It’s 3.30am and the birds are already chirping. A faint light from the waning full moon is creeping through the window and I’m itching to hit the tarmac. I toss and turn for twenty minutes and finally decide enough is enough. I’m off to do some climbing, I’d be crazy not to. I hit the road a little after 4, as first light begins to wake up the day. Living at the bottom of a hill, I’m straight into a climb. Within minutes my hearts pushing 180 and I’m wide awake. The benefit of jumping straight into a climb is you don’t have time to talk yourself out of it. The negative is that sometimes your legs aren’t ready and within minutes of hitting the saddle you’re already keen to turn for home. Today however, my legs feel great and I’m keen as mustard to smash out some vertical meters.
I’ve been doing heaps of reading lately about the ‘Addiction’ of cycling. I’ve been talking to my mates, some of who are cyclists, most of who are not, about the ‘habit’ I’ve developed. It’s more than fun, there’s no doubt about it! What I’ve discovered is the addiction lies in the speed and the constant deliverance of reward and return. You climb that hill, often wondering why you’re killing yourself, but pushing on and grinding your way to the top. Then you hit the Apex and before you know it you’re hurtling down the hot mix at 80km’s per hour and rushing like a junky from a fresh hit. Today is one of those days where the rewards come a plenty.
As I climb through the dappled light of moon I push hard to reach the top, focusing on my cadence and keeping a high tempo. They say you should grip the bars lightly to conserve energy and hold the cross bar to open up your rib cage. I do both and feel great as I hit the top of Cudgerie Drive. Looking left I am greeted to a magnificent site. First light drifting across the coast, the cirrus clouds a beautiful hue of pink, Cooroy Mountain standing out like mythical Mt.Fuji. I love this stuff.
I’ve been training for the Buderim 9 of late and trying to add as much climbing into my routine as possible. Today I’m attacking a few old favourites as well as Lawnville Road. I’ve been trying to mix it up and learning to ‘Love Hills’ because apparently they’ll ‘Love You Back’. As I take a hard left along Black Mountain Range Rd, I’m struck by the peacefulness of the coast. No cars, no people, perfect temperature and endless vistas. If this isn’t cycling heaven, then it’s not far off.
After a few undulations, I’m getting my first hit as I tuck in and hammer down Black Mountain Rd. I quickly flick the shifters into top gear, drop my shoulders and lower my head. Hitting about 75km’s I’m loving it and wondering why more people aren’t out doing this. People are crazy to miss out on this, what a rush. Focusing on my form, I pick a good line and attempt to descend with as much speed and finesse as I can muster. I really want to improve my cycling and I’ll take any opportunity I can get. Now I’m pretending I’m descending the Alpe’s and I’m trying to look like a pro. I’m sure I look far from it, but I’m trying. The more and more I’m riding, the more and more I’m realising that most of the battle is in your head. Look good, feel good. Feel good, ride good. It’s a revolving door that comes and goes in waves… Reward and return all over again.
Within minutes I’m taking a hard right along Lawnville Rd. Confident about the lack of traffic, I swerve into the corner with gusto. I lean to my right pushing hard and drive my legs through the corner. I look down and I’m doing 45k. There’s that rush again. I get a little squirt of dopamine into my grey matter and I start to focus on the task ahead. Alpe D’Lawnville. As the rise approaches, I click onto the small ring and ready myself for the ascent. The sun is now leaping through the trees in shards of brilliant orange and I’m pumped. The road veers to the left and the climb begins. Lawnville climb is a sweet 3km’s that climbs gradually at about 7%. Tree lined on both sides, I climb alone, just me, my bike and a scrub turkey. As I cruise past the proudly coloured male brushy, he gives me a peculiar look, as if to say, ‘you’re crazy man’. I am just thankful I am going past him uphill and not while flying down the pavement. Those crazy birds are terribly unpredictable and renowned for jumping in front of a hurtling cycle.
As I continue my climb, I again focus on my form and try to improve my efficiency with every stroke of the crank. Before long I pop out of the trees and into open farm country. Now it is me and the cows and the fresh smell of manure. Nothing like some methane to put fire in the belly. Jokes aside, it’s a beautiful climb and it’s on my back door. Again I’m thinking, cycling heaven. The country is now awash with yellow light and the day has begun in earnest. The climb is steady, not brutal and providing me with a perfect opportunity to concentrate on my form. As I reach the top, I look at my Garmin and note my time. I’ve been riding for 24 minutes. Gee I could still be in bed… No thank you!
Where to from here? There is only one answer. I’m staring at it across the valley and it’s staring back at me! I decide to retrace my steps and have a crack at my old favourite, Black Mountain. I‘m cruising back down now, enjoying the ride and watching for Turkeys. Before long, I’m back on Black Mountain Rd and climbing again. It’s at this point I see my first car and am reminded that people do live around here. Shame, I thought I had it all to myself. I’m now cruising up the slopes and an odd feeling of comfort comes across me. This isn’t a feeling of ease, but it’s definitely comfortable. [quote_center]I feel strong, my cadence is good. I’m not busting a lung, but I’m definitely climbing well. I’m ‘Lovin this hill’, is it ‘Lovin me back?’ [/quote_center]
Before long I turn left onto the range road and then a hard left onto Eungella. From here the final push to the summit is laid in front of me. It’s not particularly pleasant at any stage of the day, but with the Buderim 9 cemented firmly in my mind, I jump out of the saddle and push hard. The road climbs quickly and hard, with gradients pushing 20%. I take the turn to the left and see my old friend, the white letter box. I know that once I reach it, I’m nearly there. I push on. Heart rate racing at 180+, legs like jelly, early morning sun in my face. This is awesome. With 50 to go, I realise that the doubt hasn’t crept in, not even once. Am I getting better at this? I think I must be. The last 25 meters is a wall. Almost literally. Once I hit the summit and crack 300 meters, I’m gasping for air. I ride on looking for any momentum and settle my heart rate quickly. The views are outstanding. The coast is awash in gold, the valleys blanketed in fog. Beautiful is an understatement. I decide on magnificent.
From here, it’s all downhill. Five kilometres of descending. The joy. The reward! As I steer left along the range road a wicked Crested Falcon flies across the road in front of me. What a site. The suns on the horizon, the air is fresh and the wind is whipping at my face. The great outdoors! Again I’m wondering why more people aren’t out doing this? As I turn onto Cudgerie Drive, I flick through the gears and point the bike south. My legs are thumping and the speedo is clicking. I’m rapidly approaching 80 and the dopamine is pumping! What a rush, what a ride.
I quickly apply the anchors and swerve into a tight roundabout before coming to a halt and turning the bike towards home. It’s been a great ‘training’ ride, but somehow it doesn’t feel like training. All it feels like is a wicked sense of emotion and achievement and it has me craving for more. In fact I loved it so much, I might just have to do it again tomorrow.
Haydn Thomas: firstname.lastname@example.org