Throughout the night I woke up to the sound of rain. After Alberto had left to race the Metropolitan Crit, I was standing on the back veranda, holding my glass of coffee, listening to the sound of drizzle on the tin roof, discontented staring at the grey sky through the web of our summer resident Golden Orb Weaver. The rain pearls glistened in the abandoned web.
Midday the sky looked patchy at best but the forecast promised clearing. The roads were wet but it wasn’t raining when I left the house. There was another wall of down pour moving in from the West but if I kept heading North I would stay away from the worst I thought. Five kilometers from home it started drizzling. There was no turning back, I decided.
When I passed the outer Northern suburbs of Brisbane the drizzle stopped. I squeezed pass long rows of Saturday afternoon crowds lining up on red traffic lights through commercial districts where DIY families rushed to buy their weekend project items. Not my favourite part of the chosen route but soon afterwards I pushed the pace up a short hill and turned left and immediately the traffic lessened.
Once past the golf course the roads became rural with little hobby farms on each side. The sky looked dark and dangerous to my right but there were patches of blue sky in the West. It was drizzling again and the road surface was rough. The head wind was a good thing because it promised an easier return trip.
The road followed the train line and the one o’clock train had its lights on. Maybe trains always have their head lights on, I don’t know. I usually don’t pay attention to those things. The platform of the train station was empty. I was still heading north and realised that I hadn’t been this far for a very long time. On rides earlier this year I had always chosen routes that took me across to the bay further south.
After the little township the roads got rough. Dead roads, drizzle and headwind – the recipe for a good training ride. My knees felt cold. The spray from the road soaked my bib shorts, leaving a black streak up my back.
Before long I reached the next small township. It looked like so many other small townships in Australia. First the houses with little fore gardens lining the road, pedestrian crossings, safety islands and roundabouts demanded some more attention. The town centre’s shopping complex was fronted by a grey concrete car park. The one level buildings showed the usual shop signs for bakery, IGA, fruit & tuck shop and Subway.
This was the northern most township of my ride and I took the bridge across the motorway and the road towards the East, towards the bay. More hobby farms, horses on paddocks munched on luscious grass, ducks on the side of the road who, unlike the horses disturbed by my presence, huddled off.
My iPhone announced the arrival of a text message and the music had ended, too, so I briefly stopped to reply and start the Cadence Revolution podcast, three or four new episodes that would provide enough music for the rest of my ride.
After an hour of quiet countryside I turned once again left and – almost like waking from a trance – found myself on a fast, wide and busy avenue. The wide smooth shoulder begged for some speed. Tugged into a more aero position and with the wind now from behind I flew the last ten kilometers towards the sea. Noticeably cooler I felt my soaked feet going numb.
A passed that famous Brisbane Fish and Chip shop where I took my parents last Christmas. The outside chairs and tables were empty and the place looked deserted and uninviting under the threatening dark sky. Alberto’s mum calls it “saudades”, the sad feeling of longing, and I felt it when I rode pass the beach where my Dad went for a swim on Boxing Day. He had so much fun taking photos of himself in his tiny Speedos next to the city council Christmas tree. A young couple with a Border Collie and a red and white striped umbrella walked along the beach today.
I was on the home stretch now, less than an hour on familiar waterfront roads before I would be rewarded with a nice hot shower and the left-over potato salad from last night.
The clock stopped at three hours twenty, 85 km added to this week’s training plan and on track with only a century to add tomorrow.
Do I need to mention that I followed the course of the Zupps ride? If you know the area, I bet you recognised it!