Last year, I completed the Around The Bay 100 km’er from Sorrento to Melbourne – and had since completed a 100km Mountain Bike race (Wombat100) – so I figured I should up-the-ante for the Around The Bay ride.
I nervously (?) entered myself in the ‘full’ loop around the bay – 210 km !
This would the reverse of last year’s ride – plus – the ferry to Queenscliffe – and then via Geelong, to Melbourne – with a final ride over the Westgate bridge.
A fairly ambitious goal ! So, I set about doing some training rides with some guys from work. This meant a lot of 6am Sunday starts – meet-up in St.Kilda – and then to Frankston – and home again. And a lot of ride-to-work days (once a week).
My km’s were getting up-and-up – with 107km, 124km, 127km – and 154km – with a total of 650km of riding in September alone – and one last 90km’er ride home from work (the Monday before the Around The Bay ride).
I was pretty sure I’d be ready to go – lots of friends were re-assuring me that I’d be OK – but it still seemed like a BIG ride – more than 60km over my previous longest distance.
Also – the “time” in the saddle, and need for correct nutrition and hydration – I was getting nervous.
The day before the ride, I cleaned & checked over my bike, fitted my race numberplate and loaded everything into my car, ready for an early start.
I also set-up a simple web-page that would display my location via the iPhone InstaMapper app.
I set it to send my location every 600 seconds (10 mins) – which ended up being every 5km or so – and thankfully my battery was still around 40% at the end of the ride.
The wife & kids were able to track where I was at – and follow my progress – it worked MUCH better than I coulda hoped…!
4am alarm clock – yikes ! Toast, muesli, yoghurt – and a can of V – and leave home at 4.30am. I parked the car just near Melbourne High School – and got myself ready. My back pockets were bulging with banana’s, gels, nut bars, as well as phone, money, keys, sunscreen – pretty much everything I’d need for the day.
I met up with a buddy at 5.45am – and we found a place in the line-up – there were THOUSANDS of people there !
Leg 1 – Melbourne to Sorrento
We took off in a staggered start from 6am, with our group crossing the start-line around 6.30am. It was a stop-start flow at the beginning – with so many people, and lots of traffic lights.
I lost my riding buddies early-on, and we’d said we might re-group in Frankston, so I settled in for the first 50km. The weather was ‘ok’ – very cool and a bit of a breeze, and I was actually shivering – so I decided to work a bit harder, and get warm.
There was a young bunch of riders who were charging, so I stayed behind them for a while, passing lots of people – and by Mordialloc, I was needing a break.
Only a hour into the day, I told myself to ‘slow down’ and pace a little. Needed a quick toilet break (bottle of hydro-fluid, 2 cans of V, and nerves !) – and chomped down a muesli bar.
I pressed on, with the aim of stopping again in Frankston.
The first major hill of the ride is the short-but-tough Oliver’s Hill – just past Frankston (50km) – so I stopped for a breather (HR 187 !) – and had a gel, and a banana – and waited for a while to see if my other buddies were close behind.
After about 10mins or more, I wondered if they might have stopped earlier (official rest stop back in Frankston) – so I started to move off, and ride further.
The next few km’s were pretty cruisey – sun was out, and everyone was into the spirit of the ride, chatting to random people – and lots of happy people / smiles.
The next hill section was Mt.Martha – slow & steady – before heading down to Dromana, and the ride along the peninsula.
As the bunch got to Dromana, there was a charging head-wind, so I stopped again to have a drink, and SMS to my buddies to see where they were at.
To my surprise, my friend had messaged only 3 mins earlier to say they stopped in Dromana, and were heading to Sorrento – they were AHEAD of me !
I’d assumed they were a little (or a lot) behind me – they must have passed me when I stopped in Mordialloc (Tour de Cafe).
It was only a short ride to Sorrento, but into a decent headwind, so it was tough going, and had been over 3.5 hours riding by now.
My goal was to reach Sorrento (100km) in 4 hours – averaging 25 km/h – so I was on target, but it was getting tough.
I finally made it to Sorrento – and called my friends to say “just arrived” – they were surprised too – and had assumed I was miles in front of them – LOL !
We were booked into the 10.30 ferry – it was 10.15 – made it to Sorrento in 3:45 mins ! One of my friends was turning back – doing the Melb-Sorr-Melb tour – I headed for the ferry with another friend (Jason).
Was kinda cool to load onto the ferry with all the other people – and lots (LOTS) of bikes – we were joking that the bikes were worth more than the ferry !
Was approx 500 people – so could have been close to $1m worth of bikes…
This is about 1/4 of the stack of bikes on the ferry – it was pandemonium getting OFF the boat, with people trying to find their bike.
Was nice to sit down for the first time for the day – and chat to people about all manner of things – mainly bike-related – but a great friendly vibe.
And – to chomp down the sandwich and cake that I’d grabbed on the way to board the ferry.
Leg 2 – Queenscliffe to Melbourne
After sitting on the boat for about 40mins, it was hard to get going again !
