My Pre - Centurion ride.
My coaches Ed Veal and Mike Mandel had asked me to do the Centurion Ride for 2012, but I knew I did not have the kilometres in my legs for such an event but definitely would attend the "PRE-Centurion" ride held a week before with them. I never went beyond the 120km mark in my life and this would be a good test for me. It was a nervous end of the week building up to that morning. I met up with the group early Sunday morning and we headed off. Here's how it unfolded from my perspective.
I just haven't figured out why I'm not entirely gung ho happy with my pre Centurion ride. I tried to take the positive out of it, but am struggling with it. I've reached a new limit in myself, yes, but part of me is still gutted at the experience. The Centurion ride took me to another level and gave me a greater understanding of my thresholds, and I learnt even more about my body, my recovery and my future in this sport. I honestly think, this time NEXT YEAR , I will be a different rider. I was astounded at how much I was fighting with my mind and my body.
From the 90k mark, I was literally fighting HUGELY with my mind versus my legs. I began to cramp really badly. I can't believe how much my body was pulling from the resources. From water to food. I was going back and forth with this inner conflict of trying to block out the pain. I honestly did not think I could block out the pain for that long ??? And I recovered from the cramping. I managed to block out that pain and continue. More fighting to grab that wheel. More concentration of focusing on the echelon formations. I could hear my coach Ed Veal barking orders about grabbing that wheel, paying attention to the echelon and the wind direction. It was hard enough trying to concentrate on my body's suffering and now I had to block that out to shield myself from the wind. More drinkning and eating regularly helped me recover. But the mind games I was playing was like an 1800's Civil War battlefield and the battlefield got more intense. I guess the Civil War thoughts came from seeing the old barns and old houses along the route. This inner battle continued right until the 20km remaining mark.
With 20kms remaining, we stopped at the stop sign and my coach mentioned the car support would be gone at this point. My mind was really struggling with decision. I looked down at my Garmin with 20kms remaining, after we stopped at this stop sign. It read 175km.Wow! The most km's I've ever ridden on a bike. But I can go on ?????? Fuck it , I have to go on ! Damn it have to go on !!!! I don't spend all this time riding every day to stop here ????? There was a Hungarian chap who was far behind me. He and Mike spoke and he got into the car. I was not going down like that. I had one more fight in me! I had one more 1800's Civil war battle to fight !. On the other hand, what the hell was I thinking I could continue ??? The pain coming down my thighs, my inner thighs, my calves, my soreness in my hands, my forearms, my triceps, my neck was unbearable. Now with all that. Was I f**cking crazy ??? Was it a dumb move ??? I don't know ? Its something I will be thinking and debating for months to come for sure.
So of course, Simon takes a huge DEEP DIVE into a PAIN CAVE he never went to before. How stupid can he be ??? And I exploded into pieces on the battlefield this time. My body felt like I was shattered into pieces. Like a civil war soldier who got out numbered three to one. I got this image of someone sticking a bayonet in my thigh, then another one in my hamstring, then a final bayonet in my inner thigh. This was a pain cave visit I have never been to and man was it ever the most brutal to endure. I kept saying to myself, I recovered from bad cramping, I can do this.. I recovered from bad cramping I can do this.. etc. etc.. But my hamstrings just barked back along with my thighs and I could not even turn a pedal over. I couldn't believe it ??? Nothing registering down there ?? So I said, "Okay, let's try this again ?? Boom , Ouch! nothing.. Okay.. let's try this again Boom ! nothing!! Even more pain.. I had drank a TON of more water leading up to this. Why can't i block out the pain now ????
Was I emptying an already empty tank ? I had nothing within 1-2 kms in of the remaining 20kms. I waved the car. I just couldn't block out the pain this time. I sat in the car next to the Hungarian, and hid my feelings, I was gutted. I failed again just like in Spain. Of course my body is loving it, as a huge relief overcame me physically, but my mind woud not let go how downtrodden I felt. The pain had stopped. But I was gutted, just gutted. I hate that feeling. I will debate if it was stupid move or not, in the months and years to come no doubt. The remaining 20km were filled with heavy winds and rolling hills. So it wasn't an easy ride back to basecamp.
My mind took me well beyond the realms of my body as I kept asking more and more from my body. Yes, an accomplishment and a personal best. But big deal ? I still couldn't finish the ride in the end ? I felt gutted and it wasn't a pleasant drive home as I had a hard time dealing with finishing in the car once again and it hasn't been a good day thinking about it. But time will heal the wounds and I will rise from the battlefield and pick up the pieces of my broken mind and body and will test it again. Am I happy ? No, as I didn't finish the ride with the group. If I was happy about it, that would mean I'm okay with finishing 2nd . or 3rd, or 4th but I"m not complacent. To me I failed and I will now work towards better results. I let and old lady with the "yappy annoying mouth" beat me. GRRrrr.!!!! It has been another eye opening experience and I will continue to see what 2013 will bring.
As a result I'm filled with a million thoughts and emotions.. Anytime I pull my right leg back while sitting in my chair , I have a fear in the back of my mind, of that "bubble" cramp is going to appear. I do know that I got knocked down, I came up back swinging. I got knocked down again, hard this time, but I'll come back swinging. Just need some more time to deal with it.. The next time though, I'll be planning on delivering the Real Deal Knockout blow. Its coming.. stay tuned..
I am so happy to see Alberto Contador win his home race. The Vuelta has by far been the most exciting tour this 2012 season. The relentless attacking by Contador made for a great Vuelta. I honestly thought like many people, that Rodriguez would still win. After all, Rodriguez was hungry for a grand tour victory as he let his Giro slip away to Ryder Hesjedal.
In stage 3 I thought Contador's relentless attacking was a bit much. He was trying to rid himself of Chris Froome. However, in the forthcoming days, Froome did crack and continued to crack on every summit finish. I felt sorry for Froome. The man who nursed Wiggo up every mountain pass to Bradley's boring tour win was left with nothing but more suffering once again.
Froome's demise, would prove a new threat to the red jersy, Joaquim Rodriguez.
But on stage 17 to Fuente Dé, Rodriguez’s lead dissolved after he and his team totally collapsed. I could not believe it ? Contador in a 51 kilometre long-distance attack obliterate Rodriguez' lead and took over the red jersey. This has to go down as one of the most memorable attacks in recent Grand Tour history. Nobody expected it, it was not really planned, but on a stage that seemed designed for a boring breakaway to succeed, Contador turned the race upside down ! In doing so, he clinched the stage win and the lead.
The Vuelta had some killer climbs. Bolla del Mundo , resort of Jaca, and the Collada de la Gallina which saw the mountain climbs at 20-25%. Unbelievable. Makes me want to go back to Spain.
A great , great race.