Thursday, September 25, 2008

The grind

Oh my oh my. The race from the Isle of Mann was brilliant, even though painful. I mean this not in any hypothetical my legs were hurting, I managed to do a very impressive over-the-top flier. I would have got full marks were I in a pancake impression competition but as the rider I'd just past gave the obligatory "are you all right" line as he cruised by I felt rather a tit for just having past him on the technical section that was my undoing. As I was lying in the only puddle of was for at least a kilometer, the surronding ground was simply just mud, I was hoping that nothing was broken. Having torn my ligaments in my shoulder I was pretty worried becasue the pain did not feel all that good. The fact that blood was gushing from my knee's making me peddle squares for the rest of the race was still not as heart stopping as the shoulder. I knew that eventually the blood would stop, it did after I crossed the finish line and the medic's got to work picking pieces of mud out of the wound. A shoulder injury would have ended my season. Luckily everything seems to be OK and in the end it was my knee I should have been more worried about. It was all swollen for a week afterwards miking cycling awefully painful.
The race started off on a 20km road section and for the first time in my life I was forced to ride in the invigorating peleton. I must say I quite enjoyed sitting in th epack but when the guys got ansy you just had to bite the bullet and dig in as they started to go off the front and the peleton wound things up. Surprisingly I managed to stay with the leaders and my legs were felling pretty good. I knew there was a heavy climb coming up so I concentrated on gettting there with the leaders and then see how the climbing went.
It went well except for the fact that my stem came loose... three times. I kept thinking it was the cap at the top that I had not tightened well enough becasue i did not want to strip the thread. After two attempts I realized it was the screws on the sides. Bit of a silly mistake but then again its the first time I've had to pack the bike in a box and re-assemble. The strange thing is we did a ride the day before without any problems so not sure why it didn't show any adverse results then. Well I lost not only time but momentum as I was doing really well on the climb catching those riders that had got away in the beginning of the peleton's collapse.
From the top of the climb we got into BIG rit territory. Having never ridden in muddy rut strew territory I was a bit confused as to how I should approach the buggers. some got so deep you'd wach the pedals while they were horizontal throwing you off the bike. Well not exactly throwing but definitely persuading you that this was not th eplace you wanted to be.
I must say the next kilometers were a blur as I tried to keep up and even pass the other riders. I was doing well but loosing a bit of time on the down hills as the tire choice had left me wanting in the grip department. the first check point came and went in another blur and my two bottles were on empty. With only a quarter litre of water left I pressed on sucking little sips when ever i could hoping that the next point would come sooner rather than later. I managed to hang on thanks to the cooler conditions I don't think I was perspiring that much. I managed to change the bottles and then we were into the next climb.
This was a bit steeper and I managed to claw back a few more places feeling really good and knowing full well that I was past the worst bit, at least in terms of distance. On the descent was where the wheels came off with me trying to get clever on a technical section. I succeeded in getting through well enough but as it joined back on the road with a 90 degree turn I got stuck in a rut, no pun intended. The speed I was carrying made things happen faster than I could anticipate for and the tiredness of the arms had pushed me forward more than I should have been. The fork absorbed the impacted but my center of gravity was to far in front and I jsut went of like a medievel seige machine,myself being the amunition. The road I landed on did a mighty fine job of stopping me with resounding force. I managed to turn over and then sort of lay in the puddle as my vision slowly made its was back from the darkness that had enveloped me. The adrenelin got me back on my bike and after looking down I realised I had 30km to ride. not a pleasant discovery but I gritted my teeth and forced the pedal's over. I was grinding for the next ten minutes with every mucles now screaming and cramps deciding that it would be the perfect time to make an entrance.
I still had another check point to go and then I would be able to coast in, that was my thinking at the time. The race till the finish is was basically pushing through the cramps and knee pain while trying to keep the bike upright. Relaxing was not an option as the cold had now set in with a frisky wind cutting though the wet jersey I had on. On the last climb tears were streaming down my cheeks and my legs were cursing me on every stroke. I was a red dot in front of me and decided to dig deep. The rider would be the final person I past as I went up the hill to the finish.
After getting over the line I went into full cramp mode. When trying to stand up the calves and quads would have none of it and lowering down brought the hamstrings to the party. I stood for a few minutes in a semi squatting position as close as posible to what I sould have looked like on the bike. They everntually let me walk to the car where a warm jersey and the medics took care of the caked blood and mud.
The photo's are here:
sigal's end-to-end photo's
my end-to-end photo's
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