Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fronting Up

I've written before about my complicated relationship with cycling. I have a tendency to talk myself out of really putting the effort in. I hate riding in the wind and at the start of a long ride my mind can sometimes get the better of me. I'm slow and I have a loathing of getting spat out the back of the pack.

Dee's been nagging me for ages to ride with her and the SANZ pack. Unfortunately, the first time she invited me along, she warned me that they were fast. Game over as far as I was concerned! Except that it's about time to start gearing up for Taupo again, and I have some serious goals for this year's ride. It's time I stopped making excuses for myself and laid it on the line. I need to stop holding back. I need to take a few risks, put myself out there, see what happens.

Which is how I ended up getting up this morning to meet Dee at Freyberg at 7.40a.m. (on a Saturday morning!!!) for a SANZ ride. If I hadn't told everyone there was no way I was backing out then I would have, er, backed out. Yesterday the weather forecasts were for galeforce winds and showers. I wasn't going to give way to my wimp tendencies though, so I sucked it up, got dressed, and headed off in the half-light to meet her.

The fast pack was planning to ride out to Porirua then through Titahi Bay and back to Wellington via the Haywards. Some of the slower riders were planning on turning back at Porirua. There was a girl there who hadn't ridden in a bunch before, and who was not feeling confident she could keep up at all, so I was quite happy to say I'd turn round at Porirua with her if she felt the need. I was talking myself out of the full ride and I hadn't even started.

It was windy as we set out, but it could have been worse. I quickly found myself at the back and as we headed up Ngaio Gorge it started raining. My sunglasses started to fog up and I battled my way to the first meet-up point. The new girl had turned around already, so it was up to me to keep up with the slower of the regular riders. I was cold and wet but my legs hadn't felt too bad on the way up the Gorge, so I was willing to see what would happen.

I ended up riding down the hill to Johnsonville with a lone rider, Chris. I'm incredibly grateful to him for sticking with me. We were only 100m or so behind the main slow pack, but in the wet I wasn't feeling confident enough to push it around the corners hard enough to keep up. We rode towards Kenepuru, expecting to regroup in Porirua, but when we got there we couldn't find the other riders, and when we got onto the Expressway they were nowhere in sight.

Wet, cold, separated from the pack. Chris made the decision for me, and we turned right at the turnoff to the police college and started climbing back up towards Johnsonville. At that point I was feeling slightly disappointed, and had we been in sight of the others I think I would have gone all the way to the Haywards. I was certainly feeling ok and could easily have gone the distance. And when I say I was the slowest of the slow pack I was still sitting on around 30kmph (in the wind and the rain and the cold), so I wasn't a slug, just a little out of my league.
I wasn't eating enough so the ride back towards Ngaio wasn't quite as powerful as it could have been, but then we were on our way back down the gorge and I was again focussing on cornering downhill and not sliding out in the wet. I was covered in road-gunge from sitting on Chris's wheel the whole way. My shoes were sodden, my feet were cold, and I wasn't wearing my leg warmers so my knees were bright pink from the cold. However I was feeing remarkably upbeat. I knew I could have gone the whole way and I was proud of myself for getting out there at all.

We settled in at Bordeaux with our hot chocolates and eventually we were joined by the others, all looking like they'd been out mountain biking rather than road riding. We were all mud covered and soaked. I sat there in my happy little bubble, knowing that I'd actually gotten out there and done it, and loving my bike all over again.

So I'm supposed to be running 18k tomorrow, tapering for the Five Bridges half marathon. However Dee is riding from Freyberg at 2, and I can't resist coming along. If need be I'll run after work on Monday. Cleo and I are going to get back out there again, and I can't wait!


Sass said...

Good work you! You just need to adjust the Mad Dog's sights back to the bike again and you'll be right in no time:)

And as a non-cyclist, I'm always amazed at the routes and distances you guys go!!

Kate said...

Good luck for 5 bridges!