Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Riding long distances and finding strange things on your ipod while one does it.

Last week, with some friends, i set out on what was meant to be an adventure. It was, but perhaps not in the sense i was expecting.

The plan, from the off, was to ride from Sydney to Melbourne on bikes. Most of us rode fixed gear bikes, some single speed, i opted for gears. Based on a very similar route started by Melbourne couriers which was named the Cannonball Run, our ride was a touch longer, but went for a couple more days, with the emphasis on 'holiday' rather than 'ball breaker'.

The first day, leaving from the Sydney Opera House (where else?) was great. Once we were out of the city, there was beautiful countryside, rainforest, amazing descents and as many lolz as one can handle. The radar, however, told a different story. A HUGE front, and i repeat, massive front, was coming our way.

Rain is no big deal i thought.

After lunch the heavens opened and we got pissed on. No stress i thought. I had been feeling a little under the weather and my throat didn't feel too crash hot either, but we rode on, finishin in Kiama, 130km done.

Easy day.

No sooner had we arrived then i began to become feverish. Sweaty and cold, i retired to bed at about 6, wondering how on earth i was going to ride another 7 days. I woke to the sound of torrential rain on the motel roof and knew that today would be, to put it mildly, difficult.

The weather itself was not worrying, but my condition was worse and i could barely see through a splitting headache. We rode on.

Much like an Opeth gig, whilst riding in the rain might be fun for half an hour or so, when you do it for long enough, one realises that fun is not being had.

Hours later we arrived in Ulladullah in the late afternoon, a few kms short of where we were meant to be, soaked, exhausted after having spent 9 hours in the freezing rain and blistering headwind.

Sore knees were the order of the way for those riding fixed, and my health sure as hell wasn't getting better.

The next day the rain had eased slightly but was still fairly consistent. The princess highway shoulder was non existent and we suffered 10 punctures between us, 5 of them being mine. I also broke a spoke.

The next day, due to my health, and others knee problems, four of us decided to call it quits. Two of the party, i'm proud to say, went on and completed the ride, all days in torrential rain coupled with a headwind.

To say i failed would be true. The last few days have been a blur of disappointment, general fatigue, and frustration. I am, generally speaking, a pretty stubborn person, and don't give up easily. This is especially true when it comes to riding my bike. Perhaps i could have kept riding, through the conditions, with my fever. But, like Metallica post Black album, was it a good idea to continue?

My main fear was that i would go on, push through my illness, and come home wrecked, unable to ride or race, or for that matter leave bed, for a week, or two weeks or more. The weather was the wettest NSW had seen since records began and pneumonia, with my lungs, was not out of the question.

So i did fail, but i also saw through a third of the ride through some of the worst conditions i have ever seen on a bike. And i can say without any doubt that i'll be back for more at some stage in the future.

I certainly had an adventure then, but a surprise one, where there was more pain and misery than happiness, but where i probably learnt more than i would have otherwise.

One thing i did do a lot of was listen to my ipod to while the wet hours away. By god, there were some strange things on there. It does something to a mans sanity, i would argue, listening to Napalm Death, to have it backed up with Sixpence None the Richer.

I have been, it must be said, been listening to a lot of hardcore recently, and enjoying it. But occasionally you gotta head back to what its all about. No matter how many times i listen to Gorilla Biscuits, Agnostic Front or whatever, Thrash will always be King, and will always rock a hundred times harder.

And those were the various conclusions i arrived at whilst being urinated on from a great hight by the Almighty.

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