Audax Ipswich Imperial 1002km
Okay, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, my long and boring account of what I like to put myself through looking for a good time.
I could cut a long story short, but won’t , you can opt out of your subscription now with the summarised version of; It was a freaking long ride, It was tough, bloody awesome, quitting was never an option and I absolutely loved every second of it, except the ones that collectively made up an hour or two here and there. For the rest of you avid sports fans that don’t mind me droning on, please read on for all the juicy highlights.
There were plenty those when your lights hit the reflectors climbing some stupid hill into the stratosphere in the middle of the bloody night) 10 000vm of them.
Not really sure what possessed me to accept the invitation but for the most part I’d say FOMO and why not indeed. I went into this quite relaxed.
Plan of attack:
Well that pretty much went out the window right off the batt. Our group of five usual suspects Brian, Jesse, Joel, Mark and myself had planned to ride together, safety in numbers and with weather conditions set to deteriorate, a wise one. As soon as the clock struck 5am 12 registered maniacs set off to challenge themselves on their respective event choice ranging from 200 – 1200km.
Not even 2kms down the road did my support animal Brian decide to drop a couple of watt bombs with Joel in tow, taking off with out a word and broke up the band. I happily rode along with Jesse and Mark, until Jesse eventually dropped the hammer, I took off in pursuit before deciding it’s not the best idea at the start of a very long way. Mark was behind somewhere taking photos when this happened, no doubt he’d catch up.
I didn’t see Mark again and resigned myself to the fact , I’m on my own, I’d started climbing through a range and the rains came again and my mood darkened with it. I was inside my head climbing getting soaked through and brewing my scorn😆
This was in fact the best thing that could have happened. My mindset changed and snapped into independent single Mum that does everything on her own all the time anyway mode . Fine, nothing I’m not used to anyway and harbouring that frosty, sassy attitude declared to the misty road ahead that I didn’t want to ride with him anyway, I didn’t need him, go get stuffed, I’m doing this on my own and Little Miss Speak to the hand was born.
To B’s credit he knows me well, knows how I operate and had anticipated this outcome anyway, He graciously accepted being a single man again when I eventually came across him patiently waiting for me ‘so he could help me through the headwind’ awww how gallient and sweet 🙄 (too late MOFO) I’d already morphed into a raging asshat by that stage and with the reflag bull waving, I threw my burning bra at him and impolitely informed him what to do with his headwind and celebrated my liberation as a woman unto herself.
To be honest I really enjoyed riding on my own. The task ahead was daunting but I didn’t overthink it like my earlier indignation . I had everything I needed, there was no pressure to perform at their level, he’d inadvertently taken my training wheels off and I felt free as a bird. I’d get it done, not as fast but it would be my effort, my responsibility, my charge ,ability and constitution. Nothing or no one could take that merit away.
That day I found myself and was happy UNTIL:
234km in with 110km to get through for the day, everything was dandy upon reaching the control at Helidon, the sky started to darken even more and as I hammered along the Warrego highway with cars flying past it started to lightly rain and I wanted off that highway. I pulled into the check point refilled bottles and exited heading for Gatton, my map looked a little confusing and I was supposed to be on the slip road however I was still guided under the highway and to a around about, at this point I was again off course told to make U turn but arrows telling another story, stopped on the side of the road, whilst confused and frustrated the heavens opened, lightening struck overhead too close for comfort and thunder clapped over head. I decided to call Brian in a mild panic to confirm directions, when he kindly informed me he e and the boys are in Gatton sitting in KFC because a really bad storm is coming and they’re going to wait it out, so meet us there (OMG, really?) the inferno of aggravated rage hit flash point and I was ‘stoked’ he was safe, warm and dry in KFC and out of range of a cathartic punch in face) I gave up trying to explain where I was and headed down the main road towards Gatton, clearly not the way I was supposed to be , under the circumstances I didn’t care and just pedalled as hard as I could all the way until I reached Grantham 8kms down the road. I pulled under a picnic table to get out of the rain and lightening then spotted the warm yellow glow of a toilet block. Video included.
