Monday, April 30, 2007

A once in a lifetime ride.

Well, we did it. The mighty Lancefield Lairs managed complete the Fleche Opperman All Day Trial to cover 360km in 24 hours. Legends one and all. Shrugging off sunshine and rain, hunger and thirst, six flat tyres, headwinds, darkness and fatigue and despite only 30 minutes sleep, we rolled into Rochester tired but triumphant. Sadly one of our five had to drop out around the 280km mark.

As expected, the night time riding was the hardest. It wasn't too bad at first, but as it cooled down and tiredness set in, the intermittent rain reminded me that I have been meaning to buy a decent rain jacket. My most vivid memory is spending a couple of hours staring into the
into the glow of my headlight, dodging the spray from Steve's back wheel as he dragged me half asleep towards Echuca just before sunrise. We knew we weren't going to get much of a rest - but the short lie down was eagerly anticipated and proved to be remarkably refreshing.

After our short sleep we were back on our bikes for the 'easy' roll down the highway with the wind at our backs. We had two hours to cover 25km. But traffic was heavy and we suffered a couple of punctures as we rode on the rough shoulder of the highway. Then we stopped to help another team which had suffered a puncture. And another. And another. Twenty minutes before the 9am cutoff we were still short of Rochester, but unsure of how exactly far from the finishing line. Top chainrings were engaged and with tired legs we cranked our a few hard and fast kilometres to finish with 10 minutes to spare.

Despite the difficulty, it was a most enjoyable outing. I didn't have a puncture or a single mechanical niggle. After many hours in the saddle a ride like this becomes a form of meditation, the bike, the weather, the aches- even the goal - all just fade into the background and the only thing left is a the moment.

All thanks to Andy for coming up with a great route, for doing all the organising and for handling all the paperwork. And big thanks to the mighty Ken for supporting us tirelessly every 60km along the way with a hot meal and a nothing's too much trouble smile. Andy, Steve, Ted and Barry - it was great riding with you, a truly memorable experience which I will remember forever.

Above is the traditional finishers photo in front of the Oppy statue in Rochester.

2,651km so far this year.


Tim said...

Good on you.

Treadly and Me said...

Phew, that was cutting it fine! Well done!