So Sundee saw a trip down to Geelong to take part in my first "Amy's Ride" to help raise awareness amongst the public to reduce fatalities and serious injuries caused to cyclists by automobiles on Australian roads.
The ride saw a leisurely 120kms around the Bellarine peninsula; with some undulations and small climbs, and a strongish south-westerly blowing in.
A fantastic spread of riders showed up, from grannies on cruisers, regular riders, young kids on mtb's, and several high profile pros in their team kit.
Around halfway through the ride we hit the beach, and encountered a strong headwind. About 99% of riders dropped back and tried to hide from the wind behind other riders. However, there was one rider who decided to accelerate into the vicious headwind. Being the simple bloke I am, with my "dog chasing a car" mindset; I put the foot down to chase this bloke and try to get his wheel. As I was approaching I thought to myself, "jeez, this is one of those cashed up mid-life crisis riders, he has the full predictor lotto outfit and the $14,000 Ridley Noah; he must be trying to emulate the great man, Im sure he must have more money then sense". To my surprise as I pulled up, my arrogant assumptions couldnt be any further from the truth. I discovered that this "decked out amateur" was in fact Cadel Evans, possibly the greatest cycling talent to ever come out of Australia.
Riding along, the only word I can think of is "Smooth", every pedal stroke seemed absolutely effortless, even when he accelerated, his body showed no signs of effort or exertion. The only indication that he was speeding up was all the riders around him pedaling like crazy out of their saddles to try and keep up!
I feel privileged that I have now ridden my bike with Evans, and can even brag that he drafted me for a while.. though it wasnt really that long ;o)
So following an hour of riding action with the Master, a feed station was coming up; as I was out of food and water I begrudgingly decided to pull-over and restock, a little disappointed as I knew there was no way i'd be catching Cadel after this break. Only one other rider out of the bunch decided to pull over. It ends up my decision to pull over was a good one, with the second rider pulling over being none other than Stuart O'Grady, Australian cycling Godfather and recent winner of the toughest one-day race in the world, the Paris to Roubaix. One of the ladies at the drink station commendered a pen, and so I was lucky enough to get Stew's signature on my jersey.. the only negative being I can no longer wear my favorite jersey, its going up in the pool room (as soon as I get one!).
Again, this guy's ability has to be seem to be believed; I only stuck with him for around 2 kms, after that he must have decided he wanted to catch Cadel; he made what seemed a very mild acceleration and was gone over the horizon, I made my best effort to keep up but it was futile.
Both pro's have left me in awe, its fair enough to say you've seen them on television, or even watched a racing event live, but to ride with them and witness the sheer grace and power is no less then inspiring.
If you ever get the chance to roll with a pro; take that opportunity with both of your gloved hands and cleated feet.
It will ignite your cycling passion to the same intensity as a match ignites jet fuel.