Monday, 22 August 2011

Da Cooley Thriller, not my cup of tea

Not for me. As simple as that.
50 km of long draggy climbs and some rocky descents where one could just throw himself/herself down and get to the bottom in more or less one piece. A test for fitness more than anything else. I don’t mind climbs as long as they lead to interesting and technical singletracks, in lack of these however I felt I was pointlessly cycling around a mountain for hours. Why, oh why?! Just a few weeks ago, at Bontrager, I did 180% of the Thriller’s distance and if I could I would have done it again straightaway. Here, after maybe two hours, all I wanted was to go home.
First 1/3 of the course was mainly on a road, and mainly climb, but since it was leading me up, it would certainly bring me down so in anticipation of fun on singletracks I patiently pushed pedals for over an hour, chatting with Wendy Barry, admiring stunning views and ignoring sweat, the distance and moaning of other cyclist letting their steam off. At the first feed station Aine was waiting for me with bottles, food and words of encouragement. After that it was one more climb to the aerials and then… well, that was the top of the mountain which could mean only one thing: downhill!! Now, that was fun. Narrow sheep tracks winding between bathed in sunlight purple heather, rocks here and there, a few stream crossings, stone walls and sheep themselves, bleating at us. But that was more or less it. End of fun, beginning of dragging myself along the course. And somehow, with 200 people all over the mountain, I managed to cycle a good part of that alone. Bored, tired, disheartened. By the time I got to very last section, presumably a great singletrack, I was too tired to enjoy it. And the tiredness was more mental than physical (well, my body was in great form the next day). Chatting with other bikers afterwards I said I’d enjoyed 10 minutes of that in total, now looking back at it I think it might have been 30.
Maybe it just wasn’t my day. Maybe it just wasn’t my type of a course. What I will try to remember are the views: a hot sunny day with a cloudless sky, open mountains, calm sea, purple heather, yellow flowers, white sheep everywhere, and biking around it all… Yes, this is a good memory.  In retrospect, as days pass by, the race looks better and better.

PS Having said all that, I must admit that the race was a great experience for anybody who likes that kind of stuff. The organisation was good, the course was well-marked, beginning with a short loop around Carlingford's streets was a great idea (I wish more races began like that!) and food and showers after the race could make one's day. And a T-shirt on top of that was a nice bonus.

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