We struck out early with the aim of getting a few trails in before a brew and a chat. I still wasn’t sure of my form post sickness, as a commute during the week had been all heavy legs and no snap. It was warm enough for short fingered gloves (just) at 5:45, but down by the river it was fog and single digits on the mercury.
It’s a strange feeling riding towards the city on Heidelberg Rd to meet Neil, having spent 10+ years heading in the opposite direction. The light was already gorgeous when we met, but throughout the morning it got better and better. Everything was bathed in an optimistic glow. Blossom and buds were out everywhere and the grass was the greenest it’s been in a long, long time.
We noodled around Alphington and Ivanhoe, connecting some of the pretties suburbia you’ll ever see with sneaky alleyways and river-side trails. We squiggled without much direction or pace, but had plenty of giggles regardless.
As the legs warmed up we headed out along the main Yarra trail and then, on a whim, decided to kick it on out to Westerfolds on trails we hadn’t turned a pedal on since mountain bikes had 80mm of travel and tyres with tubes in them.
We fanged a different kind of bike through the single track, doubling back in along the river, railing everything and being as smooth as we could while shouting back and forth memories of bike evolution — Pythons as the first tyres I ran below 50psi, CrossMarks, Rocket Rons, and through those evolution the various people we rode and raced with.
It was the best morning of the season; one of the best in a long, long time.
63.9km 2:58h 763m
I’ve been recovering from a nasty chest infection for a week or so now, but a few little jaunts to work and back have been enough to tell me that I’m not ‘back’. Not wanting to bury myself, I figured I’d roll with the bunch to Apollo Bay, grab a coffee and then roll home solo. Plans changed however, when I got swept through the corner at the bottom of Skene’s Creek with the bunch. That was enough of an excuse to ‘just ride to the top of the climb’. I took it super easy. At the top, I figured it was just a matter of finding a decent group to hide in and I was as good as home.
With a couple of AGFs under the belt now, I learned the lesson of the plateau and stayed with a good sized bunch. With the help of a few switched-on riders in Ray White kit, we managed to get good rolling turns rolling almost all the way to the final climb. All the way up that sucker I thought I was going to pay for the effort the next day, I felt that under the weather. I just sat and spun granny gear all the way up, but those who passed me were panting hard, by and large. Many were stopped on the side of the road, one guy with less than 100m to go.
Along the G.O.R., I’d worked to stay on the tail of bunches that could offer some protection, but I didn’t feel like I was going hard by any measure, and certainly nowhere near as hard as previous years. Still, Strava reckons I got to the bottom of Skene’s Creek a solid 2:00 faster than my previous best. Go figure.
121km 3,271m(?) 4:25h
I’ve been off work for four days (it’s Friday today) with a hacking chesty cough and all the hallmarks of the flu bar the sweats. Everything else — the shakes, fever, the aches and pains — is there.
Just a couple of guys from work out for a Sunday roll this morning. Wilko (who I’ve barely seen since the REA restructure) and Nick, of the Developer Sales team. Nick was nervous about hills having only just recently moved away from Elwood and not having experienced anything steeper than Beach Rd.
We rolled a nice, relatively gentle loop out Doncaster Rd to Old Warrandyte Road, rollers all the way out to Yarra Glen and then back into Hurstbridge. Wilko had suggested Cherry Tree Rd, but I’ve been itching to ride up Flat Rock for weeks now.
Nick worked hard and had shown good legs all morning but looked to be running on vapour. I gave him a Gu and let the boys know I wanted to have a crack at the clock. I didn’t turn myself as inside out as I did last time, but banked a solid PR nonetheless. Well, I’m faster than I was last time when I stopped for a piss 100m in — not sure how fast that really is, but it’s a benchmark nonetheless. A truer indicator is that I’m only one second slower than Neil up that road as of today. I’ll need to find another two minutes and change to challenge DC though.
After that it was more of the same rollers all the way back to Montmorency for a coffee and then home again. Pony Club climb no challenge at all but Nick struggling, as I’ve done so many times, with an empty tank and those stem-staring eyes.
By the way, remember those ripped bibs from last week?
Here’s the damage seven days on:
81.4km 3:28hrs 1,336m
I’ve wanted to race (or at least ride) CX since about second year uni. When Shifter Dan put this Flanders up for sale, I couldn’t pass up the chance to grab a carbon-wheeled, disc-braked bike owned by the most fastidious mechanic in the city.
After week off the bike to put the sickness to bed, Neil took me in, out up and down the trails this morning. It’s great gobs of fun. Pretty much exactly like XC used to be, when suspension was short, tyres were narrow and pressures were high. Picking a line matters, and when you get it right you saaaail through the corner. Because it’s hard, it feels fast and fun.
A little kiss with a very abrasive tree meant a quick pit-stop back home to pick up some new bibs.
Neil and I discussing the finer points of bike philosophy.
We rode as far in as Richmond. It was a surreal feeling to be riding further and further ‘out’ along the trails, while getting closer to home. There’s so much goodness on my doorstep now it’s giggle-inducing.
68 km 3:13 hrs 729m
Best guess is that the thing I’ve been laid up with for the past week is Slap Face, or Parvovirus B19. I haven’t been feeling “sick” per se, but I’ll wake up feeling like I need to go to bed and spend the entire day in a fog, aching for a nap.
“Parvovirus is a virus that lives in red blood cells.”
“May present as anaemia.”
Sounds about right.
As of this post, I feel about 75% good. Back to work tomorrow, but probably won’t ride or train for the rest of the week.