As my first race as a Kiwi, first ‘race’ post Knee op, and first time on a start line in over ten months, there are several justified reasons for me feeling a little it nervous today.
It was a 15km time trial, and I was arriving on the start line as a cyclist, and member of cycling Southland, not actually as a triathlete. This made things quite different. I definitely felt like a ‘jack of all trades’ amongst hardy, established, proper cyclists. After all, I am in a cycling state, and home of the New Zealand elite track cycling team. Yes, there were several people wearing the silver fern suit. There were also several juniors that looked faster than me. One, in fact caught me and passed me within only a few minutes of starting!
Most people at this very popular local race organised by cycling southland, were actually doing the road race later as well! (i didn’t!) All the races locally seemed to be part of a points series. Riders were grouped into four divisions, and no, women and men do not compete separately! Although there were some TT bikes, they were many more road bikes, and very very few aero helmets. I decided not to wear it, or it would get me stared at, and I was doing my best to blend in! The bike alone was already getting me stared at!
The race organisers recognised my ‘unusual name’ when I introduced myself, he said he had noticed my name and wondered who on earth I was! As a brand new rider to local races he hadn’t put me on the start list because he didn’t know where to put me! I assured him I needed to go off somewhere near the front! (The faster riders go towards the end!)
I was placed in the beginning (the slowest end) of division 3, which didn’t amuse me! I wanted to be in division 4! A friend (who I know is a faster track cyclist than me at least!) was set off a few riders in front of me, this didn’t seem right! The riders were set off only 30 seconds apart. I had to stop worrying about everything else and just concentrate on my legs! I could see the rider in front down the road but I knew I wasn’t fit enough at the moment to be able to reign them in.
Whereas all TT races I have ever done were a standing start ‘held’ up on the start line, not here.
The young lad that was set off behind me caught me very quickly. When the course turned east at the end of the first road, that’s when the wind hit. It didn’t feel that strong, and I stayed on the aero bars almost all of the race, however the speedo was telling me this wind was taking more out of me than I had thought.
The other thing that was making it all a bit odd was the fact that it is winter. In the UK the time trials run by the local cycling club were only run in the summer months! Today was colder than it had been, drizzling with rain and a bit windy. So much so that I wore long cycling tights, and two layers of compression under my cycling jersey. I considered keeping my cycling coat on too!
The three junctions on the course that took you from and back to Tisbury school were well marshalled, with cones out to stop the traffic from colliding with cyclists joining the roads at the junctions. The second junction was a compulsory stop junction. Except, not like the UK when I would have been required to put a foot down, the Marshall stopped the oncoming car in the adjoining road and shouted for me to continue.
By now three cyclists had caught me. Not too bad, considering how many used to fly past me in a UK TT, which was started at 1 minute intervals! These Southland cyclists were not all specialist time triallists or triathletes, but they were not to be messed with all the same!
I predicted that it would take me about 27 mins and I think I was pretty much bang on. Not exactly pancake flat, windy at times, cold and a bit wet, but it did hurt a lot, and my exercise induced asthma started the moment I finished! That told me that I had worked my butt off, and it may well be the first time in a very long time that I had worked at such a high intensity for a longer amount of time!
All things considered, I was pleased with how it went, I expected it to be worse! The knee was absolutely fine, no pain at all. It was my lungs and heart that were in pain!
Official results: 27.04.2. 9th in division 3 and third lady in the division (although women and men aren’t listed separately, they do in fact compete together).