It’s my last day at the Delluci Retreat and Gary, my coach, planned a two hour climbing ride. The mountain we climbed twisted and turned and all I could see around each corner was another never-ending incline. I was getting used to this demoralising sight ahead and focussed on my climbing technique. I had to keep my head up so oxygen got into my lungs. I used my pacing and recovery skills when the climb got tough. It was by no means a fast climb but I did it smoothly and still had strength in my legs at the top. This is important to practice because the Etape is 208km long and having the endurance and strength is important.
The descent down the mountain went badly. Gary followed my descent and wanted me to practice the skills he had taught me. I went too fast and braked too late around a corner. The back wheel skidded out and I slid across the opposite side of the road towards the mountain wall and a large ditch. Thank goodness I stayed upright and as I neared the ditch I was able to play with the brakes to tip the bike away from the ditch at the very last minute. I got a stern verbal reminder of what I was doing wrong from Gary.
My confidence was knocked from the skid and I followed Gary down the rest of the mountain. We analysed what happened all the way home. I learnt on sharper descents I can not go as fast and I must break at the right time. I can use 70% on the front brake and stick my bottom backwards over the seat to spread my body weight along the length of the bike when braking. In the Etape I would have taken 100 riders out of the race with a skid like the one I just had. In the Etape other riders could make the same mistakes. In the race I plan to slow down and take corners wide so I don’t get caught in any accidents caused by others.
There was a big learning curve with my skid today and even though I made a mistake I have sharpened my downhill riding skills even more. Back at home Gary looked at my back tire. I had completely stripped the tread down to it’s base lining in two places. I was fortunate not to have blown it.
On leaving the Delluci Retreat Gary showed me how to replace my brake pads. Even more valuable information to take back to London. It has been a very worthwhile experience being with a coach and cycling proper mountains. It has helped me learn faster before the Etape. The Reteat is very relaxing and Gary and Sussie were alot of fun. They catered for all my needs. The rooms were fantastic and so was the food. I will be adding the Delluci Retreat to my recommended places to train for cyclists and triathletes.
Thank you Gary and Sussie for a wonderful time.