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Monday, January 28, 2008

Gentle Annie 2008 - putting my $15 glasses to the test!

I rode the Gentle Annie for the second year: 80 km of gravel and big, big hills from inland of Taihape across the volcanic plateau finishing West of Napier.

I did not enjoy it this year; I was tired from the start. And it drizzled on and off the whole way, turning the course into slurry. At times I felt as if I was riding in porridge. It was so hard!

But let's talk about glasses: I wore my $15 3M safety glasses and was so thankful. There was a constant spray of abrasive sandy slurry with the only thing between this stuff and my eyes being the glasses. Thank goodness I was not wearing a $200 pair of designer glasses!

Every now and then, as I passed my support vehicle, I swapped glasses for a clean pair. It worked well.

Four wet and sludgy hours later and another 10 km or so to go, I was shot. With just three training rides in the bank after breaking my wrist, I just did not have enough gas left in the tank. I took off my glasses to put them in my back pocket; but I was too cold, tired and stiff to do so. Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle as I wobbled across the gravel tracks, finally dropping my glasses onto scoria. That meant having to do the the worst thing imaginable: Stop and go back to pick them up! As I did so, the riders ahead disappeared over the horizon. It is amazing how much momentum one loses in such circumstances.

Anyway, In finished in 14th place, down from 3rd last year. The feed at the finish was the best of any event I have ever attended and the prizes impressive (I did not win any - damn!). The $15 glasses turned out to be fine other than a few scratches and will live another day.

The Gentle Annie is a great event for both serious and beginner cyclists and I thoroughly recommend that you put it on your list of things to do this time next year.

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