The sound of rain on a tin roof is a great way to go to sleep, not so great when you wake up to go riding, particularly a long ride. Arriving in Lancefield at 6.30am it was still raining and not easy to get out of the car, but at least it wasn't cold and soon the rain stopped so I forced myself out of the car and got ready. Kerrie and Janine were also there for the 200km Audax permanent, Andy and Trivess rocked up with the plan of riding part of the way then turning for home. As we headed out the rain started again so rain jackets went on though I new I wouldn't be able to keep mine on for long as I would quickly overheat. Sure enough by the time I got to the bottom of "Big Hill" about 7km in I pulled over and stripped back down to my short sleeve jersey and stayed that way for the rest of the ride. Andy sailed up Big hill and is in good form at the moment, riding like someone who has just ridden 10,000 km in a year. We regrouped at the top and continued our way along the Burke and Wills Track as a group for a while, till I felt it was time to do the rest of the ride at my own pace. The surrounding bush was magnificent in the mist and the smell of the Eucalypts was strong in the air till you descend into the more open country heading past the vineyards and toward Mia Mia which is at 38k's. On leaving Mia Mia you come to the first of two climbs on the way to Redesdale in between which you cross the beautiful timber ans steel bridge which apart from the gaps in the boards was even more treacherous due to the rain having made it as slippery as a very slippery thing. At 42k the first control is at the Redesdale cafe and a short stop saw me ready to go again for the leg up the west side of Lake Eppalock, a gradual down hill most of the way. This is a really nice section of road through mostly open rolling hills. It rained most of the way, at times quite heavily but I was never cold and really enjoyed the 30km to Axedale and the next control, 73km. A feed and a drink had me set for the next and longest and also the hardest leg, the gradual climb from the 100km mark pretty much for the next 90km. Janine had sent me a text message to let me know she and Kerrie had a higher IQ than I and were heading for home from Redesdale. Leaving Axedale you back track for a bit before taking a left turn and riding over the spillway of Lake Eppalock, which was quite impressive the last time I rode over it as the water was overflowing after the heavy rain in the weeks prior to the ride. You reach the half way mark after a short stint along the McIvor Hwy and head back for the leg back along the east side of the lake to Mia Mia then working your way up through the hills to Sidonia then to Kyneton. This was a real grind, made more difficult by the strong wind that had increased through the day,I don't know if I have ever ridden this piece of road when it wasn't windy. Happy to be in Kyneton I looked for the bakery and second last checkpoint before heading for home and I finally got the tailwind and flattish road I was working toward all day, except for one little bump, at the 180km mark you turn left out of Boundary Rd and onto Mt. Macedon Rd and climb for the next 5k's before turning left down Straws Lane, past Hanging Rock then with a good wind on my back, hit the home straight(ish)for the last 12km back to Lancefield. I can't say that I loved this ride 'cos it's bloody hard work. It does go through lovely countryside, there is very little traffic and for much of it you are quite isolated, next time I might try and ride it with some company. Anyone want to go for a ride? Steve.
Back in November, a few lairs joined up with some new recruits and headed to Mildura for the Port to Port, a 400km Relay held over 2 days. Here's an account from one of the lads. Steve
Port to Port Ride 5 & 6 November – Mildura/Swan Hill/Echuca
It was early on Friday 4 November that our intrepid group met at Leigh’s house only to find that our fearless leader had somehow engineered an accident for his good wife Jill which prevented him from joining us on the ride. Our team consisted of 7 riders:- Ewan, John, Steve, Myra, Adrian, Doug and Jack with Ewan’s wife Donna driving the support vehicle. We set off about 9:00am heading for Romsey to collect John and then wended our way in a leisurely manner to the Big 4 Mildura Cross Roads Holiday Park where we would spend our first night. Dinner was at the Pizza Café, a fixed price pizza and pasta meal, which was pretty ordinary. On Saturday morning, bright and early, we packed our bags into the trailer and set off to the start. We had decided that we would ride as a relay of two teams; Team 1 - Adrian, John, Doug and Jack and Team 2 – Steve (not blog Steve. Blog Steve),Myra and Ewan with Donna following whichever team was riding in the support vehicle while the other team raced ahead to the changeover point. We watched teams of varying sizes, some with as many as 25 riders, heading off at intervals. At last it was our turn and all seven of us started out with team 2 dropping off at the caravan park to complete packing. The day was already warm and the reports were for a hot, sunny day so we were well smothered in sun-screen. Our changeover points were set for approximately 30km or roughly one hour of riding. Each team had four riding sessions scheduled for Saturday and all went smoothly except that the day became progressively hotter. Occasionally we linked up with other groups of riders to