Over the last few days I have enjoyed getting back into the swing of things with training. Today I went for a 100km bike ride with a group. The guys involved have either competed in rowing internationally or still are. I think that I have mentioned this before but I have to say that in Melbourne we have a great cycling culture. The rowing community has tapped into it and benefited a great deal.
As can be imagined we all became very competitive with each other. It is a great sense of competition and the intensity is truly inspiring. What we find is that someone gets a little cheeky and start to push the pace up. We started out riding side by each, but this soon changed once the speed built to a level that meant we could each only do a turn at the front for a short time. We were still side by side but the lead constantly changed.
After some 70km I glanced down at my heart rate monitor and to my surprise I was on 174bpm. Straight away I thought it would be critical to manage my effort to ensure I didn’t seize up. I am pretty certain that we were all feeling similarly, but no-one was letting on and I was making sure that none of the other guys could sense I was close to my limit. It is like a game of cat and mouse with each of us testing the other to see how much they had left in the tank.
All the guys are extremely committed to pushing themselves and those around them and so once we began reaching speeds in the mid 50’s it was almost as if instinct takes over. It was vicious and thrilling as we churned down the road. With every group we past it was as if we used them as a mark to drive away from. The odd accelerations were amazing as each member of the group surged to the front.
After a while I didn’t dare look at my heart rate I didn’t need to know the number because I could feel the strain, the physical effort and as I kept reminding myself to keep my legs spinning it was as if I could find a new strength. We all found reserves that only become visible in times of full capacity. We were all feeding off each other and as parked cars appear in the distance, we pounced on them and with a whip like crack we were gone. The rush of speed coupled with the gnawing fatigue is addictive. We were hook on the stimulus of thrashing, pumping, spinning, hurting and with a feverish state like those climbers of Everest, we too were lost. Lost in the moment of the chase, the thrill of the ride and the great sense of respect for each member of our group.
As we finished the ride we dropped into one of our favourite place for a coffee and some food. Café Racer is famous and as we arrived all grinning from ear to ear, we all burst into banter about the riding adventure we had just had. And to think that all we really did was peddle our bikes down a road and back.
What a joy, what an exhilarating experience and to be able to share it is something that I know I look forward to and I am sure that all the riders out on Beach Rd enjoy riding for the same reasons. To also know that it benefits my rowing is a great bonus and one that is a big reason why I am still doing to sport. To be able to training in ways that compliment our rowing is critical and even as I write this I am looking forward to getting out on the bike again tomorrow.