Smashing it: Part 2

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on March 11, 2010 at 4:29 am

This Wednesday we do a ride out to the airport. The airport I ask, how fars that? About 25-30k’s. There and back. Nah just there, all in your talking about 50-60k. I’m trying to figure out how many miles that is, mental arithmetic was never my forte at school. I’ve got an engagement back in town out at the Corner Hotel on Swan St, with a guy I met out in Kyoto, whose in Melbourne for a couple of days. And I don’t want to be dragging my arse out there at like eleven when he’s already good and toasted and I’m sweaty and bedraggled and ready for nothing more engaging than a night attached limpetlike to my pillow. In my head the number 40 odd pops up. Forty odd miles not too bad, two thirds of the way to Brighton, back by half nine, ten maybe I venture. Nick whose the defacto leader of this ride, thinks about it and then nods. Cool. I can do this, and maybe I won’t get kicked out the back this time.

There’s a nice crowd down at Federation Sq, there’s a luscious Yamaguchi, plus a fbm Sword, with gold phil hubs, old geezer with the shamal tubs is back, but there are others who I don’t recognise from last time round. Also Craig whose from Brisvegas and is heading out to Vancouver in a couple of days who I met at Polo is out and about, wanting to know more about the alleycat that’s happening on Saturday. I have no idea about that, I’ve already booked tickets and accommodation for the World Superbikes just down the way at Philip Island. Whoo Hoo!!!!

You get a lot of time to think when you’re kicked out the back of a pack of riders, there’s only like nine/ten of us, so I wouldn’t be as presumptuous as to call it a peloton, but I definitely am the lanterne rouge. Ride together, pedal alone. I get to think about how even though we’re not going as fast as last time, I still can’t keep the pace, I blame my spinny gearing again. Damn if I only had another couple of inches. Oooh Er Missus!

I get to think about the swooping, curving cycle path we’re on, how it dips and turns, alongside the course of the river it follows. The drying, trickling river, down in the riverbed, twenty or so meters below. We’d first come upon it after we’d turned left under the freeway flyover as we’d been heading out to Flemington, plunging down a curved concourse descending to a huge expanse of drain, overflow, run off, you know like they have out in LA, and which the Governator back in his acting life, leaped a Harley into, or the T-Birds, raced their hot rod along. It flies past, smooth and silent, and not a drop of water along its bottom. Passing a couple of boys with their skateboards, whose eyes and heads turn to follow us. I get to meditate on the foliage, darker green by the sides of the river, and sometimes in the river, lighter, sparser further away, the trees, overhanging. The breeze cooling me down. The churn of my legs, the ache in the tops of my thighs. The calluses growing ever thicker at the base of my fingers, as I get out the saddle and hoik myself up the intermittent changes in altitude. I get to think about the lack of scenic cycle paths like this in England, London. How here in Oz, you are so close to the countryside, that its never quiet, always something chirruping, or screeching, or bleating, or making some sort of noise. Letting you know that you are not alone. I get to think about how awesome this ride would be if there was a group of twenty, thirty, forty, all bowling along this path, occasionally coming across a walker, some joggers, those women dressed in tights and vests, caps on their heads, water bottle in hand, power walking towards you (does that actually burn more calories than running? Are they in the walk part of a run/walk routine?), young couples snuggled on benches, old people walking their rotund waddling dogs, or little snarling terriers rushing over the grass to confront another dog, whilst their owner calls forlornly for them to return.

I get to wonder how ruthless these riders I’m pursuing actually are. I’ve kept following the path, as it rises and falls, like some giants chest as they sleep, curving left, then right, slicing, through the undergrowth, across open expanses, over little bridges, with the river to my right and a wall to my left, avoiding the serious riders on their mountain bikes coming towards me, not wanting to leave space, afraid I’ll slip on the dust, dirt, gravel which is pulled across my path, afraid my camera will fall out of my pocket, even as something else catches my eye and I want to capture it, to show it you. I wonder when the boys in front will stop, will they ever stop? They have a harden the fuck up attitude, a man up attitude, and if I was from here I could understand, but I’m being taken out hella past the boundaries of my map and the boys didn’t even so much as look back as they pushed on and I fell behind. Wonder whether we are too soft back on THE forum rides, with our leave no man behind ethos, and our social rides, designed to make it easier for those new to any distance longer than the couple of mile commute to work. Wonder whether these boys need to tell newcomers how high the pace will be, how pushed and pummelled you will feel, so quickly after the start. Think about this as the equivalent of the Tuesday Night Rides, high sustained pace, training runs to push the limits of your endurance, Wonder whether I would have got dropped as quickly on them as I am on this. Know that Jonny would have loved this pace, up the front, tucked on a wheel, dancing hips as he sprinted up an incline. I get to think about how I knew the pace would be this high and yet I still signed up again.

