Day 4 in Mongolia - Race day no.1


IMG 7214Day 4 – Finally I get to race the Mongolia Bike Challenge

For those who want to know, the facts on todays stage:
Stage 1- Sunday 1st September 2013
Start at the Chinggis Khan statue, 7:30am.
Distance 120km
Elevation Gained 2900mts

It was cold this morning, breakfast was bland sultana bran yet still I was eager to just get started and see what it would feel like to hurt, it feels like its been so long since I have suffered in a race...I mean really suffered. Maybe the last time was Terra Australis back in 2011 with Brad Davies?

24 hr racing hurts, thats a given, but the suffering is different, you are racing but its a lot less intense and feels more like a patient game of chess, even though you are sleep deprived there is comfort in knowing you get to see your support crew every lap and also find the spots on the trail for going easy and recovering too.

We started at 7:30am and straight up I was in the box. It was a mixture of elevation and cold. I have been living at 1500mts for the past 3.5 days and the race also starts at 1500mts and goes up to nearly 2000mts above sea level on the first KOM. All I could do was pedal hard, try to find a wheel and settle in to a sustainable pace no matter who was in front or behind me in the female category.

If you cant go on a move, well you just cant go, simple as that. Catherine and Sonya were off quickly with Erin and I moving back and forth with each other.
Day 1 has a nasty profile on paper and even nastier on the bike. At the 10km mark climb no. 1, not so bad, but enough to make my legs turn to jelly and finish at the top feeling already like I could “Poo or Spew”, but that was just the introduction to the camel hump from hell, a climb straight up and straight down with another up straight away. Then a massive downhill followed by a massive uphill.
This is where Erin showed her strength and just rode away from me like I was walking my bike. Like I said before, she went and I could not follow. I then had the realisation that whilst I have been busy with building my businesses and still training but not so much racing, these other girls were 10 years younger and training and racing – they had every right to be better than me and it was only a matter of time before my hard core ability to suffer at the top end would be effected. I was thinking as I was riding, back in 2009 when I travelled to Canmore to race the World 24hr Solo champs, I was disappointed to come 4th overall. I then decided I wanted to win and I worked so hard in the next 18mths to ensure I would win, and low and behold I won. So it was quite ok for Erin to smash me into last year on this climb and every other for the rest of the day, she came 5th in 2010 and she wants to win in 2013.
I think she is in for a good show come October and this race is perfect for both of us to find some good suffering form.

After I realised that I could not follow Erin, I searched for positive thoughts, giving it everything to stay accountable for the rest of the race. Oh it hurt. I really wanted to settle into a soft pedalling tempo and feel the sweet mode of recovery riding.

After a long descent that took us through a landscape of green hills, gers, livestock, never ending roads that ribboned their way ahead for miles, I caught up to a group of guys.
We settled into a group pace line and did some work each. It was my turn at the back at one stage and I realised I was recovering a little too well, freewheeling and feeling marvelous.
Whoops, not sticking to my plan of being accountable I took my turn at the front again at a solid but maintainalbe pace. It seems it was a little too solid and I dropped the boys, and here I was in no mans land – again.
Too slow for the front bunches, too fast for the rest of them. So I looked into the distance and found some more figures to reel in and caught them too.
Whilst I won't lie to you here, I was in deep pain, suffering like a mother giving birth, knowing it will end and the harder I work now the quicker the pain will end.
And then eventually these boys were gone behind me and I was on my own again. More wheels to catch off in the distance. At least I wasnt fixated on my Garmin wondering how many kms to go etc...and it was easier to hurt chasing a wheel or two.

After the final KOM climb there was only 20km to the finish. It was not easy either, with 4 significant climbs albeit short ones, they were pinchy and solid. Here I caught some more guys and finished with 2, the cruelty of the final 1km was to come.

IMG 7216As we rounded a hill we could see the Chinggis Khan statue and searched for our final route, and yes it finished with one last nasty surprise, ride up a pathway that finishes with 3 steps – ouch and cramp-a-rama material On the note of cramps, I did cramp once in both my adductors today, but they subsided quickly and I moved on reminding myself of my gels, eating and drinking.

I finished in around 6hrs 30 mins and came 4th in the females.
The female podium was Catherine 1st, Sonya 2nd, Erin 3rd.

When I finished I asked myself, did I put in 100% at all times? Yes, I could not have asked any more of myself given my current form. Did I have any regrets? Nope.

Did it hurt? Well Norm asked me at the end, so tell me your words about the race? I said,”I don't think I like hurting like that anymore...that hurt a lot...I cannot remember ever hurting that much ever before.”

After reflecting on my final comment hours later I realised it had been some time since I last gave training and racing a serious committed crack. This was my reminder of what its like and that it will only get easier to relearn the art of sufferance.

Bring on Day 2.