Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Southland's Wild Side

Through each of my previous five visits to Invercargill this year, I've had no more than a harmless breeze and a few light showers to cope with, so I assumed I was sufficiently prepared for what the Southern spring would throw at me. How wrong was I.

My Southland venture began with the Yunca Junior Tour, the final event of the Junior National Points Series, and one that attracts some good numbers from all over the country, as well as the few Australians brave enough to tackle our harsh climate. HA

Day one of the tour got off to the predicted start, with sleet and gusts so strong that the prologue had to be postponed by fifteen minutes or so (aren't they generous). The little 'uns were the first to set off, and bore the brunt of the weather. How they held their tiny bikes, and selves, down in that, I will never know. The downpour also meant that the only shelter in the area was packed tighter than a can of sardines in a trash compacter, and thus one had to clamber over numerous bikes, bodies and various pieces of farm equipment in search of a spot to warm up. I can pretty safely say I've had a taste of life as a battery hen.

Thankfully by the time I rolled up to the line, the clouds had well emptied themselves and the deluge of rain had passed, leaving only the wind to contend with. I pulled off a pretty good time in the end, and went into stage two with the yellow. The following day's weather held nothing back, pounding us with snow and gales that left half of us blue and solidified, despite what was supposed to be a hundred kilometre day being cut back to twenty five - for reasons I need not explain. I managed to lose my lead due to my lack of oomph in the sprint finishes, and only reattained it in the final bunch sprint of the tour.

Cutting it fine..

I didn't go into the tour with a great deal of expectations, so I was pretty content with my result. However the track racing which followed was a bit contrary. I went into it with a very inaccurate confidence-to-ability ratio, and, for lack of better words, got the shit my ego kicked out of me. But that's just bike racing. You can't win 'em all.

Next on the hit list was the one hundred and fifty kilometre Great Southern Cycle Challenge, which was soon to become my longest day on the bike so far. I have one, fool-proof tactic with races of this sort; Never think about what you're getting yourself into until you've hit the point of no return, i.e. the start line. That way, you can force yourself into it, and no matter how much you kick yourself when you're only twenty minutes into it and already closing your eyes and hoping that, when they open, you'll be cuddled up by the fire sipping away at a hot chocolate with marshmallows, watching The X Factor - it's too late to back out.

This is the mindset I used in approaching the GSCC (affectionately known as the Great Southern Crosswind Challenge, and for good reason). And although it didn't help me one bit when I was slogging my way through  roaring wind with a bunch less use to me than the one fifty km's up the road, I'm sure if I'd thought about how long the race would actually take me with my level of fitness, I would have slept in that morning.

I'll spare you all the sob-session and summarise with.. 'it was a HARD day on the bike'.

I'm back to living life in Wanganui now, and preparing myself for my next big mission - NCEA exams. I'm wondering if my blog would be considered 'Non-Shakespearean Drama', in which case my English exam would be well and truly sorted.


PS. Big thank you to Dillon Bennett for running around after me like a headless chook. He even fueled me up with pre-race pancakes. And also to my host parents, Steph and Brad :)