Thanks to David Salamy for this report.
I (#448) rode with just one friend (#1705 aka Barry) this year, being my fifth time doing the long 100kms+ ride. As usual we left a little earlier than the official start time. We miss out on the buzz and adrenaline-filled atmosphere but don’t have to deal with the stop-start getaway 😴
Heading out we found two friendly riders tagging along and since we were all comfortable doing around 27kph, we kept each other company until 13th Beach Road. We had gradually caught up to a bunch a few kms before Barwon Heads so we ended up at the head of the bunch for a while, which I always find a bit unnerving 😕
The conditions were ideal with the cloud cover keeping the hot sun out, whilst the wind was moderate and from a favourable direction most of the time.
After our new friends (#675 and #888) stopped for a break, Barry and I picked up the pace and except for a very brief stop so I could open a muesli bar, we hit the Breamlea path. The lead and fastest bunch caught us just as we reached the start of Blackgate Road and boy oh boy were they in a hurry!! It was definitely a race for them as they powered past us slow amateurs! There had to be 50 in the bunch, riding 3, 4 of more abreast, jockeying for position, not wanting to lose contact with the lead pace-setters. Some were over the centre lines with on-coming traffic not far away!! They’re the ones that give all cyclists a bad name!
Anyway, we reached Torquay in good time and stopped at the rest area to grab some food and water before having a well-earned coffee at Moby’s. We saw our earlier friends and it turned they weren’t a couple, she was seven years his senior and was in fact his aunt! Pays not to assume anything these days!
After a relaxed break we took off for the first of the hills. Our solid training meant that we tackled Jan Juc, the three *itches into Bells and the challenging Jarosite Road hills without any drama. The stretch to Forest Road was fine and once we turned North we had a little tail wind to boost our average. I should mention that Barry has just turned 72 and that I struggle to stay with him on the big hills!! I always had him in my sights on Forest Road but it was only after I had finished chatting to #702 aka Greg, that I found some extra energy to bridge the 50-100 metre gap.
So we arrived in Moriac ready for another break and ate or stocked up on fruit, muesli bars, gels and water.
I was happy to forego a second coffee once I discovered they had expresso gels😋
I should mention that a nice touch this year was that fifth time riders had their name on their jersey ‘bib’, so it was a bit of fun noting all the names and saying g’day occasionally. I had joked that everyone was going to have DAVID since both Dave Simpson and had that, but ironically, I never saw another DAVID all day!! Whilst we thought that the female numbers were significantly higher this year, I don’t recall seeing any fifth timers.
Anyway back on the bike! We were really in home territory now! The Hendy Main and Barrabool Road hills to Ceres were no problem although my new back tyre ‘let me down’ (ha ha get it?) in between. Through Ceres and down into Highton I could sense that everyone was starting to focus on the Challambra/Westbury challenge ahead. No chit chat, being careful with the increased traffic and the Highton roundabouts and getting ready for the hard work ahead, no doubt.
All ride I had been careful to not overwork my left hamstring which I had ‘tweaked’ on a fast lap of the river last Tuesday. Heading up Barwon Boulevard I felt a slight cramp in it but it seemed to hold up okay up to North Valley Road, so I kept a steady rhythm and pushed on. I didn’t want to risk standing up on the pedals so Westbury was just a tough grind. I think I counted my pedal strokes up there but what I really wanted to do was swear my way up!!
I rolled through the The Ridge calling out to Barry to keep going. 😏 Scenic Road downhill was fantastic but we had to stop at the bridge before doing the Aphrasia and Melville climbs. I did my good deed for the day, giving a first timer and non-local the heads-up about Melville 😇 I think the word is finally getting around about our ‘lovely’ hills because the vast majority of riders seemed to handle them very well this year, with no sudden stoppers 😬 Of course, there were a few walkers, even as early as the hills into Bells.
The top of Melville is always a great feeling, even if I always tend to want to cramp all the way home. This year was the best I’ve felt so we enjoyed the quick ride to the Waterfront, especially after I convinced Barry that a sprint finish wasn’t really necessary 😉
The Waterfront was really buzzing with satisfied riders, beautiful weather and lots of family and friends supporting the riders and enjoying the atmosphere. Geelong at its best👍
For those interested in the numbers, Barry and I averaged ~26.7 kph. (That was my average after 125kms since I’d ridden from home via Newtown to meet Barry).
A big thank you to all the club volunteers for helping to make this year’s ride run smoothly and safely. Also a big thank you to anyone who got out and gave us encouragement along the course, it’s always much appreciated.