The weekend ride is the highlight of our week. It's when we toss aside the stresses of work and concerns of family life and get in touch with what is our primeval selves. It's when we feel real and truly alive! When you're struggling up that hill, half-blind with sweat and gasping for breath, desperately afraid of being mown down by those behind but still in the hunt for the blurred figures just ahead, there is no room for any other thought. The convoluted layers of social responsibilities and expectations laid down by millenia of civilization are stripped away, and all that matters is survival. Most important though is pride. We need to hold our heads high in that small band of brothers and sisters that we are part of, and it is this pride that keeps us pumping away on the pedals.
Most of my blogs have been about my long-distance races or training for them. But today I decided to take my camera along and join my friends in the 60/40 group, one of three cycling groups that leave from Paraparaumu each Sunday. I've written about the 60/40 group before, but with no photos (Riding with the 60/40 group - part 1, Riding with the 60/40 group - part 2). I've also written about and taken photos of the ride we did today, but with no other riders (Training and the place of long rides - part 2). Today I was going to do the whole thing properly.
I started with the 60/40 group almost three years ago and have been riding with them off and on ever since. What drew me to them was their friendliness, and this is something that keeps me returning. Although my relationship with most remains on the level of cycling buddy, they are all important to me and I care a lot about them. Indeed, I need them. Whenever I'm feeling cut off from people through too many long training rides by myself or being particularly stressed at work, Helen would tell me to recharge myself with the 60/40s. It always works!
|Ride briefing from Russell|
|Janice, Russell, John and Doug|
|Shane, Howard, Guy, Viveca, Simon, and Martin|
The ride begins along the flat No. 1 highway. The pace is not usually intense, as we're still warming up and also getting re-acquainted with each other and catching up with the news. The group has quite a spread of abilities, which tends to be fine on the flats, as the stronger and fitter members do most of the work at the front. However, it becomes apparent when we hit the hills. And what a scorcher of a hill Paekakariki Hill is!
|Gary, John, and Viveca|
|Adam, Doug, and Iain|
We tend to wait at the top for each rider to arrive, with some of the stronger riders often going down to accompany the slower ones up. Then it's an all-out pace down the winding hill to the Battle Hill turnoff. It's a struggle to shelter in the bunch, let alone lead it, as it twists and turns at speed down the road. Finally we make it to Battle Hill, where it's time to re-group and have a few bites of food as we wait for the dropped riders.
|Regrouping at Battle Hill turnoff|
|Simon eating that staple of cyclists' diet - the humble banana|
|On the way to Pauatahanui|
Today's ride was somewhat messier than usual, with people having different plans and using the ride for different purposes. Some rode on while others re-grouped, and different people used different routes. There's nothing wrong with this, but it did mean the ride was not the typical ride that I was hoping to describe in this blog.
I stuck with the main bunch, staying at the back to take photos. I then rode up Moonshine Valley alongside Janice and Andrew, chatting with Janice about her plans for an all-night group ride later in the year. They dropped me on the hill though, but I entertained myself using my camera to terrorise those I caught up with.
|Andrew (not me) and Janice on Moonshine Road|
|Still on Moonshine|
|Gary and Viveca|
|Viveca and Gary|
|Regrouping at the top of the Moonshine Road|
The ride back down was fast and we were soon ourselves turning off onto the Akatarawa Road. We broke into two groups, with Adam, Andrew, Janice, Gill, and me in front, and Simon and Viveca not far behind. I could sense Andrew really biting at the bit, but Adam was having a great chat with Janice, generously sharing his huge bank of top experience with her. As a result, the pace was a lot less intense than it might have been. I still felt very much in recovery mode, so was thankful. No photos from me again, despite the stunningly picturesque ride.
|On to the Hutt Road|
|Passing huge groups of mountain-bikers on a 20 km event to promote cycling|
|We've done Kaitoke Hill and are now crossing the river to start the Akatarawa Road ride. Adam and Gill, Andrew and Janice.|
|A final re-group after the Akas.|
And the most important part of the ride, of course? The coffee afterwards. Shared effort and experiences makes for great camaraderie! It's something we all enjoy and there is definitely no hurry to rush home!
So that was it, pretty much a typical 60/40 outing. When not doing my Randonneur rides, I'm definitely going to be recharging myself with my good friends of the 60/40s, weekend warriors all!
|After-ride conviviality - what it's all about! Iain, Martin, and Russell|
|Russell, Doug, John, Guy, Iain, and Martin|
|And, finally, group photo!|