Sunday, September 9, 2012
Paralympic Road Race
My Paralympic campaign has come to an end with todays Road Race my last event. I knew that this was going to be a tough ask to medal as riding against the men without factoring (handicapping) was difficult. In saying that I was confident going into the race as I absolutely love this course. It really did suit me and I was really looking forward to racing on it for one last time.
We couldn't have asked for better weather, with not a cloud in the sky and the temperature hovering around 23 for the start. Today at least I didn't have to wait all day to race as my race was at 10:32 in the morning. There were 18 trike riders starting and I was lucky enough to be called up to the line early and was able to get a start position right at the front and beside David Stone of GB. He and I had the best start of everyone probably because no one else really heard the starter as he was standing right beside me! The two of us took off and we were around the first corner along with Hans-Peter Durst of GER first. I settled in behind the two of them as we left the Brands Hatch grounds and down the first hill I let two other riders in front of me. So I was sitting right on the tails of the top 5 male trike rides.
The first downhill finishes at a 100 degree right hand turn, which trikes don't go around very well! I didn't want to get caught up if the men had problems so hung back a bit. You go from over 50km/hr down the hill to about 20km/hr so the trike doesn't tip over! Then you are straight into a climb after the corner. I held on to the guys for about half the hill and then they got away from me. I thought I may be able to catch up with them at the next downhill but unfortunately that wasn't to be.
Almost at the end of the 1st lap three other riders caught me so I rode with them for a little while, then they too got away from me. On my last lap, the last long climb, I passed the Columbian who looked to have mechanical problems and my goal then was to stay in front of the approaching female tandem riders (they had started two minutes before us) as it is really scary trying to navigate corners with tandem bikes flying by you. I knew they were approaching the circuit inside Brands Hatch because I could hear the helicopter that was filming them very close.
In the end I did stay in front of them and rode down the finishing straight with a HUGE crowd screaming and banging on the side boards! The noise was amazing and really did spur you on! I felt like I was flying down that home straight and when I crossed the finish line I was 6:05 minutes behind David Stone of GB, who won. I was the first woman to cross the line 9 minutes ahead of the 2nd woman. So I was extremely pleased.
I am just hoping that with more and more women coming on board that the next Paralympic games the women don't have to race the men. With factoring in place it makes it even, but without it, like today, there is no way a woman will medal. Kudos however to the medal winners, they all deserved to be there, they had amazing rides!
Tomorrow is the Closing Ceremonies which I am really looking forward to. It will be a celebration of the effort, passion and courage we have all witnessed over the last couple of weeks. I for one will be honoured to walk amongst all of those amazing athletes!