Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Big Ride 2007 pt 1

I'd never been on a big ride before, so was very excited about it. Training rides around Wollongong lifted from bikely.com and from the IBUGs Tour de Illawarra were great and slowly I was getting fitter, riding farther and faster.

One of the more notable training rides was up in the Dharawal Nature Conservation area, a popular spot for mountain bikers. I'd chosen a route - about 32km of well maintained track riding down along O'Hares creek and back up to the plateau. Looked promising and I planned my Saturday morning around it. Comes the morning, the forecast is for high to extreme temperatures but I ignore the weather reports reasoning that I'd only be out an hour or two, had plenty of water and I was riding along a creek.

So all was going well until I down into the gorge and past the mostly dry creek and start climbing back up to the plateau. The track became very sandy or alternatively very rocky but mostly very steep and I frequently had the resort to shouldering the bike. After a while of this and with the temperature rising dramatically as the morning wore on, I realised that one of the water bottles was missing from its carrier and the other one was very nearly empty. Big Oops!

I calculated that I was about 8km from the car (and water) but it seemed a hell of a lot further. I had no mobile coverage and no idea where the full bidon was so I had little choice but to push on in the growing heat and my rising panic. It seems a bit silly now, reflecting on it, from the comfort of my office, just how scared I was.

I eventually made it, taking it slowly stopping in the shade as much as possible, riding slowly but all the while it was getting hotter and I was seriously worried and thirsty and sunburnt and heat stressed by the time I got to the car. The temperature topped out at C 43 degrees.

The Big Ride itself was terrific despite some very hot conditions but I reckoned I had trained for it. The Avanti, even with knobblies, was great to ride and could spin up the hills without any problems. Sure it wasn't as fleet as some bikes on the ride but then neither was I. The important thing was that I was riding again and getting ideas about riding further.

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