Clear skies, a cool light breeze, and some steady hill climbs – no better way to clear the fog of champagne or other beverages on the morning after New Year’s Eve. The group was big for a Sunday ride – 14 in all, with faces that we haven’t seen in a while, such as Sally who has been working hard on her studies and Steve who’s finally recovered from a bad knee. George S. commented that it was the biggest group of the year and it took some of us slower thinkers a few seconds to realize this was the first (and hopefully the last) of his “new year” jokes.
The skies looked so clear that George S. even left behind his ever-present rain jacket, tempting the weather gods, but they were smiling on us (as were the gods of the flat tyre) and we had a classic ride to Bellingen and back with no mishaps.
The route, from the BP petrol station at Urunga, took us along South Bank Road and back along North Arm (or is that South Arm and North Bank?). For some of the riders like Michelle and Gary who have only just recently joined the group for some rides, the route was an unknown. The ride began with a short stint on the highway, to Shortcut Road and then turned off on South Bank, where the group was cheered on by revelers from the night before sitting on their deck. We were all full of good cheer, the riders from knowing we were working off the excesses of Christmas and the revelers quite happy they were not.
The undulating hills of South Bank Road turned into slightly longer and steeper hills, giving everyone a good workout. Betty Anne, probably starting to think about the rigours of a future cycle trip in Europe, took the hills slowly and surely – reaching the top and rolling down the other side, forgoing all stops until the coffee stop at Bellingen. For Alan B., the hills posed a different challenge – he’s been dropping his chain at the most inopportune moments (in the middle of hills – ouch!) and figured out today that he can avoid dropping it as long as he’s watching it while he’s changing gears. Which makes for some interesting cycling, especially on the pothole-riddled roads we were on. For Graham and Phil, the hills were nothing on their granny-geared hybrid bikes and they were the most consistent cyclists, arriving at the catch-up stops towards the front of the group every time.
After coffee at Bellingen, during which some non-cycling family members joined us for the best bit (walnut cinnamon toast, banana bread, savoury muffins, macadamia nut bread were all sampled at one table), we set off back through Bellingen and home. The highlight of the trip, apart from the banana bread, was on the return trip along North Arm Road where there’s a long steady uphill climb about midway through, and then a long, smooth, shade-dappled, curvy descent through the trees. Colleen slowed down to try to make it last longer but was rudely awakened from the dream cycle at the bottom where the road’s been chopped up by cows crossing from barn to paddock.
By the end of the ride, the temperature was beginning to warm up and there was a bit of a light head wind so we were pleased to arrive back at Urunga when we did, having started 2012 with a fantastic cycle.
Next Week’s Sunday ride is: Start Urunga BP 7:30 am then to Yellow Rock, North Bank Rd to Bellingen, then and home again to Urunga via North Bank Rd.
The weekday rides start, as usual, at Urunga BP 7:30 am Wednesday and Friday.