Archive for February 2014
I was the only one of the Yarraville crew on top of the bridge at 6:00, so I rode down and met the Williamstown group alone. One gentleman took a tumble in front of me attempting to cross (or unintentionally crossing) the ‘safety’ strip that separates the bike lane from the cars beneath the Seddon rail bridge. He went down moderately hard but didn’t get on the bike again. After much groaning and lamenting of possible clavicular breakage (unlikely given the vigorous poking his friend gave it) he waved us on and, duties of care dismissed, we got rolling.
Five repeats of Farnsworth were enough to elicit a re-taste of breakfast (one cup black coffee).
27km 1:02 320m
Jim asked me out for a ride ‘with a few guys’ on a ‘130k or so’ ‘out to Donna’. I was busy at work at the time of the invitation, so I took a quick look at the route, accepted and went back to work. Jim suggested an ‘early start’ to ‘beat the heat’, so I set the clock for 4:30a.m., a whole hour and fifteen sleep in over last week, so I could be at his place by six. I got to bed at 11, woke at 12 when Fee came in and again at 4 when Mae woke up. Before kids I would have come very close to bailing, but I’ve found you get used to doing things tired and take your leave passes seriously post-parenthood.
Speaking of last week, I haven’t felt a lot of snap in the ol’ legs since that little jaunt, but I figured I could roll out 130k up the back of the bunch without too much trouble. Anyways, I wasn’t going to say no to finally seeing the climb up Mt Donna Buang.
When we met Craig, Jase, Mario, BJ and Christian in a car park at Warrandyte it was 6:30 and the air was thickly humid and we met Jase’s two tag-alongs, Matt and Ash (who Jase had been warned would be tied to his bike in the event they couldn’t keep pace). Matt looked fine, but Ash looked out of place in a Richmond Tri Club jersey, waist-shorts, MTB shoes, half-platform pedals and a floppy two-bottle seatpost biddon holder. Nobody said nothin’.
We single-filed it out of town before switching to rolling turns with BJ, Jim, and Craig in the working group. Since I didn’t know the others and they didn’t seem interested in working in I figured they figured we were the stronger riders, but every time the road tilted upward I felt feebly that I should have stayed in bed and gone for a quite hour’s roll on flat roads. So not recovered.
At the turn into Don Rd, the road that climbs Mt Donnabuang, everyone backed off the pace, soft pedalling up to the start of the KOM segment (funny how the online world changes even bike rides). I figured I’d just try and sit-in on Jim’s wheel but… There he goes. Ok, Mario— no? Matt? Nope. Ok, I’ll just keep this poor triathlete company. For the first couple of km anyway.
The climb was beautiful, and I mean beautiful, the early sun running it’s fingers through the trees, and throwing crepuscular rays through the mist into dappled pools on the road. I didn’t breathe hard and my legs didn’t burn or strain, they just failed to turn over while my heart threw itself feebly against the bottom of my throat a thousand times a minute.
The guys were waiting for me at the top. I rode past them, touched the dirt road and turned around for one of the fastest descents I’ve ever ridden. It’s dangerously quick out there and there are traps on a couple of the turns. In other words, it’s Too Much Fun, but I’m still fucking wrecked.
Craig kept rolling (training for the Masters’ Worlds is serious business) while we stopped for a bite and coffee (thank you God) at Healsville.
Some time ago Neil posted a picture taken on Meyer’s Creek Rd on Flickr, to which I commented simply, ‘Take me here.’ It’s as gorgeous as it looks on screen and I wasn’t unhappy to be there, even as everyone rode out of sight. It’s a perfect, consistent, enduring gradient, ideal for playing bike racer games with bike racer friends, and with Craig in full training mode, Jim and BJ beginnign to find legs and Mario in good form, I’m sure many a half-wheeling gauntlet was accidentally dropped. I just watched Ash’s two biddons flop from side to side above his rear wheel, shrinking further and further away up the hill.
I rolled straight through over the top when I met the bunch. I must have looked a treat for BJ to ask if I’d like to stop for a bit, but I said I’d be happy just to recover on the descent. Closer to the truth was that I was happy for every cm closer to home I could roll. At the turn off to Kinglake I put my head down and resigned myself to digging a very, very deep hole.
At the 10km to KL sign I took out the shovel and tapped down the cassette, stiffening up the cranks and told myself to pedal harder if I wanted it to be easier and to my surprise felt very much better. I held second to fourth wheel all the way up, at one point looking back over my shoulder to see the group strung way back out along the road, splintered badly. Craig took turns falling off the back and then surging past us all, leapfrogging the group as a form of interval training.
With the method of riding on shattered legs uncovered my spirits were higher all the way home. Somewhere along the ride we stopped at Smiths Gully and I drank a bottle of Coke faster than I’ve ever drunk a fizzy thing ever, and it imparted magical powers of legs and happiness for pretty much the rest of the ride. Legs and happiness and cola burps.
145km 2,150m 5:19