15 January 2008

Bikes 'n stuff

Guessed that I like riding bikes yet?

Yep, love 'em. However don't confuse my enthusiasm with my ability (which is sadly lacking). As one punter entered in the Otway Odyssey put it - "forever confusing ambition with ability". I think that sums it up rather well.

My big love is mountain biking - mainly XC. I love the freedom, the adventure, checking out new tracks, discovering new areas, picking a random dirt track off the map and riding it. I love racing (maybe the proper description would be 'participating in races'), I love events, and I love hanging out with other mountain bikers.

I do however enjoy road riding as well. Frequency-wise I probably do less of it, but km-wise I reckon the road bike sees more km. Not really into road racing, have had a couple of abortive attempts at it, but do enjoy the group and organised rides.

One of which was tonight. Every Tuesday night a de facto group heads out from Wodonga - heads south as a pack for 20 odd km, then turns around and races home. The group is pretty good, eveyone from A-grade whippets through to the D-grade and below (that's my category by the way). The idea is that at the turn-around, the slowest group (it's self-seeding) peel around 1st, followed by the C's, B's and then the A graders. Roughly arranged so that everyone comes through the finish line at the same time.

The route itself is fairly undulating, no flats, several long false flats, and a reasonable amount of climbing (and descending). Speed is lucky to drop below 25kph.

Well tonight didn't quite go to plan. Rolled out in the pack, straight into 37C heat & a challenging head wind, and ended up next a bloke who was also going to ride D grade home. Just before the turn point, he flatted, so I peeled off as well and helped him change the tube. Well this didn't go to plan either. Tube went in, pumped up, no dramas, SNAP, the valve broke off. Never seen this happen before. By this time the D's and the C's had rolled past, so I chucked my spare tube at him and took off.

By this point both groups had about a km on me, so I resigned myself to chugging home alone, and hoping to hell to hang on to one of the faster groups once they came through. Well they came through, and by geez weren't they motoring! Luckily I was caught on a descent, I was already at 45kph, and the B group came through like I was standing still. I managed to peg it and just (barely) grab onto the back. By this point we were touching 55kph, pulse at 195, seeing stars, and no hope of any respite. I managed to hold on for about 2km and then just couldn't hack the pace, so off I came.

Luckily I wasn't the first to drop, and certainly wasn't the last. There were a couple of spectacular blowups, a few people limping home looking like shadows of their former selves. I managed to group up with a few that still had a little in the tank, and we motored home at a reasonable pace.

Overall a good ride. With the commute from home, about 1:40 on the bike, HRmax 195, HRave 168. God knows I need the km before the Otway Odyssey! (more on that in later posts)

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