The Accidental Hobbit
Well, another 5am start thanks to a nervous sleep. Again the human shield rode with me to Gordon where I introduced myself to the group. A couple of faces were familiar but mostly they were new to me.
Much less of being handled like a precious parcel today; don't get me wrong, they were still giving directions and calling out warnings, and I still felt safer and happier than I'd have been on my own; but it was far more like riding as an equal, albeit one who didn't yet know the way.
I hung on until the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and was dropped just as we entered the CBD; no big deal, I was more than happy to take my time behind some cycling tourists who were excited about the view, and I realised I should be too, rather than keeping up with a group for whom this was an every day event. I found I was smiling as I rode along. Take the time to appreciate the achievement and the sunshine on the harbour.
The return ? Again was at the meeting point in plenty of time and introduced myself to more new (to me) faces, and said G'day to other familiar faces. A few people had questions about my bike, marvelling at the weight, and joking about using it to tow the slower riders up hills.
Although I often feel I need to explain myself for riding with an electric assist amongst them putting in the hard yards, no-one has ever been scornful. Every ride I go out on, someone looks at my bike and sees it as a solution for a less experienced or confident rider they know, there's always something like "Hmm, I'll tell my wife about this, she hates the hills" or something similar. I love the thought that someone else might get a kick out of an e-bike.
In Chatswood, at the juncture at which the group splits off into the Hobbit run through the national parks, and the regular journey home, I half took a punt on the park, half misheard the directions, and yep, attached myself to the Hobbits.
The first major descent freaked me out for a second or two but once I decided I was committed (and gravity was kinda making that decision for me) I just had to embrace it. And I loved it. Yay !!
Climbing out again on the other side of the park was the biggest effort I've had to make to date, standing climbs and really throwing my full weight into propelling the bike ever upward, but I kept up with the guys and though I arrived at various points after them, puffing audibly, it felt amazingly satisfying to have made it, and to discover that I could make it.
After that, the remainder of the journey home through quiet suburban roads was still constantly uphill, but nothing after the Hobbit run.
A triumphal turn into the driveway and ... no-one was home, except the cat who was majorly pissed at having been locked outside. Ticker-tape parade another time eh ?