Sunday, September 23, 2012

What does solo, pain cave, and wheel sucker have in common?

They could all be used to describe me today.  Read the post to find out how.

So today was the training ride for the K2, which is a 192km ride, that takes place on Oct 27th.  So I spent yesterday after work tuning up my bike.  I adjusted the brakes, derailleurs, cleaned the chain, and wiped it down.  It almost looked like a new bike.  It felt like one this morning when I left the flat at 4:50 am.  I had to be at the bike shop by 5:30 and wanted to be able to take a leisurely pace.  Koop's is just over 10km from my flat and yes I did bike home after the ride today!  Phil offered a ride home, but I wanted to spin on my legs.

The highlighted town of Coromandel is where we started our training ride today.  But before we get there, we had to depart Tauranga.  We departed the shop close to 6am instead of the 5:45am that was quoted in the emails.  Not an issue as we only made one stop on the way up in Paeroa, home of L&P!  I slept the first bit of the drive as it was early, but once we got to Thames I was up and watching the road.  I was looking at the awesome scenery and the road.  I would soon be biking on it.  If Coromandel sounds familiar, it would if you have been reading my blog.  Phil, the owner of Koop's, offered Beth and I the use of this batch up there, but for weird reason we never did.  Now that Beth is home, I wish we would have made it happen as it was a very beautiful spot.  Sorry sweetie.  Guess you have to come back.  Anyway the logistics of today were this: 2 vans of people and a van of bikes.  2 of the vans would be leaping frogging to strategic points to offer food and beverages (this was a critical error on my part) while the other was playing SAG from behind.  The last vehicle went to the last town of Tairua (my bag was on this).

There were several riders today, but I'm pretty sure I was the youngest.  We departed Coromandel riding down Hwy 25, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway.  We were greeted with Manaia Hill, 181m, shortly outside of town.  The pack got separated right there.  Several people were having issues early on.  I started off feeling really good as I was passing people while talking up the hill.  Then after the descent I spun waiting for others as I had no idea where I was going.  I also wasn't carrying my cell.  Shortly later, we say Craig taking photos at the top of Kereta Hill, 228m, and then it was a fairly level shot into Thames.  I was riding solo by now and I just wanted to get to Thames without being caught, but that didn't happen.  I was caught about 4km outside of Thames.  I can't say I was surprised as I haven't been logging long distances.  I have basically done a couple 40km rides since getting in NZ.  For a recap: 2 sizable hills, 50+km, a strong head wind, and there were showers on and off during the first leg.
2nd hill of the day and feeling fine. 
In Thames, I was down 1 bottle of water and 1 bumper bar.  I still had a bar and a bottle for the 2nd leg.  I was warm so I dropped off my jacket and socks with Craig.  If the van that I took to Coromandel, I would have topped off my water and grabbed my spare bumper bar, but it wasn't to be.  The riders I was with were supposed to be riding slowly, but I didn't see them ahead of us as there was a couple of quick turns and then a very long and tedious ascent of Kopu-Hikuai Hill, 425m.  I have no idea how long the hill was, but I drank my other bottle and had to get off my bike to stretch my legs and lower back on the hill.  It was at this point the guy I was riding with kept going.  As I was on the side of the road, a heap of motorcycles roared past.  I got back on the saddle after about 5 minutes of stretching and trying to dry off.  On this ascent the water kept coming and the wind turned to continue blast me in the face.  The temp also dropped considerably as I was getting goose bumps and I could see my every breath.  This ascent just hurt, it wasn't steep, but very long and drawn out.  I ran out of water and food on this ascent.  I hit the wall as well, but kept my cadence and just thought that I want to do 6 months of riding.  Granted I was going for time and not leisure, but still the hills can be unforgiving.

Once I crested the hill, the downhill was scary as hell.  I kept feathering my brakes as I had no idea the condition of the road, the curviness, and I was expecting to see some crazy Kiwi drivers as well.  I did manage to hit 65kph, but there were others hitting 75+.  On this descent, my water bottle was almost rattled out.  I pulled over to push it back down and I was caught by 3 other riders.  These were the guys who were supposed to be spinning slowly for us in Thames.  Evidently they went to the loo back in Thames and were working hard to catch us.  I managed to become a wheel sucker at this point as my legs were shot and I just wanted some food and water.  We had roughly 30km left at this point and the 3 guys took turns pulling the train.  I didn't want to say  anything, but there was a lot of wasted energy as the leaders would sprint to the the front instead of having the leader pull off and then join the back of the train.  I just sucked their wheels as best as I could, but with all the spray from the rain I was concerned about my contacts.  My sunglasses had long been put away as they were just blurred my vision.  About 2km from the end, I was spent and dropped from the group and stretched out my back and legs.

I rolled up to the vans only a couple minutes after the others.  We all congratulated each other.  We then went and grabbed some food.  I had a pb&j sandwich, a banana, yogurt, pizza, and a hot chocolate.  We all talked about the up coming ride and what level each of us are going to sign up for.  I told them that I hadn't been training at all for the ride, let alone the training ride and that a 40k ride this last week was one of my longest since I moved here.  They are planning on the K2 and I just got confirmation that I don't have to work that day, so I'm going to see if can't get a ride up there and do the K2 as well.  I'll spend the next several weeks riding as much as I can so I can make the first half of the ride without an issue, but its the half that I haven't ridden.  That half has Pumpkin Hill, 240m, right outside of the starting point of Tairua followed by 3 hills after Whitianga; Kuaotunu Hill, 170m, Myundermans Hill, 145m, and Whangapoua Hill, 380m.  That last one is right before Coromandel, then it follows the write up I posted above.  I think I could be ready to finish the ride, but not race it.

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