Recently I gave an account of my ride at this year’s Giro Della Donna, in Warburton, Victoria. Whilst I did very well, I was still pretty disappointed in my performance. I mentioned that I didn’t have any excuses for not quite nailing my goal, but with a solid block of training coming into the event, I feel that a couple of things went wrong. Caution – big whinge coming.
I live in Darwin, it’s a small city, with limited roads to train on, and they are basically all very flat. Sometimes the road tilts up at 2% for a while – and this can certainly be enough to make your legs sting, but the course of the Giro Della Donna included 2700m of climbing. The first climb took me over 40 minutes, and was certainly a fast time… this isn’t easily to simulate in Darwin. I’ve been training to build power, to resist lactate build up, and to push through pain barriers. This was certainly useful up Reefton Spur, but I found that I felt inefficient. Watching the other quick riders in that front bunch, the majority didn’t look laboured in their riding style. It felt as though I was chewing up a bit too much oxygen keeping myself at a decent power level – rather than riding smoothly, I was mashing on the pedals. Frustratingly, whenever the route flattened out, riding at threshold was far less difficult. Climbers train on climbs, and towards the end of my trip in Melbourne, once I had mostly recovered, I started to feel smooth again uphill… Too little, too late.
Whinge two. I was pretty crook in the lead up to the event. Whilst I had basically recovered from a cold/respiratory problems a week or so before the event, I was still hacking up phlegm until a few days afterwards. The colder air in Victoria seemed to irritate it a bit, and I didn’t feel nearly as well as I did going into say the Mitchell St criterium, where I had far less training under the belt. It was genuinely frustrating to basically sit around for a 2-3 week period when I really wanted to be smashing out some good sessions on the bike. Instead, I felt I had a taper week of pushing the legs far too much in an effort to waking them back up. It was outside of my control, but I think I did a good job of staying pretty positive and managing the illness well, by resting up and not trying to push myself. Unfortunately, I also lost a lot of confidence going into the Giro, and rather than feeling ready to let rip, I was keen just to get it over and done with. Much of my excitement had evaporated, and on the morning of the event, I didn’t have the right mindset to stay up the front.
It’d be a bit rich to say that I could have done better, because regardless of the circumstances, I feel there are always things to improve on. Above all else, I’m taking much away from the fondo. I had an opportunity to ride with some exceptionally strong cyclists, and on a course that, I was surely much less prepared for than they. Staying calm and patient is something I need to work on more and I am keen to keep up the training. Matt has still been coaching me, but we’ve both had interruptions that haven’t allowed for either of us to make the most of our potential as coach and athlete (I don’t think I’ve ever called myself an athlete before, by the way). I’ll find something else to enter, and I hope that my focus remains in check until the end of that race.