After my race, I hung around a bit, to watch the Men's B grade and catch up with a few people. The men's race was delayed with the crash in my race, and when Mr Wino retired, I decided it was time to hit the road and get myself to Bright. It was midday, and it was reasonably hot. I had fluids, I had eaten, I was ready to go!
what's with the ladder??
I took the road from Wangaratta to Everton, then after a stop for a coke and photo opportunity I hit the rail trail. I was tired, my saddle wasn't doing its supportive role as effectively as it should have (well, considering the scraping it had been through, it was actually holding up really well), my back and glutes were hurting, my brain was not in a happy place. And that was after 22km! So I decided I'd take myself off the main road, so I didn't have to contend with the traffic, ie one less thing to worry about.
The trail is slightly uphill all the way to Myrtleford, as well as being dead and covered in tree trash, and ant nest sand. I had my race wheel up front. Probably not a good combination, but post-ride I can vouch for the durability of Euros. So I pedalled along, at bike path speed (slow!!) and saw some cows, and some other cows, and then further along, some cows. The stockhorse stud was a feature amongst all the...cows.
Then I hit Taylors Gap. 4km of uphill. You got to be kidding me?? The road to Bright is flat!! Surely it's over soon... The only recompense was the awesome multi-km downhill section after. Until I hit the bridge. The one that was much earlier signed as "Rough Section Ahead" on the trail. Rough section? Ok, what does that mean? No sealing on the section? It's been ripped up?? Tree roots lifting.. o SHIT!!! my front wheel!! Why didn't you say BRIDGE you arsehole sign???? Thankfully it was short, but long enough to knock my eyesight out for a few metres. Triple ouch with lambs kidneys on top.
Along the way, I was very conscious of odd noises coming from the bike, in light of its experience the day before. And of course, when you listen, you hear all sorts of garglings and gurglings that you may not have otherwise noticed. So when I start to hear a clunking noise, I think ok, the saddle has finally given up (I had a brand new saddle in the backpack, just in case. Thanks Manon from Rock and Road Cycles!!) So I stopped and checked the saddle. Nope, nothing there. I get back on and keep riding. Clunk clunk clunk. I stop again and check the bottom bracket in case there is a split or fracture or similar there. Nope, all good. I get on and keep riding. Clunk clunk clunk. Then I realise. I have the zip of my Sam Miranda jersey done all the way down, and the zip tag is hitting the large plastic buckle of the waist strap on my back pack. Doh!! (and some big relief).
There were also some awesome photo opportunities on the way: a herd of steers pawing up a dust cloud around them, ochre rusted machinery in the direct midday sun, a row of rusty old bikes as a fence. But, I was on a mission, and have committed them to the memory experience instead, somewhat regretfully.
After Taylor's Gap and the Bridge From Hell, I hit Myrtleford and a lunch stop. It was 2.30. It had taken me 2.5 hrs to ride 48 km from Wang. I felt like shit. As I walked into the cafe, the owner took one look at me as I stood at the counter, said I think you need a glass of water, and passed me one. Plump is a great cafe, the owner looks like Stuey O'Grady with hair. He's not, as I've asked him before! So a 30 minute stop there, and I was back on the bike.
Five km down the road, my phone let me know it had an sms for me. I ignored it, gritting my teeth, determined not to stop. My quads were singing the death scene from Madam Butterfly, the rest of me ached, my butt had had a gutful of the saddle, and they were arguing like two kids in the back of the car. I had 45 min to go, and a small climb out of Porepunkah to deal with. I was on my way!. 10km later I decided to check the phone. It was Mr Flowerpants: I'm done, do you want me to come get you.
All I could think of was the river, and not doing that climb out of Porepunkah. That's how bad I was! So I said yes, put the bike down and waited. Half an hour later, I was sitting in the river, with happy legs and glutes.
Strolling through the AAC Village, I was impressed with how this has grown, and kinda wistful not to be able to stay and enjoy it. As it was, I caught up with a few long lost acquaintances. Hearing your name called out in an Audax crowd is a bit weird, you don't really believe it. We finally packed the car up, and dropped by Sam Miranda to collect the teschner, which had been babysat for me overnight. Got home by 11 pm, totally wrecked, after a stop for dinner at Milawa Pub, and feeding the mare on the way home.
The weekend was a huge whirlwind tour of cycling: track, crit and audax. Met some new people, caught up with old ones, debuted in my new kit (and made the local tv news at the front of a wheel race heat!!), trashed my guts on racing food, saw Janelle Smith's huge dose of tonsilitis (what everyone really wants to see - giant tonsils lol), ate some really GOOD icecream, hung out with my bike buddies, had a minor heart failure with the bikes, but mostly, I had a heap of fun. That's all you can ask for: joy from doing what you love. aaaaaaaaawwwwwwww