Marking the shortest day of the year, with the longest ride – welcome to the winter solstice ride in my hometown of Lancefield.
The idea of celebrating the winter solstice is not a new one – the shortest day of the year is steeped in symbolism and meaning. Throughout history, the winter solstice has been marked by ceremonies and festivals celebrating themes like fire and light, life and death, and rebirth.
We cyclists are no different, and the winter solstice presents a symbolic opportunity to mark the turn of the descent into the winter months and all that it brings – the shorter days, cold morning rides, and a bit of a dip in motivation. The solstice marks the end of these things, back towards longer days, warmer mornings, and a reason to start thinking about and training for the approaching summer. We Melburnians know full well that the depths of winter and freezing morning rides are still with us for months to come, but the little light at the end of the tunnel gives me a renewed sense of motivation.
But for all the symbolism, mostly I can think of no better way to mark the turn of winter than coming together with a group to go on a real adventure. So the idea was formed to hold the Life in the Peloton Winter Solstice ride in Lancefield – my hometown, and God´s country for riding, in my humble opinion. My thinking was, why not use this moment in winter to challenge yourself to get out into a new environment, with new roads, and a tough circuit, meeting new people? And I love bringing people to the Macedon region to ride. It has some of the best, most untapped country for riding, with a little bit of everything, and some beautiful champagne gravel.
We had a fantastic turnout, as we rolled out of the Lancefield Hotel, and headed into the stunning country around Mt Macedon. We rolled out over the Cobaw Ridge, into the undulating country of Toobarac, before cutting into Kyneton to the picturesque roads around Mt Macedon.
We got true winter solstice weather. The day started out cold but with the winter sun shining down on us, before it warmed up a bit as we hit the gravel. But of course, as we headed towards the peak of the dreaded Mount Macedon, a huge rain cloud blew in and we all got soaked to the bone. The temperature was hovering down around 5 – 6 degrees, and raining, but as we came off Mt Macedon and looped back towards Lancefield, the sun came out and we got to roll in on a beautiful, smooth downhill run all the way back to the Lancefield Hotel, where the Life in the Peloton beer was flowing freely from the taps.
We had a few problems along the way, and a few punctures, but the spirits stayed high. There were three distances on offer – The Pint 135km, The Schooner 120km, and The Pot 100km. Most people joined me on The Pint, but we all tackled the day in our own way and there was plenty of good riding and fun along the route. For me, this is what it´s all about – pushing yourself, exploring new roads, going on adventures, and meeting new people along the way – what else is there? This is why we do it.
Most people stuck around long after the ride, and some great war stories were told and shared over parma´s and many pints at my local. This was probably my favourite part of the whole day – friends and fans of Life in the Peloton collected in my own backyard, the atmosphere and camaraderie after the ride, and the sense of pride and satisfaction we all shared over a day well spent. I loved hearing the opinions on the roads that I ride on all year long, and it was generally agreed that the riding was superb, and the gravel was the Dom Perignon variety.
I hope this inspires you to set some new goals of your own for the months ahead and to plan some adventures of your own. Stay tuned for more Life in the Peloton adventures!