15 June, 2008

Are you sure we're in the Tropics?

Well I guess our luck with the weather had to run out at some point- it is after all, into the third week of winter in Oz. Mornings of late have been glorious with the overnight lows down to 18 to 22C and the highs around 28. Perfect weather to be out on a bike.

This morning, however; things were a little cooler shall we say. Our local cycling club held a two stage race today about 20 km inland. The first stage was a time trial up the range- starting time 7:00- "Be there by 6:30 to nominate for your race", were the instructions from the race organisers. So away we went just after 6:00 with the bikes in the car- "we" being my ever-supportive wife of more than 26 years and myself and headed for the base of Hervey Range.

I had dressed accordingly as the temperature at the house was about 15C- a little cooler than recent days but once the sun was above the horizon, things would warm quite quickly- theoretically. My gear included a silk underlayer, arm warmers, a wind vest and a micro-fleece lined jacket (for the drive only- I couldn't cycle in it). It was most interesting to watch the digital thermometer in the car take a dive south as we neared the starting point. It was between 14 and 16 most of the way out but about 5 km from the start- and in a distance of about 500 metres, the temp fell to 8, then 7, 6.5, 5 before finally coming to rest at 4.5 degrees.

4.5 degrees (Celsius that is), this is Tropical North Queensland- we're latitude 19.5 South- it's not supposed to be this cold and surely not when I have to race!! The plan had been for me to race and Dee was going to have a training ride up the range- she doesn't do a lot of hills but is starting to work them into her regime and this was a great opportunity.

After about 2 minutes outside the car, with a lovely warm polar fleece jacket keeping her warm, the decision was quickly made that she would assist the race officials by driving a vehicle behind one of the groups of racers. The training ride up the hill could wait for another day.

So the races were run- my first time trial and uphill to boot. I'll probably refer to the fact that I dislike hill riding quite often in my blog. I know it will make me a stronger, better cyclist and I try to get some hill work in on a regular basis- but you know, I just can't warm to it. I think I was only overtaken by three riders- we had a 30 second staggered start- and I almost caught one of the riders who headed off before me but I just couldn't summon up anymore in my legs. All in all, pretty happy with the ride.

After making our way to the top of the range with fingers and exposed flesh numbed by the cold, we regrouped for the road race stage. It was an interesting sight with all of the riders "steaming" in the rising sun after the effort of stage 1.

Stage 2 and we're off again- about 40 km this time and the peloton stayed pretty well grouped for most of the race. We averaged just over 35km/hour and only a few got dropped- I managed to finish amongst the main group but not quite as well placed as I had hoped......in the last 100 metres, I had spotted a bit of an opening and was making my move for it when two of the riders touched and things came a bit unstuck. Fortunately nobody hit the deck and we all made it safely across the line. Much discussion took place afterward- all of it in good spirit.

Oh, and it had warmed up by the finish- the temperature was up to a balmy 12C.

My first time trial, my first blog- it's been a pretty good day here in the tropics if a bit cool. I reckon any day you can get out on your bike, it's a good day.


No comments: