The ups and downs of racing!
I think I have written something along these lines before, but, hey I suppose just like life “that is bike racing”
Going into the Worlds this year I was feeling in great physical shape and the Masters Nationals confirmed this with a win in the ITT and the overall Champs Jersey. Mentally, however, I was a little fried as the prep for and running the ftp training camps was full on and making sure all my riders were ready for the Worlds took over from my focus and getting things sorted for myself.
By the time I was at Stromlo on the Thursday afternoon I was ready for an early night. By Friday at 5pm I still didn’t have the pit set up as the pop top hadn’t arrived and I didn’t have any pedals to use or more importantly practice with! I totally realise that I would never allow any rider of mine to make this call, but, that was how it was for me!
After fitting the pedals and getting the shims right on the new Look Quartz Carbons it was dark and time for a feed and shower and bed. I awoke feeling ready and spun around the crit track feeling like a million dollars. Come the race start, I was ready and when Cory took off up the road like a scalded cat I followed and chased feeling very comfortable indeed never allowing my heart rate to get above threshold.
I was 2nd or 3rd dropping into Pork Barrel for the first time and then it all started to go wrong as my foot disengaged from the pedal in a inopportune moment and I nearly crashed, it happened 3 times down Pork Barrel and 2 times down the Berms and by the time I rolled into the pits on lap one I was shaken up.
I told the pit crew to check my other bike and make sure the pedals were ok as I would change after the next lap and stupidly thought that maybe it was my fault and I was not holding my feet correctly in the pedals. What an idiot, as they came out again and again nearly, causing me to crash several times.
I came through for the 3rd lap and swapped bike to the Cube AMS and went out again. This time the feet stayed in the pedals, but, I noticed that both the Vastus Medialis were getting tight and I had never in 30 years of racing felt that happen. I put it out of my mind until on the backside of the mountain after Pork Barrel I began to climb and wham, both went into a severe cramp!!!
This continued for another 3 hours and after each lap I would have to get my wife to work on my legs in the pits and get them to unlock and get riding again. It was simply horrendous and I was crawling big time, barely able to make the climbs, I just wanted to pack it in and go home.
When I came in for the lights I had to make a change, I had realised that my heals that usually touch the rear stays were not being allowed their usual float and this in turn was activating muscles that just don’t get used that much and they had gone into a fully fatigued state and cramped. The pedals had to be changed so while the lights were being fitted to the Cube, Sally was frantically massaging my legs and Dave was trying to find the cleats for the old eggbeaters.
In all, that pit was about 15 minutes and finally I was back out and it felt instantly better. I still got a few cramps for the next couple of hours, but, it felt so much better. The problem was the damage had been done and my legs were cactus and my head was anything but in it. I had been lapped and was limping around in the mid to late teens, totally over it.
I had to keep reminding myself of all the sacrifices that people had made to help me get here, my wife Sally has to put up with so much, such is the selfish nature of this sport and it’s training and dieting that I just couldn’t give up. Dave Tuckerman and Dean were there and had devoted their time to help me race, I was turning 40 at 12am and I was riding under the watchful eye of Jimi, who no doubt was up there looking down on us all and shaking his head at me for my stupid mistake.
I had to continue regardless of the result, but, the pain and the disappointment were overwhelming and at 12am on my birthday I pulled over in the pits and called it, I wanted and cup of tea and some birthday cake and that was it. Sally had gone to bed, such was her disappointment and she knew I was going to be devastated and she would have to pick up the pieces once again. At 1am I walked over to the van took off my gear and crawled into bed.
Problem was I couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning with thoughts and images of what could have been, of why did I use those pedals, what about all my riders out there putting it on the line out on the track. By 4.30 I was getting the kit back on and I was going to finish, I was going to get out there see the sun come up over Canberra and see if I could help and encourage riders on the track. 5am and I was at it again and for the first time in the race I was having fun, smashing the D’s and feeling great, the legs may have been a little toasted, but, the engine was barely run in for the race and purred along well.
The last 3 laps were just great and I remembered why I did it, I was so glad that I had made the choice to go back out and finish the race. I crossed the line at 11.20 and decided not to do another lap as I owed it to Sally to get a little rest at the Hotel before the presentations and to spend the time packing up and getting sorted out on my 40th birthday.
I walked about the pits and congratulated all of my riders who had done so well. Katrin had taken it to the wire with Jess and given it her all for the silver medal. Andrew had ridden like a champ to be narrowly piped at the post for silver and got another bronze to add to his collection.
In the age group categories Jason Mc had smashed it out and ridden his best ever race to win the 35 – 40 Cat. Blanko had fully hammered the 30 – 25 cat and would have come 5th overall after just a few weeks of real training. Jacqui had taken the 35 – 40 females with a dominant display for a mum who is just so busy and if she had gone out for her last lap would have come inside the top 10 in the elite.
Diane Perry took out 40 – 45 cat with an awesome display of determination and consistent riding. Garry and Peter both came through with silvers and Brad, Michael and Mel all came away with 4th place narrowly missing the podiums.
I took great pride in seeing the guy’s elation with their results and the culmination of all the hard work that it made up a little for my disappointment with the end result for me.
This game is a funny one, I love it, and I hate it. I am enthralled by its rollercoaster ride, it keeps me mesmerised and in its spell. This was to be my last 24 Hour and I was to move on to other challenges and other races with less commitment and sacrifice, but, you know I cannot see this being my last 24, I just feel like I have unfinished business and unfinished scores to settle with the demons of the early hours. Maybe I will do another, we will just have to wait and see where it is next year eh ;o)
A special thankyou is needed for all my sponsors, Torq Nutrition, Cube, Sram, Skins, Hid Technologies, Aussie Butt Cream, Oz-Riders. Thanks for your help and support guys with what I consider the best products on the market. Also a massive thankyou to Dave Tuckerman from the Bike Shack in Nowra for his awesome mechanical work both before and during the event, you are a super star bro.
Thanks to Dean and Gen who week after week selflessly give their time and energy to the team, allowing us to race and chase our dreams. Finally to my wife without whom I couldn’t do it at all, my strength, my support, my rock, I love you babe.