Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Which Pip Chooses the High Road

It's Saturday so it must be Gearshifters.

Dee had more hills for us this morning. Lots of hills. Big hills. As I got out of bed for the umpteenth time I was craving a sleep in. Well, that was never going to happen! I was at Freyberg unloading Cleo not long after 8 a.m.

We had a nice morning for a ride, though it was remarkably crisp and there was a bit of a Northerly. We rode to the base of the Ngaio gorge and then we had a choice - up the gorge or hang a right and take the steeper Old Porirua Rd. I could see the start of Old Porirua swinging off up the hill. They weren't joking when they said it was steep. I did a mini-freakout. I decided I was going to ride up Ngaio Rd. I decided I would feel like I'd wimped out if I took the easier option. I turned right.

Oh yes, they REALLY weren't kidding when they said Old Porirua was steep! For the first time ever I had to get out of my saddle to climb. I NEVER climb out of my saddle! I thought so many times over that I was going to die. Thankfully the road levels off every now and then, just enough to allow you to catch your breath, then it laughs in an evil manner and cranks up the gradient even more.

Needless to say I made it to the top, though I seriously need to work on standing on the pedals. Having not really ever had to do it before I was having an interesting time finding my centre of gravity and identifying how to stand and grind efficiently. It's still my technical skills that let me down when I'm riding, but at least I know what I have to work on.

Down Ngaio Gorge, stopping briefly to fix my dropped chain (cross-chaining again - completely my fault). At the bottom we turned and started climbing again. Some of the pack did Old Porirua twice but I really didn't need to remind myself of how steep it was and I was curious to see how difficult Ngaio was.

In the end, Ngaio Gorge felt ridiculously easy and I overtook a few people on the way up. It was a happy Pip who reached the top and waited with the others. From there I don't really know where we went. We went via the backroads, past the end of Sarah's street, through Wilton and past Otari-Wilton's Bush. The route was undulating with a couple of reasonable climbs.

We regrouped then headed down into Aro Valley, meeting at the base of Brooklyn Hill. From there it was another climb up to Brooklyn - the steep side this time! This big mammoth hill I'd alwasy dreaded was infact nothing to worry about at all and I cruised up there without difficulty.

Onwards - flying down through Happy Valley desperately trying to hit 50kmph (failing). Those of us who were too fast for our own good got to do Murchison Rd, but it didn't worry me, knowing that it was steepish but short and it didn't take long to reach the top. Unfortunately while we were waiting a boy of about eight years old who had been flying up and down his driveway took a spectacular fall and started screaming hysterically. A quick inspection and his wrist was bending at an obviously unfortunate angle. His father thanked us for going to him and headed off to the hospital. One day that kid is going to make an excellent roadie!

Back down Murchison and around to Island Bay where we hung a right at Mercer Street. Now I know Kate will understand just how much the next fifteen minutes or so hurt. We rode up Melrose Rd then hung a left into Southgate Rd. At this point things got steep again. Southgate Rd was gruelling. What hurt even more was levelling off and thinking we were at the top only to discover the road steepened again and kept going for another couple of hundred metres or so. Getting to the top felt like survival!

We regrouped yet again and then headed back to the coast via Houghton Bay Rd. From there a small pack continued around the Bays and back to Freyberg. Over time we had dropped several riders - some to equipment failures and some to punctures and another group of cyclists cut back through at Kilbirnie. Those of us who were left pushed on through the headwind and sped when the tailwind gave us the opportunity. It was now warm and the sun was out and it wasn't bad at all to be riding around the coast. Knowing we were on the home stretch we started talking more and rode two-abreast when we could.

From around Greta Point Richard instructed us to sprint home and I got unceremoniously dropped again. I really need to work out why it is I don't have the power on the flat to hold my own. I was NOT impressed! Once I was dropped it was difficult to keep motivated to speed home. I'm going to have to go out and practice power starts and sprinting if I'm ever going to feel happy with my non-hill rides.

It was, however, a very happy Pip who met the others in Parade for a cold, cold drink. When I got home a pair of Kaka were playing in a tree at the top of the garden and birds in general were chorusing loudly in the mild spring weather. I sat in the courtyard rehydrating and reading the paper and feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Tomorrow - 100km around (and around) Waikanae. Dee's picking me up at 6.15 and I am SO sleeping in next Sunday!

Turns out I really am a hill climber. Who would have ever thought?!


Kate said...

Wow. And OW OW OW! Nice hills. Have fun tomorrow!! You really are going all out with the cycling- Taupo's going to be a piece of cake.

The reason you don't have the power on the flats is part of why you fly up hills. You're tiny. So,while you're obviously very strong, you won't get the power a bigger person gets. As you get stronger, you'll get more and more powerful, and better on flats and hills, but you'll never be able to push it on the flats the way a muscly guy can.

PS- how gorgeous was today!? I was keeping an eye out for you lot, but we left too late. Though we could have seen you on the way out of town. Pink Phil, orange me.

Pip said...

Yeah, when we got to the top of Old Porirua Rd Dee made a point of reassuring us that nothing round Taupo was that hard!

I have read similar explanations of how small people have less power on the flat, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating! In theory a hilly course like Taupo should work in my favour, providing my legs are strong enough.

I have to admit that you might have gone right past me and I wouldn't have noticed yesterday. I was too busy being annoyed about getting dropped! How hilarious, BTW, that Phil got heckled for wearing a pink jersey!