Back on (Single) Track!

I’m back (evil laugh!!!). That is latest joke in the Potter household. Although I have spent three months with no energy and incredible muscle weakness that I could not explain until just recently, it now feels so good to be able to not only pedal my bike up hill, but also have the strength to hold on to my bike downhill as well. What was supposed to be an exciting year full of biking challenges and events, has been one rocky road with too many switchbacks for my liking.

A month ago I had ruled out any further mountain biking events this year. I just wanted to feel normal again, without any pressure to be at race pace when I wasn’t even at ‘get out of bed in the morning KP pace’. At first Ian appreciated the mental break from a wife that always wants to ride her bike morning, noon and night, but when I couldn’t even ride up one of my favourite climbs….’Wiggly Road’, for those in the AQR know, even Ian was wondering whether his wife had past her ‘used by date’, and he needed to ‘upgrade’. That snide comment was enough for me to think it was time to really get back on track, sort myself out and make Ian and his bike REALLY hurt when my body, mind and soul were back to full strength.

It has taken 8 weeks of doctor visits, tests, specialists and finally a confirmed diagnosis. It appears I have vitamin D deficiency…..HUH? I live every day in Pyrenean sunshine and spend more time outdoors than the average person, so I was shocked to find out that I’m still not spending enough time in the sun. It must be the Aussie upbringing that has caused this default now that I live further north, although Ian reminds me that I have always overdosed on sun cream and make Luchon look cold when I wear leg and arm warmers even on 30 degree Celsius summer days. Nevertheless since taking daily D supplements and shocking Luchon with my basking bikini clad body, I can feel the old unbearable me returning…and a biking tan line has finally appeared….YAY!

So it was time to set myself a challenge and focus on a specific goal to help me get back up to race fitness, find my racing head and hopefully re-discover some proper speed…..as it turns out I have been selected to represent Australia at the 2010 Mountain Bike World Championships in Canada (talk about a challenge!!!!). Who needs to ease back into racing when I can just race the best lady bikes in the XC world in 5 weeks time and ask them to make me suffer, well actually I don’t need to ask, it comes naturally to them. I usually love a challenge, and to once again wear green and gold is always an amazing experience, but I must admit there is that little fear of the unknown. I really don’t know how long it will take to feel like a racer again, but every time I think nervous thoughts like that I hear Ian’s little Yoda voice (from Star Wars for those in the know)….’DO OR DO NOT THERE IS NO TRY!’

It’s funny that I never thought I would call myself a cyclist, certainly not a mountain bike racer. When I grew up in Sydney I had a second hand bike with a bell and basket on it that I would take great joy in buzzing people as I raced by on the cycle lane through the park….’come on BEAT ME!’ I would mutter under my breath (Ding! Ding!). My golly gosh I was annoying, but I loved pretending that I wasn’t even trying as I raced by fit looking men with muscles bulging out in every direction as they cruised through the park looking smug as a bug, until little ol’ me passed them on a bike I had owned since the age of twelve with rusty chain and flat tyres (I didn’t know there was such a thing as chain lube back then). I would then turn around and give them a sweet little smile….a girly version of Mr Lance Armstrong who usually stares down his competitors from behind just as he takes off. Except I have a bike bell (Ding! Ding!) for added effect :)

Today I think that same racing bug is starting to return, and perhaps a little sign that my racing head is still intact. It started when Ian decided we wouldn’t train off road today, but rather play a little ‘on road’ game that he thinks winds roadies up. The two of us dressed up in our baggies and non fitted jerseys. I rode my Cotic KP that is currently built up as a downhill orientated trail bike and Ian was on his Cotic Hemlock. We pumped up our tyres extra hard and locked out the suspension, so that the bikes felt as stiff as possible. Then we headed to the Col de Peyresourde which is a 14.5km Cat 1 road climb often used in the Tour de France. The game started and the chase began as we targeted roadies ahead, hunted them down with all our might, then just as we passed them we pretended to be riding comfortably and gave them an effortless ‘bon jour’ as though we weren’t even trying (hee hee evil laugh x 2)….even though heart rates were on the verge of popping and legs were screaming to ease off. But the pain was worth it when you notice the look on their faces as they compared our trail bikes to their fancy limited edition pro carbon frames with all the fancy upgrades.

But with 2km to go and no more roadies in sight, our game suddenly switched to Potter vrs Potter, and now without warning the other we started playing mind games and the pace gradually increased. Ian started half wheeling me, so I half wheeled Mr P back, only to find him increase the pace once more whilst chatting to me as though he was simply cruising up the col. I felt like I was going to throw up, but as I saw the top I whimpered ever so slightly, a girly whimper that has the power to make Ian slow down to make sure his Mrs is ok. Then as soon as I saw his weakness I attacked and charged full steam ahead without looking back…Ian was caught off guard and counter attacked too late. With arms held high like the TDF pros I have been watching on TV, I crossed the 14.5km top of the col finish line a full suss bike length in front of hubby who did not look pleased….oops!

Mind you I collapsed in a heap at the top as I haven’t been able to push myself like that for so long. The fact that I felt like I had been punched in the lungs and was shaking all over was actually a good sign, but an even better sign is the look on Mr P’s face…..as he don’t like being beaten by his Mrs :)

So then it was time to make appropriate bike changes, and finish the training ride with an exhilarating OFF ROAD downhill where I ate dust and Ian’s ego returned to full strength as he was more than 100 bike lengths in front of me on the way home….C’est la vie :)