What can I say about the Tour. It is a great course, but this year was incredibly hard. The weather was a big part of it, but my body was a bigger factor.
In the week leading up to the ride I got sick. It wasn’t a head cold, but rather I was lethargic, had a fever, bad headaches, couldn’t sleep well, and generally felt gross. By Friday I felt I was 100%, and on Saturday I felt ready for the ride.
Saturday I prepped everything for an early morning departure, including getting my fender installed on my bike again. However, when I woke up Sunday I wasn’t feeling 100% any more. I actually felt like I had another cold coming on. Before heading out the door for the ride I popped some cold meds and hoped for the best.
It was raining as I left, so I had dressed with tights, booties, and a vest with arm warmers. This is way more clothing that I had worn for any of my training rides, and I hoped it wasn’t overkill. I made my way to the start line, and immediately needed to use the can. Thankfully I made it back to my bike before everything started.
I was thirsty though, and I remember thinking that was odd since I had plenty to drink the day before. I kind of chalked it all up to nerves, though it was a different feeling than most cases of nerves I had felt.
We started off, and thankfully the rain had let up a little. The group motored out to Langford, and by the time we got to Ocean Boulevard, people had started to string out. By this time I had also downed half a bottle of water already too. As we ascended Ocean I could feel my legs weren’t as strong as most of the training rides I had done.
We continued on out into Metchosin, then hit Lombard, which was a nasty little climb, then Lindholm. Lindholm was an eye opener. My legs had nothing in them. The was less than 40KM into a 140KM ride and my legs were drained and tired. Not good.
I also realized at some point that I was behind on my nutrition already. Aargh. I was paying attention to how I was feeling and not watching the time. At the first aid station I filled up with water and quickly grabbed a few snacks. My goal of 5 hours was flying out the window, and I knew it. The weather was a factor in that, but so was I.
We remounted and continued on, passing the 100KM rider start. There was nobody there, so we zipped over to Atkins Rd. Last year I caught up to and passed a bunch of 100KM riders on Atkins. This year, it was eerily empty. My first 40KM I felt like we had a good speed, but somehow I must have been slower than last year.
We tackled Munn’s and I was seriously hating that hill. It is always a good challenge, but this day, in the wet it was awful. I was in a way lower gear, way earlier than normal. I was exerting myself too much on this hill. When we got to the last pitch I stood to try and grunt it out over the top, but my wheel started slipping on the wet pavement forcing me to stay seated. After the ride I looked up my Munns climb timed section and I was two minutes slower this year over last.
Ross Durance was brutal too. At one point I couldn’t make it up one of the hills, so I dropped to my granny ring (my bike has a triple ring setup). I hadn’t used the granny in years. I was beginning to feel very defeated. My spirits were dropping quickly. My legs were still feeling dead.
As we neared the Brentwood bay school aid station I realized I hadn’t seen Sue. I was a little concerned, but I was more concerned about me. Do I drop out and turn home, or do I continue. My legs were fine on the flat sections, but the hills were very difficult. At the aid station I took on more water and food, and made the decision. I had trained months for this event. Hours in the saddle away from family. Summer vacation was planned around when Sue and I could ride. I had to keep going.
I left the aid station and a few minutes later realized I had forgotten to pee. The long climb along West Saanich road wasn’t too bad since it was gradual so I kept going. As we got to the backside of the airport, the wind started to pick up. If it was windy there, it was going to be brutal on the Sydney side. Thankfully I was riding with two others and we could draft off each other.
We got to Wane rd, crossed the highway, and started heading back toward town. That was a good feeling, but looking at my watch I knew that I was way off the pace I wanted. We stopped again at the aid station and I check my text message to see if Sue had sent me anything. I got so distracted that I forgot to pee yet again.
As we were passing through Sydney I told the two guys I was riding with that I needed to stop. I told them to go on without me, and I reassured them I would be fine. I felt much better after I peed, but then I got into the really windy part. I quickly realized how foolish I was sending them on without me.
