Done and Dusted!

Choosing the Velothon Sunshine Coast as my main event for 2017 was an awesome decision, for so many reasons.

The past five months have been filled with fun, satisfaction, adventures and gratitude, and I am still buzzing from the whole experience.

The Challenge was Superb!
Having never completed a stage race before this was an event that sat slightly outside my comfort zone. The km’s were long and the climbing was big, and while I had participated in events that included cycling, I hadn’t done a dedicated cycle event before. So when lining up on that start line, especially on Day One, I was feeling slightly nervous about the unknown…
Had I done enough? Where would I sit in the field? What was today really going to be like?!

However as soon as we set off, got into a rhythm and the km’s starting ticking over, the nerves disappeared and instead I was on a high. I was feeling confident and strong, I had completed the challenge of the training. Now I just wanted to enjoy the challenge of riding for three days in a row.

The Roads were Brilliant!
Each day provided something different. Day One for me provided the best views. I am so pleased I made sure I looked around and appreciated the scenery, because it was simply stunning. This is what I had trained hard for and I was feeling on top of the world.

Day Two was fast and furious, and fun! After so much climbing on Day One, the first half of Day Twos ride provided the opportunity to really spin the legs out and enjoy some fast bunch riding. And during the initial 60km of fast riding, and plenty of surging, I reflected on the training rides I had done at Winter Worlds, which had helped prepare me well for this morning. Also knocking off 90km in under 3hrs was a real highlight!

The final day presented the challenge of the Obi Obi – the much talked about and highly anticipated hill climb. And I am very proud to say I rode it! Despite rounding a corner and seeing about 10 people ahead of me pushing their bikes, I dug deep and kept turning those pedals. I drove this hill a couple of days prior so I could mentally prepare for the grind – this was the best decision. It allowed me to set a goal of where I wanted to get to at least before having stop (if necessary), which kept me pushing, and also meant I could break the hill down in my mind and complete it in sections. It was then the amazing support and motivation of the spectators at the top of the last pinch that saw me complete the climb!

Not only was the riding good, but the weather was amazing! Sunny days with beautiful temperatures and riding conditions, plus the beach right there to relax on before, during and after the event  – it was the perfect active winter escape.

The Glory was a Bonus!
For me this event was more about completing my first stage race and enjoying the challenge of a reasonably tough three days of riding, over what my result was.

However after checking out the results at the end of Day One, and seeing where I was sitting, my competitive streak was ignited and I had added motivation for the next two days, inspired to see if I could break into the Top 5 in my category. My final placing was 6th in the Open Female category and 10th Female Overall. And while I didn’t get inside the top 5, I did crack the top 10, a result I am absolutely thrilled with. This placing, completing the three days so strongly, plus riding the Obi Obi, was all the ‘glory’ I needed.

The Banter was Great!
This element of the event I was looking forward to, knowing that there was real potential for friendships to be made and a camaraderie developed that made the event even more special.

And I wasn’t disappointed; enjoying the friendliness of the riders, the welcome from the event staff and volunteers, and the overall relaxed vibe throughout the three days. While out on the roads, it was really enjoyable chatting to fellow riders and hearing about what had brought them to the event. Then relaxing in the bean bags back at the Clubhouse throughout the afternoon was a great way to chill out and recover. With the finish lines on Days One and Two being off site from the clubhouse area, it did mean this opportunity to chill out and mingle with others wasn’t fully embraced, which is unfortunate because the set up was fantastic. However Day Three did see all riders finish on location and the vibe and buzz was brilliant, as riders shared stories and celebrated their achievements. If this feeling and atmosphere can be captured on all three days next year, “The Banter” element will definitely come to life more.

 

It has now been three weeks since I crossed the finish line and I have really enjoyed some time off from training, and the opportunity to do some other activities that were pushed to the side while my focus on was 100% on my event.

I am really happy with where I have got to with my cycling now and am keen to continue to and maintain my current level of fitness, with a view to complete a couple of events between now and the end of the year.

This Velothon journey has been hugely satisfying and rewarding, developing me both personally and professionally. Now I look forward to what the next 6 months of training brings…

Penelope Watson
Team CP Coach
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