The end of FebSober & a day in Marysville

I had a pretty good run on the bottle over Jan – when we were in Byron Bay, Sarah & I enjoyed the cocktail hour just about every day. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t lolling about drunk 7 days a week, but let’s just say, we were in a good paddock.

I’d heard about FebSober (aka FebFast) where people give up the demon drink for a month. Some for charity, some for health, so just for the challenge of it. I suppose if you’re stopping doing something enjoyable for a month, Feb makes sense – pick the month with 28 days, rather than 30, or worse, 31.

To add to the challenge (as if we needed it) we started on 27 Jan  – we had a group of friends around for a wonderful afternoon on Australia Day, and the next morning FebSober started, a few days early.

It’s been a bit of a challenge – probably no point doing it if it wasn’t – and we’ve had a few funny looks from friends, wondering what was going on. But not really a hardship.

My cycling has been a little messy the last few weeks – I’ve lost a little motivation (nothing to do with FebSober) and I’m carrying an injury (a wart on my left big toe that rubs against my cycling shoe. But it only hurts on the downstroke). And I just haven’t been in the mood to knock out big rides.

Friday night I had one of those nights where you can’t get to sleep. Wide awake until 2am, and then finally drifted off, only to be woken – not at all refreshed – at 5:30. Stumbled out of bed, quick coffee, dressed and into the car (packed the night before) to collect one of my cycling club buddies, Jeff, at 6:00.

I found his place (only one wrong turn) and we had his bike loaded and back on the road for the drive to Marysville by 6:10. It was great to see so many cars on the road with bikes on roof racks first thing in the morning, all heading to the same place.

We were there just before 8:00, and found Brian’s place easily. Brian is also a club member, and very kindly offered the use of his weekender to a hoard of 20 of so of us as a meeting point.

After some car unpacking, local anaesthetic cream for my toe, and last minute gear fiddling, we were in the start area by 8:20.

Other than the 20 of so Maccabi members that I knew would be there, in the crown of 500 ~ 600, I spotted (or was spotted by) another dozen or so people that I knew.

The first wave of 50 or so were sent off at 8:30 – on the dot – I was in the third wave a few minutes later.

I was planning to ride 160k – the first 120 was a loop up through Alexandra & Elidon then back to Marysville, and then a 40k sufferfest out to the top of Lake Mountain and back.

I settled in very easily with a fast bunch, and knocking off the first, easy, 15 or so kilometres at an average of 40kph. Then I dropped my bottle (putting it back in the cradle after a drink) and had to stop to pick it up. Yesterday was NOT the day to ride 120k – or even 12k – with no water.

Bottle recovered, I tried to get back onto the fast group, but they were gone.

So I cruised along waiting for the next bunch to catch me, and then hopped in with them – Shane (our club president) & Jeff were in this group, and I ended up riding the rest of the day with them.

We struggled on the climb from Alexandra to Eildon, although the views from the top were wonderful, and the very fast, very technical descent was amazing – my heart rate was nearly as high, from excitement, going down the hill as it was from effort going up the hill.

Another water & snack stop in Eildon, and as ever on Cycle Sport Vic events, the fruit cake was brilliant – it might be only Black & Gold brand, but it hits the spot. I tried to get some more cream for my foot, but the chemist didn’t stock it, so I had to ride on in growing pain.

We worked really well as a three man team from Eilon to Taggerty. Rolling turns off the front, nobody talking much, each lost in their own thoughts and coming to grips with the ride.

It was hot.

The roads in that part of the world are dead. They’re hard, and a bit bumpy, and they take it out of you. By this stage we’d agreed that we were stopping at 120k – it’s so much easier to pull out early when you don’t have to make the decision on your own!

Taggerty saw us downing Neurofen – my for my toe and Shane’s back was playing up by this stage – nothing like athletes in the mid 40s, is there. The drugs did their job almost instantly, and I was pulling the other boys along at a reasonable pace.

Until I got out of the saddle to kick it up a gear, and as my right leg pushed down, my right calf said “fuck you, it’s cramp time”. So for the 20k from Taggerty to Marysville, I was on the edge of cramping. Push a little harder, and feel it start to happen, back off a little and I was ‘fine’ again.

An interesting balancing act.

And to keep me moving, I decided that if I got back to Marysville a) without having to stop and b) without external assistance I was going to have a beer as soon as I got off the bike.

We crossed the line, rolled in to the finish area, I got off the bike, walked into the supermarket’s liquor department and grabbed a stubby of Crown. I don’t think a beer ever tasted as good.
  

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