Saturday, September 19, 2009

Even if it's Ousing Down.

A record field of nine signed on for the (inaugural) Even if it's Ousing Down two-day tour on Monday and Tuesday this week with local bike gang Bottles and Chains. We met at the Machine Laundry Cafe, a rough route was agreed and off we set for the delightfully named town of Ouse, 100km up, 100km back.

As is so often the case in Tasmania, up was the operative word. The first major challenge was the long hill over Glenlusk towards New Norfolk. A distinct lack of fitness told on me as the blokes on fixies and single speeds charged off to preserve some forward motion like men possessed and I gently spun up the long hill with a sympathy escort. A bit to much weight on the bike and the body will slow a man slightly. Once we reached the top there was a fine descent into New Norfolk and lunch.

It seemed pretty apparent that we were going to spend most of our day grinding into a headwind so I decided to head on alone and ride at my own pace. Everything became easier after this and I quickly rolled through Bushy Park, Westerway and Ellendale before the first of the quicks again caught up. Two fairly major climbs out of the way it was a gentle downhill roll into Ouse where were repaired to the pub for a post-ride refreshment.

An interesting and most convivial evening followed where the discussion was, pretty much non-stop, about bikes. No sub-topic too esoteric, no part too obscure, no fad too faint to have attracted notice and informed opinion. An outsider might have found our chatter a touch obsessive, but it was a delightful immersion among like-minded friends into the work of bike culture and the cares of the world be damned.

Tuesday morning we were back on our steeds for what promised to be a most interesting day in the saddle. From Ouse, we climbed the big hill on the outside of Hamilton and took the dirt road for Pelham, where I found my second wind. From there we had a screaming dirt and tarmac descent followed by a long downhill and wind-assisted scream through Elderslie and into Brighton for lunch. At this point I turned my wheels for home as the rest went for an exploration of the hills of the eastern shore.

My return along the bike path was delayed by Tasmania's toughest man for just long enough that I was right on time to meet the others at the pub for a pint to cap off a superb weekend. There's much talk of a similar trip or two come December. I'm rather looking forward to that.

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