I had a race this afternoon that I wasn’t really up for. I’d spent the morning gardening with the kids – digging holes, weeding and chopping logs. After lunch I felt like what I needed was a cup of tea and a nap, not kitting up and heading off for 7 minutes of purgatory on the steep side of the Mendips. I’m getting too old for this sh!t.
It wasn’t quite as enjoyable as a cuppa, but a caffeine gel en route to HQ seemed to help my psyche. And once I’d pinned my number on and met a few friends and competitors I found my head.
Fortunately the weather was lovely, one advantage of an afternoon race was the increase in air temperature.
I last raced this hill in 2017 and remembered going way too deep on the easier lower slopes. My time was 7 mins and 5 seconds. So with two more races left this season, and both being considerably longer climbs, I committed to a properly paced effort today. And it worked. For the first 4 minutes I rode at a pace that felt a little too easy. And then as the gradient pitched up I gave it everything.
The final 30 seconds were pure hell but I wrestled the bike to the top in a time of 6:50, beating my previous best by 15 seconds. I usually spin for a couple of minutes to recover, but today I need to stop. I started off slumped over the bars hyperventilating for about 3 minutes. My breathing was rapid and slightly desperate! Then I laid down in the verge, so at least I got my nap.
I’m pleased I raced and also to have nailed a properly paced effort. Too often I start too hard and then slow down later. Today was a great lesson in pacing and saving enough energy to finish strong. But it must be time for that long-overdue sleep now …