Thursday, 30 November 2017

Giro della Donna 2017 - DNF

26th November 2017 was the day of the Cyclingtips Giro della Donna ride which was a 125km ride with over 2700m of climbing. I did the inaugural event in 2015 as part of my training for Falls Creek (3 Peaks) of 2016. In 2016, I bought a ticket and sold it to a friend due to my lack of motivation for any training post 3 and 7 Peaks and bit the bullet and entered again in 2017.

It was my own program that this was the final event for me in 2017 as I wanted the remainder of 2017 to be about fun-cycling. Since I joined Lead Out Cycling in February of this year, my skills have improved dramatically for my standards having not learnt much in skills when I was a triathlete. Now I can do track turns, rolling turns and descend with better confidence than I have ever been.

Leading up to the 26th Nov, I had done a 145km Daylesford ride (with 1800m of climbing) which took me out of my comfort zone in terms of distance on the bike as well as hours turning my legs, a 120km Rosewhite Loop around Bright which nearly killed me due to the exhaustion as well as the dreaded Tawonga climb and I started to ride to Kew Blvd for one of the Saturday long rides which made the day long and 40km more than the main set. In 2018, I will need to do more of this as I tend to drive to the training sessions more due to the need to start work early as well as the need for me to attend different sites.

On Saturday 25th, I took it very easy. I had my nails done in the morning and I went to Southland for a bit of a shop. I had pretty clean meals leading up to the weekend with salads for dinner on most nights due to the heat.

As I drove there early on Sunday morning, I needed a 4am alarm and left the house at 4:45 to get to Warburton by 6am. I made a smoothie for breakfast with avocado, banana and almond milk as my stomach can never take a full breakfast before 10am. The smoothie was filling and I also had a black coffee to keep me awake for the drive. I was busting to go to the bathroom at around 5:30am and couldn’t wait to head into Warburton.
I ended up parking at the usual spot behind the bakery and the set of shops as there is a set of public toilets there which I am familiar with. I saw a few familiar faces so I was content on leaving my car there instead of the designated parking area as the word got around that the carpark was already full. The 125km event started at 7am and the parking was already exhausted, I don’t know how the 60km gravel riders will be parking as their event started at 9am.

I packed my wind jacket for the descent the night before with a pair of gloves and a musette and placed them in the envelope provides. I couldn’t decide on what to wear for this ride. I knew that I would be wearing my Lumiere knicks as they were excellent for the long rides I did prior to Peaks. I ended up choosing one of my Maap jerseys which I bought on sale from Bike Torquay. It was a comfortable size (large), pockets large enough for me to stowe away hours of nutrition along with my wallet and phone and the fabric was made for summer cycling. During the cooler months, I tend to wear my Rapha core jerseys as they are comfortable. I opted out of wearing my new Rapha climbers as the weather was not looking great and I didn’t want to get my new shoes dirty and damaged.
I stuffed my clothing bag into my jersey and rode the 1.5km toward the event village which was at the camping grounds. I was there about 6:30am so I had time to drop off the clothing, eat a banana before I saw a friend from Lead Out with her husband and kids.

