The splendid weather we have been having of late was bound to come to an end sooner or later. Luckily, this week, I still managed to get in Tuesday smashfest and Wednesday hill time trials at Kohitere before the bleaker weather set in. Kohitere was it's usual fantastic self. I went for a trip out there after work on Wednesday and the trails were bone dry and rolling really fast. I beat my previous PB time trial up the hill twice (although unfortunately not with negative splits... The first one was a bit quicker than the second). I also came back with my usual allergies... There is something that particular forest cultivates that my sinuses and skin don't like! Lucky the trails are so lovely... It makes it worth a bit of hayfever and scratchiness!
Thursday's weather was a different story, and after going so hard on Tuesday and Wednesday, and doing some plyometric work that morning, it would have been an easy call to decide to flag the session. My legs felt pretty tired... I have no memory of how, but before I knew it, I was out on the road bike, pedaling down Napier Road. It actually wasn't a bad evening for it. It was overcast and drizzling, but no wind and a bit cooler than it had been. I pushed out some long big gear reps and then headed home pretty satisfied with how the session went.
Friday morning was core work in the morning and a run in the afternoon. I always look forward to Friday and kind of think of it as a day off, which is a nasty trick to play on myself, because I know bloody well that it isn't. When I got home for my run, the rain was pouring down and after much procrastination, I headed out for my run in the rain... It was actually quite pleasant, and whilst my legs felt tired, I think they appreciated doing something a bit different than going around in circles. On a small side note, I really need to get some new running shorts that are longer than my lycra. I love my tan lines, but they aren't the best look as a trot down the street on my run!
Saturday was absolutely heinous. I woke up to 50km/hr wind gusts and rain and I had to do hill repeats. I kitted up and jumped on my bike to ride straight into the headwind out to Ngahere Park Road. The wind was blowing the rain into my face so hard that it felt like my skin was being pricked with pins... There were no other cyclists out on the road (wonder why?). To be honest, I didn't feel all that bothered by it. I felt quite upbeat, and my legs felt surprisingly strong. As I rode, I thought to myself that if I can do a Personal Best on just ONE climb today, I will be happy with that. I set off on my first climb. Gusts of wind blew at me from the front and side. I have a couple of time split points that I look at for these climbs to gauge how I'm going for that rep... At my second split, I was actually 5 seconds ahead of my personal best... I kept driving into the headwind and as I hit the start of the second steep pitch of the climb with ten seconds to go, I knew I was going to smash my PB... Then I dropped my chain... I'll spare you the details of what language came out of my mouth, but it wasn't particularly lady-like. I managed to pick the chain up and hit the pitch as hard as I could in the remaining seconds and when I looked down at my GPS at the end of the effort, I saw I had still beaten my PB by twenty metres! YEEEOOOW!!! I'll be really interested to see how that translates on a nice fine day with no wind (and a chain that doesn't drop off!). My second climb came close to the first, but as the session wore on, the wind picked up and got stronger and stronger and the climbs got slower. Having said that, I was punching up them hard. I have no doubt I put some good climbing in my legs on Saturday. At the end of my hill reps, I headed back towards home with a nice tail wind (55km/hr on the flat anyone???), and enjoyed the nice warm shower I had been yearning for since I stepped out the door two hours earlier.
In the afternoon, I headed out and picked up a copy of my fav mag, Spoke. I was very privileged to feature in the Contributors profile corner on the first page (I found it incredibly fitting that the theme of this issue was "Hurt"). I knew about this, but what I didn't know was that Cape Epic team mate, John Randal, was the one that was writing it. I felt so touched by what he wrote. It was a really nice surprise and a great motivator (I now had to live up to what he had written!!!). It's really interesting how when you write articles for a magazine, you have a deadline and then you see them in the magazine two months after you last read them. I flicked to the page with my article that I had written (all about Hurt) a couple of months ago and read it... It struck a really positive note in me, and seemed especially appropriate given how hard I was working on the bike lately. It was like a reminder of how important it is to work hard and grow through the pain.
Sunday morning I woke up to more rain and wind. My whole body ached. Yesterday's session in the wind had really knocked my core around, especially after the core work I did on Friday (it's amazing how much of your core you use to stabilise yourself in the wind), and my shoulder wasn't feeling so great, either (probably for the same reason). I had to get up and knock out four hours worth. I decided to give it a few hours and see if the weather settled down a bit, and to my delight, the sun started poking its head through the clouds just before midday. My leg muscles felt pretty wrecked, but I guess that's exactly how they will feel on day 8 of the Cape Epic. I intentionally chose a tougher ride today... I didn't want to make it easy for myself... So I headed up Greens Road, Back Track and down Scotts Road then turned around and came back the same way... It was about 1500m of climbing. My choice of tyre and pressure for the day probably wasn't really appropriate. I left the Mezcals on and I had them pumped up probably just a smidgen too hard for the slippery rocks up Back Track. They roll really well, but aren't the grippiest or most responsive braking tyre. On my way out, I was flying down the section of trail that links Turitea Street and Greens Road and as I rounded a corner at full speed, came across another cyclist coming up the track on the right hand side. He saw me and stopped, but there wasn't much more he could do... He stood there and watched in sheer terror as it looked like I was about to bowl straight into him at 35km/hr. I grabbed a handful of brake and nothing happened... The tyres just skated across the top of the gravel... I then did this really impressive (if I do say so myself) evasive skid manoeuvre which took me off the track, onto the grassy verge, around the stunned cyclist and back on my merry way on the trail... I had no hope in hell of stopping and I am still completely miffed at how I missed him. PHEW! The second half of my ride was harder work than the first and I was pretty chuffed to knock off the last climb over Greens Road and be on the home stretch. Twenty minutes from home, the rain came bucketing down with a vengeance and then stopped as I dragged my weary legs in the back door.
It was a bloody good week of training, and I'm seriously looking forward to a day off the bike tomorrow. It looks like I will get to pick up my new Yeti ASR5C this week for the Tour De Whaka next weekend, so it's all good news. For now, I'm going to flop into bed and mend my weary legs... Happy New Year to you all, and remember, if it doesn't hurt you're not trying hard enough...