Monday, 29 November 2010

3rd place for the Enduro

Thankfully I still don't know what 10hrs in the saddle feels like...

The Taupo Cycle Challenge (320k) Enduro on Saturday went great.   It was certainly a good confidence booster 3.5 months before Ironman New Zealand.  I manged to get around the course in a few mins under 10 hrs.  With an average speed of 31.5mph.  So now I've 14 weeks to get the speed up a bit for 180k.

It was a really interesting event. Starting at 1:30am meant we had less than 4hrs sleep on Friday night before getting up and heading into Taupo to meet the other 65 mental riders who didn't feel one lap was enough.

The first lap in the dark was a bit different, plenty of lights and very little chat. In fact the group was pretty much silent until 4:30am when the first glimmers of dawn were heading up over the hills behind lake Taupo.

The race tactic was to ride within ourselves for the first lap, hopefully close to 5hrs, in a decent group, then get as far through the hills at the start of the course, on the second lap before the quick one lapper boys caught us up.  Roughly it worked.

Three or Four guys stretched the group out for the first 20k before they broke away and ten of us settled down and let them go.  We pushed on in silence working nicely together, everyone taking their turn, all the way through to Taupo. 

Into Taupo we had to take our timing chips into a gas station to scan them before we could had out on lap two.  Several of us had parked cars at this station, while others had support crew meet them there.  So at this point the group broke up.  Sincere apologies to Mike Osborne, my work colleague and recent training partner on an epic training ride.  We had a relatively good transition, loading up our back pockets with another 5hrs of food, stripping off the nightwear and dumping lights.  We set off to find what was left of the group on the way out of town.  Unfortunately, 100yards away from the car and I realised I'd not put my new bottles on the bike - I'd just dumped the empties...

Of all the things I didn't want to do without, as the temperature was on it's way to the mid twenties, was water bottles.  I dashed back to the car, holding up Mike, and grabbed the full bottles.

As we road back out of Taupo for the second lap I saw 5:02 on my watch.  Pretty good.  I'd hit the gas station in 4:56, so another lap the same as the first and I could nip under my stretch target of ten hours.

We had a pretty pedestrian 30k out of town for the second lap.  Picking up another chap from our original ten 'Dave' and the three of us rolled on.  Chatting to a few other randons, including the two lads in 3rd and 4th of the 8 lap Maxi Enduro Bonkersride Extra. They'd kicked off Wednesday lunchtime and were well over 60hrs into their ride, on just 5hrs sleep.  Having just woken up from a long 2hr rest they were riding really well and tagged onto us for a good 15k before stopping for a refuel.

Around 30k the lead one lappers started to catch us up.  We struggled to hold the first group, just getting sucked along for a couple of k before getting spat out the back. The next group I held a little longer and the third group were going at an ok pace and I tagged into their group and stuck in a bunch through to about 85k when we hit Kuratau Hill.  I took the decision to save my legs a little. With 70k to go and 7+ hrs in the saddle I think it was the right choice.  Unfortunately Mike and Dave didn't catch the same group.  And I found out later that Mike hadnt' picked up his spare food at the car.  So the poor guy was running without fuel for 5hrs.  Sorry Mike - especially after you'd waited for me to go back for my drink!

Once over the Hill and through to the 100k mark of lap two (260k down) I got into a group with 6 or so stragglers and we worked together until the 4th group picked us up on the flat home.  50k out from Taupo we got into a 40 man train, I took on some food and caffeine and got working with about 16 others at the front of the group.  I was watching the clock, with about 75mins for the last 40k I knew there was a chance I could slip under 10hrs.  I waited for the bonk that I felt was inevitable but the legs held out and the caffeine did it's job.  With 10k to go I 18 mins, the adrenaline kicked in and I was able to keep pushing through several yellow capped Enduros and push all the way through to the finish.  I guess the leg destruction of JoGLE must have really helped.

As we all got mixed up in Taupo after lap one I had no idea how i'd got on in the competition but a mate told me I was the 3rd Enduro to finish and sure enough I was 30 odd secs behind a local chap in second and 16 mins behind the lead guide who apparently had held onto the first or second songle lap group.

All in all a really pleasing day. Pro Ironman Keiran Doe holds the course record (from last year) of 9:28:36, so I can't be too disappointed with being within 30mins of him over 10hrs.  To average 31.5kph (including stops) for 10hrs is pretty good at this stage. 

An easy splash in lake Taupo after the ride served as an ice bath and seems to have helped with recovery.  A short run today and the legs feel alright.

Race season is now here.  Weds night is the first Splash n Dash (open water swim / run) of the season and then Sunday is my triathlon of the season as I test my speed in the Scorching Tri Olympic.

14 weeks of hard work to come!

1 comment:

smorgasbord-design said...

This is utterly epic. Even as I train for my first marathon I cannot imagine spending that amount of time engaged in endurance racing. Inspiring stuff, as ever. Chapeau!