Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Ride home ( a tale of perception )

I think he picked up my slipstream as I came through Birrarung Mar , I heard the clank of his gear and his shadow was almost completely on top of mine but just enough of a line for me to notice. I'm on my mountain bike so I'm just not going to be fast enough for him to stay there for long.

I get quite frustrated with the riders who sit right in line with your rear wheel and draft off the slipstream your body creates. This because there's no need to ride so close (not to mention it's lazy riding, they're using the slipstream to get the same speed but for less effort)

Image courtesy of

Under the bridge and up on tho the pathways opposite Olympic Park, I keep the pace steady,  as to shake him off I'll have to work twice as hard. Past AAMI stadium and the shadow is gone but the click and every now and then the echo's off the various things we pass - trees, fences, signs, is still there.

Down the hill we go toward Burnley wharf. Sitting steadily on 29kph

As I come off the floating pathways and up the ramps toward the halfway mark it's the Big Hill time. The pathway dips down hard and then climbs sharply, corners hard and then begins a long descent to almost the level of the river  (it floods after a heavy rain) and instantly climbs up to the freeway level again. All the way down I here the click of his ratchet as he stops pedaling and allows the hill to do the work. Momentum carrying us up to 41kph and then slowing us almost instantly to 20 then 19kph.

At this point I decide to try and shake him by leaving the path and going on to the road than runs next to this portion of the pathway. It's shielded by the 15 foot sound barriers that stop the freeway hum from offending the people who live across the Yarra on the waters edge.

I still can't see him properly but the sounds are clear - the click of the ratchets and the occasional squeak of the pedals. Up into 6th and the speedo reads 30kph

Along the road we sweep, the sweat is now tickling my eyebrows and I'm breathing hard.

Second last rise in the road and I watch carefully for the cross traffic, the cars don't look - they expect you to. I slow slightly as the incline steepens and I change down to 5th, I can't hear him but I can feel him tucked in behind riding the slipstream and doing 20% less work than me.

I've hit the last  straight now and I click up a gear again to 6th and the speedo reads 32kph. I can feel each part of the muscle in my legs and the sweat now resembles tears running down my face.

Last rise past the girls school, I often see them in the morning loading boats into the river and wishing they were somewhere else. But not now, the heat rises from the road and they are nowhere to be seen.

I can hear the click of the ratchet in the rear wheel again as we pass the walls of the school and the squeak of his bike chain. Its unwavering and now slightly to my right.

200 meters to go.

I reach the turn on to Bridge rd and stop to one side as I've won. He didn't pass me and I turn around jubilantly to claim my victory.

As I look back along the roads straight line , it shimmers under the suns glare and it looks like it's coated in a film of water but I know it's not.
Image courtesy

There's nothing behind me.

There's no-one behind me.

I check again wiping the sweat from my eyes. My heart pounding.


I've been chasing myself. The click of the ratchet, mine amplified as I ride past sold objects. The squeaky chain the one part of my chain with some slight rusting.

I turn slowly onto Bridge rd and chuckle to myself. You have to be careful what you think are competing for.

1 comment:

  1. Now that is a great cycling story! I have had that happen too, but not for so long, I usually get annoyed by slipstreamers and slow down to make them overtake and then ride their tail for a while. Oh this makes me miss my bike...
    Great blog btw!