This was to be a test.
A 100km bike ride.
I wanted to prove that I could do this.
I wanted to prove I could do this NOW. Before it gets dark and cold and I am relegated to indoor spin sessions for the winter.
The Guardian Century Ride is hosted by www.balancepointracing.com and all proceeds go to charity, in this case, the local SPCA branch. It would be good to end the season on a high.
The cutoff time for Ironman is an average of 20km/hr.
This was my goal.
Five hours for a century.
I’d not ridden that far before, and whilst I was reasonably sure I could complete the distance, I was less sure that I could do so in a timely manner.
We started out at 8am, I was mindful of not starting out too fast which could cause me problems later in the ride.
Around 15km in I was riding alone, the lead pack were just getting away from me but I was staying comfortably ahead of the back of the pack. We were on a long road with no shoulder to ride on. That was fine, it wasn’t too busy. I was occupying my mind with important philosophical discussion and shopping lists and the like and enjoying being out on my own. A couple of cars came past me going quite fast, not unexpected, we were leaving the city behind, I noted this and kept riding. Then I heard a roar, a semi/articulated lorry came past
I veered off into the dirt, out of its way, looking up in time to see the trailer come in front of me, with its back wheels nudging off the edge of the tarmac, where I had just been. I didn’t have time to think about that right now as I was in imminent danger of crashing into the ditch. I struggled to maintain control and breathed a sigh of relief when I was finally able to wrestle my bike back onto the road.
When I caught up with the group I discovered that having run me right off the road, it then nearly took out the lead pack as well. Luckily Karis wasn’t injured when she fell trying to avoid a collision.
We continued on slightly more warily, past the first aid station, into Winfield, and after a terrifyingly steep downhill to the lake shore, we began ascending what I can only describe as the longest hill ever. Would it ever end?
OK, maybe I exaggerate, but seriously, it was really long!
Thanks to Karis for circling back! (and for taking this picture).
This brought us all the way up to Predator Ridge, where we were greeted by the second aid station. What followed was a beautiful and fast descent to the highway.
I was already a little twitchy from the earlier incident with the semi, and riding on the highway did little to improve my confidence at this point. I was very glad to turn off back into Winfield.
“Release grip on handlebar and breathe….”
After a while riding along the lake, our next challenge was another hill. Short and steep, this was only around 400m but with reported grades of 16% it looked almost vertical!
I started slow, dropping into my easiest gear.
“It’s only short, I can do this”
I saw people walking, I wanted to join them…but…No I didn’t!
The fight was on in my head.
“It’s so close”
“You can’t make it, you are going so slow you will fall over”
“I can make it, shut up brain you are lying to me.” Well, that’s what I told myself, in reality I was far from sure.
But what I did know was that my body can go much further than my brain tells me it can. (This was a huge revelation to me this summer and I am excited to see where this new knowledge can take me.)
I made it to the top.
I didn’t die.
After a quick stop to catch my breath (OK, it might not have looked quite that elegant), we pressed on.
Just another 30km or so left, and it was back on the road we came in on. I’ve already ridden this once, no big deal right? I was running low on power now, but I knew I was going to finish.
We pulled over the finish line at 13:13. Thirteen minutes over the goal. Disappointing.
However a check of my GPS revealed that I had spent 30 minutes stopped at aid stations, so my average moving time was 21.4km/hr a victory!
So…No stopping at Ironman then!
This ride was a significant one for me:
- I learned that meeting the Ironman bike cutoff (a big concern for me) is in theory possible, and with nine months to go, there’s still potential for improvement.
- I proved that if I keep trying I can achieve things I never thought possible.
- I discovered that I probably need to eat more to fuel the latter stages of the ride, good to know, and there’s lots of opportunity to work on that.
Now, off for a well-deserved burger – to benefit the animals!