An altogether new kind of cycling experience

In my wild years I have descended with groups at speeds of around 100km/h. I have more recently piloted bicycle rickshaws. I’ve cycled in American, European and Asian cities. I’ve lived with a bakfiets instead of a car. I have been in hundreds and hundreds of club level races, ran every groundhog day it would seem. But there are always new cycling experiences. Just ask Gusto, who has trekked solo through Burma and Laos—mad bastard.

Well yesterday morning I joined a dozen or more mad bastards who, three days per week, 2 hours before dawn, ride into the Tasmanian mountains on road bikes. As the new kid in town I’m more open to unpalatable invitations than I would be, if I were in a rut. But it is to escape ruts that we move. So I set my alarm for 4.20am, and managed to be at the meeting point at 5.10. The water in my bottle was already part frozen.

An hour later, I was still riding uphill, toward a crescent moon, and familiar constellations made from stars I had known only as small stars, not these big stars they have 41 degrees South. There is no sound out there but your shameless deep breathing, each farmhouse’s rooster, and broken chains of bike banter with the occasional rider you find yourself passing, or being passed by.

I kept going like that until I saw the white headlights of the four strongest riders silently winding back down in the blackness. Time to turn around, and coast at motorbike speed back to town. Apparently I am now part of the foxes and hounds bunch, who do this three mornings per week. At least when I moved to live near the beach in Newcastle East, I waiting year before joining the cult who surf there at midnight under moons. I have dived right in there, on this occasion.

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