Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mallee Routes 600 Pt 2

The next morning dawned clearish and a bit windy. I lolled in my bunk while other, perhaps more sensible or experienced randonneurs rose and got on their way. Starting at 7.30am just well, indulgent.

I got up and headed to the cook house and had a couple of coffees, munched a couple bananas, yacked with Peter and Les while other riders kept coming up and departing. By 7.20am Mark arrived and after making a few adjustments we hit the road at about 7.45, not quite the lanterne rouge but close enough! We did however have heaps of time up our sleeve as the final cutoff for the ride was 10pm.

Leaving town with the wind we made good time and settled into a rhythm as we headed west then south on the long 100km stage to Jeparit. The first 60 or so kilometers sped by but we soon found ourselves riding into the wind and the last 25kms were testing. I was quite happy to arrive at the Controle and had a delicious egg and bacon roll from the cafe.

The next controle was only 50km away at Rainbow, but that section was right into the teeth of the wind which while not really strong was still challenging. Mark and I were making fairly good time however and we caught and passed a number of other riders as the sun emerged and gave us a beautiful afternoon for riding through the Mallee.

The Rainbow controle was set in a beautiful garden avenue in the main street and after a quick break we again set off, first into the wind before turning away from it and fairly racing away for a good run to the final stop of the ride. As happens the last kilometres can drag by, however the late afternoon light was really lovely drawing vivd colours from the fields as we rode past. Eventually we saw Hopetoun on the horizon and before too long we were entering the town and arriving at the controle at about 5.50pm, still light. Handshakes all round after what was quite a brisk 200k ride.

Later that evening we enjoyed a home cooked roast dinner at the Bon Bon cafe before I took to bed well aware that I had yet to drive 12 hours back home the next day.

While the Mallee routes is a relatively flat ride, I was really happy to finish and was quite pleased with my riding over the weekend, finishing with an average of 24.8kph on the bike and about 35 hours for the total ride. I'm a bit stiff today but there's no lasting damage and I am now feeling very ready for Perth- Albany-Perth next month.

Big ups to Peter for organizing the event, Les and Gordon for running the controles and the other riders for their particpation and conversation along the way. It was a great ride.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mallee Routes 600 pt 1

What a great weekend!

Not just because I managed the 600 but it was a really well run and supported event and I got to meet old friends and make new ones. It was nice to press the flesh with blogger's Nancyboy (the ride organizer) and the exotic southerner Surly Dave after a long period of online friendship.

I love a road trip and the drive down had both brilliant sunshine and really heavy rain. Driving through Wagga Wagga, it was the greenest I had ever seen it and venturing further west to Balranald to avoid potential flooding in Victoria took me through a fascinating man made irrigation landscape in what should really be desert. Driving between Narrandera and Hay I saw and tooted (politely he waved back) a fully laden cyclo tourist, literally flying along with a tailwind. He looked very happy.

Arriving (at last) I checked in at the astonishing and highly recommended Mallee Bush Retreat, sorted the bike and gear and made it to the Hoptoun Community Hotel for dinner and drinks and yacking. Nice to catch up with Hans and Peter and to meet a few others, Les and Gordon who would be supporting the ride. I was quite tired after the long day of driving (had left home at 5am) so opted for an early night and found I was not the only one.

Alarms started to go off in the bunk house from about 4.30am (bastards!) mine was set for 5am, as the ride stared at 6 and how much could you do in 90 minutes? Anyway up and dressed I was light checked and before too long we were off, Peter's warnings of certain death by railway crossing at Warracknabeal uppermost in my mind. As always at the start, it's hard to tell who is fast and who is not, and chugging out of town I joined a group that seemed about right for my level of effort and was sucked along at 32-35kph for a while until about 40k in when my warmish attire was causing me to overheat and I realised that it wasn't likely I could hold that pace all day. Though it was great while it lasted.

After the first control in Warra, we turned east briefly before beginning the long run north to Birchip and Sea Lake. Leaving a bit lake I chased down a larger group of riders, and together we were an effective group working together to the Birchip control pciking up solo riders as we motored along. This was a really enjoyable leg, I chatted with a lot of other riders and Mark and I literally bolted into Birchip, smelling the chips at the cafe for the 128km control. If it was all going to be like that, it would be a doddle!

Birchip to Sea Lake was a bit different, the group had dispersed again and I passed a number of riders from the group until I was joined by Mark who I rode with to the control at Seal Lake through the extensive crops of wheat and barley and canola. We were briefly geograpically confused appraoching the town but otherwise made good time.

After lunch the next leg towards Speed and the controle at Patchewollock was a difficult leg. The wind had increased and we were riding right into it. I left the controle with legends Hans and Tim and along the way we collected a few others. The turnoff from the main road took us onto a C road towards Speed and we swapped duty into the wind. After a while we were fragmenting as a group and Mark and I (and another) arrived at the Pathe controle ahead of the others. It had been a tough leg but we were now turning back towards Hopetoun (in day light (just)) with only a measly 100km to go before sleep.

Leaving Pathewollock with Mark we rode together, occasinally seeing the flashing lights of riders ahead but never really closeing in on them. We also saw a bright red light shining from a Telecomunications tower that slowly guided us in to Hopetoun.

We reached the 300km control at 8.30pm and after a brie rest headed out for the last 100kms before bed. Peversly, this was up a hill to Wonga Hut. Shortly after town we were picked up by another rider and we headed along the road, playing with our lights and getting updates on the Swans v Dogs game (I did'nt really understand). After what seemed like a life time we passed into the Whyperfield National Park and then after another lifetime we arrived at the control. We had met a stream of cyclists coming back down the mountain as we made out way up, which was bother reassuring and depressing.

Wonga Hut was a lovely spot to stop and as Les reminded me later, I really wasn't too keen to hit the road again. It was now about 11.30, I'd been riding all day and tha hut was warm and full of food.

Eventually I prised myself up and Mark an I headed off. I was getting quite dozy and it was really good to have Mark's company on the way back just to keep me motivated. We eventually arrived back in Hopetoun and after checking in decided to set off again at 7.30am to complete the last 196km of the ride. We scoffed some of Peter's excellent pasta and grabbed a shower. Setting the alarm I was really looking forward to 4 hours sleep!

As I am now. More Latter...

Mileage in Kilometres = 6256km
PBP Quota = 2700km

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Car Packed

Tomorrow morning I'm heading south to Hopetoun to try my luck at the Mallee Routes 600km brevet.

It has been an anxious week, what with the adverse weather and flooding that has struck Victoria though happily the route appears to have had only experienced average rainfall and is looking prime for the weekend.

My own training has been hampered by weather. Last Saturday's Bungonia Buster was a wind and wash out though I have found that not riding so much these last few weeks has made me a lot faster. I achieved my PB for the 30k training route yesterday. Bang on an hour (with traffic lights I might add). Legs feel great, head is primed and the car is packed.

Dreamt this morning that I had successfully completed the ride and felt a quiet sense of satisfaction. Convincing dream until I realised I still had to ride. A good sign however.

It is going to be a good weekend.

Milage in Kms = 5656
BRMs = 2100