Yesterday i attended my first Cols ride. I got up at around 4am and slowly prepped (i like to prep slowly in the morning) and arrived at Warrimo at 635ish. I stayed relatively quiet due to my anxiety and only loosened up a little after our first climb. The cols ride is not a ride to be taken lightly. Even for “veterans” it is enough to strike some fear and for nubs like myself it is pretty epic. I was asked the question many times before the cols ride whether i would attempt to do the whole thing. My answer to that was “i will see on the day”. That basically is my half assed way of saying that i want to do the whole thing but i am not so sure if i can. Inside myself though i knew it was going to be almost impossible to do the whole thing. The simple rule is you can’t expect to ride a 160-170km ride with 2700m of elevation when the previous biggest ride you have done is 100km with 1500m of elevation. Still, i went into the ride believing i could.
We started out doing the first few “lo-cols” and one of the first climbs we did was old bathurst. This climb was one of the harder climbs i did on the day due to the steep 23%ish gradient and even though i wanted to pace it i was left no choice but to push on that section. Anything less than pushing hard on that section would have meant a complete stop. It was the first time i have genuinely ridden a sustained section that steep. Still, i got to the top and i felt good in that people didn’t wait for me for eons and i kinda knew what one of the harder climbs of the day would be like. Anxiousness gone.
We then looped back a few times and did some other climbs including M4, Mitchell and that climb out of the crossing that i remember from the oaks mtb trail. All of those climbs were fairly manageable and whilst not easy they were ok. I still felt fresh and i can climb ok with fresh legs. After all of that we did sun valley and i was introduced to “the wall”. I swear, someone wanted to make a practicle joke of a road at that place. I rounded the bend and saw the road soaring upwards and my first reaction was “the fook?”. Next thing i know i was on it and heaving and pulling and pushing to get my bike over and up that “hill”. Pure torture especially since it is a dead end road and you go back the way you came from.
After all of this we headed back to Michael’s place and we lost a few people who decided wisely to head home. Sitting on the grass i was comfortably tired. I knew if i called it a day now i would be satisfied but i wasn’t really pushed yet. I knew i had more to give and it has being a long time since i have pushed myself to the point of despair. I urged to continue and Nelson came along for the pain ride. Matt told us that from this point on the pace would be a fair bit quicker and “no shiet” was in my head 5 minutes later. The pace these guys push on the flat’s is just staggering. All those m4 sessions + whatever other voodoo stuff they do shows. On top of it all they know the fine details in what makes a successful peloton ie taking turns. Michael/Tim/Phil was in the lead group and Matt/Nelson and I was in the second group and we never caught them along the 20-25km flat even going at a decent pace of 35-38km/h into the headwind whenever i looked down at my garmin. Too fast.
Expectedly that was the final nail in the coffin for Nelson and I. Flat’s ain’t easy for me and i spent all my energy keeping that pace and from there on out it was just a matter of survival. Nelson and I made the decision to head back and not keep Matt any longer than we already had and thanked him for the day and turned around to head back home (which was another 30kms or so away!). By the end of the day we arrived back at our cars with 134kms and 1600m of elevation.
At the end of the day it is true that i didn’t complete the full 9 cols but i was expecting that. You can’t track your car 2-3 times and then jump straight into v8 supercars. It simply doesn’t work that way. When Nelson and I got back to the cars we didn’t have any disappointment at all on our faces. None. We knew we pushed ourselves as much as we can and we are pretty proud of our achievements and that is pretty much all i can say. Matt and Michael and Co is on a different level to us and it shows in their racing/training etc. A lot of respect for them that is for sure. Just when you think you can ride ok out comes someone that rides completely different to yourself and you simply wonder “wtf?”.
All in all an awesome day with awesome weather and some of the guys are already planning to head back. I do like climbing i must admit so i might head back there and just do loops around and aim at a total of 2000m some day soon. That is the next magical number for myself.
PS :: my left hip is still hurting. I will play with cleat positioning something soon. It came about 70km into this ride and damn it was annoying by the end of it. Cannot use my left leg with full power once it settles in.