Completing the challenge!

I had many grand plans of doing extensive long hill rides and short interval sessions to get me into shape for the Fondo. I was also meant to stick strictly to my diet plan and lose all those post-holiday kilos that had stacked up. I was supposed to do a lot of things but in the end old habits die hard. So my training ended up being cycling to and from work 4 days a week (averaging a whole 22km/hr on a good day) and doing a cruisy weekend ride with my BUG. Not exactly the greatest prep. I also kind of failed a little on the diet front and when I started the race I was still a good 5kg heavier than earlier in the year. But that’s life, you can plan for a lot of things but sometimes you just have to take what you’re given and go for it. And that what I did.

The race

Tensions were definitely high on race day, luckily we were blessed with dry weather and the great ocean road was a beautiful site to see. Thousands of cyclists (5800) descended on Lorne an I don’t think I’ve ever see more lycra in my life. Like beautiful coloured birds people were whizzing around on their bikes full of energy. Being in the youngest age category I was up front surrounded by the fittest cyclist id ever seen. I was definitely starting to feel like the odd one out with my mountain bike cleats and short stumpy legs. I was a Pitbull in a field of greyhounds. Thankfully just before starting my co-ambassador Leonie found me and gave me a huge hug which definitely helped settle the nerves; although when getting off the bike I managed to clock two greyhounds with my foot and generally make myself look like something to be avoided.

The buzzer sounds and we’re off, being at the front end of the pack there was definitely some argy bargy going on, but because I knew the time segment wouldn’t begin for about 2km I wasn’t in a hurry to suck someone’s wheel and stack it. Which is exactly what happened within 500m of the start for a few rides.

The first stage of the race was fast… and I mean fast. I travelled the first 37km in an HOUR! And after checking out strava I managed to get a second place trophy for one of the segments, again insane because the QOM was a pro, and there was the pitbull! Although we were going fast it felt good, the ocean was amazing and picking up packs as they shot through was interesting to say the least. There was another major crash a few Kms in and looked pretty bad but I just kept going.

And then I got to the hill… and boy was it a hill. I decided early on that attacking something like this was just going to result in an early burn out so I just started churning away. One foot, two foot. This is where those extra 5kg were felt, but oh well, “just keep swimming”. I was passed by dozens of riders, and I didn’t care. They were amazing. On weekend rides its easy to get grumpy at yourself for letting people slip by you, but here it felt different. Here it seemed like everyone was going their hardest and you can’t begrudge anyone who decides 110km on a Sunday morning is a sane thing to do.

The top couldn’t come soon enough and once it did I was back in the game. I started making ground again, small hills, wind and tricky corners are my bread and butter on Sydney roads. I was hauling along the flats and got a few nice tows from a nice bunch of blokes.

And then the hills hit again.

I’m not going to lie, I did not really read the elevation map too closely and I had no idea of the climb ahead. The last 10km was climbing … again. And this time it hurt. You learnt quickly not to get too close to anyone as people were cramping left and right. Some women passed me shouting encouragement, “come on girls, lets show the boys” and with them I did, for a while, and then the legs just got tired and I retired to my slow spin.

To quote the comedy Kimmy Schmidt “you can stand anything for 10 seconds”

And that’s what the last 5kms came down to. I just counted in my head and kept my feet going. However like any good cyclist in a race (aka slightly insane) when I saw the 1km marker I started to speed up. And in the last 100m I was actually going above 10km/hr haha! The buzzer went and I was done.

During the flat part of the ride my back had started to hurt, I ignored it and at the moment of finishing that pain came back with a vengeance. I was also just out of water and realised I had managed to unzip both my jersey and gillet completely down to my navel. But I felt mighty! This Pitbull had done it. With little to no training I had crossed the line in good time.

So the figures:

Time: 3:49:56 (4 mins short of a UCI qualifying time)!

Place (age group/females): 25/ 65

Place overall: 1259/5800 (although that’s all the riders, not sure if that place includes them as well)

The race taught me a lot about myself, and im definitely going to have to have another go at it next year. Perhaps with a proper training regime I can actually make a qualifying time, who knows! So watch out world, ive caught a racing bug!

- Alanna