It’s been awhile since I have done the Great Brisbane Bike Ride, including the Mt Coot-tha Challenge. In fact, I set a personal best time up the hill in 2013, a time that I had not been able to beat for the past three or so years, despite many attempts. As some of you may know, I decided that this was the year to achieve personal best times on all of the climbs around Brisbane. The tally of PRs so far has included Mt Coot-tha front, Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious. However, the back route of Mt Coot-tha has eluded me.
Thus, when I met training partner and great mate Nicky along the route to the start, my mental hounds were starting to howl.
“You feel terrible!” yowled the hounds. “There’s no way you’re going to do a PB today!”
Glancing at Nicky, I marvelled at her cheerful disposition and big grin, and then felt bad for making false assumptions that my dear friend was impervious to Coot-tha PR nerves. As we waited at the starting line, I decided that the pressure to do a PB for her would be far worse for her than me, given that she’s won this event over the past couple of years and that there’s always that thought in your head of “is it possible that I can really go faster?” So, rather than burden her with stories of my wild dogs, I smiled back, and we stood around the starting area laughing, and taking terrible selfies.
Eventually, we rolled off, along with hundreds of other cyclists, who all seemed rather keen to take a crack at the big hill. Both Nicky and I were fairly quiet heading out towards Coottha. I was deep in thought about the challenge that lay ahead, flip flopping between rationalising that worrying about achieving a PR was a first world problem and telling myself to just give it a crack (no matter what the outcome was), anyway. The hill loomed. I wished Nicky the best of luck and watched in awe as she got out the saddle and attacked the climb in a way that said, “I own this hill!”. It was an inspiring sight to behold – I had to resist the urge to try and chase her, knowing that if I engaged that strategy, I would conk out within a minute. Instead I focused on the ever changing numbers on my power meter, playing a game with myself that I was not going to let any numbers bounce below a certain number. That proved to be a good distraction and I decided that Liz would be proud of me for passing a few people along the way. Usually the only people I will ever pass are people who are riding heavy mountain bikes – i.e. those with a weight disadvantage, or hikers.
Once up the top, I met Nicky, who reported feeling absolutely spent and a tad nauseous. As my stomach gurgled, I could say with all honesty that I knew exactly how she felt. We had the pleasure of meeting Mark aka “Frenchy”, who we had passed on the way up. The descent down the other side was exhilarating and as we travelled down the bike path we usually ride on for training, we marvelled at the novelty of stopping along the way at the designated rest stop for a banana and some water. The rest stop at the Moggill Ferry was even better as volunteers handed out bags of lollies which were quite the popular option amongst us riders.
We all managed to become separated at Oxley, however I rode across the line to hear the fantastic news that Nicky was the fastest woman of the day. Better still, she set a personal best time, making the big effort and the feelings of nausea at the top completely worth it. I couldn’t wait to find out my result, so I uploaded my ride to Strava and was thrilled to see a sub 11 minute time – just over forty seconds off my best time. When I saw on the official result sheet that I had the fourth fastest time in the Women’s category, I was amazed and,of course, very happy.