Friday, 17 April 2009

Ride to Colac

Day 1:
After pestering all my riding buddies, I finally (he didn't really take much convincing actually:P) got my friend Matt to agree to embark on the slightly ambitious ride to Colac. After a planning session/training run on Good Friday, we'd decided to go via Sorrento, take the ferry across to Queenscliff and then follow the Cape Otway road to Colac, thus avoiding the surely hideous Princes Hwy Easter traffic.

I got up bright and early on Saturday morning, did my token 5k run and ate breakfast and waited for Matt to show up. Waited a bit longer... He showed up at 6:35, just in time to have missed putting his stuff in the bag that my brother and sister were going to take up on the train for us. Oh well, the important stuff fitted in my bag.

We took a shortcut via Wellington Rd to get onto Nepean Highway a lot earlier than otherwise would've occured. I usually ride into the city on the bike path and start off in Port Melbourne, so it ended up being a 50km saving that we were both pleased we'd made. Pretty soon we were in Mordialloc, riding along the coast. It was very pleasant: little wind, little traffic and a nice temperature. Then, as we were coming towards Chelsea, disaster struck! My chain slipped off and after putting it back on, I discovered that my cranks would no longer turn. Closer inspection showed that my bottom bracket had unthreaded itself. Uh oh... Matt had brought a decent array of tools along (much more mechanically minded than I am, thank goodness), but of course didn't have a spline tool, let alone the relatively rare one I needed for my italian threaded mechanism.

We were contemplating having to sit around until 10AM until a bike shop opened (if they were even going to be open at all over Easter!) but after chatting with a friendly pedestrian, we discovered that there was one just down the road that she thought was already open! Matt rode beside me and pushed me along for 500m, heehee fun! (I nearly veered into a few pedestrians:P)

After being cornered by a guy in a beat up car who told me this slightly disturbing story about how he nearly died coming off a new bike on his first serious ride when he was my age (the parallels were all there:S), we managed to find the bike shop, which was indeed open. The grizzled young mechanic slung my bike up on an old inner-tube-cum-bike-stand (seriously couldn't they have afforded a proper mechanic's stand?) and ranted about bike shops who didn't have a clue about bikes (aka Ashburton cycles - nice people, but yeah..) while he threaded the bottom bracket in properly and fixed the gears. All up $15 to salvage the ride and I was happy to pay it!

After that, the ride went pretty smoothly. We spun out to Sorrento, getting there as the ferry came in, so perfect timing really. We paid our $11 for the passage, got shouted at by a bo'sun type for putting our bikes in a bad spot (we refused to move them) and went up to grab a coffee and flop on the seats, hoping the whole time that we wouldn't come back down to find our bikes gone (neither of us had thought to bring a lock).

Waiting in the line, we noticed another cyclist. He seemed a jolly fellow, bantered with us pleasantly enough and since he professed to knowing how to get onto the Bellarine Highway, we decided to follow him after getting off the ferry (thankfully our bikes were still there, although the bo'sun did shout at us again:P). The day was still young (2pm), so we decided, 'what the hell, let's follow him' (to Anglesea). His name was Homer and he took us on an Oddesy.

Sixty years old, riding a new road bike for the first time, he was a little too flippant for our liking. He seemed to have no idea of safe bike conduct, riding smack bang in the middle of the lane, forcing cars to go round him (though strangely he never even got a single beep!). Matt got a little annoyed when it turned out that he didn't really know the way to Anglesea (which was already massively out of our way) that well. We got lost a few times and took a bit of an indirect route, but eventually, after a very scary stretch up a shoulder-less road with cars whizzing past, we arrived in Anglesea.

I was really stuffed. I had only brought one water bottle and Matt was really concerned that I was getting massively dehydrated. Apparently I had massive bags under my eyes (I think I usually do:P) and was swerving all over the place. Personally I think it had more to do with glycogen depletion, because I was incredibly hungry. In any case, a bottle of ginger beer, a packet of chocolate ripples and a bag of chips sorted out both issues.

Our only map was a low detail google maps guide to the route we should have taken. That could've been quite a liability, but I kind of know my way around the region and had seen a sign for Winchelsea just before we got to Anglesea. That looked promising, and a father and son out on mountain bikes confirmed my hunch, so we rode back up the steep road and took the turn off.

It was a much nicer road than the one we were on before, with basically no traffic and an ok shoulder. With a bright, but not too hot sun overhead, it was really ideal riding conditions. I was enjoying it, but wasn't able to go very fast, legs still feeling pretty dead. Matt grumbled a bit, saying he hated long rides because he gets so bored and there was nothing interesting to look at (I was enjoying gazing at all the gum trees and huge, open fields). It didn't help that the distance markers to Winchelsea were really awful. One would say 8km and then 5km later, we'd see another one that said 7km. They must've been converted from 'country miles'. He spiced things up a bit by making predator noises at all the cattle we rode past (they didn't even turn around to look) and challenging me to a sprint match (I pretended to start and then let him burn himself out:P).

I gradually began to get some speed back, but was getting a bit concerned at the rate the sun was sinking in the sky. We got to Winchelsea at about 5.45 and went from being merely concerned to being alarmed when it transpired that there were still 36km to Colac (I had promised only 20)! My uncle called just after we'd gotten onto the Princes Highway outside Winchelsea and offered to come and pick us up. I turned him down, it just didn't feel right, even though neither of us had proper lights.

