Once upon a time, I was cleaning my bike, shoes and helmet for a race. I accidentally used vegetable oil on my helmet, and I won. Maybe I could have done with some oil on Saturday in preparation for the time trial at the 2008 Tour of Coleraine. It had been a long week, a long day, and a very long car trip. On arrival, I knew we were 100% country when we stopped off at a public toilet to be greeted by a long drop, and a sign above the plunge reading ‘Please close lid to compact odour’. I had been eating for about seven hours to keep myself occupied, and more importantly distracted from the weekend of racing ahead. There were huge amounts of pressure to win back to back titles (especially from me), to say the least! I went to check out the dreaded time trial course, only to see three of my competitors removing decked out TT bikes with disc wheels from their cars. Clearly they were motivated, as it had been raining for the past hour, so after studying the course from the safety of my car, I returned to the Hamilton pub to eat some more!
I had told Nicole Whitburn we were sleeping in the ‘foyer’ at the Wannon River Holiday Park. So when she arrived out whoop-whoop, she thought that she would be waking to a receptionist taking bookings at the front desk…thank god I was wrong! We were in fact sleeping in the ‘function centre’, a huge building that seats 85 people, includes a commercial kitchen, bar and cool room, an open fire-place, a switchboard of 32 lights, and a surround sound stereo! They had set up three beds for Nic, my Mum and I, so it became quite the slumber party. For those who booked early at Wannon River, beds were available, but their cabins just didn’t really compare to ours! There were a lot of extra happenings to the tour this year. There are the spoken-of ones, for example my non-optional 5hour wait to presentations, and the not-to-be-spoken-of ones...that are not to be spoken about!
I felt good in the 9.2km time trial, and was pleased to see that my time was competitive with the likes of those on time trial bikes, as I had opted to simply ride my Teschner. Kathy managed to claim the yellow jersey, going into stage 2 with a 21 second buffer that I was desperate to reduce. The afternoon saw us fronted with a 72km road race. With QOM and stage bonuses up for grabs, it was understandable that choice words were spoken when, leading into the first QOM, I dropped my chain with 500m to go! I dismounted; yanked away my SRM reader that had caused my chain to be caught, remounted, and won the hill sprint. It was here were a group of five went clear, including Kathy, Tess, Lisa Friend, Christine Foster and I. When Tess dropped her chain, I towed her back up, and when Nic made contact, she led me out for the final 2kms. Tess caught me off guard, jumping from the final corner, but I managed to chase the gap and take the win (pictured), to move to within 10 seconds of the tour lead! Woo!