Sunday, November 17, 2013

Please wait while we dig up the road

It's a left turn off the highway, into a light industrial area that eventually leads to a frontage road. Technically we're still in a suburb of Sydney. Cyclists are popping up everywhere.

On the left, in a driveway two blue jerseys that are easy to spot, the uniform of Seattle Randonneurs. Mark and Rick are fixing a flat. They're less happy to see us. Mark's face is dark and thoughtful — I feel a guilty twinge for wishing flats on the other riders, a chance to catch up. (OK, a small twinge.)

At the roundabout, we can't take the second exit because a road crew is busy renovating the pavement. From their point of view it's Sunday morning in a commercial area, light traffic. Let's dig up the road! Car traffic is light, yes, but what about the mysterious swarm of cyclists? We're supposed to go a block in the wrong direction then double back and stop in front of a flag person and wait for a break in the project.

For expediency I cut across the grass median and stand hopefully in front of the flag guy. Ready to go... He's gazing down at the pavement, avoiding our eyes, not good. The guy with the asphalt roller is rolling back and forth, back and forth. He's also gazing at the pavement, mesmerized by his work. It's like they're meditating or something.

There's grass by the edge of the road. Because it's an option and hurts no one, I lift the Waterford onto the grass and push it, running alongside, past the roundabout, past the road project. That's the beauty of a bicycle – you can just pop it back on the asphalt and continue toward Melbourne.

As it turns out, with that final insult we have reached the edge of the greater Sydney area. We're on Campbelltown Road and Campbelltown (founded 1820) at 55km from the Central Business District, is now considered an outer suburb. From here it gets more and more rural, green, and beautiful. There are actually horses and cows!

Most people, when they think of a long, hard bicycle event they imagine road closures, pace cars with flashing lights, spectators and so on. This is the reality. A brevet, a fringe event with 54 riders. No one notices, or is even slightly interested in what we're doing. By the time we get to the back roads and smaller towns, that will change.

For now, it's enough to escape.
Craig McGregor, climbing one of many hills on Day 1 (yes, that's dirt!)

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