We came, we saw, we conquered! Bluff Hill, the nipple on the large breast of the south. 22 riders solemnly rode the 27 km out to the live zone. Oft spoken of, seldom ridden. You know you are traveling with mature riders when you pull into town and head en masse into the bushes for a nervous one before the climb.
The support crew in the two vans took on excess weight from the nervous cyclists and buoyed up spirits as best they could.
Bladders bled we approached the bottom of the hill. Circling like vultures over a kill our starting gun was momentarily jammed by a rogue flat tyre.
The opportunists decided to make a getaway while the others continued to pace.
Eventually we took off at a great pace of knots only to be thwarted in our efforts by gravity.
Much grunting and battling of self wills ensued..... Nek Minut....or about fifteen minutes later, after some nosebleed inducing climbing, we were all safely uncleated swathed in sweat and satisfaction having completed a ridiculous gradient.
Scenic shots were captured as heart rates returned to rhythm. A leisurely descent, then to Stella's coffee shop for a much anticipated break of pies, toasties and coffees.
The energy on the return trip to Invercargill was palpable. Peaks conquered, the group now looked forward to their afternoon in the velodrome.
A leisurely lunch at the units of purchased snacks then back into the vans for the short trip to the sports centre of the south.
Our local pro Jerry instructed the nineteen men on how to ride safely on the 25 million dollar track. Bikes chosen, baskets swapped for personal cleats and the majority of the team tried something new for the second time today.
Propelled around a 250m track by centrifugal force up and down a cereal bowl edge they raced like pros. Pumping and huffing through two hours of single and team sprints they frolicked almost tripping over their childlike grins.
The mid afternoon van ride back to the unit took a detour straight to the bottle store for lubrication. Much back slapping by comrades and masseuses completed the build up to dinner.
The Lone Star Invercargill proved another good choice to showcase the purchases of a breakaway group of shoppers. Celebratory beer and wine flowed freely as did the conversation as we marveled at the days antics.