A seat post without a seat … how one tiny nut can make a whole bike useless.
I was sitting on the ride of the road at Coominya at 3.30 on Sunday morning, with a broken bike.
This sounds like it would be a lonely and desperate place to be. But it was not. Every couple of minutes a small group of cyclists came past, and without exception they would stop and check on my well-being. And after about 40 minutes, a large well-appointed four-wheel-drive with a four-bike rack on the back stopped, and the driver gave me a lift.
I was on the Audax Midnight Century, one of south-east Queensland’s enduring and iconic bike-riding events. And despite my eventual DNF, I had a great night, with 84km of exhilarating riding, followed by a few hours of relaxed chat about bikes and riding, and some good food.
About 30 of us Audax nutters gathered in the carpark of Ipswich Brothers rugby league club for the event. Deja vu. This time I was there with my friend (and my daughter’s father-in-law) Ernesto.
And on the dot of midnight we had a quick briefing from Dino (here’s my reconstruction of the route), and off we went. Ernie and I had intentions of hanging back and seeing what was what, but the early pace through the suburbs of Ipswich was quite benign, and by the time we reached the Cunningham Highway on-ramp at Yamanto, we were with the lead group.
When it all settled down on Ipswich-Rosewood Road, Ernie and I were in a group of 12 or 13 riders. I would describe the pace as “pretty willing”, and was finding it occasionally difficult to keep up with the rhythm of the group. But I was still there through Rosewood and Grandchester, until we hit the Grandchester range after 40km.
At that point the road goes up for 3km. It’s not a hard climb, but there was no way I could match the pace of the front group, so I took my own counsel and rode at my own pace. Over the top another rider caught me, and we rolled down towards Laidley together.
Ernie was waiting for me at the turnoff into Laidley and we rolled along with our new friend (whose name I never asked) to the rest stop at Forest Hill, 55km into the ride.
It’s five past two in the morning. LET’S EAT!
This is a hungry man.
With some fabulous zucchini slice on board, Ernie and Wes and Ivan and I got back on the bikes and into the inky blackness that is the Lockyer Valley on a Saturday night (well any night I guess).
And our group swelled to about six or seven riders. The pace seemed to moderate a bit, whether it was just for me was hard to tell.
But we were making time, enjoying the night, and the slightly surreal experience that is night-time road riding. It feels fast, whatever speed you are actually doing. It feel like you’re getting away with something.
But I didn’t get away with it for much longer. Across the Warrego Highway near Plainlands, then past Glenore Grove and Mt Tarampa, heading towards Coominya.
I got out of my saddle for a little bit of extra oomph up a rise, and there was a rattling noise beneath me. I sat down, it disappeared. I got up again, and the rattle was back.
I sat down, and the seat moved out of horizontal with me, and just about came off the seatpost.
So I called out ‘stopping’, and pulled over the side of the road for a look. It quickly became apparent that I had lost the top nut out of the rear of the two bolts in my Thomson Elite seatpost. The two-bolt design is great for adjustment of the seat … you can fine-tune it so that the seat is perfectly level … but if one bolt is out of action then the whole seatpost fails to hold the seat.
So there I was, a few km from Coominya, and about 80km into a 160km ride. I called the organisers, and after a few minutes on the phone we had arranged a pickup in Coominya.
So my midnight century was a DNF. But even though me and my bike failed at the task, from that point on I still had a great ride and chat with Peter, who was on sag duty for the night.
And I still enjoyed the hospitality of the Fernvale rest stop. And chatted with various other event participants, both about Audax stuff and about BQ stuff. And with this event being a DNF, it just means that next time I ride I have to try harder to make it to the finish line.
Now THIS is an Audax bike. Mercian is an English brand. This one is a fixie, in the fine Audax tradition of making things harder for yourself unnecessarily. And it’s got typical English touches like a Brooks saddle and Carradice saddlebag.
Dawn at Fernvale.
Not your typical Audax machine. This is a custom-designed and made titanium Koiled, which belong to Nick who is also a super-awesome enduro mtb racer.
Ernie, Wes and Ivan finished together, and they clocked up 160km. Well done gentlemen!