Monday, May 2, 2011

Pukeora 4 Hour Solo - The Win that Nearly Wasn't

Saturday afternoon had cast some serious doubt over whether I would be riding the next day. I had a sore throat and a blocked nose and I hadn't even ridden a bike in a week (it was all gardening and running with the dog for me this week). I woke up on Sunday morning and despite still feeling a little under the weather, decided to head on over to Waipukurau and worst case scenario, there was a team I could join in for a cruisier day of it... Once I got to registration though, pride had kicked in and I really felt like anything less than a solo attempt at a 4 hour race really was quite soft, so I registered and jumped on the bike.

I actually didn't feel too bad... The legs felt a little sluggish (probably from all that gardening... It's hard work!!!) and the start of the lap was a nicely-pitched climb with some tight little switchbacks and a layer of grease on top for good measure. I was breathing too hard to notice the sore throat. Once I conquered the first hill I was on my way and chugged around nicely at a reasonable pace. The trails at Pukeora are really well-made... They flow really well and the surface is superb... Considering all the rain the area had this week, we were so lucky to just have a slippery layer of grease over the top of the trail and not a full-on mud-fest (although that also would have been fun). There were some steep little technical descents through the course and the course marshalls kept it real and were super friendly the whole day (I even saw one marshall giving a rider a leg massage at the top of the hill!!! Wow, that's dedication!). The thing that became really apparent after the third or fourth lap was how pedally the course was... It was great fun, but hard work and you were on the pedals probably for 90% of the loop.

By the time I came through the timing mats at three hours and twenty minutes, I was safely in the lead by at least a lap and a half on second place. I had done 6 laps and had been averaging about 32 minutes a lap and really saw no reason to go out for another lap after the seventh that I was about to set out on... So I took the soft option and decided to "pad out"my lap a bit. I took a toilet stop and rode the hills a little slower to appease my aching legs and managed to draw my seventh lap out to 40minutes, which I thought would be enough to bring me across the line just after they closed the course off... Apparently, my maths when I have been riding for 3 hours is a little bit inaccurate and I came rolling around the corner to see the clock say 3:59:25... DAMN IT!!! I slowed down my pedalling and did a bit of a track stand but it was too late... Everyone had seen me there... "Go on, do another one!!! Do another lap!!! Don't be soft!!!" I was being peer pressured into doing that extra lap I had so deliberately intended not to do... So I did what any self-respecting endurance rider would do, obeyed their commands and set out on my last (eighth) lap.

So I finished with the win in 8 laps, 2 laps ahead of second place and with a guilt-free conscience that I didn't pike on my last lap and didn't let a cold get in the way of a fun day out on the bike!!! Can't think of a better way to spend my Sunday!

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