Firstly, congratulations Norman. Unbelievable that you can beat all but one of the blokes in that international field. We’re in awe. [She was second in the above link if you’re reading this and you’ve no idea who Norman is].
I’m still on a high from our Highland Fling yesterday. It was brilliant.
Saturday night was very pleasant – dinner with the ER crew then chatting at the campsite and checking on the weather forecast. 8-12 degrees with a 90% chance of 10-20 mm rain.
Thanks to Admin for organising everyone so well, such that all ER’s were camped together – it made a big difference.
Woken at 5:30 am to the sound of bagpipes – I haven’t heard Amazing Grace on the bagpipes before.
Blue and I were taking the easier option of the Half Fling – only 59 km whereas the others were all doing the Full Fling 110 km and were off an hour before us.
The weather forecast was correct – miserable conditions.
We went over to the start to see the others off but with about 2000 riders and the mud and blood jerseys hidden under rain jackets we couldn’t pick anyone out.
We set off near the back of the last start as we assumed we would be among the slowest.
This would be our second ever mountain bike ride on the tandem, having done the Terrey Hills perimeter track and St Ives sniggle once, as practice.
We soon came to one of many creek crossings – mostly about knee deep.
Blue carried the tandem across and I asked for creek service but my request was ignored. We passed PD who was waiting for his friend at the top of the first hill.
The riding was lovely – open trails, attractive forest, the odd patches of loose sand. When the track narrowed I couldn’t see what was coming up as my view was completely obscured.
Sometimes we would launch down slopes that I had no idea were coming which was a bit scary.
Blue had strict instructions to call out the bumps as I can’t see them and the bike has no suspension – he was pretty good.
Several times riders immediately in front of us would stop dead unexpectedly and Blue did well to avoid them.
(Blue: It’s just as well Pink couldn’t see some of the drops and obstacles we took on, they get quite technical when one has to get 2 sets of pedals past the rocks)
We were somewhat surprised that we kept overtaking riders, even uphill.
The atmosphere was fantastic. There was even live entertainment along the way.
A band singing beautifully in harmony, then bongo players at the top of a very zigzaggy tight hill that we managed to ride all the way up.
Towards the end a choir at the top of a hill under a gazebo complete with conductor – As we rode past they made up a verse of the song about a tandem
We joined in briefly, then got out of hearing range, dropping down a steep narrow rocky section that was very challenging for us.
We got heaps of encouraging comments from other riders all the way through which was great – even from the fast Full Flingers.
The food at the transition was very welcome – fruit buns and bananas.
I hope we didn’t have more than our share because Wilson said there was none left when he got to this transition on the way back – I think people eat more when they’re cold and wet.
After a civilised 25 minute break we headed onto the harder section of the course.
The brakes started to make some funny noises – noises that we’d never heard them make before so we pulled over for some brake fettling.
Then like a hurricane the first group of the elite riders came flying past. They were amazing.
From here on we had to be on the lookout for fast riders from behind, so we could move out of their way.
Blue had a cocaine bar and it gave him a second wind. Every time there was a steep incline to walk up he would grab the tandem and run up passing lots of slow riders. I’d try and run up after him.
Other riders kept saying to us I don’t know how you’ll get through the technical sections.
There were two problems really – some of the turns were too tight for the tandem and there were lots of rocks that we didn’t have the clearance for.
Still we tried everything that looked doable and had to walk lots that were too hard.
I think we only hit the chain wheel badly once and Blue only slammed me into a tree once on a very tight corner.
Then Bambam came flying past and called out to us. It was great to see him.
When we crossed the line I forgot to look at the clock so we didn’t know what time we’d done but we didn’t care.
Our aim was to finish and we’d done that so we were stoked. Thanks Clutters – it was everything you said it would be and more.
The race caller interviewed us as we crossed the line as we were the first tandem to finish. Unfortunately the only other tandem broke the rear triangle so didn’t finish.
We certainly did it the easy way – I take my hat off to those who do the Full Fling and even the 160 km.