King of the Hallowed Ground
So it has been a while since I have written a blog. Things have got in the way. Life. Work. Disappointment. A Virus. The pressing need to get some keys cut. Lots of things. However, eating into the time that I have allocated for blogging has been the unstoppable desire to create a patch of hallowed ground, develop a back story, get some playmates involved and become the King of it all. During the course of all of this, you will be pleased to know that I have also continued to take the medication. This blog post is the story of how I became King of the Hallowed Ground. For less than a second. About 1/15th of a second actually. Shortest reign in history.
The Hallowed Ground
For me, one of the most amazing things about cycling is that an average stretch of tarmac can become the most incredible thing. It can become a place where battles are undertaken; where friendships are won (and lost); where the world is put right (or at least forgotten for a while) and, most importantly, where you test yourself and find out what you are made of. Strava makes a fair amount of all this possible but it is the tarmac itself that is important.
In a previous post, I shared my experiences of riding with the King’s Men, Melbourne on their treasured tarmac – Beach Road. I have also been impressed by Regents Park Rouleurs, who tear around the outer circle of Regents park at 5:45am in chain gang format. The two groups have 2 things in common:
- They have some pretty handy riders (a bit chicken and egg but I hypothesise that the handiness is largely forged on their respective hallowed grounds)
- They have some very cool and often amusing nicknames
I wanted to replicate this but first of all I needed to find a place to do it. Not as easy as you might think. You need a stretch of tarmac where you can get a chain-gang going, is moderately safe, is accessible to all of your potential playmates and has the potential to grow into something bigger. So how do you go about finding such a place?
You blatantly steal it from your cycling club!
Yes, my hallowed ground is a loop of a course that is used for a fun Boxing Day TT that my club runs amongst ourselves, Here it is. It is handily placed for Hildenborough train station and situated near the picturesque village of Leigh. The History of the Powdermills can be enjoyed here. The key point of more is that the powder in question is gunpowder and other explosives. This is apt.
The Powdermills Loop is 6.7km in length, is pretty flat (but you do get to know the slight inclines intimately). It has two fast left hand turns into side roads. It has a downhill section littered with holes and a right hander that is more or less unsuitable for road bikes. It has an uphill drag, a couple of very fast sections and the wind is pretty much always in your face 😉 It is perfect and it is ours. It is The Hallowed Ground.
Becoming the King of the Hallowed Ground
I won’t bore you with all of the detail around the creation of the sub-culture connected with the Hallowed Ground but the short version goes like this:
- A mate likes the idea of Monikers. He wants to be the Cowboy. I think why not. He rides a century around the Hallowed Ground. He is now the Cowboy.
- We adopt a broad theme of the ranch and decide to have a Gunfight (hence the aptness of gunpowder and other explosives) with a few mates who become the Reaper, the Undertaker, the Jackhammer and the Rooster and form the Gunfighters Committee.
- We decide that the holder of the fastest single lap (not on a TT bike) is the King of the Hallowed Ground
- We stage a gunfight with 16 riders who are whittled down to 4 who contest a sprint. Monikers for the Bull and the GrindEr (with an E) are awarded.
- We do not take the KOM (King of the Mountain for my 2 readers who don’t know what Strava is) (And yes, I know there are no mountains involved).
- The KOM was held by Neil Harris since 2013 with a 9:52. Neil is subsequently named The Man in Black (from the Dark Tower by Stephen King).
- A bunch of people have a go at the KOM in March with The Jackhammer getting closest at 9:54
- We discover that the Man in Black did his KOM ride on a TT Bike (well he is a villain after all). The King of the Hallowed Ground is awarded to The Jackhammer.
- We plan an assault on the KOM as a matter of honour. The video below tells the story of this attempt.
- Great teamwork allows me to take the KOM with a 9:20.
- I immediately lose it to the Reaper who is half a bike length behind me and scored a 9:19. Chapeau to the new King!
- I was King for roughly 1/15th of a second. (half a bike length at 54.7 km/h)
- However, Gunfighters honour was restored.
When I said that I wouldn’t bore you, by the way, I lied!
The KOM Assault
The video shows that we started out with 6 Gunslingers riding in Team TT format. We had a feeling that this would be quicker than a chain gang as it would allow people to do as much or as little work as they were feeling. I think that it was the right call.
We lost a couple before the first turn. It was then a 4 man TTT for the rest of the lap.
The video also shows the subsequent sprint finish for the Gunfight which (whilst not strictly relevant for this blog post) is a sprint I won so worthy of inclusion.
The file shows the work I put in for the lap: 372W with a peak of 974w in the sprint, HR high but below max as there was some recovery time in the wheels (also missing from the footage. Thanks Garmin). Suffice to say, it was a hard effort.
The current leaderboard looks like this:
Current Leader Board
What can we conclude from this? Probably that the Unhinged name is more deserved than The Mower but proof that, in our sport, you can create the most wonderful experiences out of a dodgy old bit of road (which the Hallowed Ground clearly is not by the way). We can also conclude that this random bunch of (mostly old) men still wanna play cowboys.
As ever, thanks for reading. Race season is upon us and, disappointments aside, we should hopefully have a few nights at the dogs to report back on soon.
By the way, the Hallowed Ground is open to all who want to participate in a gunfight. PM me your email if that is the case.