Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sunday Ride: Round the Bays (Mt Crawford), Wilton, Khandallah

Ride Data:
Distance:51.79km2475 Calories
Elevation:Ascent: 758mDescent: 752m
Ride Data:Garmin Connect PlayerMapMyRide
Location:Wellington, NZ21 June 2009

This morning, I broke with my solo training traditions and for the first time, went for a group ride with the Onslow Tarbabies. The Onslow Tarbabies are a road-cycling group based in Wellington which focus on fitness and riding technique rather than super-competitive racing.

I signed up to their Yahoo group which then started sending me e-mails about their rides. On Friday morning, I received the details of the weekend's ride.

Hi People
I am down to lead the ride Sunday. Plan is around the Bays option Makara. Route plan is set out below for your information. Forecast look ok'ish possibility of some minor rain.
If you are new to the Tarbabies please stick with a Red and green jersey and learn the Tarbabies ethos, please.
See you Sunday (if its not pouring with rain).


City & the Bays, OPTION Makara
... followed by detailed route description ...

Thats easy enough. Just turn up. Oh, and make sure my alarm is set for the earlier than usual start. I woke in a brief moment of panic as I checked my tyre that had tyre for cuts after being punctured in the dark the previous night. And, still plenty of air in the tube - yay :). Raced through the supermarket for a couple of snacks on the way, before heading back to the starting location in Khandallah. I listened to the obligatory safety briefing and raised my hand when asked if anyone was along for the first time. The group leader (Gary) introduced hiimself and the group was split into fast, medium and slow bunches. As my first time I naturally opted for the slow bunch. There was also a first-timers rule that we do not have to lead the bunches until they see how the group works. I presume this is to make sure that the emphasis is on keeping the bunch together and having fun, rather than pushing the bunch or shooting out in a breakaway. This of course suited me fine as we set off into a stiff ~45km/h southerly and I would get to hide in the bunch for the entire ride. Excellent :).

The pace in this group was generally what I would probably describe as a good recovery or intro pace, depending whether you are new to road cycling or not. I understand that often they have Fast, Medium, Slow and Development bunches - with the latter catering for people new to cycling or, training for their first ride around Lake Taupo. What I really noticed how much effort I put in when hill climbing in a group compared to when riding solo. I think when riding by yourself you may not realise how gentle you can be on yourself in such situations. On the way up Mt Crawford, the first significant climb of the ride I saw my heart rate shoot for the sky.

I was pleased to have a chance to catch my breath at the top of Mt Crawford while the whole bunch completed the climb. One down, two ~150m climbs to come. A steep descent into Worser Bay, around to Seatoun and through the Pass of Branda. As we went through Branda we were greeting by a wall of wind from the southerly directly off Cook Strait. But, it was a marvelous view down to the snow capped mountains of the Kaikoura Ranges in the South Island. Tempting to get my tramping boots and head for the hills!

On our way toward to Lyall Bay we lost two members of our bunch, seeking repairs to one bike after its front wheel briefly jammed in a drain gate. This resulted in a broken spoke and thankfully no crashes. Only a bruised wallets, not bodies.

In the camaraderie of riding in a bunch, rather than solo it seemed to take no time to get around to Owhiro Bay and the steady climb up to Brooklyn, a quick descent down Owhiro Road before the slightly more demanding climb up Raroa Road. Pretty soon we found our way to the Monteith's Pub in Khandallah for coffee. Well, not all of us. I resisted my coffee addiction and with a hot chocolate. 9 days since coffee and counting!

Had a great time riding in the group. See you all again soon :).

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