I went into this year with a simple mission - ride to the best of my ability and get on the podium.
Silver medal for my Category, and 12th woman overall in the biggest women's field ever for any 24 hour, anywhere in the world. 320km is a record for me. 8000mtrs of ascent is another kick ass milestone.
I was part of the top rider call up at the start, which saw me intro'd to the audience with a line up in the first row, on the line. No more hiding up the back! Little did I know, the first test was just around the corner. For some reason organisers decided to move a section of bikes AFTER riders had racked them and been corralled. Yes, they moved my bike. And not a little bit. It was moved to the opposite side, and about 100mtrs up - effectively making it impossible to find at the end of the Le Mans start. Thank you to which ever marshall thought that was a fair and appropriate thing to do. Needless to say, despite being the first woman through, I quickly ended up about 3/4s of the way back through the field as I ran up and down trying to find where my bike had been moved to. It also meant my first lap was a painfully slow, traffic blocked affair. I focused on keeping my head straight and got on with it.
It was not an uneventful race, and the course was tough enough that I think most riders would have been truely tested. Some big names certainly cracked. I had some nausea issues - who didn't! While my race this year did contain a crash or two - damage was contained to me and not my machines (Xrays are clear!!) I think the main difference is that there was nothing that was going to stop me riding on. Not pain, not fatigue, not the feeling of not riding fast enough or being good enough to bother.
It was not so long ago I would have found myself walking a lot of that course. This year I was riding. I may not be the technically fastest yet, but for now I am enjoying the improvements I have worked hard for and know I will continue to improve.
The hardest thing in this race was chasing. I don't mean not being in first place, I mean aggressively getting up yourself to hit the pedals and try and catch someone. It is one thing to do a 24hr and hang in there for the allotted time and see what happens. It is quite another thing to have your crew tell you every lap that you need to ride faster when mentally you are wondering where you are going to even pull the energy to complete another lap, period! That is a step up in the head case games, let me tell you. Still, I had all these people who had travelled to help me, and my family at home who have put up with my training so I didn't have to look far for motivation to push on.
Well done to Jacqui K who held out for a 14min lead. I never managed to lock on to a visual of you on the course, with you always just a couple of minutes up the road. Apparently I need to drink more red bull, though really I think it is as simple as you were faster on the day!
Thank you to all the people that stayed up shouting at their computers! Thanks to my awesome crew, Prof, Shan, Alex and Christa for giving up your time, energy and sleep and keeping me rolling! Even Ty Powell got in there holding my food for me, thanks kiddo!
Thanks to Steve at u-turn fitness for keeping my strength and fitness on the up and up.
Also - how good are my bikes?!?!? Thanks Shannon at Koiled.
Shannon, you need to teach me to ride around a corner. You've got a month. :)