So I managed to complete my very first cycle road race last week! *whoop* Having survived my first puncture as well as being shoved into a starting pack of almost 2 000 cyclists, I walked away feeling pretty chuffed with myself.
40kms is not that far. It took me 2h18 mins to complete the route on my new bike, knobblies and all. But let me tell you, being new to the sport of cycling, a lot went through my mind during those 2 hours. Here are some of those thoughts…
When I run, I am able to switch off and allow my mind to go into a different space. Not with cycling. There is no chance to switch off as you manoeuvre through other riders, constantly keeping a watch for traffic passing you and always analysing which gear to go choose for the best ride. It is quite draining, both physically and mentally.
Running is quick and we are done by 10am. Not with cycling. Even though we had all completed our races by 12h30, we still only got home after 2pm. It’s a much longer day which requires much more of an investment in time.
I slip my shoes on, strap on my running watch and off I go. Oh boy, with cycling, there’s a million and one things to remember to carry with: puncture repair kits, spare tubes, tools. The all in one cycling outfit makes it very difficult to go for a quick toilet break before the race. My apologies to those who might have caught a glimpse of my white bum and belly as I had no option but to strip down in order to do the job right.
I cannot change a flat tyre to save my life but what I did find is that cyclists all stop to assist one another. If I happened to stop, a cyclist passing me would ask if I was okay. I liked that.
The same goes for accidents. Two accidents happened right in front of me on my race. All cyclists stopped and some got off their bikes to assist the fallen. This is something you don’t see very often with running. I’m ashamed to say that on the odd occasion that a runner has fallen, very few will stop and assist.
Most runners complain of running injuries and niggles. But ask cyclists and they come with war stories of broken collar bones and broken wrists from accidents. Especially those wearing cleats. Injuries are high and the injuries are serious.
The race was timed mat to mat. I will repeat that in case Two Oceans Half Marathon officials read this. Mat to mat!
One last point: There is something to be said for being ‘bum fit’. I must confess that by the time I got to the 36km mark, I kept jumping up off the saddle as if I was doing show jumping on a horse, just to relieve the pain that I felt in areas of my lower body I never knew existed! Ouch!