Monday, 4 August 2008

team play and becoming real cyclist

the first weekend in august is always the club relays championships up nr nottingham, and since i joined tri london in 2004, the ‘notts relays’ has been an important fixture on the calendar. In the very individual sport of triathlon, the National Club Relays Championships offers a rare chance to work as part of a team, and in previous 4 years tri london have come away from the event with trophies of various colours – pretty decent for a local, open-to-all club with fewer than 100 members.
but in my position as race captain, each year i have difficult decisions to make when it comes to the questions: are we putting out our best mixed team? or are we going to try for a ladies/men’s team this year? and i cant help feeling that the WE refers to a fairly select number of our members (selected by and including me) – the rest just coming along for the ride without much overlap in our experiences of the day and often the half of the club who raced in the morning ( ladies and mixed wave) are on the m1 before Tri London Men’s 3 are even out of t2.
so, this year we tried a different tack; we entered all of our teams in the ‘open’ category, racing each other in the morning wave. 5 teams, picked by 5 captains, seemed pretty evenly matched – it brought members of all abilities together as part of a competitive unit. everyone had something important to contribute …and it could have been anyone’s race!
we had the excitement of seeing the lead change again, and again through the swim, bike and run, with the leading 4 ‘anchors’ all starting their lap within a 3 minutes spell with the lead changing yet again in that final 20 minutes!!! by far the best experience I have had at this event, despite the lack of gold, silver, bronze or even sunshine! And for me, the best thing was that it was shared by the entire tri London crew, gathered at the finish chute to loudly support all our guys nothing better than top 20 position.

that was saturday, and despite my best laid plans to be back in time for a swim session, the early start, punishing sprint distance racing at full throttle ( i was MEAN on the bike), the long drive and the empty fridge all contributed to a 'day off' training. well, u gotta have 'em and i cant think of many better reasons

nonetheless, we woke on sunday feeling that this would have to be a big day. steven and i both had big (~5hr including 3hrs of intervals) bike sessions to get done, so alarms set for a 6.30 start we headed out of town. the weather was marginally better than the previous day had been, and though i felt totally drained on the warm up ride out (longer than we'd planned) once we split to start the session, riding a 15mile loop in opposite directions, i was really feeling good. i think the bike legs are coming! so i'm really into the session pounding along on the tri bars, its drizzling with rain and we're on country roads. next thing, making a left turn i'm no longer pounding along on the tri bars. i'm skidding down the road on my side. the bike goes even further and i'm looking the sky through the tree canopy wondering when i'll stop moving and just how many limbs i've broken and hoping a car doesn't come and run my bike which has gone all the way onto the road that we were joining, over...
..when i do stop i just lie there ..thinking F8CK F*CK how bad is this? next race...all that training....cant feel much. then the pain comes....stinging like mad and i'm shaking and shouting language to make a builder blush. but at least its just cuts and road rash. pretty nasty though. i am very very upset. must have been so pumped up that i went into shock - next thing i'm just crying like really crying and sobbing and even a bit of wailing probably! luckily there is no one around (or if they were, had been frightened away by the very loud and violent swearing ) or they really would have thought i'd broken all my limbs, and neck too.
pretty soon steven came round the loop and stopped. that started me off sobbing again - i'd ripped through my favourite shorts. i think he thought that was why i was so upset!! once established that i was ok really, he got me to check the bike, get on it and continue the session (i'd assumed that i'd just limp home and feel sorry for myself). which i did after a brief stop into a small garden nursery where a very kind old gentleman let me in to wash the wounds and did great job of patching me up.

so, we got 130 miles done, including the session in 7.5hrs. a bit longer than intended but we both felt good for having done it. i also managed to get to the pool for a 3km swim and some lessons in how to do BREASTSTROKE that doesn't look like old ladies social swimming! then off to fill my face with grub at luis's bbq for the tri club and see video footage of the previous day's relay action. of course my wounds were much admired and i felt very proud to finally be a proper cyclist having 'road rash' to discuss!

it is a bit inconvenient however - kathleen, who is a nurse, strongly advised against swimming which puts pay to the heavy swimming schedule that i'm following. must not loose focus on that - but with a fairly big race next weekend, i think that i should respect her professional advice and do what's best for a rapid recovery.

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