1/2. A late catch-up.
Road ahead closed, seek alternative route.
By JuniperSachs, Oct 16, 2016 | 45 Views | Daydreams and learning curves. Literally, learning curves....
So I haven't had much to say the last few weeks, as the ban loomed and all I could think about was how awful and unlucky and mean and sad it was, and how much I ought to be riding before it happened and how the hell I wouldn't just collapse in a devastated heap on d-day and possibly quite actually die of misery (my drama queen side rarely rears her head in actual life, but she does sometimes wish she could. Like, faint at the hearing of bad news or scream at mice and demand rescue from spiders) - It was hard to find the will to try and write something positive and interesting when all I really felt, to be frank, was tired and sad. Too tired of fighting against what felt like stupidly stacked odds, and too sad at giving up my favourite thing.
I declared I would ride, every minute, hour, day! until the ban commenced, because that's the kind of person I am. We're being invaded by dark hairy hordes, you say? Strap on the armour, mount the white horse, raise the pennant and shout something like "For the people!" hoorah! But the Gods clearly thought my pompous sense of magnificence was as ridiculous as it sounds because they burst out laughing and, with a negligent Fonzie-esque snap of the fingers, sent South Australia's worst storms for 50 years.
Adelaide got real dark, real cold, real wet and reeeeaaaaal windy. And stayed that way for 2.5 of my remaining 4 weeks. I took it very personally. I got real sick, too, so my blaze of glory became an aching huddle by candlelight, trying to keep all limbs under blankets, listening to nothing but next door's corrugated panels bang against the fence and the windows & doors rattle and bow and rain beat horizontally on the glass. It was misery on a very Bronte-esque scale.
When the sun occasionally came out the wind still blew impossibly hard. Too hard for a 130kilo red rattler. When the wind calmed, briefly, the roads had all gone. Literally, anywhere scenic within 30ks, washed away or covered in mudslides. The will to ride to another suburb for a look at a different Woolworths wasn't exactly stirring.
My plan to book a luxury cottage for one down on the Fleurieau for the long weekend had been imagined as a treat, a cheer-up gift to me, a way to properly honour my love before we parted, and a lovely couple of days of total solitude: just me and my tangled thoughts, finding our happy place. But by the time the weather provided a window of one night, maybe 36 hours, of fair skies, I'd already not seen another human for three days. My tangled thoughts were pissing me off. I'd developed a minor morbid conviction that I could die in a Fleurieau ditch and nobody would find me til crows and koalas had taken my flesh. The whole thing really wasn't panning out.
Still, we went, June and I. We kept each other's counsel and we rode and rode and rode like the wind. Oh, hang on, I mean we tried and tried and tried into the wind..... We wrung 90 out of the poor girl on the fast 100 stretches (as long as the bias was downhill), thereby pissing off only 70% of cars; we took - almost without noticing - those slightly scary, exposed-feeling, fast sweepers on Sellicks hill which cling to the side with a steep fall-away and a vast ocean view; we paused at beaches that once were home; we negotiated turning right ON to that fast-flowing road (there's been 'plans' in consultation for years now to stop fatalities along there) by using ingenuity and a handy dirt crossroads (straight across quicksmart, Uie, much less scary left turn); stopped at Myponga flea market to fail to buy a memorial owl (a shame to see a once-loved weekend meander so diminished. The market is about half the size it used to be, with empty, taped-off rooms. Not a single kitsch retro $2 pepper pot or figurine to be found) and finally found ourselves on a road I'd frequently looked down before as we'd passed in the car, and had always wanted to take.
Our first ride on dirt. Pitted, muddy, rutt-riven excuses for roads, with water running fast as rivers in the ditches alongside and curious, damp, cows peering at us. There we took respite from impatient cagers and gently picked our way through, learning with every moment. No rush, let the bike find its own way. I enjoyed it so much that, while negotiating potholes which suggested this to be a training ground for elephant tap-dancers, I was thinking to myself "oh hell. Cant do this on a supersport. DAMMIT, I'm gonna need two bikes...." Ha.
We rode the roads that afternoon, followed our instincts, battled gusts to reach the views, up hill and down valley, and it was sweet; then I holed up in my cabin in the woods and listened to the sounds of nature all night.
...ok, I may have watched a couple of bad chick flicks.
After a sunny, uncomplicated ride home (oo, except for speed humps on a steep incline! Who puts speed humps on a steep incline?! It was startling... but fun ) along the esplanades of South Adelaide the weather closed in again, and defied argument for two more days. More time stolen. But then Wednesday dawned calm, and Uncle Eric and I managed to squeeze in a final burn together, me chasing his pitch black tail up more hills to a gully road that could best be described as... Erm.... experience. (?) Mini-mudslides, run-off, tree debris and gravel made those uppy-downy twisties significantly less "Woohoo!" and rather more "oh shiiiit", with the back wheel slipping out to fcuk up a line in once or twice, and corners so blind there was nothing to do but hope that the road would be there on the other side. But I made it. And sitting in my garden, having safely traversed the gully of doom, Eric declared that I'm ready for a group ride.
And that was it really. I rode in the rain to work and back, had my first real drenching (that kind of rain where you actually have to pull over under a tree and wait til you can see again) and missed out on the chance to ride my final planned trip because the last weekend was, again, gale force and p*ing down. But on my last night I waited til 10pm before going out to ride out the last couple of hours. The temperature dropped to 7 degrees and it spat a bit, but we rode the southern city suburbs, every arterial and side street and old familiar bend and cool turning and fast bit and slalom between here and there, over and over again til my fingers started going numb and I had to turn for home. We rode til 11.30 and then I cut off my Ls, removed the topbox and toasted June with a glass of expensive red wine. She's been a hell of a shitpile to learn on, but she's my shitpile, and we've worked hard these last few months. But come April there's new wheels ahead for me, and she and I may have had our last real fling, car park uturns aside. A summer project may see her taken apart, changed, tweaked, broken, fixed, cannibalised, or improved, but we'll take no more long rides together. Somewhere in SA someone is thinking of selling my next bike.
What will it be? What will I choose? Will it be the KTM or will I compromise for more diversity? For that matter who will I be, by then? Or where? If there's one thing I can be sure of its that predicting is pointless. But I'll definitely be blabbering on about it as it happens. Apologies in advance
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