The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time!
I was delighted to read this because over the last 2 years I have spent 969 hours on my bike covering a total of 24,361KM.
This started 2 years ago when I completed the Three Peaks Challenge down in Victoria. This is a one day ride covering 230km and climbing 3 big hills for a total days climbing of over 4,000m.
In 2013 I went over the “easy route”, because of fires on Mount Hotham, this year I was back there riding the proper course.
You have to complete the event in less than 13 hours to qualify for a finisher’s jersey. In 2013 I was happy just to get around as it was my first real attempt at climbing some serious mountains. This year I went gone down with the intent to go under 10 hours. This is significant because you get a special jersey telling the world this is what you have achieved.
I have always ridden my bike for the sheer pleasure and have enjoyed getting fitter and faster without the need to think about my performance in relation to times and average speeds. I am just happy to be out and about seeing the countryside.
When you target a time it all changes. The same thing happened when I ran my one and only marathon. I got a little too focused on a time and haven’t really run since due to the resulting knee operation I had to have.
So as this event got closer and the training intensified I was aware that a similar pattern was playing out. Being on my bike was no longer the escape that it used to be, with schedules and fitness to monitor it took on a bit of a different demeanour.
I am not sure if taking your bike back to the UK over Xmas counts as commitment or stupidity. I even took a turbo trainer with me and it didn’t register at the time that getting up in the dark at 6.30am on Christmas Eve, to sit in my sister’s garage for an hour, pedalling in the cold and listening to the rain was slightly bonkers.
Last Sunday I got to see if all the training was going to pay off. I had gone down to Falls Creek trusting that I had done enough work and to enjoy myself regardless of the result. If all went well then a sub 10 hour should be achievable.
So at 6.45am on Sunday morning I found myself waiting with 1,850 other for the day to start. Even though I have ridden my bike for nearly 4 years now I still feel a little out of place with the rest of the Lycra clad bunch. When I am riding on my own it feels very natural, riding with a group of people is a little more taxing for me as I have to concentrate. On a day like today, where working with others was going to be critical to get a good time, doing my own thing was not a good option. So I positioned myself in the middle of the 9-10 hour group with the intent of giving it a red hot go.
I can honestly say that for the next 9 hours, 6 minutes and 4 seconds I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There were times when it was tough, but no harder than other days on the bike, and all I could think about was how fortunate I was to be able to indulge myself like this. Even on the last climb of the day, which comes at 200km and is 9% for 9km, I just kept pedalling away knowing that it was going to flatten out at some stage, it always does.
My time was way beyond my expectations and puts me well inside the top 10% of finishers. This in itself is a bit of a surprise given I only ever consider myself as a keen, middle aged codger, who likes going out on his bike for a pootle around.
The weekend’s effort can be nicely summed up by a couple I met out on a training ride earlier this month. In their 50’s, she was a retired Iron Woman and he was an Ultra Marathon runner, their philosophy was simple, “The race is the reward for all the time you spend training”.
I loved their approach and adopted this mentality on Sunday, maybe that’s why it felt such a good use of my time.