Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Heading out of town we make a left turn onto a proper country road. Off the highway. Yea!
Day four is payback time for the hard work over the previous three days as you ride 220km from Mansfield though Yea and Healesville to the Melbourne CBD, along cycle ways and quiet roads.
That was the web site talking. Somehow my mind turned that into pretty flat. No major climbs. But almost 2200 meters (7200 feet) of elevation gain, well it's a non-zero amount. Where does all that climbing come from? Over 140 miles, many many many smaller climbs. Constant climbing. Lumpy.

Given enough time and hardship, the layers of denial fall away. The wind is blustery, forbidding, with a cold edge. The sky is a low film of flinty grey. Fitting somehow. 

Poor Hamish and David, stuck with me, the weird foreigner with the drug problem. We have to find something to chat about. With few cars we decide to live a little, riding side by side.  No one's going to pull out a Garmin and recite the reality of what lies ahead. No one's going to say how their bum is sore (although I'm thinking, that cornstarch stuff is magic. Zero friction!). No one's going to admit they're ready to be done because even at the 100k mark for the day, 120 left to go. Longer than a Saturday ride, on fresh legs.

The road is quiet and lovely (though wide). The problem is the surface. The lanes have this laughably rough chip seal, hard to ride on but silky smooth compared with the shoulder. They might have resealed only the lanes, then scraped all the debris from the project to the side of the road. I'm swerving around islands of deep gravel and 3D anomalies. Some focus required.

So we talk about road maintenance! Infrastructure. Rail, public transport. Systems for getting where you're going. They ask whether the roads in California are in better shape than this. I have to snort with laughter. Whether it was the last budget crisis or 10 years of insolvency or the actors we elect to state offices, our infrastructure is crumbling.

We're caught by Mark and Rick, and a rider from Japan who shows up in Toolangi State Forest. From the looks of it he's finding this leg lumpy as well. No time for photos; I have to keep up with these guys. Lunch was a slice of cake and a coffee in Yea and fuel is running low. A Hammergel does the trick.

My legs are sore and weak. Nothing left in them. Yet there's that little trick from Norway, where you sprint to get the lactic acid out of your legs. After all, David has been racing me to the crest of each hill. Game on! I let him win, then accelerate on the descent and blow past him on the next one in a sneak attack. Rinse and repeat! Momentum is such a beautiful thing. Eventually we're exhausted, but my legs feel a lot better.

It would be nice to know exactly how far it is to Healesville, the next control. Too proud to ask Mark. I'd like to know for sure they'll have real food there.

Thank goodness it's downhill.

1 comment :

  1. 'with the drug problem' made me laugh! But I do the same thing, tote along a few 'just in case' supplies, in case of knee pain etc.
    7200 feet? Sheesh. And that's the reward day...
    It's good to know about the sprinting to clear out some of the lactic acid - I had no idea. Thanks!