The morning started with an early rendezvous at the studio, as per usual I (Ray) delayed both Hal and Ben, making some last minute alterations to my bike. But eventually the three of us, and bikes piled into the car and started the partly scenic, but mostly mundane drive down to Lorne.
Once there, ben on his Cyclocross bike, Hal on his roadie, and me also on my roadie started the relatively mild, yet persistent Erskine’s fall climb. The first 45 minutes passed quickly, with each of us stripping layers and settling into a comfortable rhythm, eventually coming to the descent into the Erskine’s fall climb. The 1.5km descent to the car park borders the line between fun and dangerous, add a wet road and who got to the bottom first became far less important. Once we were at the car park, It took ben a little while to realise that we would be going back up the climb, a fact he was pretty unhappy with. Eventually the three of us made it back up, despite the animosity ben was harbouring.
Once back at the top we turned right, transitioning between asphalt and dirt, with the mild climb continuing for another kilometre or so. At this point the road conditions were quite easy, with the exception of the occasional pothole, which Hal always conveniently seemed to forget to point out. Soon enough we reached a T intersection, previously Hal and I had turned right, but today we decided to go left, with intentions of a loop we had already planned. Immediately we regretted our choice, with far rockier and harsher road conditions. Although a pretty bumpy, the three of us were enjoying the ride, some more than others.
As we moved into the dirt section I had tried to strategically deflate my front tyre slightly, however I had been somewhat overzealous, and required a small break to pump them up a little. Using Ben’s mini pump I managed to fully deflate the front tyre in the act of getting it connected, and after a period of frustration, mainly from Hal, we moved on, most likely with less air in my tyres than when we stopped.
The road continued on, undulating with an overall incline becoming apparent, with all three of us moving on at a slow but consistent pace. Eventually we rounded a corner, and a set of immensely muddy car tracks deviated from the path we were on, disappearing into the forest, a sight too tantalising for us to resist. Ben was somewhat hesitant, odd considering he was the only one without 23m road tyres on. Feelings of doubt and regret flooded my mind, my tyres sunk into the mud, forcing me to stick my feet out, caking my shoes in the omnipotent mud. Initially I tried to remain as mud free, but it was soon apparent my efforts were futile, with my mind purely focused on getting back on the main road. With time, and considerable effort we were back on the main road, but not without some casualties; Hal’s rear break had snapped, and both our bikes had serious mud accumulations, however following some mud removal we were back on the road.
Not long up the road, much to the dismay of Hal, my “strategic” low pressure had turned into literally no pressure, so as I changed over my tyre we got a better chance to take in the surrounding wilderness, with ben stating “there are definitely worse places to get a flat” a sentiment Hal and I both shared.
The next hour of the ride proved fairly uneventful, bar the occasional group of motorbike riders, eventually we reached a Large T intersection. At this point Hal and I had very little idea of where we were, and following a small water break, all plans of the original loop were abandoned, opting to just turn back the way we came. Once riding again we realised the road was far more of a climb than we imagined, with long fast stretches of descent greeting us on the way back. Approximately half way back, following some serious wrist pain, I took out a little pressure off my front tyre, once again proving to be too much pressure. Despite my tyre failings, we pushed on, eventually making it back to the welcoming asphalt. None of us really pushed the descent back down, Ben wasn’t entirely confident in his CX bike, I had very little front tyre pressure, and Hal only had a front break, however we all made it back to Lorne, even though some team breaking was required for Hal to slow down.
Normally rolling up to a café a few kilometres from the car would be a great way finish a story like this, nevertheless my tyre problems continued; standing up from the table to realise my front tyre was now entirely flat. Lucky for me we had a few Co2 canisters remaining, so we pumped it up, just to get back to the car, yet my tyre woes endured, as just fifty metres down the road a sidewall failure and subsequent tyre explosion left me stranded. But finally, following a short roll on a fully deflated tyre, I was back at the car.
Usually a 60Km ride with an average speed below 20Km/h, one puncture, one explosion and a ruined tyre would leave me pretty frustrated, but then again the fun and exhilaration of doing something other than conventional road riding definitely trumped any negative any of us encountered along the way.
But let’s be honest, I really should’ve used a CX bike.