Alarm went at 4:00. Got up. Loaded bike and started eating. And loading the car. At 4:30 Kathy wandered out bleary eyed. We set off for the house of JAC.
At JACs in Ashburton I made the decision to put on another jersey. Good call as it turned out. And we rode around the corner.. picked up Julie Anne and set off
for the start. We went various routes and as we rolled down through Ashburton Julie Anne commented on the dearth of cyclists. Immediately they appeared. One rode past us asking if we were off for a short training ride. Then we got onto Richmond Bouli and were in the middle of a line of twinkling tail lights. I'm a little worried about my left foot that I scalded on friday and about the sore backs I have had all week but my bike is properly sorted for the first time in months and I am confident and happy.
We rolled down to the start. 300 metres away Julie Anne nearly got collected by a half wit dweeb in a 4WD that did a U turn in front of her. After dropping off a cyclist. Some people are a waste of air. Seriously. How can you not be aware in that environment and yet have a functioning brain? How can you be a cyclist and know someone that stupid? It's maddening. Happens every time. One Amy's ride Kathy (in the long ago days when she could recognise a bike at first glance) nearly got doored by some fool who standing beside his car flung the door open into a non stop line of cyclists. In order to drag out..... a bike. He seemed offended when I told him what to do with it. Amazing.
And we found what we thought was our start position. And waited. Chatted to the neighbours. A tandem with a middle aged couple. Bones. Various others. We waited for the 6:00 am start. And waited. And waited. Struck up lifetime friendships. Shared our life stories. Pretty sure a couple of people entered long term relationships. Listened to bad jokes. An offer of chain lube that many should have taken up. Julie Anne found she had forgotten her gloves. Hmmm. We waited and waited and waited and waited. At 6.55 we were flagged away.
We are flagged away and after much loudspeaker directives that we must not run red lights we are flagged through one on city road and then another. A cop at the third one is recognised as a television star. I'm just rolling along with everyone else. But eventually I pull up and wait for the other two. And a minute later along they come. We roll past the cafe we had ridden to on Saturday. And a moment later Julie Anne, notorious for getting lost in elevators says "Where are we" We roll out and up the Westgate. Roll up it. And this time on the descent only two loons overtake on the left. The three of us are still keeping in sight of each other. We weave off the freeway at each exit and on at each entrance in the weird way the ATB does it. At least once their are no signs whatsoever. Its well and truly daylight now. And we turn left through Altona. And the pace picks up a bit.
The three of us are riding together. I see an abandoned rain jacket. In way better shape than mine. I think "I'll have that" I tell the others. Stop. Ride back for it. Grab it. Set off after the rest. 10 minutes later at 45 kph I turn right at the roundabout and grit my teeth to run them down. The wind is now bang on the nose. I slowly claw back the bunch.. at 30 odd Kph. And catch. And they are doing 20 kph. Huh?
We roll along and turn back up the freeway. As always I am utterly gobsmacked at how BV reads a map. But really its a semi familiar route. The three of us are still together. And we are in the middle of a bunch slogging into a steadily rising headwind towards Werribee. The riders on the front are quite steady.. I'm happy to sit in behind them as is Jenny. As always Julie Anne, enthused by the genetic legacy of her children, has attack on her mind but for the moment at least she is behaving.
Our bunch is passing the odd other bunch. We are going OK. And we turn into the back of Werribee. JAC says "we are stopping in Werribee" I am not enthused as we are moving well and yet the wind is steadily increasing. Stopping seems a bad idea. But its Jenny's ride. "OK" I nod. Jenny says "We are not stopping at Werribee." And we roll straight through Werribee. Way to get a rhythm happening. Or not.
We are back on the freeway heading for Geelong. The two guys up front are doing well. I'm hanging on a wheel, I'm OK I can do this all week. A seagull flies past. Backwards. I turn to tell the others. Not there. No one is there. 500 metres back of empty space. I let the wheel go. Julie-Anne comes up. I ride with her for a while. Slowly. A bunch goes past. Another. We stop. I take a leak. Another bunch . Jenny. Hmmmm.
Rainjackets come out. We set off. The wind is now elfin ridiculous. Rainjacket is leading to controllability issues for me. I stop. The girls continue. A big bunch goes past. Another. I shed rain-jacket. It starts to rain. Sigh. I set off. Dogged solo pursuit. The wind is stupid. I am doing 22 and killing myself. I can see this big bunch. I keep catching riders but every rider I catch has just been shelled. Many km later I tag onto someone on the back of the bunch. I can just see Julie-Anne up front. Well further up. OK I need a break, this wheel will do. I settle down. And some dweeb on a SS tries to push me off my wheel. Really? Better luck next time sport. Comes up along side and moves over trying to intimidate me off the wheel. Does not end well for him.
