|Saul grinding it out|
I've ridden Housedale countless times. It's a favoured way of kicking off a night ride, the fastest way to the Dalby good stuff. And it's the quickest escape route to coffee/cake/bacon/warmth when the forest bites back. It's a wavering ribbon of Tarmac that rises steadily for a few kilometres, taking you from the civilisation of Low Dalby to the high plateau above, usually losing a few degrees centigrade in the process. Gated and discretely tucked into a fold of forest it's well known to locals, but Mike (the Dalby CTC guy) decided it needed wider appreciation.
Strava tells me I've set some reasonable times up it, but that was distant memory, after I'd spent half the year training for some big rides. Strava also taunted me with the fact that I hadn't actually done a decent ride in three months. No amount of snatched lunchtime runs was going to make this less painful. The only suitable preparation was chocolate, so after signing on, pinning numbers and trying to warm Saul up I equipped us with 'deluxe' hot chocolate (that's with whipped cream and marshmallow performance enhancement) and chewed the fat with the locals manning the stop watches.
|Mark... just a VCer without a jersey yet. 2nd in seniors!|
|Me. Personal world of pain.|
All that was left now was my own performance. Even at my most unfit I've always known how to hurt myself on a bike and I demonstrated that to myself again here. I also knew I wasn't that unfit, just didn't have riding legs, so I went at it as hard as I could, mostly out of a morbid curiosity to see how bad I could make myself feel. The answer was really quite bad. For the last 500m I was weighing up the odds on whether I'd make the top without spraying those marshmallows over the bars. I made it, just, but it took a few moments recovery after the line to be really sure.
I cruised down, enjoying the faces of those gurning their way up, to find Saul doing what he does best, riding round and round in circles, skidding, and finding things to try and jump off. He kept that up for our entertainment as the final riders set off, including those on shopper bikes, and almost until it was time for the results. Then he demanded an ice lolly (in November!) and flopped until his name was called. He was bottom of the timing sheet (12:24), so no podium, but a special prize for his efforts as the littlest rider there. Mark, a VCer by proxy, managed 2nd overall (6:25). I happily accepted my mediocrity (7:24), proven by being slap bang in the middle of the times, secretly vowing that next year it'll be different.
Note Saul representing VC on the CTC site - front page too on rotation :-)
Many thanks to Craig for the pics - http://craigzad.com/