Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mental breakdown

When you are riding a bike and you don't feel good, you go slow. But it's not a problem because you know why you are going slow. There is nothing worse than going slow but not understanding why, like when your brakes are rubbing or your tyre is flat but you don't realize. 

Yesterday, I had that feeling. I had to ride from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands. It is a 100km trip with a climb up the Kuranda range at the beginning. 

My plane landed at 11am so I set off in the hottest part of the day. I made my way up the range with buckets of sweat lashing off me but it was no problem. From the top of the range all the way to Mareeba at the 65km mark it was slightly downhill. It was fantastic. I could sit easily at 45kph and I was making great time. I thought, at this rate I would make it in under 3hrs as I had only 35km remaining after 2hrs of riding. Then I turned towards Atherton. 

The road turned bad. It was no longer that smooth bitumen but changed to that dead big chunky stones kind of bitumen where it feels like you may as well be on a gravel road. The wind picked up and was blowing directly at me, making the effort even harder. 

Now this didn't bother me too much because I knew it was there. I knew why I was going slow. What really head cracked me was the fact that the road was slightly uphill the entire way but it looked flat. Thanks to volcanic activity and lava flow that formed the area thousands of years ago, the road from Mareeba to Atherton is a constant gentle incline that you can't see when you look at it. 

My Garmin said that the gradient was 0% and it looked flat but the altitude slowly increased by 300m over about 35km! It broke me mentally. My speed had gone from over 40kph to struggling to push 25kph. I started to look for excuses to stop... Stopping to get water. Stopping for a photo. Stopping to check a message. Stopping to check the map. 

It took all my mental power to keep going and resist the urge to stop at a coffee shop and take a break. The last 35km took me 1.5hrs to cover and I was EXTREMELY happy to reach my destination.  

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