So we leave Sprocketman to his own devices for several paragraphs - what did I, a utility/commuter cyclist at best, a non-racer, do during my day alone in a wonderful summer playground of outdoorsy-ness and athleticism?
Well, first thing, I made a lovely cup of tea, opened the curtains to the spectacular sunrise over the lake and snuggled back into bed with my book.
And I stayed there for about 2 hours. Excellent.
And then about the same time as 3,500 people balanced themselves on two-wheels and wobbled off down a bloody big hill, I dressed and had a full breakfast at the hotel dining room while reading the Saturday news. I walked to the lake’s edge, threw my toast crusts to a passing bird, and headed back to dress for a ride.
This was exciting; I had the whole of the road-closed race route to play on. I wheeled Alan out of our hotel suite, after taking a few pictures of him on the balcony, threw my leg over the top tube rather ungracefully, as I am still getting used to a diamond frame. Note to self, watch a few women’s pro races and see how they get on their bikes without dislodging a hip.
And we were off !
Face much forwarder and lower than on my dutch bike – much closer to a racing pose than I was used to or had really wanted – but here we were, wide open roads, no cars – let ‘er rip.
And I did. I raced through Jindabyne village, onto the bike path, back to the start of the road closures and continued that loop several times. Despite the fact that I was not wearing a race number, and was several hours ahead of the expected time for even the fastest rider, I got waves and cheers and offers of free drinks from the spectators gathered along the roadside.
“No, I’m not racing, just having a fun ride.” I said for the nth thousandth time. “Good on you love, you’re miles ahead of the blokes!”
After that I gave up and either gracefully accepted the plaudits or deflected the conversation to admiring the local scenery/local enthusiasm/yellow bikes.
I looped back along the path to avoid my fans, and still practicing gear selection and changing, kept riding until I judged it time for real cyclists to be approaching the finish line; I sat myself and my bike under a tree and clapped and cheered for everyone passing; red of face or relaxed, some people barely making it, some deciding to burn their last energy reserves in a sprint finish – it was great and several hours passed without my really noticing. The supporters across the road from me had been in place for many more hours and far more beers and their support was loud and long.
But as the tail end of riders drifted past, and then the official race cars and police cars rolled through I realised there were no more riders. Where was Sprocketman?
How had I missed him? Because he doesn’t race with a phone, there was no point calling him, but I did anyway, just in case …
Bugger. I hopped on Alan and rode the rest of the race course to the finish, through the crowds and nada. Not there. Rode back to our hotel. Not there. Rode back to the finish, checked the physio and massage tents, checked the crowd at the awards presentation. At a bit of a loss as to where he would be, I checked with the organisers, and then rode over to the medical tent. No, no middle-aged white MAMIL heart-attack victims, and he wasn’t on the list of crash victims – three riders taken out on the first descent by a wild deer, geez you’d be cross wouldn’t you?
Could he have gone over a cliff while riding alone? This seemed the obvious answer and I paused to think about the logistics of abseiling down to rescue him, when my phone pinged with a text message from an unknown number.
“Borrowd phone, on bus, being taken back to car.”
Ooh, that wasn’t great. The bus meant a crash or a medical issue …