Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Winter NDuro - The Best Thing About The Cold Season!!!

I have very fond memories of the NDuro Winter Series. Ever since I moved to New Zealand six years ago, I have traipsed from wherever I was in the country to grace the trails at Rotorua for these stellar events. In that time, I have seen the series run by three different organisers (Dean, then Marcus, and now the almighty Ra), and have enjoyed conditions ranging from warm days, to ice encrusted trails that were still frozen in the afternoon to full-on mud festivals. Now that I lived in Rotorua, it seemed rude not to roll out my back door and straight to the start line of this awesome event.

The day before the event was a goody for me. I had been sick for nearly a month, and me being me, had ignored advice (including my own) to stay off the bike for a few days and heal my body. So with the assistance of my stubborn attitude, a month later, my flu was finally starting to abate and I could finally get back into full intensity training. This meant I smashed out several large hill repeats during a high intensity four hour ride. Needless to say, the day of the event, the legs felt a bit used, but still up for the five hour session they had planned for them that day.

I rolled out my back door and rode to the start line at the Green Lake carpark, taking my time and letting the stiffness work it's way out of my legs. I felt a tad sluggish, but capable, taking a few trail detours and arriving at the start line an hour later. My training program for the day said something along the lines of "5 hours. Ride how you feel". To be honest, I felt a bit shit, and, according to my plan, had full permission from my coach to ride that way, but it appeared that my competitive spirit and stubborness had far more say in the matter than my tired legs on this occasion.

The race began and I sunk to the back of the pack pretty quickly. We'd had a bit of rain and the first piece of single track down mossy link and onto the road that bordered green lake was a bit slippery and sketchy. The girl in front of me was a good climber, but not so flash on the descents and took a spill right in front of me on a slick, rutted section of trail. I tried to take the high line around her, but the moment my wheels slipped back into the rut, I also found myself getting friendly with the ground. Incidentally, when I arrived back at the finish line at the end of the race, I noticed an overwhelming proportion of riders who had exaclty the same mud scar down their right leg as me... I wasn't the only victim claimed by that trail today!

I finally started feeling relatively human as I made my way along the edge of Green Lake. My pace had improved and just before we started the hideous climb up the far side of Moerangi Road, I saw Sarah Pitcher-Campbell in front of me. Sarah's a top ride, but she was on her singlespeed, and there was no way I was being beaten by a chick on a singlespeed today (sorry Sarah!). We spent the next couple of hours jostling. I would get what I thought was a good lead on her, then would look behind me on the next climb to see her menacing presence chasing me up the hill (a bit like that dude on the Terminator). It kept me honest, that's for sure! I don't think it was until the final climb up to No Brains that I felt like I had a decent gap... No Brains scared the crap out of me, as per usual, but was probably the best run down there I had ever had.

As I was climbing the final hill, I saw the cow-print-covered bottom of Margaret Leyland just up ahead. Margaret and I seem to have this little competitive battle going on... Last time we raced against each other, she knocked me off the podium at T42 by a mere 20 seconds! This time wasn't going to be much different... I could see her, but there wasn't much left in the legs to do anything about it. After the race, I was having a chat with her and she mentioned my session the day before, and my ride to the start line, pertaining to the idea that maybe the result would have been different. My thoughts on that were that if you race, you race, and I really don't pander to the idea of making excuses for my race performance. If I didn't want to be beaten because my legs were tired, then I should have stayed at home... That's my take on it, anyway... As it worked out, I ended up having an awesome training session and pushed myself way harder than I would have had I just gone out for my "ride how you feel" session.

I ended up knocking out the 42km in right on two and a half hours, coming in 5th, which I was fairly pleased with for my afternoon out! I followed it up with an hour and a half detour home to round out my five hours of training for the day, then found myself immersed in a warm bath with a protein shake in hand. Looking forward to Winter NDuro 2 on the 4th of August!!!

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