|Long Post on Weekend Misdeeds||willem72|
Apr 21, 2002 6:45 PM
|For many of you it must seem as if I fell off the face of the Earth. It's true I went to Tasmania for a bushwalking holiday with my brothers Peter and Thomas.
Anyway I was afflicted with achilles tendonitis and then a bloody sore knee. In the end it was more of a bushlimping holiday. But the weather held, the bush was magnificent, the company was tolerable, and bacon and eggs at the Lake St Claire tourist centre were as good in actuality as they had seemed in prospect as we munched our way through muesli and rice for 8 days on the Overland Track.
The tendonitis disappeared after a few days back in Canberra, but the sore knee persisted. It would wake me at night. It would ache at work. It would smart at the 10km mark on any ride. Canberra was experiencing a lovely fine and warm snap and I piled on the kilometres in training anyway, gritting my teeth, biting back the discomfort.
It was a torment, and I appreciate now the resolve, fortitude and courage that our brave Anzacs must have drawn upon 90 years ago.
Last Saturday I watched S ride to a strong second place in her first ever criterium. I was itching to be out there racing in C grade, but the fear of the knee becoming even more inflamed held me back. I had a premonition tho', as they sprinted for the finish, that my knee would be okay very soon.
On the Tuesday morning S and I did a hard sprint training session around the road at Parliament House, and by the finish my knee was hurting. On Thursday I put in a solid 75kms in the wind, up to Lake George and back. My knee was better than it had been for a long while. Friday morning I linked up with JW and we ventured out to the hard climbs at Mt McDonald and Uriarra Crossing, an 80km journey. The knee was still tender, but only when I was spinning - under load the pain disappeared. I knew I was ready.
Saturday morning was warm and still, if a little humid. S and I drove way down south to the Lookout Hill start area. Already 20 or 30 cars were parked and squads of riders rolled around doing their warmups. We assembled the bikes and signed on for the race. Ahead of me, 43.7kms of hilly, exposed roads. As I pedalled off for a warmup I heard the terrible hiss of a puncture. I changed the tube and borrowed a track pump to get me on my way. Two minutes later I fronted at the startline, cold and tense. My first race in 2 months.
The organisers started all the open grades - A, B and C, in one bunch. It was hard to tell who was racing in which grade. At the first turn-around the bunch split, and I found myself in the second group. Ahead of me the first group steamed away, driven hard by some tough A graders. Around me I heard curses of dismay as the rest of us realised a significant part of the race was disappearing up the road. Our group travelled steadily tho' and I moved to the front on the first real hill. Behind me it was splitting up and ahead I could see two C graders who had been unable to maintain the pace of the front group. By the top I had caught them.
Over my shoulder a muscular figure in a white jersey was racing determinedly after us.
We three worked together for about 5kms until I dropped the other two on the next big climb. In the distance I saw the gold helmet of F, the wunderkind of C grade - a junior half my age who wins and wins. Behind, I saw that I was maintaining the gap back to the main chaser in the white top. I bridged up to F. I had to keep the pace high in case more C graders were ahead of me, and to make sure those I'd dropped didn't catch up. F is very tactically astute and I knew he would not work - if it all came back together he would win the sprint at the end - so it was up to me. I wasn't strong enough and we were joined 5kms later by White Jersey, a cheerful South African mountainbiker called L, who, like me, was racing his first open road race.
I was tired and it was only the halfway mark. My heartrate had gone
|2nd Half of Longest Ever Post||willem72|
Apr 21, 2002 7:18 PM
|I was tired and it was only the halfway mark. My heartrate had gone below 160 only once for a few seconds - mostly it hovered between 170 and 180. L was strong, especially across the bottom of the hills, although as the lighter rider I was first across the top. I was worried because I couldn't drop the other two easily and I knew I would have to put in a massive effort to get away. I was unsure of the best place to attack: on a steep hill a long way out which would give them time to chase me down, or at the end, where F's (and, for all I knew, L's) sprint would be difficult to overcome? This race-pace, flat-out for the whole hill, was steadily cooking me. I realised later that in training I tend to work hard across the top half of a climb, but in a race it's full-bore all the way.
We pounded away over the lifeless roads, each dripping with sweat. We saw other bunches and solitary riders as we rode up to and away from the turn-arounds, and each time I scanned them for other C graders. I was unsure if we three were at the front of the C grade race, or if we were on the end of a hiding from some bloke in the front bunch.
We rounded a curve and saw the finish line ahead - halfway up Lookout Hill. About 400m out I accelerated, hoping to gap the others and hold off their faster finishes. I heard L mutter "oh no", but F, as ever, was silent. At 200m he came around me, and L pushed by too. My legs screamed with lactic and I couldn't go any harder. As they flew away from me towards the line I sat up, changed down and twiddled across, absolutely bloody buggered. The knee was fine.
At the finish S and I recounted the stories of our respective races - like me, she had ridden hard but others were faster. It took ages for the officials to calculate who'd won which race. The C grade results were read out: "First place, LR (the jolly South African), second place, Willem72."
"Hold on," I interjected, "what about F?"
Dave, the announcer, turned and smiled at me: "F's been promoted - he was racing B grade."
I let out a whoop of happiness and S hugged me.
Second best. Now that's more like it.
Apr 21, 2002 8:19 PM
|With a surprise ending! Congratulations on your result, conquering knee pain, and above all on the narrative. Inspirational.|
|Really great story!!!!!||Slipstream|
Apr 22, 2002 6:52 AM
|You should keep a journal and then publish your misadventures. ;>)|| |