Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Enduring

...that is what a rider does in winter. Waiting for the mercury to rise enough that visors are not completely fogged...Hoping for warmth enough that fingers do not remain stuck in a grip. Enduring the pall of darkness with the expectation of light. On my early morning commute I reminisced of sunset chases through the farmlands, sun creeping to the horizon, the cold enveloping but not succumbing me. The memory of early morning rides with dewy seats and hope of breakfast with tea to warm me. I endure the winter with hope of spring.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

tiptoes

If you know me, you know that I lack in the vertical department. I stretch to make 155 centimeters. The problem is I am one of those people who likes to be grounded. Grounding for me means both feet planted firmly. I feel a sense of unease when I am groping in a chasm for solid footing. Thus, riding Andrew's Suzuki just reaching the tar by tiptoes, was the source of my anxiety. The first five minutes I was convinced it was impossible. Completely out of my comfort zone. The clutch and brakes were more responsive than my dog at the sound of his leash. I was paranoid of braking and flipping over the bars. I was fearful I would be on a hill and not able to put my feet down. Fortunately, a hill in Melbourne is rare. This allayed my nerves a little. Next was the worry of the tram tracks....the trams...the hook turns and round-abouts that turn left, and to which aussies seem the have different protocol than us. The arguments against me riding were growing...and yet I earnestly want to ride....I just could not quell the fear of tiptoes. The groundednesss I seek, is also the reason I was able to get on the bike in the first place. The logic that I know how to ride, understand the dynamics and gravity of riding through curves, clutching and motion assuaged and overrode the cons. To miss the wind in my face, the open sky and adrenalin of the ride bolstered my courage and my resolve to master my fear and his bike. Tiptoes are not so bad. They stretch you, sometimes to see things obstructed by both feet planted.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mustering up the gumption - not only to ride through unknown territory, where 'roos and wallabies dart onto roadways, but also riding a bike 30 years newer than mine. This means responsive brakes, clutch and gears. This means twice my butt slipped at a stop that was only from 20 km to 0..... Did I mention I must look right but ride left? Did I mention that the temperature is almost 40 degrees celsius (104 Farenheit)...and I should mention we do not where we are going evidenced by the stops and starts to consult the iPad and roadsigns. I am getting more comfortable with the bike and with trying to read the guy in front to know he is about to pull left. I attempt to help the navigation...sort of. I would have to get glasses on, lose the shades and squint in the sun...so I trust the guy I have been following for more than 3 decades. We find Kangaroo Round and breakfast in a quaint local cafe where the owner has a hard time with the directions as she has not been out of the valley. After thinking she helped us steer clear of the non-stop twists I can see the glint in his eyes when she says how treacherous it is. We are off to find this road....and we do!! It is as ideal as any road we have been on. Narrow, twists, serene and constant swaying back and forth. It is invigorating and exhausting, wanting to take in every moment, every tree, bird and kangaroo. There are few words that can adequately describe the energy and peace that is generated in the movement of left, right, following curves, gear up, gear down. Now, lest you think I am a wimp...I rarely complain..I can be tired, cold, hungry, frustrated, hot, sweaty or have a headache. I can hardly remember a time that stopped a ride short including fingers almost frozen solid. I also know that to find the most amazing roads, you may need to tolerate some bumps, or straightaways filled with traffic. We happened upon a gravel road for the next leg and at this point, over 170kms in, more than 7 hours of riding. I complained....actually...I got nervous too. "Did you know this was gravel?" I yell through the motors and bumps. He nods no and I am trying to find any way out of here. We are somewhere on the way to Warburton on a gravel road more like a lane that is lined with gum trees and birds singing. At least 15kms in I wobble and the bike is down. It was a blur. I had a raspberry down my arm, hip, leg....my ego was bruised and I knew I had to pull it together and get to where we were going. The heat engulfed me..my arms was stinging and bleeding and I could feel the cuts oozing down my side. The bike was mostly fine except the right mirror....I was grateful there was no more damage. I barely hobbled in to our destination, by this time knowing I am in shock and that I am bruised and sore. I take solace in the fact that lots of great roads are hard to find and are part of the journey. Being on the mountain is a great experience, and you can't just stand and stay there or the beauty will be become ordinary. Gravel roads lead to esses....