WARNING. This is a very long post and includes pics.
Got up at 3.45am, got ready packed everything into the car, bike was already loaded and went and picked Mark (Marc) up at 4.45am.in Airport West. Had arranged to meet Ewan (willew) in West Melbourne at 5.00am and arrived right on the dot. Got ourselves ready
and headed off to the Westgate Bridge 6.5kms away which was the same distance from official start. Got there at about 5.35am and cruised over the bridge, along the freeway and exited at Grieve Pde. Plenty of cyclists started early as was fairly packed. We then went along Grieve Pde where I lost Mark who took off and Ewan got left behind at the lights. However, linked up with Adrian (Whad) who had joined the ride at Millers Rd. Made some quick calls and we soon got back together just after turning into Kororoit Creek Rd which led back to the freeway at Laverton North. This was the new route and far superior to the old one. We had intended going along the Fed Trail at Millers Rd to avoid the Altona/PT Cook route, but it was too dark and the new route was really good anyway.
We picked up the pace along the freeway sitting in the mid 30s and tacking onto any groups that came along. Got into Werribee at about 6.30 and went straight through. All was good as I had never been this far this early before. Arrived at the Little River rest stop at about 7.15 and stopped to refuel etc
At this stage Mark and Adrian surged ahead and we didn't see them again until the Geelong rest stop where I caught Mark as he was about to get a sausage which didn't happen. We pushed on straight away and headed along the foreshore. I must say this new route through Geelong was very nice and scenic although a little rough as we went through the golf course. Mark and Adrian took off, as they tend to do, not to be seen again until Queenscliff. Ewan and I stopped at Leopold to refill our bidons before pushing onto Queenscliff.
As we approached Pt Lonsdale Ewan suggested we might call in at his place, but as we were aiming for the 10.00 ferry we kept going. We arrived in Queenscliff at 9.40 and got a yellow wrist band which was the 10.00 ferry. Hooray, mission accomplished and never been here this early. Mark and Adrian had been there 20 minutes and just missed a smaller 9.30 ferry. Also caught up with Rossco who just got in before us, but he was on the 250 and had already done 150 kms. He must have been really flying. No time to eat lunch so we just got onto the ferry, stacked our bikes
and went up to the top decks. How good was that, no waiting. Found a nice spot under stairs at the back of the boat
and out of the spray which was fairly dampening. The 9.30 ferry actually left about the same time so we raced it across.
Plenty to eat although I discarded the choccy cake as it was too messy and the Powerbar as I had plenty of food with me and more chocolate just didn't appeal. We beat the smaller ferry, but it unloaded a lot quicker and by the time we had disembarked at Sorrento the area was packed.
I assured Mark that this was the norm, not the cruisey ferry boarding we experienced at Queenscliff. He had been wondering what all the fuss was about.
We left Sorrento at 11.00 and made our way along the foreshore where I nearly ran up the back of a couple of girls as I was travelling at about 35kph and they entered the lane when there was no room. Slammed on the breaks as I couldn't go right due to other cyclists and left would have found me in the bushes. Managed to pull up just in time. Eventually Mark and Adrian left us behind as we navigated our way through several sets of lights and catching mostly reds which split our group. Up and over the hills, but had to curtail my desire to fly down the other side of Jacksons Hill at Mt Martha as it was too dangerous with the amount of other cyclists on the road, so just rolled down. As we approached Frankston we could see all the lights at the top of Oliver's Hill. Initially thought that a lane had been closed for us, but as we approached a more gruesome scene emerged and we were diverted through a carpark around a very nasty accident. There was blood everywhere. I do hope this has a good outcome as no-one likes to see a fellow cyclist injured no matter how it happened. Took my time going down the rest of Oliver's and rolled in to the rest stop where Ewan and I refuelled.
We cruised our way along the Nepean Hwy at about 30 kph as our legs started to get heavy after a long day in the saddle. Then I got a puncture in the rear tyre, which is not surprising after the amount of glass I had been through. As I was changing the tube I noticed about 50mm of rubber missing off the centre of the tyre and warn down to the canvas, obviously the result of skidding to halt earlier. C'est la vie, one tyre gone, although not bad enough to stop me going on. Thanks to the WARBY who stopped to offer assistance. They do a great job as do all the volunteers. Thanks heaps. We kept up a steady pace up through Mordialloc and as we approached Black Rock with Ewan about 20 metres in front 3 riders came down as one clipped the wheel of another. We stopped to offer assistance, but were not required as they were a group and their mates had it all in hand with an ambulance being called. Hope everything's okay.
At St Kilda I said to Ewan let's head off down Fitzroy St and St Kilda Rd to the end and avoid the merging of the two directions. I remember this being absolutely chaotic last year and I didn't fancy being caught up in it again. This was a good move as we cruised to the finish and came in off Linlithgow Ave which was even better as we entered the finishing lane at a set of lights which had stopped other cyclists and meant we were able cross under the gantry on our own with one arm locked to each other. Although Ewan did say don't fall off now. All smiles and the end of a great ride. Looking forward to the photo. Finished at 3.20 which is more than 2 hours earlier than I have ever done before after 7 circumnavigations. Now where's Spokes Bar and Mark had better have a beer waiting. He did, I'll give him a lift home. As expected met a whole lot of other Forumers and was particularly impressed with Oz who just downed a jug. I usually say I'm not doing this again, but now that my goal of 10 ATBs is getting closer and this was such a great ride with a fantastic finish I can't wait for 2009. Last but not least congratulations to all those that participated in the ride and achieved there own personal goals.
Distance - 208.58 kms
Time - 7 hrs 40 mins and 49 seconds
Av - 27.1kph
Max - 62.4 kph
Couldn't resist this photo. No. 27. Didn't see one lower all day and 27 is my birthday.Willew was No. 28