I got a real treat on Sunday. It's a little run from Gap Creek up South Boundary Road to the Boombana Cafe for a coffee and muffin. It's the same ride I have done many times and it always makes me smile when I think about it. The difference was I got to do it with soem really ace people. I've ridden alone alot lately and while I enjoy that, the social part of this ride was the highlight. I also got to ride with some quite inspirational people.
It was a big group, 12 in total. The usual suspects, Nick, Pete, Meg, and Gaz and then there was John, Rob, Bruce, Brad, Hal, Ross and Tim. Now Nick, Pete, Brad, Gaz and myself are all over 40, Tim and Hal I think are in their thirties, Ross in his late twenties and the rest were all over 50. If anyone is thinking that this meant the pace would be slow they could not be more wrong. Right from when we set off to do a bit of single track to start the ride it was on like Donkey Kong. Man they were pushing it. We blasted out of Death Adder to start the first part of the climb up South Boundary and I thought my lungs were going to jump out of my throat. I had John breathing down my neck the whole way through the single track and it was only when I cleaned a tricky little pinch obstacle that I got away. He blew it.
The best was yet to come though. The climb up South Boundary started and the pace settled a bit for the first hill or two. We hit a long fast descent and I let it go and flew through overtaking a couple of the bunch as I went and started the grind up a long incline relaxed and feeling pretty good. That's when the train hit me. Three guys, all over 50, in a pace line up a 14% gradient. Wow. I tried to grab on and managed to cling by a thread sticking out of my gloves to the back of the line. What's even worse is they were goading each other on! "C'mon JT what are ya doin'?! Pick it up a bit. It's not an afternoon in the country!" No JT, don't. Just stay where you are. Please god no. Ahhhh! Sorry, that bit was me.
Now it is about 25km to the cafe up South Boundary and this kept up all the way. I might get past a couple of them on the descent and then it was grind and groan to try and stay with them. There were a couple of short stops to regroup and let the back markers catch up. The group was pretty evenly matched so these were short, and Bruce made sure they were. "C'mon, lets go. I'm cooling down here." Apparently Bruce is 60. I don't believe it.
Finally it was time for a coffee. Sitting there and thinking how lucky I am to do what I do, I thought also of how lucky I am that I can continue to do it for a long time yet. Bikes are good. We all shot the breeze and enjoyed a very lively conversation about bikes and life. Very nice.
Time for a leisurely cruise back down the hill. Well it was leisurely if you call smashing every climb and then sprinting on the descents as hard as possible leisurely. There is 890m of climbing to the top of Mt Nebo from Gap Creek in 25km. There is also 500m of climbing on the way "down". Not bad hey. It wasn't until the very last bit of single track that the legs fell off the old boys. I got to run riot over them and even managed to catch up with Nick and Ross. We cruised back along the last of the single track and down to Gap Creek and the cars.
So there we were, 50+km with over 1300m of climbing and an average of over 18km/h. Damn those old boys were fast! I am trying to be that fast now consistently. Great to think I could still be that fast in 15 to 20 years time. When I think of it I smile, a lot.