TransRockies Day 1

So that’s Day 1 of TransRockies 2011 done…just 6 more to go. And I’ve got to say, if the rest of the days are as hard as today, I’m in big trouble…worryingly, today was the shortest day of the 7!
Today was time trial day…no mass start, instead riders going off at 1 minute intervals, with the start time depending on where you think you’re going to finish in the overall standings. Basically the fast ones start early, the slow ones start late…we had a start time of 10:56, so had plenty of time to fettle, hydrate, hang out and generally get more and more nervous as the morning wore on!
At about 10:45 our number was called, and we shuffled nervously towards the start…then our 10 second countdown, and we were off!

And it all started so well!

The thing about having people starting at 1 minute intervals is that you have a target…catch the people who started 1 min ahead of you and stop the people who started after you catching you. Within about 5km, we caught and passed two guys who started ahead of us, and I was feeling OK. Then the wheels fell off…or my legs…or both (not literally, tho’ there were times when I wished they would, and I could have got this whole crazy race over and done with). I was really struggling – it really was a punishing climb – the 500m ascent over 8.5km was just killing me. My heart rate was through the roof, way over what I can sustain for any distance and my legs felt dead. I couldn’t even ride in a straight line! The two guys we passed earlier cruised pass, then another team…and another …and another.

I was dead…Mark was doing all he could to encourage me, but I was having very dark thoughts – was my training all wrong? Where had my fitness gone? How the heck I could do 7 days of this crap when I couldn’t even finish one?? After about 3 days of climbing, we crested the top…Mark tells me it was a great view…sorry, no pictures – I couldn’t see ‘cos my eyeballs were bleeding. Thankfully, we then had about a 3.5km descent dropping down nearly the full 500m we’d just gained…pretty tough and techie at the top, then easing into lovely rolling singletrack.

I couldn’t believe it had taken us 1.5hrs to get to the first checkpoint, only 10km in…I had visions of us being out there for 4-5 hours on what was supposed to be a relatively short day. It did get a bit easier after that…more short sharp climbs, but lots of rolling, fun singletrack…and I even started to enjoy it! (I did have to stop to let some guy pass who had the loudest bear bell in the world on his bike…it was either let him pass or kill him!!) The second checkpoint seemed to come up pretty quickly, and then it was fast (ish) rolling singletrack (with the inevitable nasty little climbs), all the way home.
We crossed the line in 3:23 (the winner finished in 1:48!!!!) – average speed 10kph…average heart rate – 157!!!  It’s nice to finish early…lots of time to recover, re-hydrate (it was very hot out there today) and rest, ready for Day 2 – 52km, 2000m of ascent – I guess 5+ hours.

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