Testing the Arms and Legs

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After pumping up two very flat tyres on the road bike following four months of storage, I headed off to try out my new GPS Contour Camera on a ride out to the airport and back, thinking I could do a nice easy 40-45km to see how the legs held up on the bigger gears of the road bike, but 35 minutes into the ride I discovered that even at Standard Definition a 2GB Micro SD card will only last … well 35 minutes.

So I switched the camera off and decided to follow what I thought was the “50km” Big Ride Route instead, except I didn’t realise that the 50km route didn’t do the circuit around the airport, so my ride ended up being closer to 70kms.

Although very saddle sore at the end of the ride (3+ hrs on the bike) I was really pleased that I had the legs to get up Grass-tree hill, and all up I was very happy with the days effort.  It gives me a base from which to dream …

Today (Sunday), I headed down to Huonville to compete in the Derwent Cane Club Huon Winter Series Race.  They bumped the distance up to 15kms for this race, and like last time I pretty much got left behind at the start line  (really got to lose weight and build up fitness) and from there it was just a matter of keeping up a tempo.

The race had four seasons in one day from bright, blinding sunshine right through to swooping wind squalls and near torrential rain, but overall the conditions were kinder than the previous race (ie. no persistent headwind) allowing me to average 9.6km/hr as against 9.0kms/hr in Race 2 despite the extra distance.

Only real achievement for the day was on the way back, just after coming out of the canal at Franklin, I started the chase for two paddlers about 100 metres in front of me, but after 3 or 4 kilometres I conceded that I just couldn’t reel them in.  I had never got closer than about 60 metres.
Then as I got past the end of the Island, I recalled watching Paula Findlay’s last race on television this week, and Jill Homer’s recent blog on the need to push through the pain and thought “bugger it” there’s only 2km to go – CHASE.  I stepped up the tempo, and chased.  I chanted to myself as each stroke cut into the water.  I didn’t go for technique or rhythm, I just went for forward movement.  I chased through the pain of a forming blister, I chased through arm and back fatigue and slowly, oh so slowly, I started to reel them in, metre by metre, foot by foot I reeled them in.
It was only at the last corner, probably 400 metres from the finish, that I finally caught and passed the guy in front of me, then I gave everything I had for the next 100 metres and just got onto the back of the front paddler, but unfortunately I then hit the side of my boat with my paddle, alerting him to my presence and being much fresher than me, he was able to sprint over the line and beat me by six seconds.
I still finished in 1:32:04 and as I say, very pleased with the 9.6km/hr pace.  More importantly, I was on a high from the chase.  I’m sure I was meant to be a dog in this life (happiness found through chasing things).
What I learnt today was that determination and grunt can take you a lot further than you think, but ultimately without the fitness that comes from training, sometimes it just can’t take you quite far enough.

Sometimes all you get for the effort is a blister.

Still, a good weekend.  A very good weekend.

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