Right, start at the start...which would be about 3 weeks ago...
It had been a quite enough week, bikewise. I'd done a couple of spins on the mountain bike and a spin into work. However, on Wednesday I came down with a nasty migraine, however I did not realise what it was until I went to the doctor. It totally knocked me out for about 2 days. I was exhausted and had to get into a dark room and sleep. I went back into work on Friday even though I was not 100% as I wanted to take part in the Meteor/Barnardo's cycle challenge. Even as I was getting ready to do it I could feel another migraine coming on!
The Challenge was simple, travel as far as possible on an exercise bike in 15 minutes. As a carrot, Meteor had organised a prize of a €600 voucher for a 5 star hotel and spa. Needless to say I was motivated! My team were meant to be first up, but some last minute changes had us going at the very end instead. Probably worked out best as it meant I knew (or at least I thought) what to aim for. The 15 minutes flew by and relative to a 2 hour mountain bike race, was not particularly gruelling. I started to drop the pace off in the last minute when I took the lead, and ended up with 5.76 miles or averaging about 37km's an hour for the 15 minutes. It was enough to win the price though! But I did get a scare at the very end. We were short a man on our team and a guy at the event said he would join. He got on after me and came within .10 of a mile of my distance! Needless to say I was relieved to see the clock tick down there! So I was really chuffed - the first thing I've ever won for pedalling (can't really call it cycling).
Meteor kindly sponsored our club this year so it was great to help out at this event and hopefully we can do some more events in the coming year.
Another big plus of doing the event was my migraine finally cleared! So there you go, if you're getting a migraine, get on your bike!
The first round on the K-Capital Challenge was happening on Sunday, but I wanted to change a few of the pre-race rituals, just to see if things would improve. So on Saturday, instead of lazing around for the whole day I went out on a road spin with Paul. We took the lake route in sunny weather. It was really nice to just stretch out the legs for a couple of hours.
The next thing I wanted to change was what I was eating. Taking a leaf out of Joe Friel's book, I decided to eat as much 'real' food as possible the morning of the event, and do my best to steer clear of any of the energy bars/gels/drinks until right before the race. So, I had some of Saturday nights dinner leftover for breakkie (Chicken/rice deal), and surprisingly it was not that bad to eat at 8.30 in the morning!
When we arrived, there were plenty of people milling around already, and masters being the biggest category with 77 riders! There were plenty of seniors, juniors and ladies also, so with a mass start it was going to be tricky.
The course was about 14km long (2 laps), with big climbs, kickers and tricky descents. A lot of the 2008 National champs course was used. The conditions varied from dry (on the climbs) to schlomp-city (everywhere else), so 100% focus was needed at all times in order to keep the bike upright.
After a basic warm up, we headed down to the start line. As there was no gridding, it was first come first served, and I ended up on a second row of sorts. As we were getting the count down to start, I noticed the guy in front of me for the first time. He was a big fella, with a Camelbak - nothing wrong there, but then I saw he was in the granny ring! The first 100 metres of the race was flat before heading downhill slightly, so I knew this was going to be a problem. But not as big a problem as the Belmont House section. Its can old ruined house which you pass through in single file. And because I was held up at the start, I joined a significant queue to get to the through. I think we were standing around (and joking) for about 90 seconds or so. Once out the other side the racing started.
The remainder of first lap went well, apart from some sketchy descending. I kept up with 2 club mates on the climbs and hung onto dear life on the descents. Towards the end of the first lap I passed both and got the head down for another tough 14kms. But it turned out to be not as tricky as lap one. I had managed to get a handle on the descents and the schlomp - despite being almost totally unridable in places. Coming into the last quarter of the lap, I caught up with Stuart Galloway (WORC) and Luke Manning (IMBRC). I think me arriving made them up their pace a little but I hung on as best I could. Once the final climb was done I think we all realised that it would be a tight finish. An Epic rider also joined the group with about 400 metres to go. He was the first to make a move with 200 metres. It was a steady incline to the finish - on grass. I really was not sure how much I had left in the tank, so decided to just keep the steady pace up the climb. Sure enough the Epic rider began slowing and we picked him off with about 100 metres to go. At this stage Stuart was so close behind me his from wheel was rubbing my rear wheel. Luke had dropped off about 10 metres at this stage so it looked like a 2 horse race. With about 40 metres to go there was a small bank to navigate, then a left turn and finish line. To be honest the rational, thinking part of my brain gave up at this stage, and I was just running on instinct. I could not see what Stuart was doing, but I knew I was a bike length ahead, and he would have to get by me. Someone in the crowd began cheering on Stuart, and that was my queue to sprint (or as good as an impression of sprinting as was possible). It was only 20ish metres but felt like a mile. I could hear Stuart behind me giving it everything but he never made the bike length up and I crossed the line ahead to my relief. I then collapsed on the ground with both quads cramping AND my forearm (for some reason). It took a couple of minutes for the cramp to dissipate but it was worth it - 7th place, and a sprint finish against some top mountain bikers where I came out on top! Happy days.
One of the big things I learned is to get bigger bottles. I only have 500ml bottles and I felt that I would need about 2 per lap. Because I could not fit a bottle holder to the seat tube (well, I could but needed spacers) I had one the holder and one in my back pocket, which was OK, but a bit messy. So for the next race I'll be using Cannondale liquigas 750ml bottles. Should help solve the problems from the race.
For me, the sprint finish made this race my most enjoyable so far and had me buzzing for days afterwards. I'm really looking forward to round 2 on the 22nd, and despite the limited training I've been doing, I will be giving it socks!