Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A leap in the dark

It was pissing down rain this morning but out of solidarity for those who suffered so much during the Paris-Brest-Paris I decided to ride anyway. That and the fact that VictimOfNoel is 367km ahead of me and Sneaky Steve is snapping at my heels in the yearly mileage totals.

I enjoy the 2.3km 120m climb up Bonnett Hill, it's a hard start to the morning but I need the hill training. My biggest fear has always been that on the return journey my lights would somehow fail. Today's been a good day for addressing fears.

Since I broke a spoke in my back wheel on the weekend I've been running my old six-speed wheels with singles. Because I don't want to carry spare singles and spare tubes, I've abandoned the generator hub and have been using an old Nightstick halogen lamp. On the ascent tonight, just as I left the street lamps of suburbia and entered the deep dark bush section of the ride the bugger started to fade, so I switched it off and climbed under the starlight.

It didn't do any good - by the time I got to the top the fucker was dead flat. There's nothing like descending a steep and hairy 2km descent in total darkness, with only the starlight reflecting off the double yellow lines to guide you. And not much starlight at that. It was a case of picking a speed I was happy to crash at. Somehow I made it down safe, but it's not an experience I want to repeat. Perhaps I was premature dissing the Ayup lights...

4,276km so far this year.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Children can be so unkind

I had to drive into town this morning, so instead of riding in along the Derwent, I rode for an hour up the grandly-titled Inter City Cycle Path. Along the way it passes New Town High School and you have to be wary of kids darting across the track without looking. This morning was no exception: a big group walked out in front of me, so I slowed and waited for them to cross.

One lad turned, and startled because he hadn't realised I was closing in on them looked at me and exclaimed: "Fuck me dead - it's Santa Claus in tights".

A very unfair description if ever there was one, but all the same I think I'm going to have to lose the beard.

4,133km so far this year.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A spring in our steps

Spring into Seymour is one of the most enjoyable rides on the Victorian audax calendar. It's a flat fast ride between the picturesque country towns of central Victoria. I rode the 200km version in a bit over eight hours last year and loved it. So I was determined to return, despite the move further south. So I put the bike in a bag and jumped on a plane.

The weather on Friday was appalling, but Saturday dawned crisp, still and clear, as per the forecast. Lancefield Lairs and Oppy teammates Steve and Andy and Ken were also signed up for the 160km/100 mile ride.

We set off at a fair clip and maintained it all day. The tyres were humming as we zoomed along. There was a fair bit of chatter and laughing of the usual topics: riding techniques, frame materials, gear choices, politics, the weather and absent friends. We rolled along the quiet country roads in a small bunch with a trio other riders who left us when we stopped for a short break at Nagambie. Onward we pedalled, enjoying the conditions, the company and the odd walk across old wooden bridges with deadly gaping gaps between the planks. The day was fine and we were having a great time.

We saw the trio again at Murchison, and then briefly at the delightful Lockley Pub, which they left about ten minutes before we did.

It's funny how the competitive urge flares. We had pretty much made up the time deficit at the secret control about 20km out, which they left in a hurry about two minutes ahead of us. We were rolling along nicely after that, but it was pretty clear Steve wanted to chase down the group ahead. Every time the pace eased he'd roll through on the right, eyes focussed down the road. Eventually we could see them in the distance. And reel them in Steve did: rolling up the road in a big gear and closing the gap about 10km from the finish. We stuck together after that, although there was a pretty funny touring bike sprint for the imaginary finish line.

Any day spent on a bike is a good one, but there are some rides that you remember fondly for years. The Oppy will be one of them, and so too I suspect will be the 2007 Spring into Seymour. What fun we had. And we completed the 160-odd kilometres with a riding time of 6 hours and 39 minutes. How we rock.

4,092km so far this year.