what seemed like the shortest sleep i have ever had came to an end this morning at a smidgen before the alarm went off. the late nights of tour watching are starting to take their toll and last night also involved getting the house ready for the launch breakfast. this event was to mark the official beginning of our new group. we have been riding together for sometime, but the new kit now seals the deal as far as who we are. half of the kit had been distributed last week, but there were still quite a few that had not collected. it will look awesome when the majority of our riders are all matching.
a handful of riders were meeting at my place this morning as they were going to drive to and from the start. with the group ride finishing at my place for a change, i had a few friends to roll to the start with. the predicted overnight temp was dismissed as a bad prediction as it dropped to 3 ½ deg by the time we were underway.
quite a good turn out this morning, but as i had asked for rsvp’s, i kind of knew how many we would see. there were a few old faces making a return as well as some that had not pushed a pedal in anger for a while. on top of that, some new-ish faces were to be seen. the route would be an adjusted variation of a typical bannister rd sprint, but changed so that we finish at my place instead of the city. a easy roll down canning, along stock rd, up south st, sprint bannister, regroup on nicholson, swing onto albany, before detouring along manning and kent. with the only fast point being bannister rd, i was hoping that it would all stay together.
huddling together like penguins in the cold, the groups numbers swelled as the clock struck 7 and we were off. typically, ryan was still nowhere to be seen so we were hoping for a nice easy sprint along bannister. like some sort of permanently slow clock, ryan turned up like clockwork, just as we were leaving. as he lives around the corner, he can afford that extra bit of sleep-in. however, he is moving soon, so he better get his crap together when that happens.
we rolled down coode st and onto canning hwy. the pace was nice and easy and remained that way until we hit the first main hill coming towards melville. the riders found their own pace and soon the pack thinned out dramatically. i had already dropped back and was working my way through the debris of riders going backwards. i gave shazza a bit of a push, but she said to leave her as she would turn around and take a short-cut up risely. once we hit the top, the group had pulled over into a bus bay and was waiting for regroup. its good to see the group looking after itself.
stock rd was full of rolling hills and the group did it’s best to stay together. i was playing sheep-dog today and was trying to round up any strays from the back of the herd. dr greg was struggling big time and a rode with him a bit before he told me to go on ahead.
we turned onto south st and the rolling hills continued. lisa, bec and dave fell off the back and i was a bit unsure on my course of action. drafting wouldn’t have helped that much as the hills was the killer, rather than the wind. i ended up pushing lisa back to the group and letting the other two fall further behind. once we had been reattached to the back of the field and slowed again and waited for dave and bec. by now the road flattened out a bit and they could neatly fall in behind to get a draft back. we chased for a while and managed to get back on before we turned off onto bannister.
this was the designated fast section of the ride, and i could tell some of the boys were itching to go. chris lined up to go just as the lights changed to red so he sat back down again, his intentions known to all. he didn’t care though and as soon as the lights changed back, he was off up the road. a small group was on his wheel, but in true rouleurs style, no-one came around to help. i got down into time trial position and dragged the rest of the group up to an around the struggling form of chris. eventually i was overrun by riders and fell into step about halfway along the group. ryan had taken off and split the front of the pack up and gaps were starting to form.
it was beginning to look rather ugly, but then the saviour of the backmarker appeared in the form of a very, very big truck. well, the truck wasn’t that big, but the load it was carrying was massive. it was a steel truss for a bridge or building or something very large and it covered the two lanes we were in, the medium strip, the two opposite lanes and was still in the driveway. the driver was trying to negotiate the corner without brining down a light pole when he turned. as get smart would say, “he missed it by that much”. it was close. we debated turning around and heading back up another road, but then some bright spark remembered that we were on bicycles and we bypassed it via the footpath.
after that, i assumed wrongly that the group would just stay together as there was not much of bannister rd left. like a shot they were off and people were scrambling to get on board. i looked back and saw dr wally trying to help lisa and bec, back to the group. chris and i jumped on in front of them and started trying to pull the gap down.
with a favourable wind, we were not doing it too hard, but at the same time, we were not making up any ground. the group stayed that couple of hundred metres in front of us before we hit albany hwy. here we started to get the lights and this widened the gap and i thought we would have no hope of catching them.
a stroke of luck for us had out hope raised when it was obvious that half the group had missed the turn to manning rd. they went past but realized their mistake so came back through hamilton st. i thought we would cut them off, but they got a good set of lights and stayed in front of us. we were now split into three groups, but as the middle one contained all fast (but navigationally inept) boys, they quickly made up ground to the people who can read a basic map.
our group, unfortunately caught the set of lights at leach hwy. when they changed, we took off after the group kind of knowing that we probably would stand a chance of catching them. bec told chris and i to go on ahead, but i didn’t want to leave them on manning rd in too smaller a group. the undulations took their toll on our chase and soon we had broken down from a tight drafting pack. i got bec onto chris’ wheel then fell back to grab lisa. dr wally jumped across to chris as well and i dragged lisa across the final few rollers.
surprise, surprise, when we approached lawson st lights, the pack was waiting to turn right and was caught in the turning lane. we blasted past them asing what were they turning there for. they were quite a bit early and the super map reading skills said that any old road would do.
the main pack split apart and chased us down to be all together by the time we were at the correct turn up kent st. this would be the final run for the day, as we were turning up back streets to get to my place after this. i was not sure if people would know were to sprint too as we had not past by here before. it didn’t matter really, as they just needed an excuse to stretch the legs. ryan and co stepped it up and i managed to move forward a bit but stayed mid-pack till the turn. not sure of the final result as i was more concerned about getting the group to the breakfast on time and in one piece.
we rolled into the garage and there were already a couple of bikes parked inside. it turned out that sharon had found her way along south st and was waiting for us to catch up with her. dr greg eventually did catch her and told her that the pack was long gone. they took a shortcut and made it to breakfast before us.
with all the bikes packed into the garage for safe keeping, we ambled in to find a remarkable spread of food already set out and waiting for us. lorraine had catered well and people were eating the drinking in no time. the outside table was left bare as the heater was cranking inside and everyone was huddled around it. luckily it had not rained this morning so we weren’t too filthy by the time we turned up.
once we were fed and watered, i handed out the remaining cycle kits to those that needed it. we then raffled off a few of the prizes that lorraine had managed to aquire for the group. dannika, one of the girls that davina has been training, won a subscription as did anthony and paul. the “major” prize of a pair of euro optics sunglasses with four lenses, went to michael. the raffle was drawn by my ben so that it was obvious that no favorites were to be had. thanks to euro optics, ride media and bicycling australia for their contributions.
those that then wanted to, could have their bike weighed as we had james’ swish weigh scales. some people were not happy with their results, but i have been assured that these scales are more accurate than the cheaper bike weigh style. i will update the results on the blog soon.
so a very successful day today, with our inaugural social occasion being received well by all. even kate said that we should do it again, but probably when the weather gets a bit nicer.