Last weekend I attended my first social/riding experience with SKCC (St. Kilda Cycling Club). I had switched clubs in August because I had been riding with a number of the women on a regular basis and it was much closer to my home. But because I have been away so much for the last few months I hadn’t been able to do much with the club, so this was my first chance. And what a wonderful weekend I had.
Upon arriving in Bright on the Friday afternoon I met up with my roommate Sophie (who I had never met before) and Karen who I had ridden with on the Saturday morning Liv/giant rides and we headed out for what was to be just a spin and roll the legs over! Sophie was new to the club as well and hadn’t done any riding in the Bright area. As I have done a lot of cycling in Bright I suggested that we head to Myrtleford and then out towards Lake Buffalo and Sophie and Karen agreed to follow me. We had a lovely headwind all the way…not what I had hoped for, but when we turned around to come back the tailwind had stuck around so it was a pretty fast return. We did run into some rain and a bit of wind on the last 10 Km but at least we were almost home! When we arrived back others had started to arrive at our accommodation and most of us headed out to find somewhere to eat.
I have never felt so welcomed into what I believe what feels like a family! There were 49 of us including about 4 of the male partners of some of the women and we were of all ages 20’s – 60’s. I have to admit that I am really bad with names and wasn’t quite sure if I would know many of the women who were going to be there. But funny enough when we finally had all arrived, the faces were familiar, as I had seen most people out on the road and now it was just time to put names to those faces! I must say that I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with most of the riders, but everyone was so accommodating.
The weekend had been organised by Gaelene Snelling, a woman who is the most amazing organiser! On Saturday morning she had breakfast laid out for everyone and a huge piece of butchers paper on the wall with different rides that people were going to do. Quite a few were going to tackle Mount Hotham, one mountain that I don’t think my trike will ever see! But there were two women Liz and Karen who were going to head out the same way and then turn around at Harrietville, so my plan was to stick with them.
I must say that you really don’t realize how much you are climbing on the way to Harrietville until you turn around. I was a bit slower than the rest on the way but caught up with everyone in Harrietville at which time Karen, Liz and I decided that coffee was of the order before the return trip. I took them to a cafe I know of that makes the most amazing scones right on the premises and I think that is why I like riding so much…the food! So we made the most of the scones and coffee and then headed back out on the road. Once back in Bright Liz and Karen decided they were going to the bike shop but I had another couple of hours to ride so continued on my own, riding a number of different roads out and around Bright. The weather was fabulous and you really couldn’t have asked for a better day. The afternoon was spent in the motel pool as “recovery” from the day’s ride and discussion about where Sunday’s ride might take us!
That evening we had the most amazing dinner, all prepared by Gaelene and her helper Trudy, with a little bit of help from others at different times. I don’t think I have ever had that many different salads (and interesting ones!) with the choice of a pasta dish and two curries along with fabulous steak cooked to order! The men in the group had done the BBQ’ing which proved to me that men are really good at the BBQ! Then dessert was to die for, as I said earlier the thing I love about cycling is the food!
I must say I slept well that night which was good because the next morning the entire group was heading up Mount Buffalo. I had been told that it was about a constant 6-7% gradient and I knew it would be twisty, but I was bound and determined that I would attempt to climb it. Or should I say I was going to climb it. I decided that I had better leave before everyone because I knew I would definitely be much slower than everyone, but the good thing about the trike is that you can go extremely slow and you won’t fall over! So I headed out about 20 minutes of so ahead of everyone else.
Well what an amazing ride and the hardest thing I have ever done on my trike. I met some fabulous people on the climb up with comments that ranged from a friendly “Hello” to “You are absolutely nuts climbing on that!”. I just smiled and said hello or thanks! I just kept thinking about turning my legs over, again and again. I also kept my eyes on the other side of the road to check out the camber for the ride back down, just so I would know what to expect. I had never even driven up Mt. Buffalo, which might have been a good idea, so I really had no idea how far it was to the top! Funny thing was that riders kept going by me saying “Not far now”, but after about 15km’s of people saying this I replied at one point “What to the next corner?!” It really was very nice to have people encouraging me all the way up and not just the SKCC members but riders who didn’t even know me.I reached the Plateau and decided that I wasn’t going to go up to the Horn which was another 11km’s but I did ride up to the Chalet and then back to the Plateau where I caught up with the other riders.
The Ridewiser van was there and were kind enough to offer me a Banana, I had a drink and a refill of my water bottles, ate the other food I had with me, then started the descent down the mountain. Now that was the scariest part and probably the hardest part of this ride for me. With hair pin turns and off camber with the bitumen having dips and bumps my descent certainly wasn’t as fast as most! I even had to stop twice to shake my hands out as they were cramping from using the brakes to much! There was never a more lovely site than when I reached the bottom and had to climb a bit! Everyone was meeting at Cafe Velo in Bright for coffee and lunch, so I rolled in to Bright and caught up with all of them. Once lunch was eaten I realized that I had better make my way back to our motel and pack up to hit the road back to Melbourne. I would have loved to have stayed an extra night like a few of the others but I had a few things I had to attend the following day.
I had a wonderful weekend and met some fabulous people! It was the biggest week of riding I have had to date, clocking 299.6 km’s and if I had known I was that close to 300 km’s I would have ridden around the parking lot for 400 metres! A special thank you to Gaelene who did a brilliant job of putting this weekend together and I want to express my gratitude with a huge THANK YOU to everyone, you all made me feel so welcome. SKCC – You are truly all like a new family for me! I look forward to a lot more riding in the future!!!