A week ago I clicked a button on Strava to accept a challenge – to ride 500km anywhere and everywhere around Adelaide, Australia, between the 23rd and 31st December 2011. As if riding 500km within 8 days isn’t enough of a challenge in itself (well, most cyclists would have no problem in doing so if they had no other commitments for the week), but to be able to spend this much time riding a bike on and around Christmas is a little difficult. The challenger must find a balance between family, friends, and bike. A good strategy seems to be one that combines all. So here I document my rides in completing the ‘Rapha 500km Festive Week Challenge‘.
On the first day of the challenge, I got out of bed at 5:25am to kick it off. Morven had no idea that I was so serious about this challenge. I figure what better way to kick off than to crack it on the head before work on Friday. So I rode up Norton Summit Rd (rare occasion that it was not a 100% effort) whilst eating breakfast #1 (a banana, and #1 referring the first of two breakfasts for the day).
A koala ran across the road, coming out of a shadow as I came around a corner. He went backwards and forwards trying to decide where the quickest escape was as I probably scared him when I came around the corner with my bright lights. He foolishly jumped onto a small 1m sappling for safety, which broke straight away, causing him to crash land back to the ground. He then realised there was another tree an extra metre away that would support his weight. This all happened too quickly for me to get the camera out, but here he is sitting in the comfort of a eucalypt tree.
Also on the first day of the challenge, I hit the bike straight after work, and went to meet Gary for a ride along the coast. We stopped for a short black and enjoyed the scenery overlooking the beach.
After splitting up with Gary in the city, I decided to whip up Waterfall Gully Rd which is steep enough such that when I get to the top I don’t have to pedal to get back down, but flat enough to not exhaust myself to make the next 400km too painful. Being a hot day, it was also nice to be riding up a nice cool gully with the occasional shaded stretch of road. On the way up the road a small brown snake scuttled across the road in front of me. One of the reasons I like road cycling in the summer is to avoid the snakes that us Australians encounter when mountain biking. I’ve had to bunny hop a couple snakes in my time off-road, but never had to on the road bike. Unfortunately I wasn’t going fast enough up the hill to bunny hop this snake, so I swerved into the middle of the lane, and relied on the sense of sound that there were no cars coming behind me. I stopped to try and take a photo but these snakes just blend in so well, and I think it had slithered down into the creek by the time I got the camera out.
On the second day of the challenge I met up with two of the regulars from the Saturday morning roadie crew I ride with. Normally there’s more of us. We had planned to ride out to Meadows (a beautiful town 47km away from where we were meeting which has an awesome bakery) but the forecast was for temperatures in the high 30′s, we were all a bit tired, and it was already hot and humid. So we decided to hit the coast instead, which coincidentally is ideal for me as I need to keep my legs fresh by avoiding hills. Unfortunately for my legs and the next 300-400km, Nick and Mark are cycling machines, and I suffered in a 40km/h train to Outer Harbour, and a 36km/h train back from Outer Harbour whilst smashing through good headwind. Taking this photo below was a very big risk because it meant I had to open the gap from Mark in order to take a photo, and in doing so made it very hard to catch up again and close the gap in a nice comfortable drafting position on Mark’s wheel.
I don’t know how, but Nick then convinced me to ride up the Old Freeway, which increased the elevation of the ride from only a couple hundred metres to over a kilometre.
On the third day, I only had a few hours before I was supposed to be at a family Christmas Day lunch. So I went early and I went hard, averaging the same speed as the day before but without any help from sharing the wheel and (mostly) all on the flat.
On the fourth day, I had big plans for clocking up another 100km so that I could wrap the challenge up on the fifth day. I met up with Gary and Candy and we planned to ride Norton Summit. My original plan was to then continue riding down and along the coast to crank up the kilometres, but my legs were quite sore and tired, and I suspected that I really wouldn’t get much training benefit by continuing to ride. So I called this a rest ride, and at least now the next two rides will be more comfortable distances. So now I’m 344km down, and only have 154km to go!