The ride started just after 7am but as we were placed at the end of the pacing, we didn’t leave the event village until 7:10am or so. I remember from 2015 that this section of the ride was probably what I could consider to be the flattest although there was a slight incline and rolling hills. The climb started along Reefton where it was timed and I knew that I was in for the start of where I would suffer.
Compared to 2015, I now weigh about 10kg more and although I am stronger on the bike and my legs are more muscular, I am carrying more weight especially around my guts and my chest. No matter how strong I am on the bike, this time around, I needed to carry an extra 10kg on the climbs and I knew that I would not be as fast as my cadence on the climbs have not improved as I have been working on my form rather than the pace.
It took me a while to climb the 20km or so along Reefton but I was lucky enough to not get any flats. The rain started when I was along this climb and it didn’t really stop. I knew that I would be riding much of this ride by myself so I listened to my iPod which I had gathered not having touched it since the training rides leading up to 3 Peaks (Feb 2016). I noticed that when I was riding along with my audiobooks or podcasts, I was not as motivated as I was riding along the pace of the narrator/speaker. The music definitely does help with the cadence and pace.
Once I reached the top of the Reefton climb, there was a feed station where I could fill up my empty bottle and prepared for the second climb of the day. The climb although short, it was steeper than Reefton and this lead to the reduced cadence of my pedals. I really do need to work on increasing the cadence (but how??)
There was a good descent after this climb but the rain had also made the roads wet and my vision unclear and this was where I applied the brakes which lead to my wheels skidding along and I lost control of the bike and slid along my left side of my body with the bike on top for a good 10-20m.
I remember checking that I hadn’t hit my head and luckily I couldn’t feel any headaches or pains. I checked my body for scratches or blood but I didn’t see any big open wounds apart from a few grazes on my elbows and pain on my left thigh and left boob/chest area. I inspected the bike and only found that my hoods were bent towards the middle with scratches along the levers and bartape. Luckily I didn’t see any breakages of the frame visible to my naked eye. I looked over my shoulder to check that no one else was coming around and got off the road to give myself a chance to process that I just had a crash.
I waited for a few minutes and when I was feeling less stressed, I hopped back on the bike and continued along. I noticed that my left shoulder was in a big of a pain but I was confident that it was not broken. I had a small climb to do and I knew that the rest of the ride was downhill towards Marysville. I have to admit, I was no longer confident at the descent as it rain continued and the roads were still very wet. I was worried for myself and how I would finish this event having just crashed and when I finally reached Marysville, I decided to pull out of the event and needed to tell someone that I was done for the day due to the crash. Luckily when I mentioned it to the event staff, they told me that the sag wagon was about 30min away. The rain continued to fall and I waited under a big tree with others who had also finished for the day. My shoulder’s pain grew stronger as well as my chest and it was starting to hurt when I breathe.
When the sag wagon finally came through, we loaded our bikes on the trailer and I gave my spare tube away to a guy who kept getting flats which left me with no spares. I didn’t need them for the day as I was finished on the bike.
The sag wagon drove slow along the course behind the lantern rouges (XXX). We ended up picking up about half a dozen more people along the way and we ended up with a pretty full mini bus along the gravel sections of Acheron Way. The sag wagon didn’t end up along the last 10km of the day up Donna Buang and proceeded to head towards the event village. We still passed several people on the side of the road due to mechanical failures of their bikes but it was not possible to stop due to a full bus and trailer.
When we got down to the event village and got our respective bikes, I headed into the event village to see if I can spot any familiar faces. My friend Cheryl whom I started the ride with, she didn’t make the cut off time up the Donna climb so she was also done for the day early. I didn’t want to wait around for 3 hours to pick up my jacket which was still on top of the mountain so I started to ride towards my car but I ended up getting a flat 100m from the event village with about 1.5km left until my car. As I had no spares at this point, I just walked my bike along the main road towards the car, I really had no choice. Looking back, even if I had a spare, I don’t think I really could be bothered changing the flat in the rain when the car is 1.5km away.
Before the drive back to Melbourne, I changed out of my cycling kit and inspected my wounds. I did get a few bleeding grazes along the thigh and elbow and I did rip several holes into my knicks. Big enough that these knicks will either be thrown away or saved for commuting. If I don’t wear them again within 2 months, they will go into the bin. My chest was starting to hurt more and I found that the movement of my left arm was very restricted.
I prepared for a bath when I got home and cleaned my gravel filled wound in the salted water which was more pleasant than when I tried to clean it with alcohol wipes in the sag wagon. I went for a quick nap after the bath but wasn’t able to fall asleep due to the pain that was in my chest due to the weight when I laid on my back. I took several pain killers that evening to subdue the pain.
Later that night, I wanted to lie on the rug in our lounge room and with sudden movements, I was in a world of pain. So much so I was whaling and howling on the floor with tears down my face. The pain was excruciating and with every small movement, the pain got worse. It felt like someone had penetrated my ribs with a knife. My partner ended up driving me to Sandringham hospital where I was seen by a medical staff which confirmed that I had cracked my ribs but I needed to wait around for an X-ray. We waited around for an hour or so but as I was sitting upright, there was no pressure on my chest and the pain subsided. There were too many emergencies that night in hospital so we ended up leaving as the people ahead of us were still being tended to.
I took more pain killers when I got home and sent a note to work to advise them that I had a small crash and cracked my ribs and would not be at work the next day. If the pain was worse, I would take myself to see the hospital again to assess the damage.
Since Monday, the chest pains are still there and I am still not able to lie on my back without pain. The movements and strength of my arms have improved but I am still not putting too much pressure on the left side. My grazes and healing as fast as they can. I have contacted the organisers of the event to arrange for a pick-up of my jacket and gloves next week when I return from Perth.
I have a chance to purchase next year’s ticket for $120 and there is a 90% chance that I will do this within the next few days. I am a bit hesitant as I don’t want to receive a number as high as I did this year (#35) but still am a hack.
I want to improve within the next 12 months so that I can ride with the main bunch and not get dropped as soon as a climb comes up. I want to also be confident again in my descents so I can make up some time there.
I am off the bike for a week or two as I attend one of my best friend’s wedding in Perth and see how the pain of my chest feels in December. I will be back in time for Lead Out’s recovery week and their Christmas ride on the 9th Dec. 

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