Friday, 22 November 2013

Practicing, preaching, pedalling

craigzadphotos: Dalby Forest The Housdale Hustle
Saul grinding it out
Less than a week before I had been extolling the virtues of exercise induced vomiting in a misguided attempt to inspire Saul to push to his limits. Now I had the perfect opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, or more likely my breakfast where my mouth is. The Housedale Hustle - a hill climb I'd promised to race if Saul did, and he was more than keen.

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.
craigzadphotos: Dalby Forest The Housdale Hustle &emdash;
Mark... just a VCer without a jersey yet. 2nd in seniors!
The registration process wasn't quite the "Audax old school" of cheques and stamped addressed envelopes, but it had demanded either face-to-face or phone interaction with a real person, and this should be applauded. This also meant there was a fairly select field of mostly local locals and local club riders. There were fixies and flats on show alongside carbon exotica, baggies and a smattering of skinsuits. There were people warming up on rollers and turbos too, and not just the juniors. We just warmed ourselves with our hot chocolate in the watery sun.
craigzadphotos: Dalby Forest The Housdale Hustle
Me. Personal world of pain.
Two minutes to go and I teased Saul out of his fleece and got him lined up on the speed-bump starting line, holding his seat post, feeling like a DS starting a wiry grimpeur in a flat time trial. And then he was off like the weighs-nothing whippet he is. The acceleration of an eight year old can take most people by surprise, so he elicited a few admiring comments from the timers, but I know I can lift him with one arm and how quickly that turn of speed runs out if not constantly fuelled by Jelly Babies. I was nervous. Every other race he's done I could see how he was doing, clap and encourage him. This time he was out of sight within 20 seconds and that was it, just waiting until he reappeared again. There was some radio traffic about riders appearing out of order. As he was the smallest rider by far and the only one not on 700c wheels, I knew he'd been passed, but also that he was still going. That also meant I had to wait for all the juniors to come back down the hill before he finally rolled into view. He was grinning. He loved it. That was good.

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 -


Mullerton said...

Brill, you need to get Saul some red leg warmers though. The boy done well, you did ok too John.
Is that Mark the one at Mayhem the other year?

Jon Bateman said...

Thanks boss ;-)

And yep - it's that Mark