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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The week that was...


I am about to jet home to NZ. This is exciting, but sadly I feel far from content or satisfied with how my last two weeks panned out here in Canada. It is damn frustrating. It is part of racing, but this is the first time things havn't gone well for me and it is very hard to swallow.

Excited about the team relay and putting Windham behind me.


I had trained well in Bromont. I was a little tired from this but I was sure that with a 2-week taper including the final World Cup at Windham into World Champs - I would be humming. The course at Mont Ste Anne was up my alley and I was confident of going well come Sat 4th Sept.

Unfortunately at Windham I did not have the race outing I thought I would. My pre-ride was awesome - I danced up the climb, I felt fresh with a few efforts and was descending clean & fast.

The next day was a striking contrast - I had 'lead in my boots'. I started OK. But pretty quickly I found myself working too hard, my legs were heavy, tiring and I was going backwards. I was groveling, but I trusted that my legs would come right & I would work my way back into the top 1/2 of the field at least. On the descent I was determined to make up for lost time & positions. I entered a wooded section too fast, avoided a rock then heard the sound...pfffft! My rear tyre. The Stan's in my tubeless worked its magic to hold at about 10 PSI. Knowing I would need a wheel change regardless I rode the descent, got to tech and Selby whipped a new front in for me.


At this point I was torn. Do I keep chasing hard and salvage what I can? I had lost a good bit of time, and with my legs struggling as they were I almost felt I was doin 'more harn than good' by continuing...particularly with my World Champs race in 7-days exactly. Undecided and grumblings in my head, Selby helped my decision and said 'just ride'. He was right, a DNF just was not acceptable. I got pulled on the 80% rule after 3-laps. This was immensely disappointing. I have never been 'pulled' from a race before (this is when your time down to the lead rider is more than 80% of the first lap time, so the officials remove you from the course so you do not get in the way of the leaders).

I was upset. I was confused - what had gone wrong? Puncture aside, I was not in the race to begin with and this was concerning. I reckon (and I think I still do?) that if you have 'bad legs' in a race it is because you have not prepared well and it is therefore a poor excuse for a below par performance.

Aware of this, I did a mental debrief of my preparations - knowing I had less than a week to get my ducks in a neat row. Fortunately I was travelling with Stu Houltham (fellow Avanti rider, 6 x National Champ & I learned that he has had a rough race or two in his time). We had a 5hr drive back to Bromont to chew the fat, and this we did. I also had Cabin. From afar he helped me put it behind me and we hatched a plan for the week ahead to the grand finale.

A contributing factor was a very sore tail bone. During the Windham race this really flared up. A week prior I had a 'silly' crash within which I rammed the nose of my seat into my tail bone - yeah, ouch. Sure it was tender to sit & stand particularly on the bike for a few days but focused on the World Cup I did not let it worry me. However, the long rough descent at Windham 'kicked my a*$e' - it hurt like a jack hammer when I was standing to try to absorb the bumps and even climbing out of the saddle. This just added to the misery, but afterward I realised that it was much more irritable than I had realised. Funnily, it reminded of a time when I was little and my brother kicked me up the bum wearing a steel capped boot...owwie. That was probably deserved though :)

Roll on Mont Ste Anne...

Following Windham I was stoked to be participating in the NZ team relay. I needed to get some confidence back - it took a hiding at Windham. I was amped and flew out around the first part of the course riding smooth fast & strong - yes! Then, too eager I had two wild crashes in the later part of the lap. The dust was deep and I was pushing too hard. My head was ahead of my legs it seemed, but the outing did the job.
Throughout the week I had prepared well, I was ready. My nagging tail bone was remedied with a dose of an anti-inflammatory med ahead of riding, and Ant Croucher (The Physiotherapy Clinic) had panel beated my muscles early in the week. I was raring to go. The rain on race day did not phase me, in fact I was even happy about this - the heat & humidity in week had almost been unbearable.


Warm up went fast, call up and count down even quicker. BANG & we were off. I was about 4th row on the start and held this through the first turn sprinting up the road to the next left hander. Positioned well (or so I thought) a rider cut across the corner from my right. I turned early to avoid her....and there was a noise. Like a scrape/pfft/stan's explosion. I totally thought it was the girl on the inside who I had connected with as I turned. Thinking myself lucky I stood up to pedal.

Next moment I glanced down and had a massive sinking feeling overwhelm me...front tyre on the rim. It IS mine. This is not happening. The field spilled around me in waves and pedalled on. I did an assessment - tech is right there! I was running...then realised tech might be 'right there' but I have to run/push the entire 2nd half of the course (used as a start loop) of about 3km to get back to it...I stopped. In need of a complete miracle I grabbed my CO2 and engaged it. The tire rose momentarily then rapidly deflated - I was screwed. I started running again.
I just had to run. I was doing maths in my head...start loop takes 11min to ride, if I get to tech & get a new wheel I will at least be able to ride some of this race. Here on, I just rode every lap like it would be my last, purely for pride and to salvage something from what was a disaster of a race. I could have chucked in the towel, afterall, I was not 'in the race'. But I couldn't. This is the World Champs, I did not come here to throw my toys over a bit of bad luck and sit and watch my the raceI should be in. I really enjoyed riding the course and the crowd were wicked. They knew that I was the poor bugger right at the start running with the tail end moto revving behind me. But by the end of lap 1 proper I had dropped the moto and I enjoyed what I could salvage from my race.

It was a hopeless situation, but I think that was the best I could do given the circumstances. I am no happier, but perhaps more philosophical about it a few days on. Character building as they say. And, I have plenty to look forward to yet.

In the meantime I am ready to get on this plane and tick off the hours on the journey home to Cabin :) And enjoy a 'bit of time off'. Thank-you all once again for your many kind words and support. It has been huge, and certainly appreciated. Thank-you too Thierry & Melissa, you have been so wonderful having me in Bromont and I was grateful to see you at the finish on Saturday after my race. Cheers all!

1 comment:

Oli Brooke-White said...

So sorry to hear things didn't go your way, but good on you for your great attitude in dealing with such terrible luck. Kia kaha, Nic.