What a day. The weather forecast was a worrying one for the first proper race of the season, The Tour of the Meldons, a 40km hilly bike time trial. It was also the Scottish Olympic TT champs for 2013.
Frankly, if I had to ride to the start, I would have stayed in bed. Rosemary had encouraged me to get a lift and Scott Bell had kindly offered. She would have to ride though, but that's not a bad thing for her as she races better with a decent warm-up.
The wind was vicious and I was in a car! The occasional sharp shower meant that the roads were slightly damp too. Poor Rosemary. We arrived at Eddleston village hall around the same time. She said the ride had been really hard, especially on the exposed bit just after Leadburn. Soon enough, it was time for Rosemary's start with me just 30 mins later. I wasn't focused or in the mood. Not a mindset for starting a race. As it was really wet, I saved my warm-up to the last moment, unable to use the bus stop and a turbo trainer like another competitor.
After a quick spin down towards Peebles and back, I was ready to go.....well I was on the start line anyway. I was regretting having deep section wheels, was really cold and worried about the weather. Then, one of the starting officials told me one of the girls had crashed on the 1st corner......Oh no....I was then frantic with worry that it was R! Ken, the starter, said it wasn't her so I relaxed a little.
I was off....hitting 45km.h nearly instantaneously. Wow, what a tailwind. Unfortunately, I soon turned left to head over Shiplaw. The recent snow had made the road surface really gritty, not helped by 60km.h crosswinds. I was still cold and my heart rate was below my commuting one. The legs were fine, not tired despite a 5km running race yesterday, but I simply couldn't get the power down.
Turning onto the main road, I was hit with a wall of wind, then rain started pelting into me, f like an attack from an army of ants with spud machine guns. Then, my wrist started to hurt, an old rheumatic pain resulting from a fall from a horse. It's a horrible pain....so bad that I don't know how to describe it, brought on when it gets cold and damp. I had to stop for a minute, but as the weather was so horrible, I decided to get moving again. I should have turned back....
I tried to push on but was now in a dark place. I was freezing, not able to go hard enough to keep warm and the rain was now heavier. Just keep going Andy..... A while later, someone rode along side me. "You ok?....." He asked. I struggled to answer. "Stop the bike" he screamed. I stopped. He put a jacket on me. Sheesh....it was "Stuart MacLeod" a very decent triathlete who's done the Norseman and Celtman, being up near the front in these tough events. Despite knowing him I didn't recognise him at all. In fact, I didn't even know where on the course I was.
He was aggressive with me, shouting at me to push on and not slow. The jacket, despite being several sizes too small, soon started to do its job. Once on the Meldons Road with the tailwind, I started come round and feel better. I even 'big ringed' it over the climb but riders who had started 25 minutes behind me were now passing. Towards the foot of the final decent, I saw Rosemary who was out on a wee run....a quick hug and then I headed back to the village hall having not finished the event for the 2nd year running.
It's a classic event, well run, but I'm never doing it again. I've never raced well there and don't think I ever will. I needed this beer with Rosemary's amazing homemade pizza in the evening. More cookbooks for her at Xmas time.