I get to think they were waiting for me as the path diverges. I get to think they aren’t as bad as I thought they were.

We ride for a few more kilometres along the bike path, as the shadows lengthen and the view through my sunglasses gets progressively darker, even though when I peek over the top, its still light outside. Emerging from the undergrowth, hands tight on the bars, trying to still the desire to swing the bike left to right as I pull myself up the incline to where the boys are waiting, taking a little break, before the last push over to the airport. I look overhead at a pulsing purple sky and am distinctly unimpressed by the lack of aircraft. Swap my sunnies for my normal glasses and the boys are gone before I can get the case back into my rucksack. And I’m chasing down a long long road, round a roundabout, scrubland on one side, quick, impatient cars on t’other. The airport comes up surprisingly quickly. Still no planes, and we ride at a slightly more leisurely pace to the multi storey car park by the terminal and a decision is made to sprint to the top, and I’m excited by the prospect of spinning down on the other side as I sit my arse down in the saddle and spin to win, proud for the first time that I can actually keep up, albeit just on the wheel of the tail of this little group, feeling my front wheel lift every time I get to the top of a level ramp and turn right to hit the next rise. I’m disappointed to say the least when we don’t spin down, what was the point of riding to the top in the first place then. We take a lift down a level, and ride across the elevated concourse that connects Terminal to car park, pass a couple of startled travellers, then hook a right down the flyover of a road, a sharp left down the exit ramp and all end up at Mickey D’s for a fuel stop. I buy some Gatorade, and sip on it, as I tramp across some grass to get a photo of a road sign so that I can prove I actually rode out to the airport, as much for you as for me. We’re stationary for twenty mins, maybe more it’s not nine yet, and I’m quietly confident of getting back to town for ten. But I’m aware I’ve only had a couple of sandwiches all day, and even though I feel I should eat something, they don’t have any fig rolls, flapjacks, or anything that would give me that good long lasting energy, rather than the short sharp sugary energy spike of chocolate. The roll back is quick, but not thigh burstingly so, the group splits almost immediately and I’m on Nick’s wheel, as he charges into the wind. It takes as much energy as I have to keep on his wheel, and I apologise to him for not doing more work. I couldn’t go faster than him even if I tried. But the road is straight, and long, and wide, and cars still get annoyed that we’re there. I concentrate on my breath, on the wheel in front, on the big warehouse like shop called SexyLand we pass, toys for him and her!

Constantly aware of the cues that Australia’s human built landscape has taken from America, the wide two/three/four lane roads. So much land here that who cares how wide the roads are, the low slung buildings, the vast length of the avenues, and the shops built out where only a car can get you. As night envelops us my flashing front light, illuminating Nick’s rear wheel is all I can focus on, high in the sky, over in the distance I glimpse the tall blue lit buildings, and red neon signs of the CBD, almost home, and with that knowledge, I take the foot off the gas and realise at last how bloody tired I actually am, not bone weary tired, not off the bike straight to sleep tired, but tired enough to need to mentally chide myself as I start to flag on the uphills, and having to get out of the saddle on what I would have just earlier sat my arse down and pushed through. I start to slow to a crawl on every uphill and only the spins downhill will let me gain any sort of momentum. The boys up front slow and wave their hands as they pull left and right, heading home. No group meal tonight, its abit too late. Ten now. And Nick looks down at the trip computer on his bars and calls out 59k’s. He takes me back down to Victoria St market before heading off to his home and I know I’ve still got a few more kilo’s in me before I get to sleep tonight. I turn left and head down towards Swan St. Riding at my own pace for the first time all evening…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: