Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mount Coot-tha Challenge.

So what else do you do on a rainy Sunday morning after throwing up for two hours the night before? The answer is ride 110km with some friends and have a to day!
I was shady when I got up. I had a wedding the night before and was careful not to drink too much. I ate heartily but not to excess but boy did I feel crook about midnight. So two hours of fun ensued and well, I was not happy.
In the last few months I have pulled the pin on quite a few rides with Nick. As he and Annick, his wife, were my riding partners for the day I knew if I bailed out from this ride and wasn't dead or missing a limb there would be merciless ragging. I got out of bed and struggled through the last of my preparations and rode over to the meeting spot, losing my breakfast along the way. Not looking good. Of course Nick coaxed me into cruising into the start line with the words"If you still feel crappy you can sit at the finish line and have a coffee while we ride." Yeah, I can see that working. Might even be fun. I got to the line and felt a whole lot better!
 I didn't think I could eat anything so I drank sparingly of my energy drink and water and vowed to take it easy and just cruise along. The plan worked great as we rolled off the start and through the city streets. The first fun bit came when we got to ride through the Clem 7 tunnel. It is usually off limits to cyclists and has a long steady descent to the bottom of the tunnel where you can really crank it out. There were a few pace lines forming and I got on one or two and even made a couple of my own. It was cool to fly down the tunnel and then start the long steady climb back out into the rain. Did I mention it rained all day?
After that it was over to the hill for the timed ascent. I had no illusions about a good time as I am a reasonable climber at best. I managed a 11:06 while Nick nailed it in 8:35. He got second in his category! All this and he was complaining of not feeling great before the climb. Just to put my effort into perspective the overall winner did  the climb in about 6:30. He could have done it twice in my time...... Once we were at the top it was awesome. There was mist! We never get mist here. The top of the hill was shrouded in cloud and you seriously could not see the other riders 50 meters in front of you. It felt like I was riding in the Swiss Alps or some other mist shrouded and exotic place. Cool.
Down the other side. It was really frustrating that everyone was on the brakes heaps. I hate that. It is much more dangerous trying to keep the speed down so much that you loose the rear wheel all the time. If you just ride through the corners and use the brakes sparingly the traction is much better. Oh well, I passed a lot of people. I also went really fast!
So there we were. Annick, Nick and I had all met up again and we were rolling along chatting and generally having a nice time. We met up with two other riders we knew in Troy and Tony at the first feed station and enjoyed some fruit and Winners Bars while chatting. The five of us set out from there and had a great ride swapping the front and trucking along at a very respectable pace. Troy has done some amazing rides around the area and is really into Audax style events and he and I chatted about some plans I have been formulating for a while. He is strong too. He held us no problems on his touring bike with mud guards and racks fitted. Tony is a laugh and we kept the banter going for ever. We just kept on trucking. With the ride over to the start and back it was about 110km.
We crossed the finish line, we had a coffee. It really wasn't much more than that. It was the company and the vibe that made it awesome. We were able to chat for the whole ride. Sure we all had a punt on the timed climb but even at the top we regrouped and rode along together again. Nice. There could only be one way to top off a perfect ride and that was with gourmet hamburgers at Nick and Annicks with my wifes lime syrup cake for desert with macadamia honey ice cream. The cup of Zambian single origin coffee, well there aren't words.
Not bad for a guy with a dodgy stomach.

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