Saturday, May 13, 2006



Instead of doing our normal Wednesday night mountain bike ride we decided to go for a road ride. Harry's decided he wants to do the Collie-Donnybrook race, which is 102km, and therefore needs to do a bit of road cycling. My suggestion was to do multiple loops of the Piavanin Rd circuit which is 21 km around, that way, if we had problems we wouldn't be any more than 10 km from home. But Harry and Banjo had already decided on doing the 80km MacAlinden circuit.
I had just recently changed the lights form my road bike to my mountain bike so it annoyed me that I had to put the lights back on. I had a spare set of lights so I just taped them to the tri bars as best I could. The Lithium Ion battery was charged and I had a spare one too, 1.5 amp hours which weighs nothing but would get me home in an emergency.
Knowing how cold it would get I dressed in my warmest gear, including my new shoes I got for riding to work. this required changing the pedals from the platform type to the SPD type. We set of at dusk, heading south out of town. First up we rode up Lyalls Mill hill, it's the biggest hill and so it's good to get it out of the way early, after that it was a series of ups and downs with mainly down into Mummballup. Where's Mummballup you ask? It's half way between Noggerup and Yabberup.
So we turned left and did a long grind to Noggerup which is about 12 km of flat but slightly inclining road through the upper Preston Valley. At Noggerup the road rises in a series of long steps. By this time is was getting pretty cool so we welcomed the hills as a chance to warm up a bit. We sat up and chatted as we rode. We talk about all sorts of things when we ride and it's good therapy, we've really gotten to know each other very well and know what buttons to push to sooth or stir each other up. In the distance I heard a sound like a herd of Harley Davidsons approaching, headlights lit up the road and I sprinted for the edge of the road just as a huge sheep truck thundered past. Soon after we got to the signs that indicated the turnoff to MacAlinden, which was just as well as Harry was saying "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?". We stopped and had a bit of a sugar feed then off we went. MacAlinden isn't really a town, it might have been once, I think it even had a school, but now it's just an area, an intersection of very quiet farming roads. You can ride 50km and not have a single car go past, so it feels very out of the way and at night time with only the stars and ten degree coolness as company you could be a million miles from anywhere. We soon discovered animals. An few kangaroos hopped across the road ahead, and then a black rabbit ran out in front of me and then wisely ran back into the bush. A long downhill then a sharp uphill and then we make our last left turn and head back towards Collie. This last stretch of road must have been given to the locals as part of an election bribe back in the 1950s, it's always been rough and narrow for as long as I can remember, it winds it's way next to the MacAlinden river and is more patched pothole than original road. Harry, sensing we're on the home run, pushes the pace up a bit which makes us hot from the effort and cold from the wind.
After crossing a bridge we're back in the Collie shire and the road surface improves slightly. Almost immediately a group of about a dozen kangaroos bounds across the road, some of them so close we brake sharply to avoid them hitting us. We've got three more hills then about 10km of flat. On the last descent some more kangaroos shoot across the road so close to us we're spooked and we descend the rest of it with the brakes on, a collision out here at this time of the night in the cold would be a disaster. We leave the farmland and are cycling through forest again, and since there are no grazing kangaroos we pick up the pace and time trial it back into town. After a quick goodbyes we head home for hot showers and a good feed.

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