Saturday, June 13, 2015

Time to Face the Demon......

4:30am.....always so bloody hard to get my head around. But , surprise, I was awake and getting out of bed. Dragging my cycle kit on under heat lamps in the bathroom (not nearly cold enough to warrant the excessive drain of electricity) before trudging into the kitchen to scramble up some breaky. Always a fav, oats, raspberries, Greek yoghurt and homemade Granola. Sugar free!

Yes, today was the day. It was time to face the demon! My nemesis, the one that kicked me and left me beaten... Bald Hill and Garrie. SOOO DRAMATIC SAMMI! Yeah, just a little over the top. But last time I was up North it was a very different story. Negative thoughts, self imposed pressure, anxiety attack, sore limbs and a list of excuses a mile long. NONE of which was REAL! Well it felt bloody real at the time, mind.

Big Gazza was coming along as Wingman. I love that man. So patient and always ready to slap me when the dramatics start. 

My main Wingman and #1 fan

The gathering at Coach's place was kept to a whisper with Ava and Megs still yet to wake up. A quick chat about sticking to the program provided by Coach which would prevent an awkward conversation, or rather confession, as one of our own had just discovered when they had gone on an 'off program' ride and fell off during the ride. Not only having to confess that they had fallen but having to book physio treatment with him as well.

The Crew headed off into the dark. I felt ok, but I didn't want to blow up and get caught up in the head game of keeping up with the other girls. When we hit the hills I told them to go ahead and then Gaz and I stopped to give them some distance. I needed my own space and not be pressured. I took advantage of the break with a strip down of the winter gloves and a quick Gram shot. With the girls some way down the road, I relaxed heaps and found my own pace and rhythm. I cruised along, Gaz chatting away behind me. It would have been such a slow speed for him. It was a gorgeous morning, warm and the sea was smooth and flat. Perfect for whale watching. But no chance today. Bike ride first. Riding along the Sea Cliff Bridge was just amazing. There is never a time that the road along the bridge doesn't take your breath away.

Internet shot of the Sea Cliff Bridge
The road continued up some short pinchy climbs before the big one loomed ahead. Bald Hill, always a struggle. It used to be at least doable once. Riding weekly up North with the Crew was great for strength and hill climbing and so Bald Hill was once 'easy.' I was also fitter and stronger. But when you haven't climbed it for a while, it takes a lot of out of you. I felt better when on our way home we ran into our friend Chris who also said how long it had been since he had been so far North and how hard the climb had been.

The entire way up the hill I focused on my breathing and not on how far I still had to climb. I counted 10 pedal circles on my right foot standing, 10 pedal circles sitting. Repeat. I kept my mind calm and Gaz was happy toodaling along behind me. Normally he would overtake me and go up in twice the time I would take. He knew it would add pressure if he did, so he sat patiently behind me and occasionally gave encouraging comments. Pft, ya have to ask. What was all the bloody drama about Sammi? You have done this ride and climb so many times. Its a mental game and today I played a smart game, staying calm, focused and unpressured.

Top of the Hill. And undefeated

So we made it to the top. No demons, no anxiety attack, funny that. The girls were at the top. I was surprised. We hadn't let them get as far ahead as I had thought. They headed on down the road towards Garrie and Gaz and I stopped to admire the view, catch our breath and take a quick comfort stop. Oh and of course another Gram shot to act as evidence that I had made it and also to remind myself of a good time when we climbed the hill.

The rest of the ride went fairly uneventful. I continued past the spot where I had turned back the previous ride and continued on to Garrie. Again we found the girls having a break at Garrie and the turn around point. Again, not too far ahead of us. I was still happy that I hadn't ridden with them though. No pressure!

Gazza and I had a quick break, fuelled up on a banana and an energy bar. A whopping 5 teaspoons of sugar in that bad boy! yikes. I think I would have burned it off during the ride though, but my gallbladder later in  the ride, right up under my diaphragm was giving out a strong cramping feeling. We headed home. Descended into the valley at a wicked speed and then climbed slowly back up out of the Park, returning to Bald Hill where we stumbled upon Chris doing a solo ride. He joined us for the 22kms back home and I tucked in behind him as he set the pace. He rode at my usual speed and I was worked hard again. Back in my normal pace and with every mile away from the hill and closer to home the legs got stronger and stronger. Funny that!

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