form a bunch for a few kilometres and time flew by quite quickly. Before we knew it Team 2 was rolling in to Swan Hill where we enjoyed a free BBQ and a beer or soft drink. Our camp for the night was the Big 4 Swan Hill where some of us had a swim in their pool. After a pub meal in town we hit the sack for an early start the next day. Sunday was supposed to be hotter than Saturday but we woke to a pleasantly overcast morning with a strong westerly breeze. On Saturday, at the end of the day, we found that Steve had broken a spoke on his bike and we had no means of fixing it. He became the support driver for the ‘resting’ team with Adrian joining Team 2 and setting off first with Myra leading the charge. With a good tailwind and by joining a fast bunch Team 2 set the standard for the day by averaging 35km/h or so and hitting 45km/h on some stretches. All the riding this day was fast and comfortable as the predicted high temperatures never eventuated. The only hold up occurred at one of the compulsory stops where we arrived quite early and then had to wait for what seemed far too long before being allowed to continue. Both teams decided to ride the final leg into Echuca and we rode as a group for the last 30kms smoothly taking turns and knocking over the kilometres with ease. At Echuca we lunched and showered before collecting our medals and heading home delighted with our efforts and determined to do it again next year but this time riding the whole way instead of in a relay. Thanks to Leigh for organizing the Team and Donna for her fine efforts behind the wheel - driving the whole distance at about 30km/h without a real rest was a real challenge.
Hi gang, Lots of folk doing lots of riding this week. Janine was down the coast clocking up the k's, some of us went to Mt. Buller while the roads around Mt Macedon and Lancefield had lots of Lairs traffic. I hear John has been working hard on the Mount. This Sunday's ride will be starting at 7am sharp, Some of us will be doing a 200 while others are not intending on as long a day in the saddle and will turn off when it suits, so it's up to you. Let us know if you'll be riding with us. Steve.
With the weather forecast suggesting mid to high 30's it made no sense to head to Mt. Buller as planned late last week but Kerry, John, Aidan and I went anyway. We left my place just after 6am, to meet up with Kerry at 7.45am in our usual spot in Mansfield. The early start soon saw JD trying to get some shut eye in the back seat as we headed up through the lovely countryside past Seymour and through Yea. Buckets of sunscreen were applied in an attempt to avoid being fried completely. We were on the bikes not long after 8 and it was already getting quite warm. We rode strongly through Merrijig then to Merimbah, at the start of the climb for a quick stop to top up our bidons and a muesli bar before we started the climb. It wasn't long before Aiden showed us he'd been training and was out of site after only a few corners. Climbing at our own pace had the four of us climbing solo for the rest of the way. The first 8ks has you working at a steady rate but backs off for a fast section,where I usually take the opportunity to swallow a gel before things get tough with about 3 or 4 to go. The temperature also tends to drop off noticeably after around 8km, a good thing on a day like today. The road has a few tight hairpins in it and I love them as it gives you a chance to get out of the saddle and pretend your Lance or even Cadel till the lactic acid reminds you who you really are. With 3ks to go the work is hard and the steep pinches make an already tough slog even tougher, then just as you get to the right turn at the T intersection at the village the dreaded concrete section starts and within a short way the climb gets even steeper just when your legs are screaming for you to pull into the Cattlemans for a beer. The Arlsberg hotel marks the end of the climb for those who wish to stick to the sealed road and the turn around point back to the village to re group and have a feed before the trip down the mountain and back to Mansfield. The folk in the Cattlemans have always been quite welcoming toward cyclists and have free iced water available to top up bottles, but I always end up buying something just to show appreciation for a bit of shelter and a cool drink (and to show I'm not a complete freeloader). An innocent bystander was commandeered for a few happy snaps, then the descent back down into the heat which we were all less than looking forward to. The ride down is a beauty and with little traffic a bonus which comes this climb and often a couple of poor buggers with a long way to go and thier pedals hardly turning, today it was a couple on mountain bikes. Unlike Mount Bufallo,Bullers road surface holds together well in the heat and doesn't turn to slippery goo. A quick stop at the Merimbah store and we took off together again for the last 32km back to Mansfield. Our plan was simple, the sooner we got back, the sooner we'd be out of the heat so it was heads down and bums up at a hard clip back to the cars and the promise of some shade and a cool drink. Aidans computer maxed at 43C and drinking from our bidons was less than pleasant but I've got to say I loved it and loved another day spent in the company of good mates in a top spot. The promise came good as we cooled our heels in one of the three pubs and knocked back an ice cold Fat Yak. We'll do it again soon.