We start through the outskirts and refineries of the prettiest side of Geelong. As the bunch fragments the three of us group up. And stop at the first stop. The relief at being out of the wind is great. Julie-Anne gets gloves. We set off. Gosh the bike lane is rough. And the road is rough. Really really rough. Teeth rattling rough. Ohhh. We stop. Dead flat front tire. Change it. Set off. Long lovely rolling downhills towards Queenscliff. Go past the people on the tandem. Just outrunning a little storm. Hmmmmm.. Stop. Front tire is down. Bad tube?
We stop. It pisses rain on us inside of a minute while I change the tube. Then I discover its one of the weird ones where the valve sits in an insert which can be unscrewed and partially is. Damn. The tube is probably fine. We set off. I love these rolling hills. Its frustratingly difficult to not blow the other two away. I roll along. And a rest stop. I dive in.. the other two go past. Yes they have a track pump. They seem pleased to see me . No one else there. Too close to Geelong I guess. Some fumbling with the track pump. Its 10 minutes before I am away. Looking forward to a good hard chase to get the rest of the team. But they are waiting for me. I cant resist. I go hard for the next 10 km anyway, leaving them staring - disillusioned at having waited for me. Then sit up and roll. My back hurts a lot. I roll and I roll and I roll. I catch the tandem (and about 5 others ) up a hill. chat to them. Talk to another bloke. Just idling along. Into Queenscliff. Finally in the single lane bit of main road catch up to some really really hopeless riders. Go around them eventually in the interests of safety. Take the couple of little climbs seated. Stop by the woman vollie directing into the ferry. Watch dozens of cyclists (including the entire half dozen hopeless riders) sail past her completely getting her directions wrong. Eventually the team turns up.
Lunch. My lunch. Julie-Anne's lunch. The 1:00 pm ferry. We are running quite late but hundreds are behind us. I eat most of the food in my pockets. I lay on my back on the steel deck … it helped my back a lot. Off the ferry. 100 metres down the road JAC has a flat. We fix it and just as I reach for a pump a team support guy (not our team) runs up with a track pump. Win.
As we roll down to Dromana I keep the pace low as I can trying to keep with the other two. Every once in a while Julie-Anne shoots ahead. Then when I catch her I look back and both girls are dropping back. Julie-Anne is the energiser bunny. Invariably every time I stop they flash past a minute later and I have to hit far more than my previous cruising speed to peg them back. Not entirely sure whats going on there unless its that they are actually averaging a faster pace than I but are not comfortable overtaking other riders. Maybe.
Up into the hills. Here I cant resist and put on a little pace. Julie-Anne comes up.. tells me Jenny is right behind. I press on. Julie-Anne out of sight.. cant be far back. The big hill before Mt Martha? I go up it steadily and not too hard. I pass maybe 200 people going up it. Stop at the top. Have a leak. A drink. A chocky bar. Julie-Anne races past. Head down bum up. I chase. Catch her on the long down hill. She says Jenny is right behind. Hmmm… maybe not on that downhill. I go past Julie-Anne on the next descent. I look around and she is gone. I sit up. Crikey my back is sore. Where the hell are they? I roll the rest of the way into Frankston. Never raising a sweat. I literally roll all the way down Olivers and into the rest stop. Where I wait. For 28 minutes. Hmmmm
Julie-Anne goes past "David, wait for Jenny.. I,ll meet you at Mordi" Uhhhhh OK. Jenny comes past. Not 15 seconds behind Julie-Anne. I get Jenny on my wheel and set off in pursuit. This is easily doable. I am spending more time looking back than forwards. We pick off other riders. I look back several times and we have a string of maybe 15 or so behind Jenny. I keep adjusting my speed. Jenny hangs on. "Enduro's rock" she yells. I can see Julie-Anne but cant quite bridge the gap. Every time I try Jenny comes off and at one point grabs another riders wheel. :( But we are doing great. We get into Aspy and Julie Anne is waiting. We don't stop.
And now the wind is just silly. Its a vicious gusty crosswind. Its so savage that we are copping sand off the beach and occasionally even spray. I try my best to stay with the others but they are slowing down in an attempt to stay up during the gusts and IMO you need a little speed to improve your chances and this is very dodgy riding. I'm having a scare or two on a very stable bike at stuff I am really good at. I see several near misses amongst other riders and am worried about the girls. These are familiar roads otherwise and its just coming home from another training ride in lousy conditions. At each set of lights I am standing feet flat on the ground and stretching my back in an attempt to lesson the pain. Its my only tiredness issue tho. I eat the last couple of things in my pocket. Drink the last of my water The girls are still in sight. In Port Melbourne some fool rides into my back wheel and crashes. He is unhurt. I am not overly sympathetic. We turn for home. The relief to be out of the wind is amazing we group up. Julie Anne goes slightly wacky racing. She makes a couple of winceworthy moves in the quite dodgy traffic. But its all OK. Jenny is riding well and smart. And at something like 7:40 the 3 of us dead abreast cross the finish line. It made for a great photo.
And on to beer.