I forgot all about Earth Hour - or Human Achievement Hour as I prefer to call it. I even walked around the house at 9pm that night turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms, since that's what I do every night. Blast - I forgot to raise my carbon footprint that night.
I made up for it over Easter though - I drove 1300km just so that I could go for a bike ride.
Going for a ride in the country is certainly very different to my daily commute. For starters, I got to sleep in - country cyclists get up at a more sensible hour. They don't need to be up at the farting of the sparrows in order to avoid the traffic - because there is no traffic. It was also a lot colder out west than what I'm used to - nearly 10 degrees so, even though I was starting over an hour later than usual. I hadn't thought about that, so I was a bit chilly when we started.
One feature that is exactly the same is this - it's easy to find a cycling group on a weekend morning to ride with - you just ride around the likely starting points (cafes, pie shops, servos, bakeries, parks) until you see a gaggle of riders, and then you ask if you can join. You might also see a few lone riders riding around - you just tail one of them and see where they end up. More than likely, they're heading for the starting point for a group ride.
Which is how I found my group. They were used to blow ins from every where, getting one or two each week. The make up of the group was pretty typical - 9 out of 10 were blokes, and 9 out of 10 were in the 35-50 age bracket.
The pace was comfortable, and we were soon out of town and riding on a back road - they avoid the highways like the plague. Our choice of routes that morning was limited by the recent flooding - some roads were still badly chopped up by the passing floods, with big washaways still unrepaired. The road we took had a few chunks missing every now and then in the low lying patches, where the passing waters had ripped up bed sized sheets of tarmac and whisked them away.
The only problem was the wind - we spent the first half of the ride pushing into a howler, and it was hard work. There was nothing to hide behind, as in no wind breaks, and the road was flat and straight for miles. I'm used to a route that loops around like a small intestine, so you're never pushing into the wind for long. This was quite different. My legs gave up after about 15 kilometres and I dropped out of the front pack - only to find that most of the group had long done the same - they were spread out on the road behind me for several kilometres.
Although the ride was almost dead straight across completely flat countryside, it was interesting for it's differences. It was jarring see a "watch for kangaroos" sign as we left the edge of town. Kangaroos were the least of our problems - everyone was chatting about the brown snakes they had seen of late, so we were on the lookout for any sunning themselves on the bitumen. We also had to swerve around a few dead animals - the "kangaroo" sign referred to both living and dead. I think we saw 3 cars all up - and I was warned to be careful of them, as they see a lot of drunken drivers on the back roads at that time of the day.
I could do with a few more rides like that - I rarely get into a rhythm in Sydney - it's always stop, start, turn etc etc. You're always accelerating or slowing down. You never get the chance to just lope along on the flat at a good pace (which is why my legs died after a while - they're not used to putting out a constant output over a long period).
The post ride activities were no different either - we stopped at a cafe for a coffee and a yarn, and we yarned for much too long. It was good. I'll have to do this more often.