Today was my season finale. Like the previous two years, my race calendar finishes with a really great marathon in the South of France. It's a technical course with rocky climbs and descents. I love it, but not today! Unlike previous years, the women had a separate start 15 minutes before the men. This was perfect; an equal and fair race for the women.
I normally eat breakfast 3 hours before I race, but today I treated myself to some extra sleep :) There were strong winds during the night and many of the tents in the Expo area had blown away like kites! The wind was still blowing a hooley in the morning and I knew then that the start of the race would be slow - no point in towing the women's field along to the bottom of the first climb. We rode as a big group casually - Jane Nussli joked that the lead motorbikes would be wondering what we were doing: a bike race or a leisurely outing with the girls ;)
The group quickly split on the first climb and Jane and I rode alone to the top. I was able to pull out a small lead on the first descent, but I could see Jane not far behind on the second climb. On the narrow, steep, loose descent I lost grip on my front wheel and I found myself crashing hard on my arm, hip and knee. I never look at the damage, instead I get straight back on and if I can still pedal then I continue. However, this crash shook me up. I was in pain and I felt really nauseas. The bumps - and there are a lot of bumps on this course - exacerbated the pain. From here onwards I rode like I had my head on back-to-front! I was so embarrassed by the way that I was riding! I couldn't put any power through the pedals on the climbs because I felt so sick and on the descents I was literally all over the place. Changing gear hurt my arm; the bumps hurt my arm; and the bushes and branches - of which there were plenty- managed to tug at the open wound. I thought that I was going to vomit! The wind was so strong that I got blown clean off my bike twice. I was getting frustrated. On one of the steep hike-a-bike sections I fell and bashed my other arm. A bad day at the office! Jane was never far behind; constantly nipping at my heels.
I felt terrible and I honestly couldn't wait to get the race finished. That was all I could think about for over three hours. I finished about 30 seconds ahead of Jane. I've been stitched back up again and I'm feeling much better. The bad news is that there won't be any swimming for me now. Damn. I was really looking forward to a couple of days of swimming in the sea before we head home. Oh well it could have been worse. There were lots of broken bones being tended to in the medical area. Many, many thanks to the doctors and nurses who were doing a great job of piecing injured riders back together!
OK, I'm off for a large glass of red wine ;)
Happy off-season to you all :D