Last weekend a few of us got together and headed across to Marong to do the Audax,
I really enjoy doing Audax rides which call for a weekend away, as it gives an opportunity to socialize before the ride, this one was no exception.
Most of us met in the Marong pub for a good feed and a couple of drinks before we headed back to the caravan park for the lighting check, which was carried out by the ride organizers Martin and Libby Haynes. After getting the OK on the lights and gear and being issued with our brevet cards, we headed back to our cabin for some last minute bike adjustments before we settled in to watch the footy on TV.
Andy, Aiden, Barry, Peter and I were shacking together so it turned out to be a bit of a boys night in front of the tele, with lots of laughs and the usual banter, we were to meet Peter Moore in the morning to complete our bunch.
With a 6am start the 30 or so riders were assured a cold start and was a sign of things to come for the next 400k’s.
The first 100km went west into a strengthening cross/head wind and had us looking forward to turning the corner and heading north at St Arnaud.
With only a brief stop at Tarnagulla we were happy to get into St Arnaud and a café for something warm to eat and drink and a bit of a break,92km.
We were soon on our way making the most of the tail wind which would push us most of the next 130 km to Kerang. The checkpoints on this leg were Charlton, where we caught up with Ian B having scones and cream at a local tea room and Boort, both beautiful little towns, I won’t start raving about how lovely they are as you’re probably cringing at the thought of me going off on that tangent again (but gee I love them).
Thankfully we were able to shed a layer or two along this road, however, the good tailwind had us all worried that it meant we would have to battle the 170km from Cohuna back to Marong into the breeze, we hoped that the promise of an abating wind from the weather bureau was right.
I’ve not been to Boort before and was amazed by the huge olive grove we passed, which at a guess had somewhere between 2 and a half to 3 km of pedaling before we saw the end of it and could not imagine how far back it went. Boort was also surrounded by lakes, I made a mental note to visit at another time and have a better look around. We had a checkpoint at a servo here, but made it one of our quicker ones, 180km.
On the road between Boort and Kerang we saw the last of the sun as it slipped below the horizon, a quick stop on the side of the road saw us donning reflective vests and lights flicked on for my favourite part of a long brevet, the night ride.
As we rolled past 230km and into Kerang we were all quick to agree on pizza for dinner and we were munching down within 10 minutes. Once we were all fed and watered we undertook the serious business of preparing ourselves for the cold night ahead, booties, beanies and extra jerseys all round.
20 minutes out of Kerang I was on the side of the road putting on another thermal layer, I had plenty of spare clothing thanks to the extra carrying capacity my new handlebar bag had given me. Though it was cold, it was obvious the weather gods were with us on this ride, what was the longest tailwind I’ve ever had on a ride was beginning to abate as we turned an were heading east.
Cohuna, 263 km, was our next stop, but not a very long one. Some of the lads hanging around outside the pub came across and enquired about our travels, they started their questions with an “excuse me”, not what I expected, they were genuinely curious and I think intrigued. It’s always a bit of a laugh to see the reactions when we explain to folk what we do.
At 303k’s, Pyramid hill was to be our next control, and a session in the pub seemed very inviting when you walked in and felt the warm air. One of the locals was on for a chat but I had to get going and reluctantly cut our conversation short.
Being only about 25km, the leg to Mitiamo was to be our shortest, but very highly anticipated as we new Martin and Libby would be there with some hot soup and all the other Audax trimmings. We came across Ken who was having a lot of trouble changing a tube due to his hands being so cold, he had been at it an hour when we got to him. Peter was keeping us posted with the steady fall in the temperature from his computer, 8, 7, 6, 5˚C, but now not a breath of wind.
We hit Mitiamo with 330km behind us and found Martin and Libby along with their helper Heloisa set up under the verandah of an abandoned pub, hot soup, buttered bread and a table full of goodies, 6 happy blokes.
The last 70 km’s were hard work, the temperature got down to 2˚C and for the first time ever, for me, I started to nod off on the bike. I lay down on the side of the road for about 5 minutes and chatted to Andy and Aiden, then tried a couple of quick sprints to get the blood pumping, I probably should have had a quick nap and had I been on my own, probably would have, but I felt good enough now to keep going, besides all the chat was plenty to keep me on my toes, for the great Barry Moore was always close at hand.
Although I had ridden distances close to it I found my first 400 km brevet much harder, due to the fact that I really wanted to sleep, but I had a lot of fun and will do more. I hope to do more with the guys as we always have a good time when we ride together, especially since Trivess owes us one now.
Congratulations to Aiden and Pete, for whom this was also their first 400 and a big tip of me lid to Andy, as I’m sure he’d be pretty chuffed with his first 400 in a long time.
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