Sunday, August 16, 2009

Twitching by Cycle

Goodbye sunny weather! This weekend has been wintery and very very damp, with Scottish mist clinging to the peninsula and plains like lint clings to a small child’s licked lollipop that’s been dropped on the carpet. For some reason I decided that I would go on a ride to Little River and back from Motokarara along the railtrail.

Sure, I can hear what some of you are thinking (I have powers) “She’s crazy, how boring”. Well yes, and no. I wanted to do a long training ride to see how my build up to Molesworth is going. So 45kms (ish) should be a good test. To be honest the ride started fairly badly. The overwhelming smell of a pig farm in the damp air urged me onto the trail and 3kms latter I realised I’d left the lights on in the starlet. Bloody starlet. It doesn’t come equipped with one of those handy alarms that let you know you’ve left your lights on and I’ve been caught out by it more than once. In fact, on Friday night I discovered this is problem for other starlet drivers also when we parked next to a woman with a flat battery who’d suffered the same fate. After giving her a jump start, and assuring her that it happens to me all the time, I did take a second to wonder if I’d jinxed myself. Yes, I had.

So after going back and turning the lights off and making sure the car still started, I set off again. And it was lovely. Misty, but not raining and only the slightest of headwinds. Visibility was pretty low, which gave the whole ride an other-worldly feel which was pretty cool. Unsurprisingly there weren’t many people out. In fact on the whole ride I only saw 6 other people on the trail. Nice.

So what’s the key to enjoying a cold, damp, flat, straight ride? Well an enjoyment of solitude helps, an appreciation of the changing moods of nature and to really enjoy this particular ride, a fascination with birds. I will admit a shameful secret now, I love bird watching. Before the biking bug bit me hard I loved heading out to the middle of nowhere to spot rare and interesting birds. Ellesmere has a lot of cool birds and I got to see lots and lots of them on my ride. Unfortunately, many of them were feasting on the clouds of lake flies that were in dense pockets along the trail. You could see from quite a distance where the flies were because flocks of birds, swallows, various finches, yellow hammers, dunnocks, fernbirds, all flitted wildly through the clouds of bugs. I also saw a gorgeous pair of Royal Spoonbills. I love spoonbills and have since I was a kid collecting the weet-bix birds of the world cards.

Of course this meant I had to piss about taking photos of birds and then of myself. So the first leg of the journey took quite a bit longer, well a lot longer than planned. Just over 2 hrs to get to Little River and I was feeling pretty smashed. I thought a feed would sort me out, but if it didn’t I could call my lovely husband to rescue me. So a large hot chocolate and half a very yummy mac’n’cheese latter I headed out of town to the phone booth and rang for a ride. No one home. Shit! Shit! Shit! There was nothing for it but to get back on my bike and ride.

The trip back wasn’t pleasant. I was pretty cold by now and knew I had to keep moving to stay warm, but my legs didn’t want to play. So I broke the trip down into parts. All the way along Lake Foresyth, then stop, eat some nut bar, move on. Birdlings Flat turn off. Stop, eat some nut bar, move on. Bridge over the river, stop and enjoy the view. Gate, stop, go through the gate, eat some nut bar, go on. Quarry, stop, notice family on the rocks, pretend to read sign while eating nut bar, move on. Even with all this stopping I still managed to get back to the car in an hour and a half.

I was broken. Completely broken. It was a long ride, a slow ride, but a good ride. I did discover that I really need to get a speedo on my bike, because without one it was like riding blind. But 53ish km of riding was a good test and with 2 and a half months till the big race I feel like my training is going well. I even managed a nice recovery ride today. It wasn't a ride I want to do often, but it was beautiful and it felt pretty special being out there alone.

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