Here’s Jo and I at the first aid station proudly wearing our respective jerseys for the day.
Last night I had a pretty restless night – so much going over in my mind. It was just like this on Epic Italy – took days before I slept properly despite all the training. The points obviously matter to me as it was this going over in my mind. I was 1.5 points ahead of Tara but knew she would gain 2 points on me today as I’d already claimed both my 200k bonuses. I was working out how to not lose the jersey. Then as I thought it through I realised that unless Tara had managed 210k yesterday I should be 2.5 points ahead. I checked with Tara she hadn’t – funnily enough it turns out she’d gone for a coffee with Scott after the TT and if he hadn’t pointed it out she would have missed 200k and possible her run, as it was she didn’t manage 210k. It turned out John and missed my 1k band only point. PHEW
As a result I’ve managed to retain the jersey today. I made a tactical move of not running before breakfast so the clock started when we rolled out at 7am. Was pleased to see Tara had run before breakfast which meant the clock must have started at 5:30am latest. With the length of the ride today I felt sure she wouldn’t be able to extend it to 270km by her cut off time. As it turned out she joined us for the tack on and it was great chatting with her but like on the first day where I did 210k but only claimed 200k she’ll only claim the 254k. So 2.5 points up at start of the day, she gained back 2 for 200k bonus but then I got an extra point for 270. John hadn’t managed to do the points but I should be 1.5 up. It’s not much.
Today was a massive day. We had to ride to Nelson some 254km over some pretty hilly terrain and with an appreciable headwind. The first aid station was at about 60km and the ride was friendly through to there. Riding in a tight bunch, 2 up and rotating through. It was generally considered this was like speed dating as you got about 5 minutes chatting with someone before moving on. It’s such a good way to get to know your fellow campers.
Between the next two aid stations it got a little broken up. It was underlating which never helps keeping a group together and there were various surges. As ever I just tried to stick with the strong people – so generally if Chris or John moved I’d go as well. The pack broke up but I managed to stay with the MacDonald train. I realised that as long as I stayed with Marilyn Chris wouldn’t drop me ! We got to the aid station and waited for the others.
Only 45k till lunch. No talk just an awesome spell of the bunch rotating continuously – the time whizzed by and we had a well earned lunch. 170k done but with headwind we were slow. I checked with John about getting a swim done. I think perhaps it came across as me hassling him (sorry John !) – I wasn’t meaning to but after the swim TT being draft legal without me knowing I just wanted to be clear what rules I was playing to. The pool was only open till 6pm so unlikely anyone would manage a swim and run so we’d be allowed to make the swim up later. Clear plan of attack – get to 270k on the bike and run off. Was pretty sure there was no way Tara could get to 270k in her remaining time.
I was feeling the strongest I’ve felt on the bike all camp and was optimistic about the KOM. This was a proper climb, not some short sprint and felt over a longer distance I’d be better able to do well. I stuck with Chris and Bevan as they put the hammer down. I was working hard and felt not many could stick with it. After a good spell a quick glance confirmed we’d dropped everyone. I was feeling a little sprightly so decided what the hell I’d give it a go and went passed them both. Boy oh boy did my legs scream at me and I realised if I continued like that I’d probably blow and everyone might catch me. Luckily Bevan went by, then Chris and I got back on the wheel. When their started their move for the finish I had nothing and just rolled over for 3rd. Was very pleased when Chris told me I was climbing well.
We absolutely belted down to the final aid station. We hooked up with Tara there and me, her and Piet continued to tag on to 270k in a manner I think only Epic camp could induce – back and forward along a road in a housing estate. Turns out this was Tara and Piets longest ride. Luckily for Tara as she’d run before she didn’t have to run off the bike. I ran with Piet but his ‘jog’ was rather faster than what I’d call a jog and after running together for 20 minutes we did our own thing eventually meeting up again to do a couple of laps of the motel carpark to get to 50 minutes !! Perhaps Piet pushed a little hard as he had the shakes by the end – a sit down and some food sorted him out.