When Paige and I were researching our move to Hobart last year, one of the rides/races I came across was the Mt Wellington Challenge: “The hardest time trial in Australia.” I researched a bit more and told Paige if we move there I am totally doing that race and I am doing it in under an hour. Not knowing anything about the mountain or the riding there, it was quite a statement. Paige, per usual, rolled her eyes and said “sure honey”. One year later here we are.
A couple of months before the Mt Wellington Challenge the registration opens up and I am thinking, “am I really going to do this?”. The Mountain stares at me every day, following me wherever I go. I have become obsessed with it. The beautiful and intimidating silhouette shape is something striking that I will never forget.
I have been riding a lot in Tassie but not necessarily training so my comment to Paige about making it in an hour after actually riding the mountain a few times was daunting. With a couple months to go I thought I could make it happen. That is when the stress started to kick in, “can I really make it up there in an hour?”. My brother was in town until March 22 so my “training” consisted of a bit of riding with heaps of beer. So after Eduardo left I made a pact with the boys at the shop to go on a “detox” until the challenge. The detox consisted of only drinking alcohol 1 day a week and tightening the diet. The diet thing worked out but the 1 day alcohol per week turned into more like 2-3. I never had big drinking nights but definitely a few to loosen up (thanks, Jan). The training program consisted of intervals up the mountain and studying where I should recover and where I should push. What would be the adequate heart rate in what section. I had not done this in a while so I was out of practice. April 21 came closer and closer. I had a couple runs up the mountain to see where I was– 1:06 at 100%. I would need to give 110% to make it.
The day before the event James, my co-worker drove up the mountain and sent me a picture of SNOW! The forecast for the day was clear but chilly at the top a mere 2 deg C. James texted me “are we still doing this? An hour you say?”. Hell yes, I replied.
The morning of the bike ride team: Tim, James, Kyle, Kaine, Simon, and myself get registered and prepare for sun, wind, snow, and pain. Lots and lots of pain. Tim, James, Kaine, and I were starting in the same group. We warm up and line up for the start. I was feeling pretty good on the warm up, a bit stiff but not bad.
Boom! We start and Kaine is completely off. Kaine and I push each other on the bikes. He is by far faster than me on the downhill, being that he is the state champion, but on the climbs I give him a go once and a while. So I was thinking we would stay together and work for the hour mark. From the start he just had too hot of a pace so I held back with the thought, “I will pick him up at the springs”. Ha, that never happened. I left Tim and James behind and started my grind up Strickland road, watching the heart rate to see where I was and let it settle down. I was feeling really tight and it took a while for the legs to loosen up. On the Huon Rd the Pros pass by like rockets. I get onto Pinnacle Rd, this is where we just go up and up, feeling a bit worn but needing to push over that hump. I look at which gear I am in and it looks about right for the speed I want. The segment to the springs was consistent and I am passing people, feeling good. The springs to the chalet is the hardest part, the grade gets steeper and you tend to tire out after all that previous pushing. This is where I would make it or break it and I knew that going into it. During that grind you can lose focus and just wander off in your head and that is no good. I begin to wander off and buckle down, “I need to push through this pain, I can do it”.
Almost to the Chalet one rider creeps behind and slowly over takes me. Shit. I get on his wheel but to do so I have to downshift and spin some more. This whole time I was pushing a larger gear than I should have. Damn. I stay with him and watch my heart rate go up about 5 beats per minute. Not good. I sustain it and the big bend approaches which gives every rider a spot to recover or to smash it. I up shift and start to give it my all with 2 km to go. I make some speed here and over take the rider that pulled me for that bit. I give him a weak wave thanks and push on through. There is snow on the rocks now and I can feel the brisk wind freezing the drool on my face. One km to go! Push it. I pass about 10 people in my “sprint” to the top, there was little to no visibility with the fog. Passing the finish line I look at my heart rate 184 BPM. “Well, that is the most I could have given it”, I say to myself. I meet up with friends at the top and we discuss how we went. “How did you feel?”, “What was your time?”.