GPS was so confused by this stage it was still trying to send me back to Helidon to get me back on the route. It was after 30 mins of circles and to and fros that, Raul and Matt rolled past, FINALLY I was guided in the right direction and eventually the course was found and I made my way frustrated and drenched to core , only to witness the boys leaving their sanctuary of KFC to continue on their merry way. Thanks Bro, What a way to enhance my mood!
This day I found focus, clarity, grit, and a mountain of fight and absolute girl power. Being run off the road leaving Esk by a close passing horn blasting 4×4 towing a big trailer had sent me earlier off my bike and into the grassy embankment I was ok but the fire had never been so fuelled . Leaving Gatton I had to pull over multiple times as the water played havoc with my light and backup light, Garmin again sent me on an extra loop before eventually spitting me out where I was actually supposed to be! One thing after another and constant set backs.
Then the second storm, no I’m not kidding, I was on the home stretch climbing the hills of Pine Mountain, when I rode into it, OMG! Video included. Eventually I made my haughty Wolverine crossed with an echidna grand entrance 18.5h later and a wise man stayed clear of his prickly mutant, until he unwisely decided to join me in the shower and create a 6’1 wall between me and the hot water in an innocent display of bravery and stupidity.
Three hours shut eye and his bid to soften my demeanour we rode the second day together until Gatton, a slightly flatter route but graced with winds 30/50 kmph. Unrelenting, draining, there was no hiding from it. Once we fought our way to Gatton, we were joined by Mark and Jessie and from there I decided to finish the day on my own. The winds and previous days storms had seen a majority of other riders pull the pin. I was in a great headspace all day Videos included and rode through arriving back 18 hours later.
Two hours shut eye and an extra early start for the final day which had us heading East through Redcliffe, another super windy day, I rode with Brian until the were on the bike paths near Indooroopilly, then parted ways to embark on our last days journey. More winds to fight all day, late afternoon they dropped off along with the temperature. Ice cold hands and knee caps, the end was in sight. I rolled into the finish at 12.59am after a 4am start and was as pleased as punch.
Looking back on stats, I had an elapsed non riding time of 23 hours, only 5.5 hours of that was sleep the rest was taken up by ginning about at check points, ordering food, eating, getting extra layers on taking layers off, stopping for extra water, taking photos, double checking maps and unloading bikes, showering ,eating, recharging everything and then repacking for the day ahead. It’s a system and one I’ve been taught by Brian absolutely losing his head on earlier rides I’d made rookie errors on. The amount of times I’ve felt like a naughty child and been in the dog box myself!
This one I felt consolidated everything I’ve learned over the past year of Audax long distance riding. My nutrition was on point except for satisfying a craving for a large Macca’s Vanilla shake and riding into a headwind. That required me to lay under a tree for an hour, but it went down so well at the time😆 Other wise keeping it simple and finding what you can process without trouble has been hit and miss in the past. My base of custom blend infinit nutrition formula was changed for this ride thank you Bree it was spot on and was liquid gold. I needed solid food and looked for protein in food sources. Disgustingly enough and 100% guilt free Macca’s and Hungry Jacks cheese burgers sat so well, sorry Marzia! Ham, cheese and pickle sandwiches was another winner along with an ice-cold Bundaberg ginger beer and a stop at Helidon pub for a cold bottle of soda water and a glass of ice. Now you can imagine the looks I got from the local lads walking into that ‘ol town road’ but redeemed myself with big smiles and friendly banter, I was even thanked for stopping in by one local (clearly loving the lycra).
People were amazing and sitting at a truck stop 70km from home I was approached by two seperate parties asking where I was heading and that they have a Ute to drop me back to Ipswich so I don’t have to ride alone at night! I needed to show them my brevet card for them to get their heads around why I would decline such an awesome offer any normal person would jump at😂.
Suffice to say, normal I am not and I loved this challenge . What’s next Sharon asks? Hmm got a few things in mind , now my training wheels are off.