hill at about 150kms (Reid/Wilson - I am a bike rider reborn - i can go downhill AND uphill fast now ;-). Bad was the gust of wind that hit me mid-corner, almost threatening to make me a new, permanent addition to the landscape.
Good was the massage when I arrived at the motel.
Bad was the massage when I arrived at the motel (ouch!).
No swimming or running due to complete lack of interest (and I dont need to - did I mention that already :-)
If this camp was an Ironman race, I have just stepped over the breach into the final 10km. As most of you know (or may find out some time) its an excrutiating mix of giddiness at having so little left to do and despair at having so long left to run and being in such pain already. You know in your heart you will finish, but you know there is much work left to do, and the race course WILL have its pound of flesh from you.
POTD is from the archives - taken just after sunrise in Kaikoura during my morning run. This type of scenery has weight to it - it simple takes your breath away. I hope the photo can do it some justice