|Off into the great beyond.|
Another gravel grinder, this this time a little longer than normal, but taking on some of the same great scenery. The Airwalk Extraordinaire is a 100km ride I put on last year, but haven't actually ridden in in one go myself. This year was the second running, so I was determined to take part.
The ride is a loop starting and ending at the famed Summer Kitchen bakery in Ranelagh and our compliment of five set off at 9am in prefect conditions. Chatting away, the miles quickly rolled by and we were at the foot of Denison Hill in what seemed like no time. My hill climbing isn't getting any better and I was determined to maintain a stately pace, so the others soon rolled away from me but we regrouped at the top. I made better work of the following climb and we were soon on our way to the Weld River. A stop at the bridge while one of our number fixed a puncture and we pushed on up the third major climb ahead of a lengthy lunch stop at the Tahune Airwalk.
The tarmac section back towards the southern forestry town of Geeveston is the section I haven't ridden before and despite the gentle nature of the climb I really struggled. The others had left me long behind as everyone settled into their own rhythm. I suspect it was the combination of the heat and the large early lunch I'd consumed, but I seemed to come good by the end of the second climb, which heralded the 7km downhill run into Geeveston.
By now, I was beginning to wonder whether I was going to be testing the 6h40m cutoff for the ride, something I haven't had a problem with on Audax rides for years. I had a good hour to make the 20km, but I was suffering a lot from hotfoot. I stopped at the Port Huon Store and refilled my waterbottles with lovely cool water and pushed on. I needn't have worried too much about the cutoff, I was in with 15 minutes to spare, which isn't such a bad effort considering the number and length of breaks we took.
658km so far this year.