This weekend’s experience, as part of the rapid march to age fifty, involved participating in a 72km Team Time Trial (TTT). A few weeks back I was privileged to be asked to guest ride for Splatt Lawyers Racing as part of a mixed team – and I have been partaking in Thursday morning team training with the boys from Hope Racing as well as the other Splatt Lawyers Racing ladies.
The time trial itself was held in the picturesque Currumbin Valley, as part of the Tour De Valley Festival of Time Trialling. The beauty of the event is that there is a division available to suit any age or stage of rider. Combined with no need for a Cycling Australia racing license, it affords participants the opportunity to dip their toe into the world of racing without a hefty financial commitment. There appeared to be a record number of teams competing at the event including many novice riders who were relishing the opportunity of having a go.
Splatt Lawyers Racing fielded three teams. Our names were a fun play on words that included all of our sponsors. I was part of the team, “Orange is the New Splatt“. We also fielded the cheekily named, “Hoping for FOUR PL (ay)” and “D and D Draughting Divas” (maybe referring to the beverages imbibed post event?)
Until this weekend, I had never undertaken a 72km time trial before, and never ridden in a mixed team. I’m pleased to say that experience was tough, but rewarding. Team captain Marshall had us well organised into a rolling pace line. The girls – me, Simone and Ceran, were sandwiched neatly between the boys – Phil, Jeff and Marshall thus spreading the abilities of the team across the group as evenly as possible. Determined to ride as hard as possible, we committed to rolling turns with each of us on the front (and into the wind!) for approximately thirty seconds. Marshall and Phil had worked out that we’d individually only do 12km on the front each with three kilometres per leg of the race which was oddly comforting to me. It’s much easier to imagine doing a 3km hard effort, rather than 72km!
I was proud of our team’s discipline during the first half of the race, where we kept our pace high, yet well controlled. There were a few nasty pinches here and there and the way out is actually a gradually uphill climb for 18km. Unfortunately I spotted an ambulance on the course on the way out, remarking to Marshall who was riding behind me, “that’s where I crashed!”. I was referring to my now infamous “ham off the bone” incident, where I avulsed (snapped) all three hamstring tendons off my pelvis. A quick scan of the area soon allayed my fears for the worst outcome for the crash victim as he was sitting up and conscious.
Trying to keep me focused, Marshall hollered, “Don’t think about it Lizzy!” Luckily there wasn’t any time to become absorbed in my thoughts as there was a long dragging hill to climb on the other side of the crash site.
During the second half of the event, I could feel fatigue starting to set in. A hill close to the turn around point was about to do me in, however the rest of the team was having none of it, encouraging me to dig deep and stick with it. Finally it was time for the downhill effort home. We were all determined to wind it up to another level, and loudly encouraging each other, we kept pushing hard until we felt our legs were about to break. At the 70km mark I was starting to see stars, literally. Experiencing a migraine during a race was also a first for me but I managed to make it over the line a few metres behind the rest of the team to a glass of water and some very welcomed Panadol tablets.
Despite feeling miserable with my cracking headache, I was elated with our team effort. To me, there is no better bond of friendship developed than when you suffer together. Every member of our team was supportive, motivating, encouraging, fierce AND strong on the course, and it was wonderful to share that moment of “job well done” together.
After handicap points were allocated, “Orange is the New Splatt” ended up in 6th place out of 18 teams. Woohoo! We all collectively agreed that we must come and train together again – the camaraderie, the heavy breathing and the coffee afterwards highlight everything that is joyous where bicycle riding is concerned.
The Tour De Valley event is always a bit nostalgic for me as that is where I had my life changing cycling accident. However, although my hamstring still doesn’t work properly, life is good! What is even better is seeing many happy faces at an event where everyone is welcomed and encouraged. Hope to be back next year!