We started with smiles and high expectations and finished with broken noses, broken bikes, cuts, bruises, grazes, swollen knees -- and smiles. This is the tale of the inaugural Port Elliot to Gawler cycling adventure!
Andrew, Pete, Dave and Jane (Dave's wife who graciously ferried our bags to and from Port Elliot) waited patiently at Jaspers, Evanston, for the ever-so-slightly-late Michael at 7am. Wishing us well as we headed off to pick up Juz at Kersbrook were Frank, Wilson and the other congregating Gawler Wheelers, who were departing on their regular ride from the same point.
Note my (Andrew) thick wooly gloves, supplied by Dave after I discovered my usual winter long-finger gloves were not up to the weekend's task! My wife promises you, Dave, they'll be returned good as new (!)
The first stop was Kersbrook, to pick up Juz. (Dave, Juz, Pete, Michael, Andrew)
Saturday was an absolute dream ride in great weather. 133km, we arrived just after 1.30.
Stop at Hahndorf for a pasty and a pee.
Damn pre-hydration ...
we're there! my GOD we were hungry! Pete ate 2 pies and THIS!
we're not tired ...
The first 40-odd kms to Strathalbyn was wet and miserable, but uneventful. Until Pete and I both crashed on the slippery train lines. My derailleur hanger was fractured, so we thought over what to do over a coffee. I decide to complete the journey (100+kms) without changing gear. I'm in the big ring, second-largest gear on the cassette. This is going to warm me up ...
A few kms later, on the awful Strath->Mt Barker road, Dave crashes. I crash into him. Juz crashes into me, striking the aero spike on the rear of my helmet with the side of her nose. Riders, bikes strewn across the road. Mad dash to pull dazed riders from the approaching traffic.
Juz's nose is obviously broken. Space blanket out.
We flagged down a passing police car, Juz gets in out of the cold and rain and an ambulance is called.
Incredibly, my parents in law - who live 500 metres from us in Gawler - happen to be driving past on the return from Clayton. They stop, and Juz's bike is loaded into the boot. It's going to Gawler. She's going to the RAH in typically good spirits.
That's my father in law Tony in the white jumper. What a bizarre day.
Just before the ambulance door is swung shut, she calls out, "Where's my Garmin? How am I going to download my ride data tonight without my Garmin?"
Somehow, although the bars have to be twisted back into alignment, my bike can still be ridden, even though it has crashed on the broken derailler hanger-side for a second time.
And then there were four. Pete, Michael, Dave and I head disconsolately for Mt Barker in the miserable weather. Downbeat. Right knee starting to hurt.
Of course, this is where Pete gets a puncture. "I ******* give up," I remember saying.
We get to Mt Barker, eat lunch and have a coffee, and plug on. It's a bit of a race against sunset now.
The rest of the ride - for me at least - was pretty horrible, even though the weather cleared. I'm somehow pulling up the hills in a ridiculous gear, and then spinning a ridiculously high cadence to maintain a half-decent flat pace. For 100kms.
When we got to Kersbrook, my right knee totally shot, with 25kms to go, my back muscles gave up as well. No choice. Not giving up. Keep going. Lots of pain.
Pete and I say goodbye to Dave and Michael at the Kentish Rd turn-off on the Gawler->One Tree Hill Road. Handshakes all round. It's been an epic, immensely challenging, friends-for-life kind of experience.
Pete says quite poignantly: "Even with the same outcome, I'd do it again." Tellingly, Juz's text to all of us on Sunday evening was identical: "I'm ok, rather sore and the face-ache is spectacular but I had such a good weekend, I'd do it again even with the same outcome." Hear, hear. Just tell that to my knee right now (and my wife!!!!!!).
One last disaster. On the final few kms to Gawler, the rear derailleur hanger finally cries enough. It swings into the spokes, I wobble, pull over and pull out the phone. Bike unridable, the last few kms are done in the car. "Hi Dad!" "Hi girls." "How was your bike-ride?"
A good one to try would be Glenalta xing from Belair to Blackwood.
Fast approach downhill, tracks at angle and set up for turn immediately after.
Another technique to try is to lighten the front wheel with a little "hop" & bring it down after the rail. The theory here is that the back will follow the front due to momentum. I use this for the roadie as well as MTB.