arriving this morning at the start of the ride just on 6.00am i was confronted by the sight of a few lean, strong looking riders, plus irish_john (sorry, no, just joking, he was looking lean and strong, too). "hmm, i said, you look more like hounds than rabbits". "no, we're rabbits" came the dissimulating response. ha ha, expect me to believe that, do you? do you really think i'm going to fall for that old one?
off we went, at a fair old speed. as we neared the top of the canty hills their quick cadence and strong riding became too much for my slow, infirm style of cycling and so, as inevitably as the dark unconsciousness of night follows the bright energy of the day, i started to slide off the back of the group. but, lawdy me, they didn't get that far ahead of me by the time we summited, and so, sucker for punishment that i am at a time when i could have just held back and done a nice little pootle around the course, keeping within my limits, taking it gently and generally having an easy time of it, i scrambled to get back on to the group.
around into middleborough, and keeping with the bunch as we ascended deadmans, get the red light at the top, which was apposite as it was an excellent colour match for the red zone i was riding in to keep with the others up the hill. waiting for both the green arrow to arrive and my breathing and heart rate to subside, ness and focus rider pulled up behind us. ness gave us a pithy summary of how he was feeling after his catch-up of the group.
turning into whitehorse and starting the acceleration up the first of the nemesis hills, i started to get those nagging doubts that plague me when riding with the rabbits/ hounds: "what hubris you have, thinking you can ride with these people, just power off, let them go, just relax…relax…relax…". trying to ignore that as we started the second of the hills, my heart sank when two hounds went speeding past the group, and the inevitable acceleration happened as rabbits decided to be more houndish than they were already, just when i was already strung out. i tried a pathetic little acceleration to catch up, and miraculously somehow managed to. but then on the flat in blackburn i ran out of puff, and started to fall back again. this time i decided to not fight the tide of history, and let the pressure off the pedals a little. "hang on to the wheel! hang on to the wheel!" came the cry from ness. but no, that simply wasn't going to happen.
"well, a solo ride's not such a bad thing- perhaps if i try hard i can catch up to the mice" i reasoned- no, post-rationalised- to myself. but- what's this? kindness, who clearly could easily have stayed with the group, has decided to hang back with me. well, that's nice of him.
so the two of us rode the rest of the course together, at the start with me tucked in behind him to gather my strength back and, subsequently, the two of us swapping the lead. my, wasn't the head wind along doncaster road strong? turning into elgar, i enjoyed a really tight, weight down low, hug the bike, high speed compact turn, tyres gripping the bitumen, centripital and centrifigual forces in balance, friction and gravity all working as one to propel me on a tight arc on the camber next to the gutter. ness, just behind, immediately jumped past me, ignoring the work of kinetic art that had just been performed in front of him, and the two of us sped down elgar. on the subsequent belmore climb, ness maintained his speeding ethos, whereas i slowed to a crawl. being niceness, he waited for me at the regroup.
on the run to balwyn road we caught up with the mice, who had divided into a couple of groups at this point, and rode with them the rest of the way. just for a bit of fun i exceeded my daily quota of energy expenditure and sped past bones up the fintona hill, somehow managing to not puff, keep my stomach pulled in and look casual all at the same time! i'm sure he saw through that facade.
and then back for an excellent coffee. Thanks everyone for a highly varied but always enjoyable ride.
getting older but still enjoying cycling