Somewhere during al this I kept getting sweat in my eyes. There was so much rain coming down that my helmet pads were releasing all the built up sweat and gunk in them, and it was running into my eyes. It was very painful, but also dangerous as this was happening on descents and I couldn’t see very well.
I soldiered on through the wind, through Cordova bay, then through Mount Doug. Turning onto Ash I faced my nemesis hill. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, and I knew that I would have a bit of time to recover after this hill. Three quarters of the way up my legs gave up on me an I had to get off and walk. Talk about killing my spirits.
Remounting I tried to keep my speed up, but then I noticed my bike computer was on the fritz. My speed was reading 0, yet my cadence was at 160 RPM. And my distance was glued to 107KM. Sigh.
On Arbutus I was going around once corner when all of a sudden my rear wheel hit a pothole hard. It gave me a big jolt, but it was quite eye opening. I hadn’t seen a thing, and imagine if my front wheel had hit it?
It seemed like I was OK, so I kept going. Through Cadboro bay, and up the hill to Beach drive I went. As I got onto Beach drive my back end felt a little off. Sure enough my tire was low. Likely a snakebite from that pothole. I figured it was pretty slow so I pulled over (right before the timed section start) and decided against replacing it, and instead chose to top it up with CO2. Fairly quick, but still difficult with cold wet hands.
I started the timed section and tried to do my best on it, but by the time I got to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, my tire was low again. I pulled over and knew I had to change it this time. I took off my soaking wet gloves and got out my tools. I struggled to get the tire off the rim, and it was because of the tube being stuck to the tire. My hands weren’t working all that well and I was starting to get down on myself.
Then a support vehicle pulled up. They asked if I needed some help, and I was all set to say no, but realized the folly in that. They were there to help, so I accepted. They jumped out with a floor pump, and in no time got the tire reseated, the tube inflated, checked the spin on the tire, put the wheel back on the bike, checked the brakes, and handed my bike back. Big thanks to those guys! I also realized that it wasn’t my glasses that were fogging up on me. There was something wrong with my right eye. Everything was foggy and hazy in that eye. A little disconcerting.
I was in the home stretch, but now I was really cold, and still soaking wet. I got past the golf course, and could see King George Terrace. The last big hill. Some friends had planned to watch from there, but with the weather the way it was, and with me being so much later than I had planned, I was sure they weren’t going to be there. When I got to the second ascent, I put my head down and powered up the hill. A wave of emotion hit me. I had gotten through all the hard bits and could now coast home. Head down still I glanced over and could see one of my friends cheering me on. It turned out that 5 people I knew were cheering from that spot. Those are my SuperFriends! Thanks guys.
Down the backside of King George I gathered the will to keep going. Ross Bay, Clover Point, Beacon Hill then downtown. Nothing could stop me from finishing. The sun had even come out at this point. Then I needed to pee again. Aaargh. I stopped at Beacon Hill Park, then made my way to the finish.
After I crossed the finish line I heard Sue call me. I was relieved she was OK. I was happy I finished, and had endured that, but was so bitterly disappointed in the day. Even now, a week later I am disappointed in how I fared. I grabbed my bag from the bag check and we got a little warmer. We went to go get in line for food and a beer, but we couldn’t do it. The line was huge and we were cold and wet. We gave someone our food and beer tickets and just headed for home. I wasn’t in a mood for celebrating anyway.
My official time was 6 hours eleven minutes, and my goal was to break 5 hours. My 2012 time was 5 hours 8 minutes.
View The Tour de Victoria 2013 in a larger map
View The Tour de Victoria 2013 in a larger map
Total distance: 141.60 km (88.0 mi)
Total time: 6:17:41
Moving time: 5:40:43
Average speed: 22.49 km/h (14.0 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 24.94 km/h (15.5 mi/h)
Max speed: 60.91 km/h (37.8 mi/h)
Average pace: 2:40 min/km (4:18 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 2:24 min/km (3:52 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 0:59 min/km (1:35 min/mi)
Max elevation: 250 m (820 ft)
Min elevation: -16 m (-53 ft)
Elevation gain: 1524 m (4998 ft)
Max grade: 19 %
Min grade: -17 %