After two weeks of not taking it easy on holiday (as I tell people at work, I can always serve as a bad example), week three was all about keeping it local and making the most of my time with family. Living in the northern hemisphere can be challenging in a lot of aspects, but having all your family on the other side of the planet adds another dimension to that. Even after 15 years of living in the UK I still get homesick, I still hate leaving family, still detest the cold…but one day I will make my glorious return, it will be a one way ticket and I will be warm forever more (as long as I don’t live in Canberra because Canberra is colder than a cold place, that is going through a particularly cold spell).
Week three was broken up into two main rides, a flat stage and a mountain one (relatively speaking). Exploration was the driving force, and with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) being small in stature, I figure that I could get round most of it in a week – although my mum thought I was a little mad, but I presume that is the norm. Just to pause the flow for a second, I am typing this from 40,000ft and the lovely hostess has just brought me a Morello and Dark Chocolate Almond ice cream – it is potentially the best thing in the world (and above it). She has questioned where I am putting everything; I am the only one awake and burning through the menu, I would show her but feel that it would be catastrophically inappropriate and also I may be arrested when we touch down in Tokyo. It is also so frozen that Uri Geller would be proud of my spoon manipulation…may leave it a minute.
Part 1: The Flat stage
ACT is predominately flat with the odd hill thrown in, in the north of the territory anyway, in the south it gets a bit more interesting. Heading out of Gungahlin, I picked up Horse Park Drive which essentially circumnavigates the North part before linking up with Majura Parkway taking you down the eastern edge past the Airport, Canberra city centre and more importantly, Ikea. From there it was a quick detour out of the ACT into NSW touching the outskirts of Queanbeyan and back again, before hitting my most southerly point of Tuggeranong. I am obviously not an ACT local, but I did ride through some lovely areas down in the south, I must make a point of exploring this area more the next time I am back this way (which is hopefully not too far away). In total, riding 90.1km and climbing a total of 645m (slightly more than I was expecting) in a riding time of 3h 26m (slightly quicker than I was expecting). I definitely felt it in the legs the next day so only a 27km recovery ride to help the healing process was afforded, and a late afternoon constitutional for coffee – a man has needs.
Part 2: The Mountain stage
As opposed to the flat-ish circuit around and through the nations capital, this ride picked out two hills on opposing sides of the city – Black Mountain and Mt Ainslie. You may be familiar with Telstra tower which stands proudly on the top of Black Mountain, as it adorns many a postcard and fridge magnet. However, for all its outwardly bluster, erectness and need for attention, it is not only closed but fenced off, so is effectively useless for locals and tourists alike and the whole thing is a bit of a disappointment – over compensating means nothing if you can’t follow through. The ride however was a different beast, with an average gradient of 11% over 3 km it ensured the legs where burning by the time I arrived at that disappointing summit. The KOM is currently held by Jay Vine, a professional cyclist who rides for UAE Emirates, which hopefully gives you an idea of the effort required here. The total ride was a punchy 702m of climbing over 50km, more than enough to burn the legs again, especially considering all completed in a little over 2 hours. There is something about mountains, either climbing up or cycling, that is exciting, exhilarating and slightly masochistic. Perhaps it is the sense of achievement it gives? Perhaps knowing that you are standing on top of something that you ascended through your power alone? Or maybe just because its high and you get a great view – either way, I love the pain and the accomplishment in equal measure, so there are some bigger and better ones to follow this year (continental Europe is going to be well represented I feel).
My time back home has come to an end, and in only 3 days of travelling I will be back in my flat in London – washing clothes, food shopping, and getting ready for work on Monday morning. That feeling you get when the reality kicks in is not one of joy, everyone gets it and it is universally loathed – but earn your money, book your next adventure as soon as possible, and have something to look forward too. Me? Well living by myself and being on my own is not fun at the best of times, but I have a list of things I want to do, and places I want to go – next adventure I may even skip the flight and ride to Italy. Don’t laugh, it is on the list.
Sleep now for tomorrow I ride