Friday, 12 April 2013

They Come In Threes

It was with an unsettling familiarity that I was thrown to the road in a brutal stack up after only seven kilometres of the Te Awamutu Tour on Saturday morning, and as I lay there with shredded hands and loose shards of stone embedded in the side of my head, I was hardly surprised at this continuation of misfortune. It was defeating at first, having to pull myself off the road to see the battered condition of my body, a broken bike and even more fluro paint scraped from the ends of my prized Sidi Wires.

But in my adrenaline-fuelled state, I figured my best option was to grab the nearest operational bike, regardless of size, and get back out on the battlefield. The trouble with adrenaline, though, is that it wears off after a while. So I found myself halfway around the course with severe pain everywhere but my legs, an interesting change but no less uncomfortable than the usual lactic saturation. So despite my best efforts, I was unable to finish the stage (and consequently, the tour). 

After some sweet talking with Hitler the head commisaire, I was allowed to race the Time Trial the following day. I wasn't expecting a startling result given the fact that my body resembled that of a bear-maul victim, but after a nutritious breakfast of weet-bix and paracetamol, I sucked it up and threw out the best performance that I could - fourth place - before heading home with a lot less skin than I began with, and a bitter disappointment at yet another less-than-successful campaign. 

I had less than a week in Wanganui before I had to pack up my things (which involved very little seeing as I hadn't yet unpacked from my last escapade) and head across the Cook Straight for a big weekend of racing and a training camp in Blenheim with the Altherm crew (And Alysha). During that week, I visited two primary schools as a Role Model speaker for the Duffy Books for Schools program; a program which I support whole-heartedly and was hugely excited to be a part of. I spoke to over a hundred children about the importance of education and perseverance - two things which I hold in very high regard - and the attitude and values that I have held in order to get me to where I am. It was a humbling experience to be placed in a position of influence and inspiration to so many young lives, and to present them with stacks of books to take home - to see their genuine excitement as they carried them in their little arms, glowing smiles on their faces - I felt inspired myself. 

I left home on a high note, motivated to continue the journey which has allowed me to uplift others, and eager to see my team mates once again. We were fortunate enough to be adopted by a lovely (and very amusing) couple during our stay in Blenheim, so an enormous thank you to Ken and Kaye (and Bruce the Moose) for their generous - and entertaining - hospitality. 

First up on the race menu was the Grape Ride - a 100km race through scenic Marlborough - and due to the women's field being swamped by the first bunch of the individual race, and consequently stringing us out to the point where we were lucky to even see where our competition was, let alone contest them in a bunch sprint down a narrow, twisting vineyard driveway. As a result, what should have been a fair bunch kick became a 'who could squeeze themselves further up the bunch' competition, which - with my post-crash over-cautiousness - meant I was out of contention. 

The following day was the first Benchmark race for our Altherm Team, and went pretty swell up until the five kilometre climb affectiontely known as Spooner's Hill. I surprised myself, however, and managed to reach the top within a manageable distance of the bunch, so that I could chase my way back on afterward. With a team mate (Jaime) up the road, we felt pretty content with the situation and just kept things rolling in the bunch. However my legs were not content at all, and so when I punctured at the bottom of yet another climb at around the 60km mark... let's just say there have been worse times to blow a tire - and I crawled my way back to the finish at my own pace. 

So although the weekend wasn't brilliant results-wise, I was pleased with the work that I put in, and after the three days of training in Blenheim, I am starting to feel a bit of form coming together. 

I am now back in the Garden City, living with my wonderful part-time family of Maddi, Cazza and Murray the dog. Next up is the Club Road Cycling Championships, where I will be competing in the individual time trial to see where I stack up against the elite women. With my fair share of misfortune over and done with, hopefully things will begin to take a turn for the better. 


PS. Yesterday was the Three Year Anniversary of the day that a very special young man was tragically taken from us. On the 11th of April, 2011, I was racing the fourth and final stage of the CRI Rotorua Tour, and punctured for the first time ever during a race. The following year, I was again competing at the CRI tour and again punctured in the final stage. This year, on Sunday afternoon - the exact time that Stage four of the CRI Tour was underway, I punctured in the Benchmark race. Just Brad Martin's cheeky way of letting me know he's still watching. 

We all miss you Brad. <3