number nine: tour de victoria

I’m a bit behind in my 52 posts…not surprising given my track record. I do have 9 or 10 posts from Greece that I intend to publish, but I’ve been waiting for Greg to take a look at the comments on this site to see if he can get them working again. Because really, what’s the point of posting if you can’t get comments?! We’ve also talked about changing blogging software (I have other issues besides the comments, namely I find it really hard to post pictures with Drupal), but porting all my content over seems to be an issue. So I’m also toying with switching to something else and starting fresh, while maintaining my old content online so I can link to it and read it.

So, just a bit of an administrative update. While I ponder my options, I’ll post by Tour de Victoria write-up here, and try to imagine all the comments I would have got if things were working.

UPDATE: Apparently you can comment if you log in…so if you’ve got the urge, please do!

The ride was on September 22. For those of you who weren’t out riding or cheering that day, you probably don’t remember what the weather was like. It rained. A lot. And it was windy in Sidney. Very windy.

Actually let me back up a bit. As I noted earlier, my knee had been giving me some grief during my training. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and had pretty much decided to start the 140 km and just see how far I got, but during my last training ride I realized that idea sucked, because in all likelihood I wasn’t going to be able to finish, and then I’d be quitting and I’d feel crappy. So instead I switched to the 100 km distance, feeling pretty confident that I would finish. I still felt disappointed that I wasn’t doing the longer distance, but 100 km isn’t half bad.

The forecast was looking grim all week, and sure enough we woke up to rain. But thankfully just a light rain, and as I drove to the start line in Langford it remained light. I debated whether to wear my booties, and when I got out there I took a look at what other people were wearing and decided to wear them since at least half of the other racers were. Very good decision.

We started on time, with Ryder Hesjedal leading the way. Still just light rain, but the roads were slick. As we made our way out to Munns it started raining harder, but I was going uphill and was actually quite hot. Hot enough to unzip my jacket all the way. But as I got nearer to the top I realized I was going to freeze my butt off if I kept it open for the downhill, and there was no way I was stopping at the top of Munns with the other 100+ riders who stop there, so I quickly pulled over and rezipped.

Munns didn’t seem too bad (although I have to admit that my recollection may be off, it was a few weeks ago!). I did a good portion of the climb with a woman who had a hernia, so even in my wet state I knew things could be much worse. I was also bolstered by the people who were from out of town complaining about (and walking up) the hills. At no point did I feel like I needed to walk.

Going down was a bit slower than usual for me because of the wet roads, and I got thoroughly soaked and muddy due to my lack of fenders. Ross Durrance Road was a bit tricky because it’s narrow and people were riding in the middle of the road, slowly, and I was getting frustrated. I finally was able to pass a few people and go at my own pace, and I continued on for quite a while fairly comfortably. My knee wasn’t hurting and I was warm enough. As I got closer to Sidney, though, it started raining harder, and as we moved from one side of the peninsula to the other, the wind hit. HARD. I actually started laughing because I’ve never ridden in such terrible conditions, and here I was paying money to do it.

At this point too I was worried about Greg. The previous year he had passed me on Munns, and here I was 50 km into the race and he still hadn’t passed me. I took my phone out a couple of times to see if he had texted me, but nothing. I was a bit too tired, wet and cold to put too much emotional energy into it, and I did figure if something terrible had happened they would have phoned me. So I plodded on. The stretch from Wain Road to the top of Ash was by far the worst weather-wise. I still can’t believe I rode through such a mess.

As I rode along Mt. Doug Parkway, one of Greg’s riding partners passed me and gave me an update: Greg was having a crappy ride and was 5 to 10 minutes back. He and I rode for a few minutes together which was a nice diversion, and the timing was good because it was right before Ash and it prevented my from dwelling on my least favourite hill. I felt terrible for Greg, but I also hoped he’d catch up with me so we could ride the rest of the race together. And I was relieved to know he hadn’t crashed.

I made it up Ash thanks to all the cheerleaders on the sidelines, and once at the top realized that the worst was over. I was also hanging on to the fact that a couple of friends might be waiting for me on King George Terrace. I wasn’t sure if the weather would keep them away, but they are pretty diehard so I was hoping for the best.

Getting through Uplands seemed long, and I had realized by then there was no way I was beating my time from last year, but I also realized that I was far enough along that I would finish, and given the awful conditions I felt pretty darn good about myself.

As I climbed the first hill on King George Terrace, I saw a cardboard sign referencing cowbells that made me pretty sure my friends would be waiting for me on the next hill. Sure enough, they were there with cowbells, loud voices and additional friends that I didn’t realized were coming out. I rode over to them and had a quick stop and a hug, and then headed downhill to the home stretch feeling encouraged. As I made my way to the inner harbour I kept hoping Greg would catch up to me, but I crossed the finish line on my own. Soaking wet, freezing cold, and grinning.

Greg came across about 15 minutes later, unfortunately feeling pretty down, and we ended up going home instead of taking part in any post-race festivities. This was fine by me because I was beyond cold and we still had to ride home. The shower that followed was the best part of my day! Greg and I ended up going out for a burger and beer together once we were warmed up, and even though Greg was feeling so discouraged he was good company and it was a really nice way to wrap up the ride.

As for what’s next…not sure yet! Stay tuned.