It’s a long way to the top …

No, this isn’t a post about rock n’ roll, or AC/DC, the title is representative of what was going through my mind for a significant portion of yesterdays ride!

Voj and I headed down Friday night and had an uneventful drive down to Torquay, except for a fair bit of rain from Geelong through Torquay. We settled into our accomodation (my friend Herb’s holiday house that he generously let us use), and enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir as we watched the Geelong vs Essendon game on the TV. It looked like Essendon were going to do us for a while there, but I kept saying to Voj, “I’m not worried, we’ll end up winning by 6 goals”, so I was very relieved when Geelong blitzed the final quarter and ended up winning by 31 points! The other riders in our party (Danny, Ozzy and Julio) arrived just after the footy finished, and soon after we all went off to bed to get some rest. As usual in a new place I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted to, and we were all up and breakfasting about 6:30am.

We headed out to the start area, which was only a couple of kilometre ride about 7:15am, as our wave start was scheduled for 8am. We waited around in the start area, for a while, but Danny’s head gear caused a bit of interest. He had bought a helmet mounted video camera – so look out for a You-Tube link in a couple of days! Eventually we crossed the start line at about 8:15am.

We reached the first refreshment station (Moriac, 24.5km) in about an hour, and it was a gradual uphill most of the way, so not a bad effort. We stopped for a few minutes for a stretch, drink and something to eat (my sustenance for the day was the Winner’s Cadel Evans Mountain Mix bars).

At about the 33km mark I suffered a mechanical failure, as a spoke broke on my front wheel. It made quite a ping-clang as it broke and I immediately knew what had happened. I could see the wheel go out of true almost immediately and felt it rubbing on the brake pads. Voj heard it and stopped and came back to me, but the others were a bit further ahead and didn’t realise what had happened. The mechanical support on this ride is superb, and before we’d even had a chance to ring the mechanical support mobile number, only a matter of a couple of minutes, one of the mobile mechanics cars pulled up and removed the spoke, re-trued the wheel and retensioned the rest to compensate, and told me I’d be fine for the rest of the ride but not to try and avoid using my front brake, which puts a torque on the wheel rim and could cause it to go out of true. He also said that it was possible another “opposite” spoke might break due to increased force. There was also an annoying rattle, as the nipple from the removed spoke was rattling around inside the area between the wheel rim and tube/tyre.

So, within a matter of 6-7 minutes we were off and riding again. I had been going along quite comfortably and confidently, but this mechanical failure threw me a bit, and from then on in the ride I was constantly thinking about a further failure, it did my head in a bit I think.

The second refreshment station was at the 51km mark, and we pulled in their after about an hour, again not too bad considering the mechanical stop. The other three in our group were there waiting for us, wondering what had happened. Another short stop and another Cadel Evans bar!

A bit further along the road, an ambulance roared past us with it’s lights and sirens blaring, so there were lots of, “I hope no-ones had an accident” comments. Unfortunately a cyclist had had an accident, not obvious what had happened by the time we passed, but they didn’t look too good, laid out on the road being attended by the ambos, blood all over their face, breathing tube in and neck brace on. I hope they are okay.

We rode into Deans Marsh, and the third refreshment stop (at the 74km mark) at about 11:20am. This is the biggest rest stop on the ride, with music and a festival atmosphere. I had two “aborted” toilet stops (that is, I got in the queue twice, got sick of waiting and gave up, deciding to hold on), filled up my drink bottles with the provided Ascend hydration drink (which is quite nice by the way).

We took about a 25 minute break here and Danny and Ozzy (who are much stronger riders than us) decided to stay longer and have a coffee. So Voj, Julio and I headed off for the dreaded climb from Deans Marsh to Benwerrin. It is a fairly steep climb that goes for about 12km, and it was my first “it’s a long way to the top” moment. A tough climb, especially as I was worried about standing up too much as I thought it might too much weight on my front “missing spoke” wheel. Anyway, after about 42 minutes of whinging and complaining, and wishing I had more gears, we made it to the top and the most exhilarating part of the ride began.

As they say, “what goes up, must come down” and that is certainly true here. The next 10km only took about 15 minutes as we sped down through the wonderfully windy descent through the Otways into Lorne. Hitting maximum speeds of nearly 60km/hr and averaging a little over 40km/hr – it was a real buzz. We stopped in Lorne again for a while, topped up our drink bottles and then headed off for the ride back along the Great Ocean Road.

