Sunday, March 4, 2007

4-3-07 Shit, haven’t updated this for a month due to being too busy with work. Have been ill and had endless dental appointments too (root canal). I’m not being consistent about putting the most recent ride first, but I will here. So, here’s the last month:

3-3-07 TT 35.25. Splits 7.10, 15.30. My worst TT climb in years! I completely blew up! It was stinking hot (which I hate) – mid afternoon – and I just didn’t have the legs. I also had a crook guts – had had the craps about half-an-hour before setting off. I’d given up trying well before halfway and was using the sections where I’d normally push it to simply recover. But the main problem was I didn’t have the concentration. I came off three times – first on the second test, which is the hardest bit, sure, but there’s a good line at present. By that stage I just didn’t care anymore so it didn’t surprise me to come off again on a couple of easy corners. Well, it did, actually. Headed north to the Sanctuary fence-line, Windmill and down the Rollercoaster (felt too stuffed to go down Car-parts). Haven’t done that for years. Wish I had some suspension – fast down-hills are no fun without it. An appalling ride. Went to a book launch in Kelburn, then biked back to Island Bay via Brooklyn and Happy Valley Road. Felt better coming back, but all in all not a great ride. And that’s essentially the route I used to commute to work when I was Writer-in-Residence at Vic Uni in 2004! I’d go via the TT once during the week. Now it’s my only off-road ride, and I can barely manage it.

I haven’t been doing much riding lately, apart from commuting into town (over Mt Albert and Mt Vic to try and get some off-road riding in) three times a week, and I’ve got too much work on, which greatly affects my focus. If you’re brain isn’t on the job, you have to rely solely on your body, and at the moment my body isn’t up to it. So when I got to the second test and just pointed the wheel vaguely and pedalled, it wasn’t enough. I needed to concentrate. Still, now I’m frightened to do the TT again because it might confirm that this time isn’t an aboration. And my heavy work-load is set to continue for the next month, so I don’t see my head clearing much.

Oh, Karapoti was today – and I was glad not to be doing it given my TT performance. Clinton Avery broke the record – 2 hours 14 mins. Jonty Ritchie came 8th – go Jonty! Simon Kennett came 10th, Paul K did 3 hours 13 mins. Dunno how Ben and John did, but it sounds like a fast course.

25-2-07 Took Tessa (7) into swimming at TSW, then instead of catching the bus straight back, we walked up MT Vic to catch the end of the final round of the National Mt Bike Champs on Mt Vic. The Expert/Sport Classes were in the morning and we got to the course in time to see Paul Kennett go by and give him a shout. We watched for a bit at the top of a downhill bit, then took an interesting route down through blackberries to Newtown and caught the bus home.

In the afternoon I biked over Mt Albert to watch the Pro/Elite Men and Women. Went to the bottom of a downhill, where some guy was already being attended to with a dislocated shoulder. When they asked him where, on a scale of 1-10, the pain was, he said 9. The men’s race was, like the XC Worlds in Rotorua, pretty dull, with everyone well spaced apart and not much chance of change except for an accident or technical, so I changed my position, then set off home.

I was riding down the road near the far end of the course when a woman called me over asking if I had a pump. She was helping one of the women competitors who had two flat tyres (actually, she said they’d just peeled off the rim on a corner). She’s gased up one tyre, but didn’t have enough gas to inflate the other. She was leading the Women’s Pro//Elite Series over all, and just had to finish this race to win. The first woman, a spectator like myself, suggested I give her my wheel, but I thought that really would be cheating, plus I wanted to go home, not wait around to reclaim it. But I lent her my pump (also cheating).

It’s a weird thing – competition. In the 06 Makara Peak Rally I punctured about 5 mins before the end of the Sport Class and took 20-25 mins to fix the puncture. Ben was the third person to go past me, and he finished 3rd – so I must have been leading at the time (I didn’t know this because the race involves route selection. So I know what the woman was going through.

All the same, it was all over the sports’ pages of the paper the next day, because someone else had challenged her victory on the grounds she’d left the course to get new wheels at the velodrome. She was cleared and declared the New Zealand National Women’s XC Champ for 07. But I know that just quietly she did cheat, because she used my pump.

I think two things here: one, it’s silly for competitors not to carry enough spare tubes, pumps, gas etc because they’re hardly weighty and if you do puncture you don’t want to have to push your bike all the way to a repair zone. In other words, you almost get what you deserve if you’re under-equiped. Two: But I do think it is a bit silly that competitors can’t have support crews all over the place or accept outside help, because finally it’s about fixing your bike asap and getting back into it, and if you can have someone helping you – great.

23-2-07 TT 29.15. Splits 7.00, 14.25. Why so slow? It felt faster than last time. Perfect conditions - slightly too hot. Drizzle, humid, slight southerly. Cloudy at the Golfball. Headed down to Red Rocks, wanting to see how I’d go with no suspension. Not much fun on the upper descents – too rocky – but cleaned the final descent to the barrier easily to salvage a start-stop ride because I made a hash of the 3 small climbs – including the first one, which I haven’t even considered a climb for years! My back tyre slipped! Took two goes at the second, steepest climb, and three for the third! I dunno. Sure, the dry conditions promote looseness, but it was drizzly! I reckon front suspension helps with climbing. Felt quite tired and listless.

22-2-07 Bike over Mt Albert and along Mt Vic to work – trialing a new commute route to avoid the traffic. Takes about 10 mins longer, but is much nicer.

18-2-07 Biked round coast beyond Red Rocks with Anna (9). She had a swim, then we biked back round to Red Rocks, hid our bikes and walked up to the bunkers. Stinking hot – and I hadn’t planned on that excursion, so we were low on water. Lent a guy a patch to fix a puncture at the bunkers. Greatview – I love it up there. Scrambled back down, got bikes and made it back – very tired and thirsty. Anna did great cycling through heavy traffic in Island Bay – festival thing on – and up Liffey St! She's got so much energy. My blood sugar very low on return (1.4).

17-2-07 TT 29.07. Splits 6.50, 14.12, so final time disappointing. Reached Red Rocks junction in 26.20, but got stuck on the final barrier (10 secs?) and so failed to break 29 mins, which given my time at the junction should’ve been a shoe-in. Ben Wilde had been up a few days before on his single speed in 28.57 – a lot of fast pushing! – which makes my effort look even more feeble. Conditions were good, but I clearly blew out on the second half. Mild southerly, but very hot. Went down south via Long Gully (no suspension, remember) and home along south coast. Punctured – took 20 mins to fix.

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