One Helluva Ride
So this past weekend Cat and I journeyed down to Mitchelton Winery to take part in the River & Ranges Ride. I was supposed to have done this ride last year as well but courtesy of a broken wrist I was unable to take part. The main perk of this ride is the opportunity to meet and ride with members of Orica Green-Edge; Australia’s pro-cycling team.
The drive down on Saturday was long and uneventful the M31 being a carbon copy of the M4 only way, way, way longer! Our stop for our overnight was the rather awesome Castle Creek Motel in Euroa. Apparently it was recently refurbished and it definitely showed and so provided a rather nice place to rest before the challenging ride the next day. Our evening meal was at the local hotel who served me a rather tasty steak and ale pie which disappeared rather quickly hopefully giving me plenty of fuel for Sunday; it was going to be a long day!
We had to get up early as I had to be there at least 30 minutes before the ride was due to start. As I was doing the 138km ride that meant we had to be there for just after 7am ready for the 8am start. We got there with plenty of time and, despite some issues getting the bike out of the car, I was ready and raring to go. This would be my first time riding in a large group of riders. Most of the sportives I’d done back in England generally started in groups but very quickly these groups would scatter in to small sets. The wave I left in stayed mostly together for a good 15-20km before fracturing and I managed to stay with the front bunch for probably nearer 30km. After that I rode pretty much on my own. I had worked out before hand that the mandatory lunch stop would be at around 44 miles (I still work in miles on my Garmin) but I was more than a bit out with the stop coming at closer to 50 miles and after the long, arduous climb through the Strathbogie Ranges. It was one of those hills that go up and, just as you think you’ve reach the top you turn a corner and there’s more up.
I was very glad to see the decline start and the lunch stop appear where I took on more water and ate a sandwich. The descent down was fun as it twisted and turned through the hills. However despite some comments of it being “all downhill” from the lunch stop it was anything but and most annoyingly of all, for the last 20 miles or so, I had to deal with intermittent cramp. Still it wasn’t too bad and as the finish came closer I felt more and more relaxed about finishing and, after stopping to pick up more water towards the end (it was push 30 by this point), I knew I wasn’t too far from the end. The last 10 miles or so I spent mostly in a small group of guys who kindly let me join so I could draft a bit back to the finish though they took off in the last 4k or so but I wasn’t overly bothered. When I finally got to within sight of the winery I pushed on for the last couple of kilometres as I was wanting to finish in under five and a half hours ride time (excluding stops) and was so chuffed to see my time when I finally crossed the line; 5hrs 28 mins 50 secs.
It was lovely to see Cat at the finish and she had kindly acquired signatures of the various riders who were there including Matt Goss‘ whose signature I was really hoping to get. What was extra awesome was being able to have a quick chat with him and a photo. He was really approachable and it was nice of him to take a few moments to shoot the breeze about the ride we both just completed though he was no doubt in better shape than I was. I’m definitely getting more and more in to my cycling as the years tick by and doing this ride really opened my eyes in how amazingly fit and fast these guys are. As I was one the ride I was passed by Matt’s wave and he was in a train of 14 riders going two-by-two and they absolutely motored by easily going 45-50km/h if not faster the noise their bikes made as they went past almost hypnotic. It really was quite something and when you think they go that pace over such distances day-in, day-out during the Grand Tours and one realises just how much effort these riders put in to being that fit!