*See if you can spot me in the picture!
This weekend I experienced racing as a guest rider for Splatt Lawyers Racing in the Queensland Road Teams Series event, held at Elimbah. There was both pleasure and pain involved. The QRTS is a series of road cycling events held over three weekends and run in a ‘team format’. It’s usually a step up from club racing as all grades are in together and mostly A and B graded women contest the series. As I haven’t done much road racing this year due to other life events, I was understandably nervous about whether the four weeks I had to prepare was enough. Even though you’ll see me riding my bike several days a week, it doesn’t necessarily transfer to race readiness unless, of course, you’ve been focusing on racing.
The race, apart from our neutralised start at the beginning was tough, and as we rolled out, I decided that I’d really try to learn from the experience.The first lap of the course involved a few attempts at breakaways (not by me), a short sharp QOM section and a sprint. It was encouraging to see sparks of fitness, however, it wasn’t enough to stop me from being spat out the back door on a short climb with a lot of dead road. Determined to still do my best, I put my head down and solo time trialled behind the group until a misplaced turn had me in the middle of nowhere about to hit a gravel road. Feeling sheepish about being lost as well as last, I was grateful for the commissaire who pointed out my mistake and allowed me to continue on in the race for a second lap. However, as I had lost too much time getting lost (pardon the pun), I was not going to make the time cut off required to move through to the teams time trial the next day and it was with regret that I had to retire.
I was bitterly disappointed at the time for not finishing, however I tried to think of the life lesson that this race was teaching me and cheered the rest of my team mates home.From a “fabulous at fifty” point of view, two ladies who raced in the composite team (who are in their fifties), kicked butt at the event. Amanda, who I mentioned in my last blog post, currently leads the general classification heading in the next round. My experience gave me a couple of perspectives – firstly, that I’d like to try again with more “race fitness” behind me and secondly, that being hard on yourself about making mistakes isn’t conducive to moving forward in a positive sense.
As I had no time trial to contest on Sunday, I headed to the Gold Coast to participate in Robbie’s Gran Fondo. I had initially registered, then cancelled when my number came up for QRTS. I didn’t want to explain to Robbie that I’d missed the QRTS cut off, so I quietly picked up an “on the day” registration packet and skulked to the back of the start line. However, I saw someone who I really wanted to connect with and stopped to say hello. I connected with the lovely Emma A last year doing some road races. Unfortunately, she sustained a nasty accident earlier this year and suffered major concussion and other injuries. Emma and I are the same age and both pharmacists (though I no longer practice) and the courage that she has shown, not only getting back on her bike, but racing as well, is nothing short of inspirational.
Emma and I started together with her ultra fit, but super supportive partner, Tim, and after the first ten or so kilometres, my QRTS weary legs had to let them go. Riding the route towards the Border Gates reminded me of Three Peaks Challenge training done a couple of years back. A few groups caught me and I would ride as hard as I could until my legs told me otherwise and then I’d tempo along solo until others came along. It was becoming a classic pattern of “ride hard, get dropped, ride hard, get dropped”. After pushing it as hard as I could from the turnaround point to the Beechmont climb, I felt my lower back begin to complain and the seven kilometre climb, which I had always perceived as “not being too bad” seemed to take an eternity.
Eventually I reached the turnaround point at Beechmont. It was a welcome site with a slew of volunteers providing refreshments for weary riders. On the table, cups of Coke were being laid out. I scoffed a couple rather quickly, marvelling at the effects of the “Black Doctor”, and gaining a cheerful second wind and anticipating the super fun Beechmont descent, I set off, determined to enjoy myself. It seemed surreal that I was now passing many of the riders that had looked at me pityingly as they had rocketed by as I tapped up the hill. Once off the mountain, I opened up the throttle for a quick time trial back to Nerang. I had a gentleman who decided to enjoy the draft from my wheel, and when he scrambled past me to get up the final climb, my competitive instincts were having none of it. I counterattacked and merrily rolled around the Nerang velodrome and across the finish line.
I met a jubilant Emma and Tim, who informed me that the Gran Fondo was Emma’s longest ride since her terrible accident. My hamstring rupture has given me some insight in what it’s like to take steps back, even when you feel hopeless about achieving any goals – so to see Emma achieve her longest ride was really special.
This weekend reminded me that there is inspiration around us, irrespective of our age, race or background – and that it doesn’t matter if you’re not the greatest. Simply showing up counts for everything!
Until next week’s adventures!