Tour Diary: Day 5

Methven to Oxford

Here’s a story from back in the day. When I was in Form 1 at school, so I guess about 12 years old, I got my first girlfriend. Her name was Kelly and we had quite the long term relationship. It spanned the Christmas holidays so it lasted several months. When I say “relationship” I mean “we occasionally talked to each other at school and went to a couple of Blue Light Discos”. The time came when I knew it was time to end things. I was a wild Stallion and needed to roam free. Besides, I’d heard a rumor she was going to dump me and I needed to get in first. She was sitting with a circle of friends and I strutted – actually STRUTTED – up to the group and said “Hey Kelly, you’re dumped. See ya later babe” and strutted away – never looking back. Nailed it. There was no doubting who was the dumpee and who was the dumper.

If you happen to run into 12 year old me, please punch him in the nuts.

Which brings me to today’s ride. I got dumped. Hard. There was no doubt who was the dumpee today. Yours truly. Here’s how it played out….

Today was the first day where I woke up and had a small sense of ‘here we go again’. My body actually feels pretty good but it’s more the grind of getting up every morning, getting sorted quickly, get to the start line and turn myself inside out for a few hours that’s starting to wear a little. I’m not complaining, this week has been amazing, but the difficulty and the challenge is starting to catch up with me for sure.

Lining up for the start

My mission today was to survive the first 20k’s intact. The rest of the stage was gravy but that opening section was going to hurt. See that dip between the 10k and 20k mark? That’s where it all goes down. We set out into the driving rain and as soon as we started I could feel how heavy my legs were becoming. This didn’t bode well. My only real hope was to be able to get that dip and hit the descent really hard and try to get a gap on the group. That way I’d get through the next climb and rejoin them as they caught me on the way back up. It wasn’t to be. The roads were so wet and greasy and the bunch was so nervous there was just no way I could get to the front and get away safely. So I hit the climb with the bunch and was dropped about halfway up. Going over the top the bunch had about 15 seconds on me but there is just no way in hell a lone rider will catch a motivated bunch on a downhill run. I was dropped along with another Team Arise rider called Josh so we lapped out the next 30ks alone and waited for the next group to catch us. They came along around the 50k mark and we hopped on the back as they went past. I was pretty bummed out about how things had gone down but started to hatch a plan to try and redeem the day.

Young Josh fancies himself as having a bit of a sprint on him, so at the 5k to go mark, I rolled up next to him and told him to get on my wheel and follow me up. The pace always winds up considerably on the approach to the finish and the bunch was spread out in a long line. We worked our way toward the front of the group and I positioned myself about 4 riders from the lead and then spent the rest of the approach fighting to maintain that spot. It was the perfect position for Josh to launch from when we were a few hundred meters from the finish. We still had about 3ks to go and the first guy had a lunge off the front. Too soon mate. We reeled him back in no worries. Then another guy went and we did the same thing. Guys were coming forward trying to get in position so we had to fight to maintain our place. 1k to go. People are twitchy and waiting for someone to launch. I’m holding Josh in position but it’s too soon to go. My legs are really burning now. 500 meters to go. A half hearted move fades quickly and the rider drops away. I reckon 300 meters is about right but someone launches just before that. Josh leaps out from behind my wheel to chase him down and I lose sight of him. Time for me to go too. I get out of the saddle and jump up the inside line, get around a couple of guys and hit the line.

A mad sprint to take 58th place overall. Not all heroes wear capes.

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