Taking on the headwind.
Today we knew we were in for some strong winds. Not that you could compare it with the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships held in Oosterhelekering, where these guys wait for a forecast of a storm rolling in, then race. We were, though, looking at the lull between two strong fronts to fit in a ride. So what you could call the ‘hard core’ were up and about, knowing that the wind was predicted to get up and we would be battling a strong head wind on the way back home. But as the Dutch would say, " ga er een", so we did.
Here are Ian, Brad, Dave and Mike, getting ready for the challenge.
We had two rides on offer, so again a choice.
The first was a flat ride, out to Two Wells, across to Virginia and the home via the SOB, 64 kms and 168m of climbing.
The longer ride was out to Williamstown, a climb up Martin’s Hill Road, the back of Checkers, then a quick visit to Kersbrook and then home. 75 kms and 1060m of climbing, so a bit of a challenge.
Given the impending crook weather, the numbers were down a bit with 16 riders out. At the safety and ride briefs it was highlighted that the recent heavy rain would have washed debris such as gravel etc on to the road, and also open up pot holes. As always, a need to be vigilant and call out hazards as we see them.
The first section for the group on the flat ride though Gawler was fine as they were sheltered from the wind. Also the first section on the SOB was fine as the group was enjoying a tail wind. Once though they got on to the Two Wells Road, which heads due west, it all changed. It’s very flat and open and the northerly wind meant every one needed to be very cautious, especially with any gust that blew up. In fact the wind was so treacherous, many riders found it difficult to take a hand off the handle bar to reach down to their biddon and have a drink. Many just waited until getting to Two Wells for a drink. To help to cope with the wind, two bunches formed, with everyone taking their turn to share the effort.
At Two Wells it was a chance to have a break, stretch a little bit and get ready for the next section
Here is everyone in front of the mural. In particular, it was great to see Jane out again, who is on the far left. She was sporting a new set of Zipps, that added more bling to her bike.
The section across to Virginia was a bit of a breeze as the group had a tail wind. The only real problem was calling out a number of deep potholes that had opened up.
Here is a group reaching Virginia. It was great to see Craig ( middle of shot) out again as it has been a while.
Virginia gave the group another chance to take a breather, and it was decided to have a quick stop as it appeared the wind had dropped and they wanted to take advantage of the lull.
The next section along Penfield Road saw no real sign of the wind, so everyone felt confident about the last section on the SOB.
Well, that confidence was well and truly misplaced, as the wind had not abated and the group was riding straight into a fierce head wind. To try to make it a little easier, the group broke up into smaller bunches supporting each other. As the group got close to the end of the SOB, you could tell it was a bit of an effort, as the talk had stopped and everyone was just concentrating on getting through.
In the end, everyone was fine and agreeing it was well worth the effort of getting out and on the ride.
The only real mechanical, if you could call it that, was Glen with new tubeless tyres had a problem with the bead on his rear wheel not sitting correctly, so bulging out, causing some concern, although not really slowing him down.
Also thanks to Kate for taking on the role of TEC.
At the start of the day, it wasn’t sure if anyone was doing the longer ride, as the weather looked a bit messy for riding in the hills. In the end three decided to take on the ride, plus they picked up another as they rode through Cockatoo Valley. So a good number to form a group, that could work together.
The first stop was Williamstown, but given the weather, it was decided to keep this a short one.
After riding up past the Warren Dam and through the forest plantings they heading up Martin’s Hill Road which is always a treat.
After rolling through Forreston, it was the climb up the back of Checkers. This is a solid climb, especially the last section where the road gets really steep.
The run down Checkers had everyone on their toes. It’s usually a very quick descent, but with the strong side winds, everyone took it extremely cautiously.
Next stop Kersbrook before the run home.
Here is the crew at Kersbrook, Simon, Phil, Kevin and Greg.
After the climb out of Kersbrook it was a quick run down to the Humbug Scrub roundabout. At this point, Kevin and Greg headed off home, leaving Simon and Phil to head back to Gawler.
Unfortunately Simon broke a spoke, which slowed him down a bit, but was fine to get back. Phil then had an issue with his light that came loose and threatened to get tangled up in the spokes. Phil reacted quickly and made sure that didn’t happen.
In the end the ride got back to Gawler not much after the other ride, as they set a good pace and kept the regroups down to a minimum. So although there were some concerns about the weather to start with, it was dry and sunny all the way round, but of course they also need to battle with the wind.
A big thanks to Simon for leading the ride. Great stuff.
Back at the Exchange we had our appreciation awards.
Firstly to Jane. Jane was a regular with the Wheeler, and over the last few years has taken up competing in triathlons etc so less opportunities to come riding with the Wheelers. So it was great to see her out again, plus she rode strongly all day.
The other award goes to Glen
On a day like today it’s important to support each other so you are not left out on your own. Glen kept an eye on the group and dropped back to help out others when needed. Great support.
So another great day out with the Wheelers. The wind was a challenge, but everyone dug deep and had a great time. At least it wasn’t raining as well, as that would have been a different story!
Until next week,
Gawler Wheelers: Winners of the Gawler Australia Day Community Group of the Year Award 2013