For those of you not lucky enough to have travelled down to this part of the world, here’s a shot of the Great Ocean Road so you can see the spectacular ride I had yesterday.

You don’t really appreciate how hilly it is along the GOR until you ride a bike along it. The first big hill out of Lorne (which is quite aptly called Big Hill) seems to go on forever. You wind around each corner, and there is the hill continuing, apparently ever onward. The hills out of Aireys Inlet, and into and out of Anglesea seem to go on, and on, and on, and on ….

There were rest stops in Aireys Inlet and Anglesea, but Voj and I were both starting to hurt quite a bit (his knee was swelling and my quads were killing me) and felt like we might never get going again if we stopped, so we kept going. The long, long hill out of Anglesea goes on for about 13km, not as steep as the Deans Marsh-Benwerrin climb, but as you done about 125km when you get to it, it is so much tougher. I really felt like my quads had nothing left to give, and started to doubt that I was going to make it halfway up this climb, but managed to keep grinding away.

Cresting that hill and turning the corner at the roundabout and heading back to Torquay I felt a few spots of rain, but the mainly downhill run home for the last 6-7km was quite a relief. My Garmin ran out of battery as we headed through Jan Juc – damn! The other boys waited for us just on the outskirts of Torquay, and we all crossed the line together, just after 3pm – with a riding time of around 5 hours and 40 minutes (about 2 minutes slower than last year).

It was over!

This is my second GOOC ride, and it felt considerably harder than last year, but I know why – my preparation this year was nowhere near as good as last year, with no real distance rides in the lead up, and not enough hills. If I do this again next year (I think I will), I pledge to be better prepared.

Supersprint need to be congratulated as the organisation and support on this ride was superb. The medical and mechanical support were obvious and readily available, the police and marshalls did an excellent job of separating cyclists from traffic. The rest stops were well placed and staffed. And the copy of Ride magazine in the showbag was a great bonus too, a great magazine that I often read in the newsagents, but rarely buy due to it’s high price tag.

Back to the house to have a drink, something to eat, get changed, tidy up, pack the cars etc then we headed to the local beer and pizza joint for some refueling. Another uneventful drive home, and last night is a bit of a tired blur.

I weighed in this morning (couldn’t do the normal Saturday due to being away) at 74.3kg.

Today we went to Costco and did a bit of shopping, and then went out for a coffee – not much else other than resting up for today.

Edit(1):

BB:
Nup, never worried, it was only Essendon. We Geelong supporters are pretty cocky the last few years! 🙂

Chris:
Q1. Danny and Ozzy arrived in Lorne about 15 minutes after us, but only because they had a very long coffee break in Deans Marsh.
Q2. Pretty damn close to the advertised 145km. I had 150km on my cycle computer, but that included the ride to/from the house and start/finish area. Last year I measured the same course at 144.3 or something.
Q3. If I do it (95% likely) would love to have your company, will meet wherever is convenient!

Edit(2):

This photo, showing the start of the race, illustrates another problem everyone had during the ride. With wearing the event jersey (included as part of the entry fee) being compulsory for all 3,500 participants, it made it quite difficult to identify your friends who you were riding with!

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6 Responses to “It’s a long way to the top …”

  1. blues buffett Says:

    I bet you were worried for three quarters.

  2. chrisfit2009 Says:

    First up, well done. Told you that you could do it!
    Q1: Did Dean and Ozzy pass you after their extended coffee break at Deans Marsh?
    Q2: What was the final distance? Someone must have clocked it?
    Q3: Where are you meeting me for GOOC 2011?

  3. Sara Says:

    Sounds like an awesome ride- can’t believe I haven’t considered it before. Oh that is right- damn hills! Great ride Andrew.

  4. AndrewENZ Says:

    Sounds like an awesome effort. A pity about the mechanical failure. I could see how that would weigh on your mind.

  5. Kathryn Says:

    I have enough trouble driving the GOR, can’t imagine doing it on the bike. Well done. Good that you had no problems after that initial incident. I’d be the same, thinking every little thing was going to be trouble after that.

  6. Thermy Says:

    The event jersey was compulsory!? What a really strange idea!

    Congrats on the ride – I’m feeling tired just reading it! XD

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