It happens quite by accident. I decide to ride my mountain bike to running training and end up doing an off-road brick session. It’s my first brick since the start of the road triathlon season and I find myself thoroughly enjoying it.
It’s still dark when I leave home for the 5.35km along both sealed and gravel roads to meet my running friends at the trail head. I haven’t needed lights on my bike since I started triathlon last year so I get some duct tape and use that to strap a flashing red light to the back of my seat post and a bright white light to my handlebars. It’s not the world’s prettiest set up but it works a treat.
The morning peak hasn’t quite started yet but there’s still light traffic on the roads, which are speed limited at 80kph. Given the darkness, the lack of shoulder and the high speed limit in this area I am shocked and disgusted to see a road cyclist ahead of me without any tail light or reflector. I figure he must not know his light isn’t working so I call out to him four times, including calling out “CYCLIST!” in my loudest voice. He ignores me. I work hard on my old MTB without toe clips or clipless pedals to catch up to him to let him know his light isn’t working: I’d want someone to do that for me if I was invisible on the road.
“Oh yeah. My lights smashed a few months ago.” the candidate for the Darwin Awards tells me nonchalantly. I tell him that he’s pretty much totally invisible and that it won’t take long until he’s killed. He just mumbles “thanks mate” and keeps going. It makes me irate to see this guy on a $2,000 racing bike wearing full cycling kit who didn’t seem to care that he is a risk to himself and others by being invisible on the road (his jersey was black with white bits – not exactly highly visible). All because he doesn’t want to go to KMart and pay $25 for a basic set of bike lights (that’s a full set – seems cheap to me).
I fly past him and keep ahead of him for a ways until he gets all testosterone filled and decides he should probably not be overtaken by a bloke in running shoes on an old clunker. Perhaps my muttering that he was a *insert expletive starting with w* might have set him off too but I can’t stand invisible cyclists.
Rant over, I arrived at the trail head to meet my running friends in plenty of time. Six of us set off on a 40 minute trot down the trails. Within about 5 minutes we had split into two groups of 3, each running at a different pace. I went with the quicker pair, enjoying my first run in days. We ended up running 6.78km at 6:06 pace, which felt just right for the terrain and humid conditions. I enjoyed being in the bush and chatting away with Leanne and Craig.
After our run I set off on my mountain bike to map some more bush trails. I found heaps of single track near the trail head, ranging from rocky climbing tracks with log obstacles to sweeping smooth sandy trails with almost no technical elements. I’m definitely still at the ‘almost no technical elements’ stage but persisted with the more technical trails in the interest of mapping them. I enjoyed a solid 90 minutes playing around on my bike. The only sounds were the birds waking up in the trees, the cables on my bike clattering against the frame, and my tyres hitting rocks and tree roots. There were no other voices and I couldn’t hear the cars anymore once I got deeper into the bush. The air smelled of the start of cross country season – that time of year when the last summer heat sneakily fills the air with sticky humidity before the cooler months start in May. This smell will stay around now for the next few months, inspiring me with memories of my high school cross country days.
By the time I get home I stink with sweat and my legs are covered in mud. It’s been a fun morning.
MTB along roads to running training: 5.35km @ 24.6kph (flat pedals with running shoes)
Trail run: 6.78km @ 6:06 pace
MTB: 10.57km @ 9.2kph average moving speed (7.2kph actual average allowing time to make notes for trail mapping)