Wait... I know what you're thinking. Bear with me... As an incentive to keep reading, here are some FACTS. Last weekend was the Tour of Geelong, the latest round of the National Road Series. Team VIS was reduced to 3 riders due to injury (Roy), overseas commitments (Jojo) and last-minute call ups to So You Think You Can Dance (others). The tour was taken out by Bec Wiesak who showed that living through a Canberra Winter is no obstacle to good form. Loren Rowney won the Stomper Jersey for 2 stage wins, although we are still awaiting confirmation from officials that there was no motor hidden in her bionic elbow. And VIS's own Kendelle Hodges won the Top Chick award for coming 2nd on GC with a blistering TT on the new Apollo beasts.
The Tour of Geelong was my first race since early May. Why? Because I missed the taste of my own blood in the back of my mouth, and racing 95km of hills around Anakie while fit sounded way too easy. There was also a hip injury involved, but mostly it was the blood in the back of my mouth thing. Since my year has been so disrupted by injury, racing has taken on a special form. It has happened so rarely that it reminded me of something else that happens only once a year. So here goes...
Why Tour Riding Is Like Christmas
The last-minute shopping
Regardless of how prepared you are, in the days leading up to a tour you will suddenly find a bazillion things you need. You can guarantee that this will be the time that batteries die and cables break. Luckily though, this not being Christmas Eve you can usually find a shop open and someone less stressed than you to help.* And the food shopping! Don't forget the food shopping!
*Incidentally, thank you to Will and John at Bicycle Superstore Flemington for finding me a new TT saddle, measuring me up and glueing 2 new race tyres last week. Thank you also to Jared and Ben at Apollo for performing emergency surgery on my cable router and replacing my rear cassette bearings. And thanks to Ryan Moody, mechanic extraordinaire, for prepping everything else. You get the picture...
Everyone is excitable
Tour riding brings out a strange polarization of emotions reserved usually for occasional and intense family gatherings. You will laugh, you will cry, and someone will insist on not being photographed with their hair like that. And you'll suddenly notice a jolly fat man appearing everywhere, at the start of every stage, making a list and checking it twice.
You can't sleep
Because SO MUCH IS HAPPENING TOMORROW! Then you wake up during the night and keep checking your alarm to see how much longer you have left to sleep. Then you wake up stupidly early and watch crappy morning talkshows or Video Hits just to distract you from the chaos that is about to unfold.
You forget what to do
Somehow, between Christmases, you forget all the hard work involved, how tiring it is and how many times in your head you want to give up and go live in a cave. It had been so long since I'd last raced that I was all out of practice and it took me about 3 hours to work out how many gels I needed. If I didn't have a supercoach and mechanic running after me I probably would have forgotten my bike.
You get to eat ridiculous amounts of food
Better yet, someone's mum will cook up an awesome lasagne and feed you cupcakes and raspberry and white chocolate muffins.
You put your 'special' on
THIS is the time to crack out your favourite socks.
You get presents!
At the Tour Donna bought me a banana. I don't know where she got the money but it was AMAZING. Like Christmas, I unwrapped it too quickly and in a second it was gone.
Thanks to Jarrod Partridge from JXP Photography and Jules from Team XOSize for the pics. More in the gallery below...