Monday, March 28, 2011

Up down across up down.

My biggest mistake on Sunday was saying to Nick earlier in the week that I thought it was time I put a bit of hurt on myself for the next couple of rides. Now although he says things like "I don't feel great" or "We'll just take it easy" or that crowd favourite "It's just a cruisey ride" I pretty much know that each time we go out he somehow tricks me into going harder than I thought I would. I'm a stooge! This time I employed the technique of reverse psychology in an attempt to trick him into going easy on me. The result? 60 kilometers, 2000m of climbing and about 150 gels to get through it.
I do make this sound unpleasant don't I? The truth is it was a great ride. The plan changed a bit along the way, the hills got a bit longer and steeper but all in all I had a top day riding around with a top bloke. We started out with the climb over Camp Mountain the short way. It's a climb that has consistant pinches of over 20% gradient and goes for about 2.2km. It has also suffered pretty badly with the rains here and is broken up and loose most of the way. Nick sat just behind me and we chatted for most of the climb. Occasionally I had to stop talking and concentrate my energies on making the particular section and then get my breath and only be able to speak in short bursts. I employed the Dale Garvey method for this climb. Don't look up, just keep pedalling and don't give up. I was even surprised when the summit appeared and although I had worked hard to clean the climb I never felt like I wasn't going to make it. I do have to admit to taking a really long time to warm up though. I reckon Nick must have heard enough of me whining to last a life time in the first part of the ride. Sorry mate.
Before long we were ripping down the tarmac to start the short haul up Nebo Road and the start of Scrub Road. I still wasn't feeling great or even normal. Dr Nick prescribed a caffeine gel as I admitted to no coffee before leaving on the ride. Half way up the climb on Scrub Road it hit me like a train! Legs felt better, head felt better, now I actually feel like riding. Alright! So up past the shelter on South Boundary and turn left towards Creek Road. The descent down to the valley floor was awesome with the usual double track four wheel drive trails reduced to a single file ribbon of dirt. It was tacky, red and swept clean of the gravel that makes the surface slippery and treacherous usually.
At the turn off to Augies Nick suggested we go further down to the very base of Creek Road and take Lightline Road back up to Nebo Village. The vallet floor had 9 creek crossings. It was beautiful to see the creek flowing clear and deep and it was pretty hard to not stop, break out a bar and have an impromptu picnic there and then.
About crossing number 6.
 Lightline is about a 12km climb with a section about 8km to start with and then a short respite before the final 4km grind to the top. It has been somewhat of a favourite of mine since the first time I made it to the top without stopping a couple of years ago. There were heaps of walkers out training for the Oxfam 100km walk. an old riding buddy of Nicks was amongst them and we stopped for a chat and a bite to eat. A pair of horse riders further up were very appreciative when Nick and I pulled over to let them pass on a steep hill. We really didn't want to spook the horses. As they passed us they stopped and asked where we had come from and told us of the conditions on Branch Creek Road where they had come from. Up we go now with the smell of coffee starting to invade my senses. it was like a ghost, just there and yet not quite. I was stoked to cross the gate at the top of the climb and hit the short tarmac traverse into Nebo Village and Boombana Cafe.
Coffee Nick style ensued. Long black, milk on the side and a panini with leg ham, swiss cheese  and tomato with just a smear of dijon mustard. Heaven. On. Earth. We stayed heaps longer than we should have but the conversation was easy and the surrounds perfect. It's always times like that where the best planning for epic rides happens. Nick and I have a couple of crackers planned now.....

Refueling and planning. Oh, and a little sponsor placement!

Unfortunately I had a time constraint on the morning and it was fast running out. A combination of the longer route to the top and the slower traverse across the valley floor had left me tight for time to get back home and meet my familial obligations. The tough decision was made to stomp back down the bitumen to Camp Mountain and then take the steep, brutal and boring climb over the summit and take the short track back down to the start point for the ride. I was sad to cut it short as we were travelling well and could have pumped out a reasonably epic ride. Nick was happy enough to oblige me and not make me feel guilty about the shortening of the ride. It was still a really satisfying ride and has left me wanting to get out that way again soon. I think that this winter is going to hold some truly epic endeavours and I can't wait to get into them.

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