This was my first bash in a whole year, so I was really not sure how much I’d suffer. True it was only an 18km route, but wasn’t there something in the description about a dragon’s back? And that sounded like it might be kind of hilly. Whilst removing many months of accumulated dust from my bike, I decided on a game plan – just walk up the hills. Save energy and survive.
The first hill came very early on, a taste of what was to come for the rest of the ride. I shamelessly got off my bike moved to the side and started the first of many lengthy uphill pushes.
To be honest I don’t recall the details of the ride (I rarely do), but there seemed to be a steady stream of hills and I settled into a walk up/ride down pattern. That was until the trail disappeared. It completely vanished from view. Instead of a nice whizzy downhill there was a precipice. This is not the kind of thing that mere mortals like myself ride down so it was necessary to amend the survival strategy and push the bike down. As I slithered downwards using my bike as a balancing tool/brake kind of thing, I recalled something in the briefing about a downhill section and told myself this was probably it and things wouldn’t get any worse which actually they didn’t.
My push/walk strategy worked well and I could comfortably keep going. I even caught up with fitter friends at the hike-a-bike section by the construction site. As I don’t ride with a GPS or even a wear a watch, I never know quite how far I’ve come on a ride in terms of either time or distance. Of course, I only start to think about this when I get tired; at this point tiredness was creeping up on me. I knew my friends had GPS and could tell me where we were. So then, the dilemma – to ask or not? If they tell me we’ve done 15km I’ll be ecstatic and if they tell me it’s only 5km I’ll be demoralized and probably give up and lie down.
I asked and got told we’d come 11km. They were quite pleased about this. I was less so, but I suppose it could have been worse. No choice really but to get on with it, so I clambered back on the bike and followed them on a rare flattish section of trail. At the next rest stop, I checked the distance again. This time there was only 3km to go. Excellent news.
Spurred on by the knowledge we were nearly home I happily pedaled along until a break in the trees afforded an uninterrupted view of the trail ahead. Clearly visible was a bare orange strip of track running straight up the next hill (which looked more like a vertical cliff face). On this sheer climb were small ant-like creatures inching their way up. With some squinting I could see they were actually people pushing bikes. I could have cried and did indeed threaten to but no-one was giving me any sympathy, so there was nothing for it but to charge down to the bottom of the hill and once more apply the pushing strategy. It was a very steep gravelly hill – a take one step forward, slide three steps back kind of hill. Not the most fun, but not insurmountable either.
The last stretch of the ride had a final challenge for me, some steep descents. I rode as much as I dared. The cars were soon in sight. Clean up, lunch and then home for nap roulette (which turned out to be a long one – no surprises there!)
A big thanks to the hares for all the work they put in setting the ride for us ☺