The weather didn’t look promising for a ride. The entire week it had been raining heavily, bringing back memories of last year’s floods. Cranky moods and flying tempers weren’t all that surprising.
My mobile, in vibration mode, made a sound like a fat fly on a glass window, zzzsssssssd, zzzsssssssd. The alarm clock showed 6am on the dot. John’s text read “No major rain on the radar. Roads are still a little damp though.” I knew he was angling for a flatter, easier ride with that dampness hint. Who knows when it started, or why, but Mt Nebo is a Brisbane tradition on Australia Day and I wasn’t going to let John off the hook.
Should the road be too treacherous we can turn around, I said. But the roads were fine, it was the air that was as thick as a laundry.
We were late. Other riders, who had probably started from Coronation Drive at the traditional time, were already coming back down, in small groups, in singles and couples, in larger groups.
Our conversation turned to L’Etape du Tour in France in July. We were tapping out a nice steady rhythm and John looked good. I encouraged him to stick to my wheel and increased the pace somewhat because I wanted him to better his time from last week. Pushing a friend to lift the game, dig deeper, try harder, hurt more – that’s what friends are for, aren’t they?
Humidity and sweat soaked my jersey and knicks, my camera lens fogged up, and there was no dry piece of fabric left on me to clean it. John gasped for air behind me but the effort was worth over a minute in time improvements.
Still on a natural high with thoughts of glory far away on the slopes of La Madeleine, another rider caught up to us from behind. He recognised John, a friendly Hello and then he rolled up to me. So you must be Sandra?!. It turned out to be Sean, the friend of John who also signed up for L’Etape du Tour this year. The three of us chatted and climbed the few kilometres to Jolly’s lookout, where Sean turned around. John and I kept going to Mt Nebo village, so it was See you in France in July.
The Boombana Cafe at Mt Nebo village appeared closed, despite signage outside. Disappointed we were just discussing other options when a friendly woman stuck her head out the door and offered to make us coffees. They weren’t meant to open for another half an hour, she explained, and kitchen wasn’t quite ready, yet, but the coffee machine was already going. It’s not always true that the early bird catches the fattest worm.
Usually, riders only stop briefly at Mt Nebo village – if at all – and continue across to Mt Glorious, another 15 or so kilometres, but given that the time was approaching nine thirty, we were content to just head straight back down. The beauty about Mt Nebo is that the short (and often welcome) down-hill stretches on the uphill turn into short, sharp up-hill parts on the downhill. The attacks on those are great value because they squeeze the last bit juice out of burning legs.
The motivation derived from a stellar performance on John’s part and a carelessly thrown in comment on my part If you keep improving at this rate, you’ll smash my best time in three weeks let to a challenge accepted. A race – what else if you put two competitive people on a bike!?
6.5 km up to McAfees, the Tuesday before we fly to Europe, it’s on! Watch the trailer and place your bets it the comments section!