Had to refill water bottles, and then rolled on towards Geelong. We had been expecting that this next leg would be pretty tough – and it was haaaard indeed.
A blasting head-wind and some up-and-down sections, on rough roads, and feeling a little fatigued. The wind got worse heading into Geelong – so when we made it to the rest stop, we took a break – my buddy had a sore knee, and was needing to stretch it out a little.
Another gel, and a few gulps of water, and we headed on – a whirling gale wind through the city/suburbs of Geelong – not pleasant – for riding, or for dirt/dust in the eyes.
As we were heading OUT of Geelong (Corio), the next thought (hope) was that we’d get a tail wind from Geelong – to push us home to Melbourne.
Waiting at the traffic light to turn right, I could see the tree branches bending “to the right” – so it was *ON* – tailwind – wahoo !
The next hour, we steamed along at 40 km/h with a blasting tail wind – was really nice to churn along. That got us as far as Werribee, as we turned off the Princes Hwy.
Was close to 190km done now, and I was watching the Garmin tick over, and had a ‘beep’ for every 5km and a time. Around 10mins for 5km was the goal – so only 20km to go – about another 1/2 hour or so (?)
Time seemed to drag a little as we wound our way closer to the city – Hoppers Crossing, Laverton, Altona (some nice views of the city), Williamstown, Newport, Yarraville.
We had a few glimpses of the WestGate bridge, and knew we were to be riding over it – but it seemed like we’d circled around the suburbs – were we lost ?!?
The Garmin showed 205km to go – so close ! And then we saw a sign that said 15km to go – WTF !? *sigh*
We finally turned up the ramp to the WestGate bridge, which was pretty amazing actually – people are not allowed to cycle over it any other time – so it was a great experience – and awesome view down to the city below.
We turned off the freeway again, and back underneath the bridge on the city side – and around through Port Melbourne – and into the final few streets.
We met up with a lot of other riders coming up from Sorrento – or maybe from the Melb-Frankston-Melb ride. I was actually feeling pretty strong (!) and so I was charging up the outside of the bunch to get away from the slower folk.
Only a few more turns, and then it was the finish line – along Alexandra Parade.
I made it – wahoo !! I fist-pumped the air as I got to the finish line – and was handed a finishing medal.
A surreal feeling – and much more than 210km….!
The Garmin read 231 km – but I’d forgotten to hit pause on the ferry – so it was actually about 226km of riding – WOW.
I found my other riding buddies, and then had to sit down for a rest – phew !
They were all done, and were wanting to head home – so I said farewell – and went to grab some food.
My body was feeling OK – just very worn-out (spent !) – and I scoffed a chicken burger – and then headed off to the car myself.
Was a slow drive home – but I finally made it, and began unpacking.
I was greeted by Cameron (Mr.7) holding a card that he’d made for me – and he told me “Well done Dad ! I’m proud of you…”
Such an amazing feeling to hear your SON say that – it’s normally ME saying it to HIM !
I guess I hadn’t considered the achievement from HIS perspective – I kinda showed him that you can do incredible things, if you put your mind to it.
It’s all over…
I was in a bit of daze as we organised the usual family goings-on – with dinner, and kid’s baths – and when they were finally in bed – I jumped into the spa for a soak – and then went to bed myself – remembering that I’d been up since 4am !
The next few days were tough – back to work the following morning – feeling a little sore, but not too bad – just exhausted.
My eyes were really sore from the wind and grit – and I had a sore throat, and sneezing – probably hay fever from pollen & dust blown on the wind.
I was checking the Garmin stats, and comparing with my buddies over different segments on Strava (suffer score of EPIC – 514 !) – and checked the final times from Around-The-Bay official timing.
226km – in 9 hours 42mins – amazing !!
Oh yes – and I burnt 4,675 calories in the day – equivalent to the ‘energy’ from eating 9.5 Big Mac’s – LOL !
The other aspect to the ride is the charity fund-raising for THE SMITH FAMILY. When I rode last year, I didn’t raise any money. This year, I hadn’t gotten any donations in the weeks leading up to the ride – so I wasn’t too concerned about it.
I put a message onto FaceBook + Twitter and then emailed to a few people – on the Thursday before the ride – with a goal of raising $210 – for 210km.
The donations came in one-by-one – and then flooded in – and I made a total of $738 in the end – incredible !
Thanks to everyone’s generosity, there will be a few children benefitting from the $$ raised – either with assisted reading or mentoring, or a Christmas present pack (for over 20 children).
You can still sponsor me – I think they’re taking donations until end of November.
What a day !
So, the Around The Bay for 2012 was an incredible experience – beyond expectations. I succeeded – and – raised a stack of cash for a great charity.
I’d had a great ride – no punctures or mechanical troubles – no physical problems or injuries – just some bad windy conditions – not too much to complain about, really !
And – an awesome home-made card from Cameron to top it all off.
Thanks again to those who donated/sponsored – and to my riding buddies (and Twitter riding pals) for the support and encouragement.
Same time next year ?? Or maybe go for 250km ?! (LOL !)