Saturday, 31 October 2009

2009 Kuaotunu 2 (K2): Ouch, I feel broken now

 

Last year I bent a chain-link on the first hill in this event. In 2009 I was sure I could do better and get that PB. I started strongly (for me) but couldn’t say so much for the rest of event :>. This is a very hard and torturous course with all ample climbing that brings awesome scenery with it. I rate this as the best organised and marshalled event that I have entered.

 

in a nutshell everything is perfect aside from the fact that I am no good at it. 

 

Broken me, was 8 seconds quicker than I was last year when I bent a link in my chain. Lets call it work in progress :). I think that even for slow climbing me, sub-8 hours is achievable. That said, I am still a long way from that! My average speeds are well down on my PB’s in most events at the moment and something I need to prioritise rectifying!

 

Ride Data:
Distance: 185.01km 8,919 Calories
Time: 9:37:32* (New PB by 8 seconds) 19.2 km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 2,559m Descent: 2558m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player MapMyRide
Location: Whitianga, NZ 31 October 2009

With the annual town rotation in this well organised event, the 2009 edition started from Whitianga.  Undoubtedly the hardest quarter of the event with three categorised hills over this 43km on the way to Coromandel Town:

  • Kuaotuna (150m, category 2)
  • Myundermans (145m, category 1)
  • Whangapoua (380m, Hors Categorie)

There was a nasty looking crash that was being cleaned up by St John on the descent of the category 2 Kuaotuna Hill. It is never to nice to see riders off their bikes and spread over the terrain - especially this early in an event.

 

Even with all this climbing I did manage to find myself riding mostly with riders in the group that started just ahead of me. I was very happy to be passing through Coromandel Town in about 1:52. Some 28 minutes ahead of the time this section took me last year and I was elated to be well on track to finish under my stated goal of under eight hours.

 

When thinking of the Coromandel – Thames section there may be a tendency to think of the flattish, long coastal section around to Thames. However, the first 20km of this section begins with what I must describe as the “forgotten hills” of this event. The innocuous hills of

  • Manaia (141m, category 3)
  • Kereta (228m, category 4)

can be felt in your legs following the hills of the previous 43km.  This collection of hills certainly could not be described as “gently rolling”.

 

Unfortunately I  must have leaned too far or done something weird on the ascent of Kereta. I have never ever been so sore on my bicycle before. I pinched something in my back, just above my right hip and was barely able to move. Still not sure how I managed this. I couldn’t help but think how I climb an equivalent hill on the way home from work every night!! Many brief pauses were in order as I struggled on. As Lance Armstrong said:

Pain is temporary
Quitting is forever

And this was to be motto rolling through my head for the next several hours as I still had 120km or so to ride on. In agony, I found myself isolated from bunches and while very scenic it did seem like the headwind the whole way back to Whitianga from here.

 

As I look to improve my time in future events this is the section that I am sure I can improve on. Get in a bunch, and knocking off 30-50 minutes from this section should not be too difficult!

 

Estimated section differences to 2008: 2009 2008 Difference
Whitianga to Coromandel Town (43km): 1:52:19 2:21:01 -28:42
Coromandel Town to Thames (53km): 2:51:41 2:44:48 +7:04
Thames to Tairua (53km): 2:36:30 2:30:00 +6:30
Whitianga to Coromandel Town (43km): 2:17:01 2:02:02 +14:59

 

Now my sore back was not in quite so much agony, a further 30km of flatish riding down the road at Thames. The small bump of Kopu – Hikuai ahead of me to ascend before dropping into Tairua.

  • Kopu – Hikuai (425m, category 5)

Although sore, this bump seemed far easier to ascend than last year. I put this down to a 425m hill when you have already 160 kilometres is going to feel harder than when you have only ridden 100! I certainly had a heavy head wind on the descent, with my maximum speed only getting  to about 70km/h. A good 30km/h down on last years rapid descent :(.

 

Feeling tired, the area known as Broken Hills sure were breaking me. This is a section of innocuously tiny hills that are easily forgotten about as you dream of a fast descent straight into Tairua, but no it is about another 30km/h from the bottom of Kopu - Hukuai into Tairua.

 

Heading into Tairua I start swapping places with a rider from Auckland. Once we were over our final major bump

  • Pumpkin Hill (240m, category 3)

we tried to give each other some drafting as we rode like crippled old men I am sure it didn’t look too classy. Thanks to the volunteers at the water stop with the jellybeans at the top of Pumpkin, and for stopping with some more as you drove back to Whitanga :). Much appreciated!!

 

I am not sure what was the most depressing as I struggled to the finish line:

  • Feeling sore, broken and slow?
  • Watching all the cars with bicycles on roof, or towbar already heading home?

But then, the number of cars I saw travelling from the finish with empty bicycle racks made me question if anyone behind me was still going to make the finish. The fear of being the Lanterne Rouge kept me going.

 

In hindsight, a ride as hard as this it could be worth adding a Lanterne Rouge award for this event in the future.

 

Will have to be a full year of training before taking this on again next year!