So in the end I did get one interested party, had a more of a think about the ride and decided it might just be best to ride solo.
Crawled out of bed at around 6:30am Friday, I always struggle to see the night before big rides, still felt relatively well rested although the legs were still a little from a week of commuting. Checked the BOM, forecast remained the same, 30degC, light Northerly winds picking up in the afternoon/evening then shifting Westerly. Great I thought, would be back close to Ballarat by the time the wind picked up.
Rolled across the top of Melbourne riding along Cooper St, then Somerton rd. Usually these roads would be clogged with traffic, but the roads really were quite dead; fine by me! The wind was certainly blowing from the North, crosswind wasn't too painful though and managed to stick to low 30s. First test of the legs comes at Bulla; two creek cuttings in close succession, both have you dropping about 60m in elevation only to climb back up out of it at a >6% gradient. Legs said ouch, I resisted the temptation to attempt any strava records given how early is was in the ride. Pulled over in Diggers Rest for a drink/muesli bar break out front of this patriotic garage.
Turned South down Plumpton rd, with the Northerly behind me mid-40s were pretty easy to maintain. Those "light winds" had certainly picked up a little. Stopped for breakfast at the Rockbank McDonalds; 2 hashbrowns, hotcakes and a coke seemed to hit the spot nicely. Happily pulled off the freeway and raced down Leakes rd with the Northerly still behind me. Things started getting a little tougher after turing West, felt like the wind had shifted a little to the West and there's very little to shield you from it on the road in those parts. Speed dropped to mid 20s, didn't want to wreck myself being only a 1/3rd of the way into the ride.
Rode up past the Melton reservoir, another steep but little climb, and out along Exford rd. By Nerowie rd things get really agricultural, nothing but open paddocks as far as the eye can see. Looked to be a nasty accident on the Geelong - Bacchus Marsh rd, police had it blocked off, several firetrucks in attendance. I wasn't going that way, but the Policeman seemed happy enough to let me pass through the accident zone (unlike the traffic), the thought was nice as a 20km detour on bike isn't quite the same as by car. Unfortunately traffic was being directed across Glenmore rd where I was headed, it's one of those paved roads wide enough for a single vehicle (but still being a two-way road). I didn't have an issues, but a few of the drivers would have got a nasty shock with soe vehicles approaching the other direction at 100kph.
Crossed over Balliang - Bacchus Marsh rd where the detour traffic ended. Found a spot in the shade and downed a Gel with some water, needed all the energy I could muster given the Glenmore rd climb was coming up. Even getting the 15km to the start of the climb was tough work, either the Wind had shifted to the West or it was being funnelled down the gorge. Either way, head wind and rolling hills made pushing out 20km/h hard work. Still had time to take in some scenery, it's really quite beautiful out that way (even without the Instagram filters
Arrived at the base of the Glemore rd climb, already wrecked, and with another 60km in front of me. Made it halfway up the first bend, then walked, then rode, then walked, then rode, etc, etc. Needless to say my last effort up it was much better, was still happy to get to the top. Legs started cramping badly on the remaining flat km of Glenmore rd, not sure if it was the walking or the riding but it had me in a sorry state. Here's the hill that Glenmore rd snakes its way up.
Next stretch of road was due North, straight up to Ballan for lunch. The sign said 14km, but it took me the better part of an hour. Little ring, on the drops, grinding out <20kph, legs wishing me to stop. Pulled into Ballan in really poor shape, the temperature while not hot, was starting to take its toll (on top of everything else). Fortunately the Fish and Chip store was open (as nothing else was), lunch consisted of two toasted cheese sandwiches and another coke. Strava tells me I sat on my Butt for an hour, during which time I thought more than once about calling dad to come pick me up.
Pressed on knowing that the worst was behind me. There's some really nice roads in between Ballan and Buninyong, passing through Mt Egerton and Yendon. Ballarat cyclists really are quite spoilt. Very relieved to see Mt Buninyong growing larger in the distance, Mum & Dads is only a few km from the base. In the days leading up to the ride I was contemplating a ride to the top, needless to say that idea had been dropped several hours back.
I'd added Dad to the list of followers on 'Find My Friends', being the map geek he is, he was well aware of where I was at. Pulled up the driveway to find Mum & Dad waiting there to greet me, nice touch after a big ride
. Spent the remainder of the day feeling really quite drained, went to bed early but still felt fairly tired the next day (baby in the bedroom doesn't help). Strava tells me I had a 'Suffer Score' of 330, which bests any of my previous rides and proved to be more than double of the return journey (more on that later).