I took our two dogs for a six or eight kilometre ride today, something they need every day or two or they get restless. We arrived home, but then the restless one was me and something seemed to be calling me to head out exploring so I locked the dogs inside and turned straight back around. I'd had a light lunch about an hour before and briefly considered grabbing an energy bar but couldn't find one in a hurry and I was just keen to get out on the road.
It had been my rough plan to just take an easy spin out to the foot of the Denison Range about 10km from home, take some photos of the view and spin home. It's a pretty flat ride by Tasmanian standards, with only a 300m climb right at the end. There were dark clouds scudding across the valley, though it didn't look like rain was overly likely. The first few kilometres went by pretty quickly as I burned off some excess energy and settled into a rhythm on the Long Haul Trucker.
I arrived at the bottom of the Denison Range climb and decided to ride a little way up to enjoy the view. I took some photos and I noticed the Lonnavale Road I've always wanted to check out was just down the hill. Not being in a hurry I rolled down the hill and turned left.
I've probably mentioned it before, but the countryside in this part of the world is absolutely stunning. The well-made dirt road snakes along the river valley, there are little farms and scattered houses on either side and there is hardly any traffic. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds and silhouetted the trees on the ridgelines in the distance. So far, so good.
The fist pangs of hunger hit about five kilometres up the road. I knew what would happen eventually, but I thought I'd tempt fate and see how far the road went. This was virgin territory and who knows what wonders lie beyond the next bend? About eight kilometres from the turnoff I passed the campground, then a crossroads and ended up at a bridge across the Russell River which seemed as good a place as any to turn around. The road back was mainly downhill, I had a gentle tailwind and was still making good time and although my energy levels were starting to drop I was confident I'd just make it the remaining dozen kilometres or so home before I blew up.
There's a famous Daniel Rebour cartoon showing what happens to cyclists who don't match their energy intake to their expenditure. It shows some poor bastard copping it from The Man with the Hammer. It's a pretty accurate depiction of what happens. In a more innocent age, we used to call it "bonking": there's a gradual lead-up to be sure, but ignore the warning signs for long enough and one minute you're moving ok, the next you're sitting starving and spent at the roadside wondering how the hell you're going to get home. It's sufficiently memorable that I can say with certainty that it's happened to me exactly four times in my life, and it's not a pleasant experience. By kilometre 35, with 5km left, the Man with the Hammer was about 100 metres behind me and gaining fast. I was pushing lower and lower gears and my pace was slowing and all I could think about was how soon I might be able to get something to eat.
The Man struck about two kilometres from home, a short distance up the long climb to my place. I was ok, then I wasn't. I gave up pedalling and slowly wheeled the bike up the road, wishing I'd been slightly less ambitious with the distance or at least taken something to keep the hunger at bay. All in all not a bad 40km jaunt, but the visit from the Man With the Hammer is not something I'm going to need reminding of for a while.
2204km so far this year.