The Aka’s loop is a special ride.
I prefer to ride the Aka’s circuit after work if doing multiple laps, as this will give me the day to think about the ride, and later I’ll get some much cherished night riding completed. And so it was, I did just that – 30kms into work, and a Double Loop awaiting for the way home. And my mountain bike waited. All day. In the bike cage at work. And we both knew what waited.
Work done. Finish time. Drinks sorted. Clothes sorted. Bike checked. Gone.
Later than I would have liked to be honest, but that’s ok, as cycling in the dark will arrived soon enough anyway. And it did.
SH58, Hayward’s, and SH2. All in quick succession. The pace was good, and while riding I thought about another perfect summer of riding (and running). Over the last few months exercising had become cycle touring, and at a later point – I still don’t know when exactly – touring became base miles. A subtle, and also important paradigm shift. Touring is both the ‘means’ and the ‘end’. That is, you cycle for cycling’s sake. Base miles conversely imply that you are training for something larger than that day. Each session is a building block for that bigger goal off in the distance.
At this point in the ride my thoughts were temporarily interrupted by the call of “Get off the %$*#@ road!!”. It came from a group of kids at the bridge at the start of the Aka’s climb. Lovely. I told the ringleader that his parents must be proud of him. He replied that they were. And he was probably right.
The Aka’s had a tailwind on this day. As it should. And I ascended as the light faded, finally reaching the summit in darkness. Just twice up the Aka’s climb on this outing. Several weeks later I’d be up and down the climb 11 times, with over 4,000 meters climbed for the day. That was pretty cool, and one of the rides when you know it’s time to head home, and you’re thankful for it.
Descending then, into the darkness, and cold on this ride. Leaving work so much later than intended, I estimated a finish of 1am to 1:15am. My estimate was spot on.
SH1, and Lap 2 starting – Paek. Hill’s climb and descent – And SH58 once again. Colder now. ‘Cold’. I stopped after asking myself what I’d tell someone else what they should do in this situation, and I layered up. Feeling decidedly warmer, and thus happy, I started up the Hayward’s Hill
Halfway up the climb I had one of those ‘I’m hungry, but fussy about what I eat’ moments. Fortunately I had what was essentially a hamper of food with me. The bike has a handy front pannier type bag, that allows a host of food (or supplies) to be stored. (This storage bag has been awesome to use, and several times on touring rides I have had random occurrences such as brushing my teeth (at 35kph) while cycling through the Wairau Plains with a tailwind). And so it was. My much cherished Avanti Black Thunder mountain bike – my companion throughout the summer – would essentially have one last outing before my final 10 weeks of Graperide Ultimate training.
So I picked out bits and pieces for my snacks, and carried on – along SH2.
One of my favourite stretches of road is SH2. Why?? I have no idea. But I suspect that each time I make it to the bottom of the Hayward’s Hill in one piece my initial reaction is happiness – Palov. Dogs. You get the picture. Classical conditioning at finest.
The road is otherwise pretty ho hum. Several times I have gotten to the turnoff to the Aka’s and have ridden back to the Hayward’s Hill for no reason other than to see if the sound bound lane is any more exciting – it’s not.
But I really like SH2.
Having said that, I LOVE cycling the Desert Road. This may say more about me than the road.
The Aka’s once more. I passed the point where the kids at the bridge had earlier in the day gained a few seconds towards their 15 minutes of fame. Oddly, I half expected them to still be there. If a repeat had occurred, then I would have commented with a throwaway comment such as, “hang around – I’ll do another lap and will see you in three hours”. It would have been interesting to then seen if I had been curious enough to find out. I doubt it, however an Aka’s Triple loop is never to be turned down if time and the inclination exist.
Climbing past the cemetery I had the unwelcomed sight of a line of boy racer vehicles. It was quite a scene, with no fewer than six or seven vehicles lined up car after car, and for each and every one the occupants leaning against the side of the car…and at the end of the queue two cops ticketing the whole lot. Gold.
I was apparently next on the hit list, as one of the cops (jokingly) asked if I was the ‘naked cyclist’ (who occasionally rides through the Aka’s – naked). I simply replied, “Too cold buddy!!”.
And it was. Cold. Unseasonal, and at times uncomfortable. And I was home. Soon enough.
Usually I have some tale of sporting events on TV in the smaller hours, as these kind of rides end. Maybe the Tour de France, or breaking news from far flung places, or something – anything – that is happening elsewhere via the TV. Not this time. The Aka’s climb and descent had gone well, and I simply made a meal, ate it at the table, and went to bed. TV seems to have stopped being a part of my life. And I don’t miss it.
I’d get up at 7:30am, and would have a recovery ride at City Fitness. Another ride. Another brick in the training. And one of the last rides on the mountain bike for quite some time.
Later the time trial bike would come out to play. How things change. Sometimes Australia seems a long way off, and this is ok, with cool adventures awaiting before then.
That ride was six weeks ago. It might have well been a year ago. So much has changed since then.
The Ironman will be back, and this time in the form of a Double Iron. There is something mythical about Ultra distance triathlon, and this journey will not be a rushed one – I will savour every aspect, and will cherish those smaller moments that were ignored – at times - for the Taupo Ironman. It is fair to say I am better than I was, and therefore the question shifts to “How good can I get??”. It will be fun finding out.
There are several reasons by I am doing a Double Iron. It is common knowledge that my left crank broke on a busy highway. And likewise it is known that if my right crank had broken, then I would have gone across the heavily trafficked highway, and would have most likely ended up under a truck – ‘Life is short’.
‘Yes’ – That would have made a good story. There is another reason too. I walked into my daughter’s bedroom, and on a large sheet of paper extending the entire length of the wall, was written, “I will feed the starving children of the world – NOW!!”. A thought struck me in that instant. “Is this my very best??”.
Australia can wait then. And it will keep. My soul fills with a sense of happiness and warmth when I ponder the logistics and adventures of ‘Australia by bike’ – anticlockwise, starting in Sydney, and finishing nine months later. That is later. Much later.
There is a race left in me, and I look forward to a journey like none other. Join me, and make a difference – The is enough.
Enough time. Enough hope. Enough love. For everyone.
Time to lift anchor.
Oceans away – the finish.
Bold as a lion.