Snake Pass is a climb I know well as it’s pretty much in the heart of last year’s training roads. Those roads that, when I lived close by, were so much fun to ride. It’s a deceptive climb, quite long and prone to excitable weather. It makes you think the experience is going to be harder than it is – until you do something so daft as a max effort up it.
It started steeper than I had remembered. I charged away from the start area, trying to settle into some kind of constant pace, but I was ‘settled’ at far too many watts in my cocky state of ‘yeah of course you can hold that’. Turns out I couldn’t. Of course I couldn’t. Half way in and I thought bloody hell I can’t sustain this, what I am doing? Idiot! I eased off providing a few seconds respite. But then thought, I can’t finish another TT thinking I’ve not given it my all. I looked down at my power and knew what I should be able to hold. Gritted my teeth and tried my very hardest.
This was not so easy. In reality I had worked on my feet all day for the few days leading up to the event. My warm up before was like dragging two bags of sand round the cranks (that would be my tired legs, maybe not even tired just that ‘full’ feeling). So I forced out a gruesome 45 minute warm up. If not, I would have just slumped into one of the inviting lay bys on the way up the climb and taken a nap.
Anyway, I kept riding thinking ‘keep pushing on’ ‘keep pushing on’, that inner voice I wanted to have stern words with. This just wasn’t a float day. I so wanted to fly up the climb. Not drag myself up it. Then I saw my minute lady. What?! How had this happened? Perhaps she was just having a tough day on the bike, but this was my motivation for the final 3 minutes or so. Not that I could do much more than hold on to the finish after huffing and puffing my way past her.
I saw my time when I reached the summit and thought, well that’s better than last year at least. Good job I’d taken my rain cape along for the ride too. It was blooming freezing up top! So I smugly donned the cape, all toasty and warm and trundled down the climb in my own world enjoying the beautiful view. Arriving back at HQ I saw that I had actually come 3rd. Goes to show, even if the legs feel hideous, you can usually push through it. At least more so than you think. Obviously being fresh would have been ideal but it’s a mental game this cycling lark and I’m just beginning to understand really how much.