What a ride. Big crowd of participants, old blogging friends, friends from suffering of yore and new types just waiting to be befriended.
I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up in time to drive up to Waitara to join Howard and Bec's 200km brevet. The last one I missed - got a call from Bec halfway up the Picton road - "Are you coming Grant? we're about to go!" So I checked the starting time twice and set my alarm.
At the start I was happy to see some ole riding buddies, Peter B from the ill fated Scone 600 last year (he made it), Bec and of course Howard (thought I can't actually say I've ridden with Howard he's much too fast), Adrian and a number of new faces, a couple Naomi and Nick who were on very handsome bikes touring indeed.
The ride itself was glorious, separating out the tragedy on the western motorway, the weather was grand, the company great and the riding rewarding. Even at the first controle in suburban Springwood the organisers had somehow arranged for entertainment in the form of an Irish Harp player.
Leaving Springwood on the second leg was not without it's misadventures. Peter, Ming and I set off, Ming on a rather nice 26.5 inch bike with classic TA cranks. On the descent of Macquarie Rd, Ming found some awkward bumps on a tight corner and went down hard. I was far enough away to avoid hitting him and after pulling him and his bike out of the path of oncoming traffic we patched him up as best we could with my emergency first aid kit before riding slowly on to Richmond where a train could get him back to civilization. He had displaced his shoulder but luckily had not broken anything, which was a relief.
From there Peter and I wound our way up to the second controle at Kurrajong passing the "touring trio" of Adrian, Nick and Naomi. After the warmish climbing, the views from the ridge into Kurajong were wonderful, as was the Sassafras cafe were we met Bec and others and enjoyed some lovely food, a great cup of coffee and friendly service. The touring trio arrived shortly after us and we left en masse and I got the opportunity to ogle Nick and Naomi's thoughtfully constructed bikes.
They had both recently returned from a touring holiday in New Zealand and the bikes looked great. Nick had a Surly LHT from which he had removed the stickers which made it look kind of exotic and different. Naomi rode a beautiful blue Europa, with Grand Bois tyres, hammered Honjo fenders, relaxed gearing, Brookes Saddle and titanium Tubus rack. Did I mention her Stainless bidons?
Seriously cool bike that could drift off the bitumen onto gravel and not crash. It was great chatting about it and I was worried that I would come over a bit weird but Nick and Naomi seemed to understand. It renewed my love of the more relaxed bike, of the touriste aesthetic, of the original Apollogy project which got me reduxing in the first place. (More of that later).
On with the ride
We rode on down to Sackville for a ferry ride and then on to Berowra for another ferry ride, chatting away the miles, enjoying the hills and revelling in the descents. Even the Cattai Ridge Road was not as painful as I recalled. I was getting a bit of hot foot and my achilles tendon was playing up but the miles passed pleasantly and before too long we were at the finish enjoying a quick rissoto and beer with the others and sharing stories. There are some impressively fast riders out there. The first group were back by 3pm.
It was a great day, fabulous ride and I really enjoyed the company.
Anyway so impressed was I with Nick and Naomi's bikes I have decided to follow through and get myself a Rivendell Sam Hillborne, Maybe even some tweed bags and a flannelet cycling shirt. Style I think, counts for a lot with me.
Mileage in Km = 2320
BRM km = 1000