5:30am and I am rolling, as quietly as my little WRX will allow me, into Roberto's driveway. We strap his bike to the roof and head to the rendezvous to meet The Onion Man. He flashes his lights as he rolls in behind us and then we are heading North to meet the Crew.
By 6:15am we are ready to go. Group 1, the big kids, set the pace and before long their tail lights disappear around a corner and that is the last we see of them for the day. In group 2 there's Me, Lil Dog, The Onion Man and Slippery aka Roberto and Col. We set a comfortable pace out, letting our legs have a chance to warm up. Speaking of warming up, the weatherman suggested we would touch 24degrees. Who could ask for more. But the morning is still fresh and I had battled with what to wear. The forest and deep in the valley can be bloody chilly first thing in the morning. I decided on 3/4 pants and summer gloves. Good call in the end.
Behind us was Group 3. We never saw them all day either, once we were underway. The usual run up Bald Hill and I was a little apprehensive about how I would feel on the climb. I hadn't done it for 2 weeks and that can be a long time between drinks sometimes, and that can bite you bad. But the chest and legs were in good form and I didn't hurt as much as I thought I would. It always hurts mind, just the scale of pain slides dramatically up and down depending on the load during the week and my attitude.
Once at the top we stopped for a photo. After all, this was the first ride for Slippery and The Onion Man that would take in the entire Loop course. It had to be documented!
Some good fun there teasing Al before we headed into the Park. With Col turning home early, the two boys sat behind L.D and I chatting like a pair of old chooks. We hit the bottom of the valley and it wasn't too bad, but we continued the pace and started the ascent to Gerrie. A comfortable climb with L.D and I still on the front.
Once at the top we hit the rolling flats to Audley and further than any Onion Man or Slippery had been before. 4 x for L.D who had to do the last 2 times on her own. Good mental prep but a tough ride on your own. I had guilt, I should of been there with her. The boys were going to be in for a treat, we descended steeply down into the Audley Weir, crossed the river at eye level, which is always a surreal feeling, and then started the next heavy climb. I had warned the boys that there was another climb but they set the pace and soon I was left chugging away at my snails pace. I noted to some delight though, that they never really got too far ahead of me. I flagged badly here for a while, the hills taking their toll on my legs. Along the flat highway and now heading home I struggled. We made it to the garage and the Coke went down a treat, along with 2 GUs and a handful of lollies. I need to remember to pack a banana next week. Need more real food.
Once again the legs were dialled to churn over and we descended back down into the valley once more. The course now completing a 'P' shape and we were heading home. One more climb out of the Park, back to Bald Hill and homeward bound. We came down Bald Hill with the 'Slow Down' sign blinking at me angrily saying I was over 60kms an hour, actually 64.5kms ooowargh speeding!
The next hill we went down was a little scary as I changed gears my chain jammed and locked and there was no coming back. I eased on the brakes and managed to pull up, but the chain was jammed hard. Nothing to do but lift the little Cervi over the road barrier onto the footpath. I was pretty exposed on the side of the road trying to play mechanic. Finally under control I hunted down the other three. They were in a panic by now, waiting for me and knowing that I should have caught them on the descent, they assumed me splattered across the road I think.
Once over the Sea Cliff Bridge the mind and body said "HOME" and with renewed energy I sat directly behind the boys and pushed some massive gears to stay on them. L.D said later she was hard pushed to keep up with us.
Funny how it works, L.D can climb like a mountain goat where I am a strong time trialler. If only we could take a little of each others strengths and blend into one, we would make an awesome team. L.D was saying she was having trouble holding the weight on her due to the large work load, She is off to the Nutrionist to get some help. As for me, I sniff food and it clings to my bones. We definitely could use a little of each others body types lol.
A great day out, and guess what? We get to do it all again next week!