What an evening. For obvious reasons I was pretty upset last night, and then slept poorly with a sore throat and a runny nose. That is probably to be expected. So much South African dust has been rammed through my nose and mouth over the past week, my immune system has had enough!
So to start today, I would need to be in the last bunch. I felt so awful this morning, that I figured the upside of that was I could lie around for another half an hour. I dragged myself down to breakfast and ate with Naomi and Jodie, who suggested maybe I just do what I could to start further up.
Regardless, I went back to bed. It was cold, my head was stuffed up, the rest of my SIS race food was in Will’s bag… I just wasn’t feeling it. But then I remembered what one of the Crew in Race Office said last night, when I enquired about Will’s bike and bag being transported to the finish.
“You don’t need to worry about it. All you need to do is make sure you’re psyched for tomorrow!”
It was 6:45am. I pulled on bibs and jersey, filled my pockets with the essentials, and rode down to the start. It was 5 minutes before kick off, and I used the vineyard for a nervous wee. All the Blocks were being checked off by number… so I rode around to the start chute to just watch the start, and get into Block H later. Then I saw Thomas Dooley in there. Mike obviously wasn’t racing.
Before I could think, the bike was chucked over the fence, armwarmers were ripped off, and I threw a leg over the bike pretty much as the gun went. We took off with A and B, and rode at the back as we chatted about how Mike and Will were. As the climb got going we steadily rode through. I paused to wait a couple of times. With 119 kilometres to go, I wanted someone to chat with.
Over the top, Thomas got a gap on the descent, because I suck. So I boosted along to him. This was about the 25 or 30 kilometre mark. And then it pretty much started. We swapped off, pulled in groups, pumped them, and continued like this.
We hit the climb affectionately known as “The Beeatch”, a climbwith a whole lot of sand. Thankfully only one pinch required a dismount, the rest just a lot of grunt. We climbed with another team, up through burnt out scrub land, into a stuff headwind. The descent to water point two was fun, with Dooley ripping it up again.
Out of this pit stop we got our tempo going again, pulling in teams as we could. I hadn’t eaten a whole lot, and when we hit some great singletrack I was pretty much cross-eyed while trying to catch Thomas, who was tearing away!
The climb out of water point 3 was a switchbacked singletrack climb, hard work with a gut full of coke. Soon after we were back on the Oak Valley property, but the odometre suggested we still had 20kms to go, and the course profile reckoned we had three climbs.
I think it’s fair to say we both found more in the tank than we though we had. We brought some teams in, and just generally suffered and enjoyed all the singletrack that was on offer in the last sections. The finish couldn’t come soon enough, and our team mates Will and Mike were at the finish line. Will is in one piece, mostly, and Mike is moving around pretty gingerly.
That was a great day out, I had a blast riding with Thomas. I hope I can ride that strongly when I’m 46!
That’s the crash, incase you missed it already. Thanks to TDA Boulder for that one.