Just before the winter shut down my every desire to even look at a bike, I went for a short ride. I wasn’t really feeling like a long or hard ride, and had just had some maintenance done on the bike, so what I decided was to ride up the highway to get a bit of a hill ride in and measure how far 6km out would be, so then I could start running that track up and back to get a 12km hilly run in for Blackwood training. Good plan, yes?
So up I go, up the highway, up the hill. The vets is nearly 3km up the road, and Trimmer Road (a very good hilly road) is about another half a kay up. I decided to ride down Trimmer as I think it will be my best training road for the Blackwood by far and wide. It’s got the best hills locally. So, cruising along down there, I get to where it would be 6km, and there’s really no identifiable place to mark 6km.
How do you remember a particular fence post on a line of fence posts? A shrub in the ditch amonst many? How would I ever know how far 6km was? Must remember to bring a ribbon or something with me on expeditions like this …
Well, what if I measured to the top of that big hill? Up the hill. Some oddly random distance, like 6.37km. Well, that’s no good to me. I’ll see what the disance is to Sirl Road and turn there, maybe the loop back into town will be around 12km?
And that’s where things get a little out of hand!
Remember, I’m on my road bike. Skinny little tires. Recently replaced back wheel and cog and spokes; I’m just testing it out, taking it on a gentle, short ride. And now I am on a washboard gravel road that is NOT doing my bike any favours!
The gravel on the sides of the road is thick and grabby, pulling my back wheel out from under me, but up where the gravel has been compacted the road is as bouncy as a Magic Fingers vibrating bed!
And there’s a car coming! The driver of the car must have been shocked to see me, especially as I squinted my eyes and pursed my lips and turned my head away to avoid swallowing the choking dust he was kicking up. In the process I rather closed my eyes too much and ended up getting kicked around in that thicker gravel, and nearly got bucked off my bike. I’m sure he was chuckling at me from his rear view mirror! But I recovered and powered on in a frightfully slow way, knowing that it wasn’t too much farther to the railway line and believing I would be home free, back on smooth ground!
I got to the railway track and thought I would be home-free, but I deceived myself! I forgot there was more gravel at the top of Forrest Hills Road, and so I fought again, downhill, in corrugated gravel till aaahh finally, the bitumen (pavement) and clear sailing.
All the time, I was watching the odomoter click over, and thinking I might actually have a 12km loop here. But no, it was not to be. The 12km, like the 6km mark, happened somewhere random down that road, too far out to be useful to me, with no identifiable tree, sign or marker. I rode home, and checked the odo. 14.19km, and nearly an hour of my time! And a FIRM promise to NEVER ride the gravel roads again!