Dictionaries. They’re brilliant. Not only do they sit on your shelf and make you look intelligent by association, but when you don’t know the meaning of a word, you can just reach out for your dictionary and look it up. I’m particularly proud of my dictionary because it was discounted to $180 from $220.
One day I will be a wealthy man and able to afford the full 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary but until then, the Shorter Oxford will suffice. I’m also proud of my copy of Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion although times have changed since it was written and it’s starting to get a bit dated. Alas, Michael Jackson’s untimely death in 2007 has left the world without a leading beer writer so I shall just have to wait until another comes along. I’m less proud of the Steadman Japanese medical dictionary next to the beer companion but that is mainly because it is Kazuko’s and I am not able to read it.
But where was I? Oh yes – dictionaries. They can save you from that embarrassing situation where you use a word and find out it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Or it can stop you from using words that are massive exaggerations by helping you find more appropriate, less hyperbolic terms (a thesaurus is also good for this) so that when something really big or really awful happens, you won’t have already used up all the really good words (see how I used really a lot there? It’s not my limited vocabulary, I’m just keeping my powder dry). For example, you’ll find that you can’t describe someone as having an ‘epic beard’ or ‘legendary tattoos’. This is important because every time you use a word incorrectly, not only does a cute duckling die, but the word loses some of its meaning and becomes less good. I don’t know if Perth is at the forefront of this exaggeration problem but we do have a flight of steps in Kings Park that is referred to as Jacob’s Ladder and a radio station that insists on calling Perth the world’s greatest city. And of course, every hamburger shop in town claims to have Perth’s best hamburgers. In fact, while I was typing that last sentence, I remembered that I got a menu from the hamburger shop up the road last night so I had a look at it and stumbled on to a jackpot:
We’ve got a trifecta of inappropriate quotation marks, legendary chips, and best … in Australia or the World. I’m not sure if it’s up to me to choose whether they are the best in Australia or the world. Is it mutually exclusive?
Anyway, this post has long since degraded into a rant and I’ve no idea any more what point I was trying to make, so I’ll go back to it’s original purpose, which was to inform you that Chong and I went for a nice, long ride last weekend in the Perth Alps.
The weather had been getting better and more spring-like all week and I found myself quite excited at the prospect of getting in a long ride in temperatures that would be neither too hot nor too cold. I was also keen to get to some roads that I had never ridden on before. I haven’t been on any audaxes since I got back to Australia but I have found the Australian audax website to be a good source for planning long rides. I’m working on the assumption that they have ridden these roads before and will choose the ones that are better to ride on. In any case, I adapted the ride that they call the Garden of Eden. I didn’t want to do the whole thing but the top part of it looked good and I’d never been there before. It wasn’t terribly difficult to rope Chong into coming along for the ride so on Sunday morning we made the most of not having to leave too early because it’s not that hot yet and started our ride with the compulsory Rapha pre-ride coffee shoot.
With nespresso coursing through our system, we made our way out to the base of the Perth Alps, little knowing that we were not to see a stretch of flat road for quite a while. The profile looked like this:
Nothing very high, but full credit to the road builders for not holding back on the gradients. Here is Chong quite early on in the ride, already looking tired:
Or it could be that he’s just looking bitter because we were parped at by a car in the middle of an empty scenic route in a national park. I assume the driver was late for a bushwalk. Recreation can be so stressful. We did in fact see the car again and Chong quite rightly pointed out that we proved we were the bigger people by not smashing its windows or shoving a few muesli bars up the muffler.
After a few more missed turns, including one up an unnecessarily steep hill, we found ourselves on the right road and in the middle of a happy nowhere.
Somewhere out in this area is a place I’ve heard cyclists refer to as Death Valley. I’m pretty sure Death Valley is in California but you never know – the fabric of the time-space continuum seems to tear quite easily these days. We did get to a rather pretty valley with an excellent descent followed by a pleasant and only mildly-steep climb but I didn’t see any dead things at all, so I suspect we weren’t really in the lowest, driest and hottest location in North America.
We weren’t going particularly quickly but the constant short climbs soon took a toll on my legs (I can’t speak for Chong, he seemed to be handling them better than me) and each climb started hurting just a little more than the last.
But the nice scenery distracted me from the throbbing in my legs.
Eventually we got back near Chidlow, just in time for the last lap of the Masters race which was on there that morning. We spotted John H., another ERC rider but couldn’t quite figure out where he was in the race. We were pretty sure we had just seen the B grade pack go past but he and the two riders with him seemed to be going faster than the pack. It turned out he had managed to crash and was chasing them to get back on. He says he managed to finish with the bunch. We kept riding and got to Chidlow just in time to sit behind the B grade after they had finished and were making their way back to the car park.
After the serenity of the countryside, even the relatively quiet roads home felt like they had too much traffic. We stopped for a small feast at a bakery in Mundaring and an almost post-ride coffee shoot.
And then Chong did most of the lead-out work on the way home while I struggled to hold his wheel. All in all, a happy day’s cycling and a satisfying first long spring ride.