Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pip Tours Waikanae

Groundhog Day! At 6.15 this morning I was once again standing on the side of the road with Cleo waiting for Dee to pick us up and take us off to Waikanae. Only this time it was a gorgeous clear and still morning, and the birds were redefining the concept of a dawn chorus. Good vibes.

A quick drive later and Dee, Veronica, Liz and I were offloading our bikes outside the Waikanae pony club and preparing to race. My goal s for this week were fairly simple - get around the 100km event (four loops of a 25km course), drink, eat and stay with a pack. The last of those goals was the most important. I also had some vague time goals, but wasn't really sure how fast I was capable of going and didn't really care so much about time anyway. I knew I could smoke the Graperide time, but that was a hillier course.

It was clearly going to be a warm day, but was still a little cool at 9 a.m.. I decided on my shortsleeve top, sleeveless windbreaker and armwarmers. Seconds before the race started I dropped the armwarmers down to my wrists, and there they stayed. As a result I now have the most ridiculous sunburn - four inches of white wrist, red arm then white skin again from halfway up my bicep to my shoulder.

The Waikanae race runs primarily through a succession of pretty suburban streets, with a longer out and back down a country road along the back of some sand dunes and one small hill climb (comparative to the Pass of Branda). As a result there are a large number of corners to be negotiated. On the first lap I was concentrating on not coming off my bike, particularly at the end of the out and back - a rather tricky u-turn on a narrow road. Some of the corners had a little more gravel on them than I would have liked, and one man did go down in front of me early on. Thankfully I was able to ride around him and didn't go down myself. By the fourth loop I had my turning down. I got into a rhythm of dropping a gear and sprinting out of the corner, and was no longer getting dropped after every intersection. I can highly recommend this as a course for developing technical riding skills!

Joy of joys, I found a pack almost immediately and rode with them the whole 100km. Osteopath Liz (not new rider Liz) joined me and we stuck together until she mysteriously disappeared at 75km. I had so much fun on this ride. Being in the middle of a pack made all the difference. We were all content to hold a pace that felt reasonably laid-back without being too slow. I could probably have gone a little faster, but I kept myself reined in, remembering my pack-riding goal. We lost a couple of people at the 50km mark, notably a young guy on a mountainbike with fats, wearing board shorts and a t-shirt. Someone get that dude a road bike!

One of the other lovely things about this race was the large number of children with small little road bikes, and the young boy riding stoker on his father's tandem. Given the options of 25, 50, 70 and 100km there was a wide range of ages and abilities out there, everyone having a go on a gorgeous day.

At 60km I knew I would be riding the whole 100. I was feeling too fresh to pull out at 75km. I kept eating, kept drinking. I'm able to drink without slowing down now, which is a huge breakthrough for me. By now I also knew the course well enough to know where the long flat parts were, where I would have time to mess around with bottles and bars and not have to worry about unexpected manouvers.

As we all settled in after the 75km mark those of us left started to relax and get a little more social. It was so nice to be cruising along over 30kmph chatting about riding. I wound up riding with two former Gearshifters who finished Taupo in my target time, so it was nice to know I was in their ballpark. There were only two dodgy incidents - a blonde woman in a small red car who felt obliged to honk and then pull into a left turn ahead of us, and a guy in a white van whose wing mirror came within inches of a woman riding a hybrid ahead of me. You can bet I was yelling at him! She wasn't too impressed either, as we later discussed over the last 10km.

I had thought that it would be difficult to continue riding around and around the same route. I thought that psychologically I would find it very hard to ride those last 25km. However I was feeling so good that it was more a case of realising at the 65km mark that "huh - only 35km to go". With 25km to go I was enjoying myself too much to feel tired, particularly when a couple of guys who'd finished earlier jumped in front to pull us home. Love you guys!!!

Up the speed bump one last time - sprinting it. Down again and round the corner with the gravel. Out along Peka Peka Rd, round the u-turn again. 12 kilometres, 10 kilometres. Finally the row of orange cones and this time we could go left. Cheers from the women behind us, cheers from the Gearshifters sitting on the grass by the finish. I got off my bike and my legs felt fine. When I got off my bike after the Graperide they seized so badly I had to hobble for a good ten minutes.

And yes, I know the Graperide is hillier, but I wiped nearly 40 minutes off that time. I HAVE to be happy with that! I don't have my official result yet, but I know roughly the time I finished in. I averaged around 28kmph, or over 17mph, which is quite fast for me, even if it's slow for others! I can only get faster. I also have to remember that we rode a very hilly 60km yesterday, so my legs were fatigued from the start.

So yes, I am doing my happy little Pip dance about my race today. Riding home with the girls I was sitting in the front seat scoffing my Burger King (oh yes, we did) and singing along to Purple Rain on Dee's iPod feeling pretty darn pleased with life. Spring has turned on a summer day today and I was happy to have been out racing in it and looking forward to getting out there again.

Yay for good racing!


Kate said...

Wow! Fantastic work!! Nice pace- especially with all those corners. I hate the burbs.

What are your riding plans for next Sunday? Phil's silly coach has him down for only 1:30 on Sat, so I'd be keen to do something middle-sized on Sunday.

Pip said...

I would love to do something on Sunday. I kinda promised Hamish I would sleep in, however if you want to go out earlier in the morning I'm sure I could placate him by offering to cook breakfast when I get back!

If you want to give me a call to organise a ride my mobile number's oh two one two six five eight two nine eight. I know I have your mobile somewhere, but I'm not sure where.

And yes, I do also have to remember that all the cornering would have had an effect on my average pace. I was still near the back of the pack, but it felt pretty good!

Sass said...

Woot! Sounds like you were pretty awesome AND you didn't even have to go Mad Dog on it;p