Monday, May 16, 2011

Doing it in a Team - Moonride 12 Hour

I was asked several times on Saturday to explain myself... As I lounged around between laps and punched out lap times that even I couldn't explain given my ultra-endurance roots. The decision to do a 12 hour event in a team was partly because I wanted to take part and experience a different side of these races, but was also an excellent opportunity to hone some skills and work on some speed training.

I was part of Team DOC Smoking Butt Loaf (the origins of this team name are a story in themselves best shared over a beer or a bottle of wine) which comprised of myself, Adrienne Hooper, Charlotte Clouston (my formidable next-door neighbour), Sophie Tyas and Nat Retief. Deciding who was to do the first lap is apparently always a bone of contention for teams at these events and I decided that, having been a solo rider all this time and always doing my own first lap anyway, that I may as well volunteer for this arduous task which involves staying in one piece off the start line, negotiating hoardes of traffic on the trail and trying to put in a reasonable lap time for fear of being berated by your fellow team mates. There had been a huge amount of rain the night before (I felt exceedingly sorry for the 24 hour riders who were out riding in it) and once we gunned it off the start line, down the road and off into the forest, it became apparent that the trails had taken a huge battering in the weather. It reminded me of the Moonride that I won solo three years ago... Just a complete sloshfest of mud and sideways drifting around corners (YEEEOOW!!!)... It was great fun, but for the less experienced riders, probably quite terrifying, and I learned my lesson early on in the lap after crashing into the back of another rider (sorry!) that I needed to maintain a safe working distance from riders in from of me until it was safe to pass.

My first lap wasn't really all that great in terms of my time, but I hadn't really expected anything too spectacular... I am an endurance rider, after all! My bike and I were absolutely covered in a thick layer of mud when I came back in, but as the day wore on and the weather stayed relatively kind, the trails dried out and nice, tacky lines developed that your wheels hugged like a three year old with a teddy bear. I must admit I was a bit lost as to what to do between laps... I wandered around, quite obviously not too sure of what I was doing and feeling exceedingly guilty that I wasn't out riding at any given time, especially when solo riders came through with expressions of pain on their faces... I yearned to be one of them. The second lap I went out on was an absolute blinder and I smashed it in 28 minutes and 50 seconds... An average of nearly 17km/hr!! I couldn't believe it... Noone else could either... Since when did Megan ride a bike that fast???!!! This put the challenge out there for Chip (Adrienne) who then smashed out her next lap in 28:30. Ma Clouston commented that maybe we would see a competittive trend bring us both down to 26minutes a lap and she wasn't too far from the truth... I smashed out my next lap in 27:50 followed by a 27:30 by Chip. Our friendly rivals, also part of the DOC (Department of Cycling/Avantiplus) crew were only 7 minutes ahead of us moving into darkness and had it not being for some unfortunate team mechanical luck, we may have been nipping right at their heels.

As the day wore on, it started getting cold and I started feeling less enthused to be up for my next lap. The thing with solo riding is that you are already out there, constantly moving and constantly staying warm. I struggled immensely with stopping and starting and putting in fast laps then getting cold and stiff. The only savior for me was my Icebreaker leggings and 320 weight shell. My first lap with lights was right on dusk. Dusk has always been a tough lap for me, even in solo rides... Your eyes have to adjust to a new type of light and it's getting cold, so it didn't surprise me that my lap time dropped to over 30minutes for this lap, which I found a bit disappointing. On the plus side, I'd received my new Ayup lights the day before (the new super-bright ones) and had been really looking forward to giving them a whirl... They worked a treat and made that dusk lap a real treat as night descended into the forest in it's entirety.

It became apparent as the twelve hour mark loomed that there would be one spare lap left to do... So I was lucky enough to pull first lap honors AND last lap honors... I admit that in a "soft" moment, I attempted to fob this off onto one of my teammates, but with no success. We had 40minutes left, so I probably could have gotten away with a super-cruisy lap. Instead, I gunned it and pulled out a sub-thirty minute night lap which I was quite stoked with.

Team Smoking Butt Loaf finished in second place, 20minutes behind first and a lap and half ahead of third. It was a great result for the team, and on a personal level, a really cool experience and a really good training day. Thanks to my awesome team mates and the crew at Department of Cycling for making it such an awesome gathering!

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