Doin' The Dog trap 100, 150, 200km. Audax
The promo email for Doin' The Dog trap went out on Monday. I didn't give much thought to it, Dog Trap Road, last time I did it I think it was midnight on a 400. The memories weren't particularly fond. I looked over the course and it climbed out of Berowra Waters on the east side, I'd been wanting to do a shot of riders climbing the east side for months.
On Wednesday there were 10 riders registered, OK, worth a drive out there with a telephoto for the shot.
Friday 11:30 and 44 riders have registered! This changes things, with this many riders I want to be in the action.
11:59, 31 minutes before registration closes and I'm down for the 200. There were now 47 riders.
Mrs AudaxPhotog says I'm nuts, I've taken today off work because I felt rotten and now I'm booked for a 200, with camera gear!
Camera batteries charged, memory card cleared, a day worth of food baked and packed, sugar/salt mixtures made. I'm ready. I feel like crap. I'm nervous. What the hell was I thinking. I was feeling shattered.
Saturday morning comes, I'm drinking breakfast on my way to the ride start. 500ml of hydration mix, 500ml of hydrating energy drink.
Since there are so many riders, Howard and Bec (ride organisers), decide to set riders off in groups separated by 5 minutes. With permission I'm allowed to set off with the first group instead of the last. I get off as far ahead of the first group as I can for my first shots.
Then I wait for the second group. Not quite happy with the photos I've taken so far I wait for the third group.
I'm a little disappointed that I'm now on the back of the last group thinking I've lost plenty of opportunities for later. I accelerate up and out of Galston, going as hard as possible to catch more riders. I've got a day of this ahead.
I did well until Wylds Road where I get my chain jammed between the 2 front rings, losing every minute I gained through all that effort. Instead of taking photos as everyone passes me, I wrestle the bloody chain. Not thinking. I'm not a fan of the short sharp descent and then climb of Wylds.
At this point I'm sure the day is lost and I back off and ride with a fellow on a Vivente World Randonneur with Rohloff hub and belt drive. No jammed chains on that bike, nice choice.
To my surprise we catch a large group of the riders at Berowra Ferry, I have to tell the ferry man that I won't be crossing to the other side. It's nice to stop here, swap my short lens for the telephoto. A good randonneur with an eye on the clock would be downing food also, making use of the forced downtime.
Yes, there is a rider in this picture.
As it turns out, I need more telephoto reach and a higher viewpoint.
I saw Mark Lloyd earlier and he looked rotten, still not feeling well, he turned off at the top of Berowra and went home.
First checkpoint is Mt White, plenty of riders here. While James signs my card I comment on trying to catch riders and take photos, I'm told (by a rider sipping his coffee) that there is no time for photo taking. I take off, a new record for me, 3 minute checkpoint.
I see Bec a few hundred meters ahead but it takes me 6km to catch her. We chat on and off until Peats Ridge.
From Peats Ridge to Wyong, the only other life I see is a 4WD driver (in my lane) passing another vehicle coming in my direction (yikes) and a couple of very bored horses. Both a common feature of Yarramalong Road.
Again, to my surprise, I catch the lead crew of riders. They are enjoying their drinks and food at Wyong. I order a milkshake (no choc-milk drinks in the fridge). I guzzle down the 750ml of near frozen fluid while the other riders get ready to go. Brain freeze!
Riding with Howard, Tom and Martin. I can't believe I'm here, short stops for the win.
We make it to Peats Ridge for our final checkpoint of the day, my longest at 15 minutes.
While we are here Howard mentions how Tom quietly heads off, a little chuckle as we watch Tom go. Before I leave I decide on a quick toilet break.
I come back to discover they have left the scene without me! Seriously, not even gone 2 minutes.
I got dropped from the crew and I had no chance of catching these guys.
There is a 4 rider grupetto behind me, not far, surely.
I'm tiring of all this chasing. I pull over to get a shot of my bike on the Mooney Mooney side of the Hawkesbury River and it is a very short wait before the riders are passing.
Have you met the bagpipe lady...
... on the climb out of Brooklyn?
It is a little strange hearing bagpipes playing at anyplace other than a parade, but the players have to practice somewhere.
After a brief chat she promised me a tune that would inspire the rest of my climb.
She played well.
The theme of the day, catch riders as they stop for rests and food.
The grupetto that I had taken photos of earlier was now five strong as I reach them at the Pie in the Sky, Cowan. That was until a red light near Berowra had us split up and soon the chasing ensued, which I had nothing left for.
A huge thanks to Bec and Howard for all the effort they put into making these Audax rides available and such a success.