Steve Meertens, digital manager for Fairfax Media in the Waikato region, has accepted a challenge to complete the Avantidrome REV Cycle Festival's 100 kilometre race. As he counts down to the event at the end of this month, he is writing weekly about going from novice road cyclist to taking on one of the most popular and toughest annual cycling events in the Waikato.
Well in about 24 hours from you reading this I will be competing in the Avantidrome REV Cycle Festival 100km race.
I rode the course last week with about 12 hardy souls and the emotions I experienced over those four hours were incredible. It was a mixture of trepidation as we started out at 7am and then nerves started to creep in as the rest of the group were eagerly discussing how the massive French Pass climb was just up the road from the start.
In normal exercise terms you would describe French Pass as a gutbuster - i.e. for all those armchair athletes it is something really, really, really difficult. Basically I'm surprised this stretch of road didn't win the award for NZ's steepest street. The climb up was about 15 minutes of sheer confusion for my body. I was gasping for breath but determined that I would not fall over at the first hurdle.
The rest of the group were pretty handy riders and they gradually left me for dead - I felt like Tom Hanks in Castaway, except I had no Wilson to talk to.
Eventually, however, I reached the summit - that is the best way to describe it - and the ensuing view was worth every drop of sweat to get there. Hobbiton and the beautiful rolling hills of the Waikato stretched out in front of me. Now I know how Frodo felt as he was returning home to the Shire - it was an awesome view.
Over the next couple of hours we proceeded to roll across the countryside through incredible cycling terrain. It was hard work and I really had to focus on my game plan and to take on board the advice I had been given. Scott Raynes of Avantiplus Cycology, who was riding with me, was an immense help and we broke into a group of four riders.
I have never been the biggest advocate for nutrition but I was amazed at how my body responded to all the sugary supplements that I was regularly taking. As the ride wore on I could feel my energy levels drop like a fast moving fuel gauge so I would take on some electrolytes and I would feel better fairly quickly. It was a good lesson for the REV tomorrow so I will make sure I have plenty of fuel with me for the ride.
By the end of the ride and coming through Scotsman Valley I really was struggling. My back was aching and my legs were screaming but I just put my head down and kept going. By the end of the ride I was absolutely exhausted but really proud that we had worked as a group and finished the course. I am going to take that feeling with me on my ride on Saturday as motivation to try and complete the course in under four hours, which is my goal.
To all those not sure about entering, you can still enter in person at registration today between 6-7pm at the Avantidrome and on Saturday morning from 7am at Cambridge High School.
It's going to be a great day and I'm looking forward to letting you all know how I get on next week.
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