12 January 2009

Clandestine Ashbourne Run

A clandestine Sunday Smokkelaars run departs Darlington at 7:30 to trace the first half of TDU stage 3. Newbies Andrew [Depot], Steve [Thunda FTB], a very hip looking Simon [Syd] with his 8km old Orbea and Nick [G’lover] who presents himself in race-ready condition under the caring tutelage of gunner, don the golden fleeces with Smokkelaars’ pride and press the pedals up Main South road. Skip has withdrawn earlier this morning, still recovering from altitude sickness after Wednesday’s Adelaide Alps run to Goolwa.
There’s not a lot to love about this black expanse of bitumen as experience tells me that any road with the name main in it is to be avoided as is any road with the word hill but that’s a completely different story.
The early incline is neither daunting nor cruisy – it just is what it is – a preparation for Chandlers Hill (there’s that word I was talking about). As a peloton of Chandlers virgins we do all we can to lie on our backs and think of England and believe it or not Chandlers is kind to us. G’lover is intent on ‘corner counting’ (gunner loses count at 2) and confidently calls the last right-hander. Needless to say another soon appears.
The peloton reassembles at Chandlers summit and bids farewell to G’lover and Syd as they set about some Sugarloafing to destinations unknown.
Slipping downhill in the afterglow of some Chandlers lovin’ the banter is crisper than an icy pinot grigio mid-summer. Tall tales of ‘there’s no truth in cycling’, ‘you never know how far you can go until you go too far’, and fables of slaughtering the Willunga widow-maker abound.
The Fleurieu is shedding its spring shawl later than usual. The golden hardness of summer is only hinted at as the peloton runs a nice echelon towards McLaren Vale.
A barking instruction to “turn left here,” by gunner exudes none of the gravitas of skip but it gets the job done as we wheel on to Wickham Hill Rd (see, there’s that word again) and so the ascent begins. Wickham’s a recent acquaintance of gunner’s whom he happily introduces to Depot and Thunda.
Thunda holds no respect for the climb and he likes the tempo prestissimo, a la Kidd. Depot being more susceptible to the laws of gravity finds a cadence that suits and settles in for the long haul. The switch-back mid-rise presents a magical McLaren vista of verdant vines hemmed by a cerulean sea.
Time passes; and if you keep pedaling so does distance – and so Wickham is summited. A mob of kangaroos stand sentinel at Wickham’s peak – no doubt wondering what all the puffing is about.
It’s not long before the pain is forgotten and stories of monsters slain emerge again embellished beyond recognition as the tempo increases.
So like a bunch of flat track bullies we wend our way towards Meadows scything the sleepy gums in a sweet pace line that would make skip proud. The cut through Kuitpo hits a solid 31kph for the 15km stretch. The Lazy Ballerina Winery is a purple blur of agapanthus as the aroma of Meadows coffee seduces Thunda FTB to maintain the pace.
Coffee at Meadows is hog city as a large group of leather-clad over fifties descends upon a barely awake town with thunderous intent astride their softail fat boys, custom gliders, low riders, wide gliders, road kings and softail spingers.
This is our cue to set off on the quick 12km fly to the Greenman Inn at Ashbourne. There is too much lairizing for skip’s liking so at this point his absence is appreciated. Depot, Thunda FTB and gunner shooting the breeze in attack after attack with “bonjour monsieur” being the password. The Greenman Inn arrives too soon, however a couple of pale ales forms part of a disciplined re-hydration regime.
As we’re packing the bikes on the rack for the return trip the trio of Campo, Bondy and NNF whir by in tidy formation on their way back to Port Elliot – distant pleasantries are exchanged as they disappear into the distance and with it, Smokkelaars folklore.

Distance 89.92km
Time: 3h:43m
Ave: 24.1kph

1 comment:

skipper said...

great story and pics gunner +