As the sun well and truly set with 10km to go, I was starting to regret that decision. The Princes Highway isn't very cyclist friendly after Geelong with a very narrow shoulder and a lot of traffic, and we didn't feel very safe. I was pushing to my absolute maximum, going 35kph off the adrenaline. There were a couple of times going across bridges where it was just suicidal riding at night and I'm really amazed that no-one beeped at us or stopped and gave us a lecture.

When we finally made it to Colac, I was beyond relieved. It was definitely my scariest experience on a bike, even worse than a similar situation in Spain (at least I had lights then!). Matt was good about it, his relief seemingly masking the anger he should've been feeling:P When we got to my grandparents' house, we discovered that they'd all gone to church. I wasn't too disappointed because that meant we avoided the welcome of 15 kids screaming and jumping all over us:P (It happened of course when they got back, but in dribs and drabs instead of a massive 'stacks on!')

At the dinner table, I somehow got conned into arm wrestling all of my cousins. I'm ashamed to admit that a 12 year old girl beat me:P (This was after about ten previous battles with no rest in between, but still!)

Day 2:
A recovery day was planned, so I got up early and went for my 17k long run while Matt went riding with my two uncles (including the one with the $6000 Cervello Soloist who is super competitive:P) and aunt. He seemed to pull up better after his 60km ride (in which my uncle did trounce him, but he did say he was impressed at how well Matt kept up considering the ride the day before), but we both ended up having a nanna-nap at 2pm after having organised an Easter Egg Hunt for all the kids.

Paris Roubaix was on that night and I shamefully fell asleep ten minutes into it:P

Day 3:
A sluggish 5k before we left didn't leave me too hopeful about how recovered I was for the ride and sure enough, when we left at 9ish (a bit too late it turned out) I was struggling to do 25kph.

It took me a good 40km to properly warm up, by which time we had been joined by a guy from Colac who was into iron man events and was riding a super-dooper tri-bike. He was great, towing us along and in the right direction for a good 20km before he turned off. I was feeling pretty stiff and sore and not enjoying riding too much but soldiered on and after a quick shoe-adjustment/stretch break felt good enough to rise to Matt's challenge to take the lead.

..I lasted about 3km before bonking terribly up a hill. Matt tut-tutted and slowed down for me. I was very envious of him at that point. He must just be a natural cyclist because he hadn't done anything over 40km since October last year, while I'd done thousands of km of cycling through Spain; and several century rides since I'd gotten back, but he was still kicking my arse!

We were pretty close to Geelong at that point and after struggling up some really nasty hills on the road to Ceres (my grandad had warned us, but we figured it was better than the Princes Hwy), we coasted into a shopping strip and found ourselves a bakery. I ate the five vegemite sangers I'd made, as well as two coffee scrolls and drank a 1.5L bottle of disgusting store brand cola and felt pretty good. Matt had a meat pie, two coffee scrolls and a Big M and regretted it:P

We ended up having a fairly long break (it takes quite a while to walk to the supermarket in road shoes I've discovered) and were keen to get back on the road. My uncle had told us that from Geelong to Melbourne, the Princes Hwy was in pretty good shape for cyclists and after enduring some nasty traffic through the city of Geelong, we both agreed that he was right. The road is flat the whole way (and I think even slightly downhill, though others disagree) and all the passing trucks create a pretty nice drafting effect. I took the lead and for about 20km, was pulling Matt along at 40kph. Weehoo!

Just as my legs were flagging, we saw a sign instructing us to get off the road and onto the bike path. No worries! The shoulder on the highway is really wide so you never feel unsafe, but it's damned noisy out there! We were on the Federation Trail, the city was visible in the distance and the sun was shining, so basically all the urgency that we had been feeling vanished. It was a lot different to going out to Colac because I knew that once we were within the city limits, it didn't matter how dark it got because we could always ride on the footpath.

So we rode very casually along the Fed trail, having only one minor incident: a pinch flat on Matt's bike that wasn't too difficult to fix. The bike path spat us out somewhere in Williamstown, which isn't too familiar a part of Melbourne for either of us, but somehow, we managed to get into the city centre pretty efficiently. I was still feeling fine, but Matt wanted to stop for some food, which was fine with me. We lolled around for a bit, trying not to look to our right, where the tempation of Flinders st station might've been too much.

The last 20km home were just about getting there. We were both pretty tired and having a good conversation about environmental issues and we rode on the footpath, so it ended up taking over an hour! I said goodbye to Matt (he had to go another 5k, sucker!), climbed the last hideous hill to my house and collapsed into bed... No that would've been what sensible people would've done. Instead I went out for the mandated 5k jog. And it was actually not that bad:)

Going to work the next day was a blow to the system after three days of bliss. I wish all life could be like that..

Fast forward to this week. I am chasing mileage at the moment (110k scheduled). My uncle gave me some gift vouchers to the comedy festival and after going to shows (I cannot reccommend Justin Hamilton enough!) the last two nights, I am now two workouts behind. Riding home from the city last night, feeling really tired and on the verge of getting sick, I had resolved to turn the week into a recovery week and taper for the Templestone half on Sunday, but I am feeling heaps better today after a good night's sleep and quite a few tablets (multivites, zinc and vit c) and now think I can still make up those km.

Did a tough 13km hill rep workout this morning, which was nonetheless quite fun. Instead of just running up one hill fifteen or so times like I usually do, I decided to do a circuit of the toughest hills in the neighbourhood! Felt happily stuffed afterwards, probably because I did about twice as much climbing as I normally would (ran straight back down after running up instead of doing a little loop to get back down to the bottom of the hill like I normally do). I'm definitely going to keep doing it this way from now on, it's definitely going to help.

No comments: