Today's ride was my first ride of a 'real' distance on a road bike for an awful long time. However I say real in the loosest sense as 83km is by no means Earth shattering, and neither is the 2hours 44minutes it took me. However I would like it to be known that this ride did include a good ~12km of unsealed road, and a series of errors on my part (hence the title).
The ride was one I have been longing to do since I arrived in Wellington but slipped my mind until last week Stewie (mechanic at iRide; I should mention in passing that I no longer work there, university and training are taking over) went and rode most of it before I did. This sharp reminder meant that I had to get out there and do this loop. Now this ride isn't an amazing ride, it doesn't have Earth-shattering climbs (in fact it is mostly flat), nor does it have the blissful emptiness of some rides, but what it lacks in hills it makes up for in views.
The loop taken can be seen below, the software used comes as part of the igotu gps kit which I have been using for a while now. It's a really useful training tool, and pretty cheap!
|Ride data from 13/04/11|
The ride started late (4pm, it's getting dark at 6pm now) having spent the morning spending money I don't have on luxuries, the middle of the day in class and then finally getting round to riding the bike. As such I knew I would be hard pushed to get around the full loop and was planning to ride part way along the gravel before turning back. However having hit the gravel and carried on riding hard with a tailwind it >35kph I felt like I should be able to make it all the way round. This ambition was soon thwarted by my next mistake. Riding hard with relatively low pressures soon saw me with a pinch flat in my front tyre. Thankfully I had had the presence of mind to bring a spare tube with me and soon got myself going again. But I found myself with a conundrum; to go on or go back? I had taken a map with me, but in true 'errors' fashion my map did not include the small section or road I was sure I was on. As such I was unsure of just where I was and whether it would be safer (less gravel) to go on or back. Here the TTFU adage came to mind and on I rolled, a little slower and a little more cautiously albeit, but onwards nevertheless.
It ended up being the right decision as the remainder of the gravel road did not take too long, although it did get progressively thicker, and where it wasn't think there were some evil corrugations (think wash-board) to contend with. The hill over to the Wainoui Coast road certainly wasn't easy either, the gravel and gradient combining to mean bottom gear and some mtb skills to get traction up there followed by some slow speed descending to avoid pinching again.
Once on the road I was in familiar territory though, having raced over this way in 2010 in my first race in the top group (and suffering like mad) at a PNP race. So I knew that the rest of the ride was largely false flat with a headwind. Suffer time. Thankfully I felt reasonable and could keep tapping away at >32kph for the duration; life in the drops til the hill. The hill being Wainoui hill, which I'm sure is a lot bigger from Wellington. Grateful for this I spun up there, mindful of the fact that there was little shoulder, heavy traffic and steadily darkening skies. On went the USE lights to blind any unwary drivers (dipped so as not to cause too many issues) and provide slightly more safety for me.
At the top I stopped to take a photo of 'the pretty lights', but my hands are not tri-pod steady and nothing really came out, leaving me slightly frustrated, but warm inside knowing that I was one of few people that gets that view from the bike along with the prior views of the South Island a views across to Wellington from the gravel.
Descending was a bit hairy, I'm not a fan of that road at the best of times, let alone in the dark. This was not helped by the wind which whipped my contact out of my eye (first time it has ever happened!) meaning I had no depth perception, making seeing objects that could cause a high speed crash difficult to say the least. I ended up taking the last bit of it with one eye closed before taking out my remaining contact. My mind is used to coping with both eyes being ruined, not just one. As such I spent the rest of the ride without much vision. Fun.
The ride along the Hutt
So the moral of this ride is: take more tubes, TTFU, and just enjoy riding your bike! Looking forward to training properly after my field trip next week.