Rapha is a cycling clothing company famous for their “epic” films that seriously glorify cycling. Their videos typically feature mountains, empty highways, all the cool videography effects you can think of and huge vistas with a few dudes looking “epic” in pristine Rapha kit mashing away. Above is a few screen-grabs of one of their films.
[ASIDE — Dee just looked over my shoulder at the pic above and said, “when is Scott getting rid of that moustache?” “That’s not Scott!” LOL.]
Tom is our resident Rapha-guru. Personally I don’t mind Rapha — it’s simple and “classic”, but just quietly — sorry Tom — I feel it is a tiny bit bland for the outrageous prices they ask. I am all over Cadance — that’s just how I roll.
Anyway — in case you are from anywhere other than here — Queensland is currently getting hammered by ex-cyclone Oswald. And its path is tracking straight down the coast and yesterday it started making itself known in the south-east.
So today we had this awesome adventure planned but we had to cancel. For me it was more the potential flooding on unknown roads out in the west than the bullshit-misery of riding in serious rain and wind.
So it is actually a tradition here in Brisbane to ride up Nebo on Australia Day and it’s usually a nice day to ride with hundreds of other cyclists in a totally unorganised mass-ride.
So we defaulted to Nebo. See riding fast in wet weather means literally eating a LOT of road grime as you hug the wheel in front as it spews up everything on the road directly into your face. That Caloundra 200 last year left me with a full stomach without having to consume any food and a few pieces of grit in my eye for days later.
And up Nebo we went — protected from flooding, thinking the douche-bag motorbike riders would stay home (they did) and hopefully going slow enough that the rain wouldn’t bite into your face or needing to suck any wheels. It was me, Tom and Ryan.
The view from McAfee’s Lookout
On the way to Nebo there’s a bunch of lookouts we’ve never ever bothered to stop at and I thought we should just check them out seeing as we weren’t gonna break any records today so I made the crew stop even though there was almost nothing to see.
The rain was episodic. Sometimes severe, and other times entirely absent. The road however was littered with massive branches and bark and sometimes boulders — see below. (At one point a branch fell down in front of me giving me quite a fright — but it turned out to be quite small. I was just a bit edgy.)
We collectively wondered how the descent would go. Tom thought we should be positive. “We’re not going to crash,” he said matter-of-factly. I tried to believe.
But the more you ride in these conditions the better you get at it. It just felt so evil at the beginning because it has been so dry in Brisbane for months. For example — you kinda get used to the fact that you squeeze both brakes and nothing happens. And running over a squashed toad and almost slipping out I decided to avoid them (and there were billions of them) in future. By the end of the ride I was feeling pretty confident and rode almost naturally.
We briefly wondered what the rest of the world must think of us — up here in such atrocious conditions. We decided they would consider us “freaks”. I don’t mind that tag. I was actually having fun. The world looked beautiful, I was entirely soaked but didn’t really feel it anymore and I was with my mates doing something amazing.
Gradually visibility started deteriorating, but the cars tended to be quite good to us, taking their time to overtake as safely as possible.
We stopped at the next lookout — Jolly’s Lookout — and the drive up was fucking steep. Oops. We had the place to ourselves and of course — there was absolutely no view. The wind around was incredible. The trees, so fucking tall up here, roared like thunder. We just had to imagine the view with help from the many information signs.
Then it was on to Nebo Village where we stopped briefly at the cafe which incidentally has been the subject of some debate in the cycling community of late. Personally I am not quite sure what happened. Some reports state the owner caught some riders urinating at the back and that perhaps precipitated the agro.
Pretty cool lens-flares as a car with headlights approaches.
The very first rider we saw on the mountain was just after we turned around. His name was Matt and he was visiting from Auckland and he had run out of tubes having busted two tubes within a few kilometres. So we stopped and Ryan offered him one of his spares. Ryan took on mechanic-duties deciding the rim-tape was faulty and Matt had to sacrifice a 10 and a 5 dollar bill to plug the gaps.
As they worked I stood a bit down the road to direct traffic around and a guy in a ute came upon us and as he passed he gave me the finger/bird. What a fucking asshole. Matt said, “Drivers must be just as bad over here as in New Zealand”.
Soon an Energex truck came upon and actually stopped to see if we needed help. Good on them and this perhaps helped allay my horrible feelings for humanity.
Matt followed us home. On the way we saw a dude in Rapha! I caught up to him and said, “This is the best day to be wearing Rapha!”
Back safely down the mountain, but in the middle of the heaviest rain of the day so far, I asked Matt where he was headed and he said “Clayfield”. And because I was heading for Hamilton, not far away, I offered to show him the way. And Tom came too — and Ryan up until Windsor.
When I took off my shoes my feet looked ancient, like they had aged 50 years.