The morning before the race, I did an early morning ride on my road bike and felt pretty good so was happy that I would be ok. At work I felt a bad twinge as I packed my laptop away but I ignored it. It was nothing. The trip to Parys was uneventful and the accommodation was quite nice. Dinner was a nice Spur steak and although nervous, I was confident I could do the race.
Race morning came and after a yummy breakfast of bacon and eggs, I was ready to roll!! The first but of the race was 100% roadie was it was 13km of tar. Then came the corrugation... Was so grateful for my dual sus at this stage!!! What had been bunches, suddenly became each individual for themselves as we all scuttled for some respite from the brain shattering corrugation. Those on 29ers headed for the sand, hard tails for the far edges and the dual sussers moved from semi smooth to smooth patches, weaving across the road like drunkards.
It was so awesome to be out there but it was hot!! But I had a plan: keep my buff around my neck and keep it wet. This plan worked like a dream and at Waterpoint 1 I had the kids there drench it with ice water. It didn't stay dry for long as at 8:45 it was closing in on 30 degrees but it did feel great!
At Waterpoint 2, a fellow rider and myself stopped for a quick break and a quick bite to eat. This is when things started going dodge. A few kms down the road, i felt nauseas and the lovely bar was discarded from my system. But, I still felt good so I kept going. This race was mine! Personally, after months of not racing hard, I was planning for this to be my last big race. But... It was not meant to be as not long after my energy bar moment, I started having issues keeping my water down. Alarm bells started going off in my stubborn brain and I was forced to come to my senses and accept that the race may be over. At about 35km I started feeling terrible and told a fellow cyclist I may have to pull out. This was such a hard decision and was insanely hard to tell my ride buddy. I just wanted to stop for a few minutes alone and have a moment of thinking but my ride buddy insisted on riding with me. I knew they wouldn't make cut off if I stopped so I kept going, trying to persuade them to leave me. The climb was hard!! I struggled to drink, I couldn't keep it down. I rode a few meters, then stopped. Rode a few meters and stopped. That was my strategy: ride as far as I could then recover, then repeat. All the while, my ride buddy rode patiently by me, encouraging me and double checking if I was sure I wanted to pull out. Sadly I knew I had no choice.
As we came up to the top of the main part of the climb, we came across a medic station. My ride buddy asked if there were medics at the waterpoint and I seem to recall him telling them of my situation. My bike was taken from me, the medics said I must stop at them and I gave my ride buddy my full bottles and I took his empty ones. I called my parents and told them I was pulling out. I was super upset!! I knew I couldn't ride on and knew I was not feeling great and not knowing why scared me! It wasn't the heat and wasn't dehydration because I was insanely careful of that. The medics gave me rehydrat and got me in the shade. They were really great to those of us at their station: a broken collarbone dude, a bee sting dude and some lazy folks. They gave me the option of waiting for the ambulance or taking the sweep vehicle. I opted to take the sweep which I knew would be the faster way back to Parys. It was entertaining being squished on a bakkie between bikes and people whilst the vehicle went high speed along nauseating corrugation. I did not feel great!!! We passed the half way point and I saw my ride bud. Made me feel horrid that I was not riding but happy that they had best cut off!
In Parys I reported to the medical tent and was given valoid and sent on my way. Spent the next few hours waiting for my lift back to the guesthouse. My friends all made it safely back to the finish and all looked great despite the distance, heat and bad roads. To Arête, Graham, Jarek and Zandi: you all rock!!! You survived one tough ride and looked stylish. Proud of all of you. To my friends who did the shorter rides, you guys and gals also did fab! Well done to all.
Anyway, after my visit to the medical tent, I let family and close friends know what was happening and tried to get my brain around my total failure. I was gutted!! I had pulled out of a ride....Back at the guesthouse, beers were opened and we all cleaned up and had a chilled afternoon before heading out for steaks.
Whilst at dinner a rather rude person from my complex phoned me and tried to complain about a decision my fellow trustees and I had made. She did not accept that I couldn't chat and got snotty with me. I ignored her and tried to enjoy the company and steaks. Was fun.
The next morning I did something insane. I got back on my bike for the 13km race. My idea was just to have a slow ride with a friend but young Andrea de Waal suggested I try ride with them! I thought she was insane but as we all rolled out, my legs wanted revenge on the day before and I kept looking back at my friend until they said I should go. I raced up to the sprogs in the front and cruised with them until the neutral zone was over. After that, I tried to hang on for as long as possible but those kids are fast!! I wanted one last glory ride to redeem myself for the day before so i watched my heart rate and made sure I was in the maximum zone without totally blowing up. It was insanely hard but it worked!! I got 21st or 22nd overall and 1st sub vet woman (ie first adult woman)!!!! I crossed the finish line knowing I had given my all. As I passed the medals table, an old friend greeted me but I was unable to speak due to exhaustion. I just lifted my hand in greeting. I exited the finish area and the De Waal family were there and offered me a pancake. It was the yummiest food I had had in ages.
By this stage I was in agony. My kidney felt like it was going to explode. I felt horrible. I waited for my ride bud to finish and we watched the half marathon winners come in before hitting the road back to Jozi. I will admit that I was not great company. I was miserable and sore but I had just won my category in a race. And I don't care how short the race was because I know that that was all I had I me. I could gladly hang up my race number board knowing I had redeemed myself.
The 2 races broke me and I knew it was time to admit that I am not super woman and that something was up and it is time to take some "me time" and workout what is going on.
Since then I have done one short ride and have been working on recovery. Next Sunday is the 94.7 Cycle Challenge which I am riding and I fully accept that I am going to have to take it nice and slow and just enjoy the day out.