So on my race calender I have a few races planned that are key races for me. This weekend was one of them.
On Friday morning I set off to Durban for the Amashova. The trip down was uneventful with th only noteworthy thin being the masses of trucks we saw heading to Joburg - clearly the strike was over. There was a constant stream of them with hadly a gap between them and massive abnormal load trucks overtaking normal trucks. Anyway, after dropping the person who got a lift down with me in Durban, I joined up with friends at Umhlanga where a weekend of fun, laughter, food, sunburn and cycling were about to begin.
After a great Friday and Saturday of fun (which although great fun, this is a cycling blog so wont go into the antics of building a sand fortress and getting sunburn and all the fun we had) the alarms went off at 3:30am and we were up and getting ready for Shova. By 4:30 we were on the road the Pietermaritzburg which is a solid hour away. Once we were safely at Maritzburg, the 4 of us cyclists went through our routine of getting ready for the race. Shoes on, spare tubes in pocket, bombs and levers in pocket, tissues in pocket, cellphone and credit card in pocket, food in pocket, bottles on bike, gps on bike, helmet on head, gloves on hands. Its a lot of things to remember! Anyway, once we were all ready we said goodbye to our support crew (Andy's folks whobwere driving the cars back to Umhlanga), then we were off to our start pens.
The start pen of a race is quite similar to a cow pen. You get filtered in, then once you cointed down for your race, you go through in a cattle crush fashion over the timing mats. Fortunately our timing was good and it was not too lon a wait for the start of our races.
Before I knew it we were released from captivity and set free on our journey to Durban. I managed to lead E batch to the start of climb 1, then I got dropped so up I went, overtaking plenty riders as I went. I even saw some familiar faces I know whoch is always cool. About half way up this hill there was a crowd of local kids standing around ahd signing Shosholoza and high 5ing the passong cyclists. This was a major highlight of the race for me and gave me major goosebumps. As we crawled up the hill, I joined forces with some fellow Cycle Lab roders and we worked together along with some other cyclists as a mini bunch. Near the top, we saw a big group and 2 of us ( co-incidentally it was the 2 ladies in the bunch) pulled our mini group tp the big batch. As we got there however, a massove super bunch came up and swallowed us. Imagine a 300 cyclist strong bunch growing as it passes smaller bunches.
This was the Westdene train and was a highly organised batch with a ride captain telling all what to do. Being in the bunch was actually really scary and claustrophobic. We sped along at high speed and I didnt see much other than the wheel in front of me. At Cato ridge I think I sat up for a second too long with my banana break because the bunch split into 3 with the first bump and I was left between batches 2 & 3 and was unable to rejoin 2 and 3 was way too slow. So, I rode a bit alone before the first major hill where I linked up with Trevor from the dog park who rides wit Club 100 and Driekie who rocks on climbs but is a snail on downhills. The 3 of us kinda worked together and rode together until about 75km when we found others also forming a group. Once the group was formed, we started flying again! Was awesome!! Up until then, I was seriously concerned about making my goal of 3:30 hrs but with this bunch, I was able to regain time.
Whilst cruising along and pulling the group for a fair amount of time, I saw a moron who wasnt concentrating touch his wheel with another riders wheel. Actually, this guy was a moron and couldnt hold his bike in a straight line. Anyway, I was nervous and pulled hard right just in case. I was fortunate that nothing happened but I decided to get away from that dude so upped te pace and dropped him. The next few kms went by fast and for the 1st time in any Shova, I was working hard at the front of a bunch in the last few kms of a race. The last 2kms I pulled back into the bunch and enjoyed the ride in. Ok, my legs couldnt hold the pace anymore as well.
As I crossed the finishline to the beep of my timing chip, I looked down and knew I had hit my goal. Was quite emotional clobbering that time as I had honestly doubted myself. I got my medal and headed to the Cycle Lab tent where I met with Andy and waited for the other friends of ours.
Was pretty awesome achieving this goal! Normally I rely on mental strength to achieve this goal but this race I relied on something different: the training I had done. Odd thing is that I think it worked!
Next big race is 94.7 but before then there are some training rides to do. Am scared for 94.7 as my goal is huge.