It's not every day that I get to feel kinship with a real Canadian international pro cyclist, but the Grey County Road Race last season was my Svein Tuft moment. Dead last! but a proud accomplishment nonetheless. Sure, as sporting achievements go it's not exactly in the same universe as surviving the meat grinder that is 20 days of the Tour de France, but what the hell. It was a great race, for a couple of reasons.
Mostly, because I didn't give up.
|Aerodynamic hill-climbing face|
After a while a group eight or nine riders from the women's race caught up with me. Suffering and shameless, I latched on to the back of them, and hung on for 20kms or so until they finally tired of that and blasted away on one of the steeper climbs.
It was a few more km to the end of the race, which rather sadistically ended at the top of a horrific climb called Scenic Caves Road. After 80+ kilometres (much of it time-trialling) I was looking at 11 km of 10-14% grade. I could have abandoned right there. But I thought, fuck it, I've come this far, damned if I'm not going to finish it.
I had never ridden up this beast before. However, the night before, my pal Michael & I drove up it on a reco mission to see what it was looking like. This meant I knew exactly how long it was, and where the turns were, and was able to calculate roughly how long it was going to take to get up it, or as I thought to myself as I approached it, "Just 20 minutes of pain, you can handle that!" It turned out to be the single most difficult physical thing I have ever done in my life. Grinding up that hill at about 10 km/h, counting out ten pedal strokes ten at a time, marking out targets all the way up (just get to that road sign!), and then, weirdly, running the last, flatter part to the finish near 40 km/h. Not sure where that came from except maybe desperation for it to finally be over.
And when it was, it was pretty damn good.
(Note to self: put a cassette with a 28 on the bike next time.)
|One of the greatest things I've ever seen.|