Curse this heat. Not only is it forcing me to lounge about the house in only my Mr Tickle underpants, hoping the fan can evaporate the streams of sweat trickling over the rolls of my flabby white stomach. Not only is the weather forcing me to do this, but it’s mocking me and making me look like some sort of fussy whinger for complaining about Sapporo’s cold and now Perth’s heat. Never mind that I have no use for the hot water tap in the shower or even that I could make a pretty good case against the cold tap under the Trade Practices Act (1974), this weather is making a hypocrite of me.

On the other hand, for the last few days, I’ve been glad to use the heat as an excuse not to ride as my body finally let me know it was time for a pause. A few weeks of the bachelor’s dream of cycling, sleep, work, opportunistic eating and very little cleaning of the bathroom came to a grinding halt on Tuesday when a ‘little lie-in’ ended with me waking up at about three in the afternoon. My recent cycling looks like this:

It turns out that Thursday is a rest day.

It’s the nature of cycling that some will look at this and think that’s a lot of riding whereas others will do more than this in a week. I can assure you, this was just the right amount for me. The key to these rides is that whenever I have ridden with someone else, that person has had to slow down to allow me to keep up. In particular, Alf deceived me by soft-pedalling on the flats before thrashing me up even the mildest incline. And I think there were few climbs he didn’t take me up on our tour of the Roleystone area which sadly all burnt to the ground the next day. Alas, Australia and New Zealand have been burdened with natural disasters these past few weeks and the next day while I cycled to Mundaring Weir against a fierce easterly which was caused by Cyclone Yasi in Queensland, the same wind was fanning the flames through Perth’s hills both north and south of me.

Mundaring Weir. You can see a bit of wind on the water. No, really - it was windy.

I’m lucky that my work makes it easy for me to fit in some daily cycling. My school is only about 5km away from my house directly but if I ride along the river and through Kings Park, it is a nice 20km ride. I’m working casually at the moment so my hours change but if I get a morning and an evening shift, I can ride to work and back twice in a day. The ride home after an evening shift is quickly becoming my favourite. I finish at 8.30 and head off in the dark. The weather is still warm and because most of my riding is on bike paths along the river, I don’t need to worry about being cleaned up by a careless driver. Sometimes I try to go as fast as I can without crashing in the dark but other times I enjoy coasting along and passing people fishing or having barbecues near the cool river instead of in their hot houses. The only problem I’ve had lately is that the tide has been high (the river is, in fact, an estuary) and the bike path has been flooded in parts. I went to pump my tyres up the other day and found that, because I had forgotten to hose my bike down when I got home, the salt water had corroded the tube’s valve and it didn’t want to keep the air in any more.

If I’ve got a day off, I sometimes delay leaving for a ride in case a teacher calls in sick and I have to work but the other week I got a call about 9am and found I probably wasn’t going to be able to get back for a 10.15am class.

Sorry, I can't make it in time. Lovely day, isn't it?

The culmination of all my riding was last Sunday with my first time trial since I got back to Perth. I fitted my aero bars (not chocolate ones) to my steel bike the night before and hoped that the ride to the start at Chidlow about 45km from Perth would give me enough time to get used to the aero position again. It was mainly uphill and into the wind so I was quite happy when a passing teammate gave me a lift in his car after about 30km.

Top women’s cyclist Emma Pooley from the UK is apparently in the habit of seeing out the northern winter in Perth so she’s a familiar face at the local time trials. At the moment, she’s the UK road champion as well as the world time trial champion. I had watched her at a criterium a couple of weeks earlier where she had simply ridden away from the field after a couple of laps and very nearly lapped the main pack by the end.

One rider managed to stay with her for a few laps.

At the time trial, she started not far ahead of me. I’m not sure what the starter said to her but I heard her reply: “Yes, but I actually am the world champion”. It must be annoying being the world champ and seeing the number of people riding around in a world champions shirt that they have bought from a shop.

Does she know the precise amount of water she needs for a 27km course?

She then broke her own record for the course before changing into the UK road champions colours and riding back to Perth for another race that afternoon.

As for me, I was shattered by the end of it and posted a fairly unsatisfactory time. The last few kilometres were mainly uphill and into a wind and I like to think it was along this section that my legs finally gave up the ghost after two and a bit weeks of solid riding. I rode home after the TT but was happy to coast downhill with a tailwind for most of the way. I couldn’t sleep that afternoon as there was rugby on the telly and a birthday dinner for my father to attend to. The next day I ended up working from 8.30am to 8.30pm so it wasn’t until Tuesday that I could catch up on that rest I needed.

The neighbour’s cat is in the habit of visiting me and miaowing loudly in the kitchen. Unfortunately, by Tuesday I had run out of milk and made the mistake of giving it ice cream instead. It now thinks it’s too good for milk.

Happier days when the neighbour's cat only turned its nose up at biscuits.

And now I must change back into my Mr Tickle pants and make sure the daddy long legs in the bathroom has the insect problem under control. Cheerio.


9 Comment on “Head down and riding

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