Distance covered: 88.6km
Headwind: yes goddamit
Temperature: 32-35 degrees Celsius
Number of falls in the group: 1
Number of pineapples I consumed along the ride: 3.5
After a long day of humid heat and sore muscles, our group of weary riders cycled into the Kuiburi Resort to the applause of those who finished before them.
I chose to see this as supportive rather than condescending (it should be noted the senior cultists… er… experienced riders nearly all finished ahead of us rookies) and even entered into the spirit of things as other riders came in behind me.
My initial feelings of elation have now given way to some fatigue but it’s great that we’re about 17% of the ride down. We saw some amazing scenery and it was surprising how serene it was out on the road.
To be honest I’m bloody exhausted so I’ll spare you a crafted narrative and replace it with some notes for the day.
At the end of day 1, the group was divided into two distinct divisions. There were those of who were ride rookies. We were equal parts fatigue and excitement. One day conquered.
The other group were those who’d done the ride before. They were less fatigued and more like cranky old men in their reminiscing of days gone past. Even if that was only a year ago. “The ride was tougher last year. We had a HUGE headwind. We rode more in the heat of the day. It was almost 40 degrees (this amount fluctuated – I was waiting for someone to claim a firetruck had to put them out). The mosquitoes were so big last year they actually swooped and plucked two riders and took them away. We never saw them again. ” And so on.
Being a bit of a boy scout I did some planning and preparation. I had listened to previous riders and planned ahead for whatever the ride could throw at us. Crashes? Check – I had antiseptic and bandages. Burns, sprains, bruising, cow problems, how to deal with chasing dogs, chafing, riding in the dark… I even read up on animal bites after hearing a rider from last year was attacked and bitten by a monkey.
I was prepared for anything.
Or so I thought.
Public masturbation was not on the radar.
On leg 2 some of the girls rode in with a story of a man flashing himself at them. Shortly after Nikki rode in looking pale but amused. Apparently by the time she got to him he’d abandoned the concept of merely flashing and gone into full self pleasuring on the side of the road looking at her.
I didn’t think to ask if she stopped for a selfie.
EDIT: Apparently not satisfied with Nikki he actually chased Deanna for awhile. #WTF?!?!
One of the most interesting things so far has been how people pass the time. There’s a lot more conversation than I would have expected with people two and sometimes three abreast chatting about everything and anything (and I mean everything – these girls don’t hold back).
Some listened to music (one earpiece only). Some just put their head down and disappeared into the distance. Some entertained themselves by going cross-country for short bursts parallel to the road.
At one point Darryl and I sang four songs from Les Mis and we didn’t hold back. I have no idea what the locals would have made of two middle-aged men in lycra cycling past musically wondering if they could hear the people sing.
At one point I tested the legs a bit and pushed during the second leg. Without noticing I suddenly found myself alone on a long stretch without a rider in sight. No one in front and no one behind.
For a moment I wondered if I was actually on the right track. Had I missed a turn? Why is there no one at all? This is a really long straight – surely I should be able to see someone at least one way.
Then I caught a glimpse of a rider ahead. Just a flash of blue a long way ahead going around the end of the straight. Relieved I pushed ahead and tried to close the gap but no matter how hard I worked I couldn’t seem to close the gap: she always was just a hint of blue on the road’s periphery.
Starting to feel the heat my inexperienced mind gave into my imagination and I had the sudden thought that this was a spectral rider luring me away from the path and into the mountains where they’ll never find me… She’s just a spirit appearing intermittently in a paranormal bread crumb trail that ends in disaster!
Man I shouldn’t have read so much Stephen King lately.
This morning before the ride my feelings of apprehension had almost disappeared. I was actually a little excited and keen to hit the road. To see how I could push myself especially when there was such an important cause on the line.
I donned lycra for the first time ever (with the chants of “one of us, one of us” echoing through my head mentally), went through some warm-ups and stretches and was ready to go at the ascribed time.
However my nervous energy was interrupted; first by a group photo and then by a motivational speech from the incredible Dale.
But we still weren’t ready to start. Next came the handing out of small photo cards of individual orphans and their stories for us to focus on.
This was almost too much for me. I was flooded with emotions. I knew most of these kids from my time at the orphanage last year and suddenly tears were in my eyes. I knew them. I knew their real stories (not just the brief description on the card). I’d hugged them, laughed with them, thrown them in the air and done silly dances with them.
For a moment my ride was in serious threat even before I began as I felt the energy drain out of me. Thankfully I was able to take a deep breath and channel the intensity internally, reminding myself that THEY were the reason I was doing this ride. For them I would ride for weeks.
I composed myself and set off with a smile on my face knowing their happy faces were a mere 500kms away.
Bring it on.
RIDER OF THE DAY
PLEASE NOTE: This blog does not conform to journalistic standards. Exaggeration may be used in lieu of strict facts. Read at your own risk. And with salt.