Tuesday, November 13, 2007

ATB 2007

As I rode my bike today it occurred to me that I'd been remiss in mentioning this year's Around The Bay In A Day.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it is a charity event for the Smith Family and you can do the 50km (31 miles), 100km (62 miles), the "Classic" 210km (130 miles) or the "Legends" 250km (155 miles), taking in the scenery around Melbourne, Australia's beautiful bay. The city is the starting point and you ride down one side of the bay or the other, to either Queenscliff or Sorento, catch the ferry across to the other side, then ride back to the city. We do the 210km and it takes about 8 hours.

Anyway, here's the crew (I'm second from the left in the front row). We're "Team INVESCO" because the company my mate works for, pays our entry and provides the gear we're all wearing and we get ourselves sponsored for the Smith family. We have to raise $250, so go here if you want to donate to my cause (my jersey number was 4755). Anyway, that photo was taken at about 5:30am, just before we embarked on our journey. No, I didn't forget my helmet this year, so we got there in time to be included in the team photo.

This journey can be a journey in more ways than one. Just because the Tour de France has a stage this distance almost every day, doesn't mean that this distance isn't totally gruelling for average cyclists like most of us.

We started out fresh and chirpy and made good time down to the Bridge, which is one of the really groovy things about this ride. It's the only time you get to ride a bicycle over the West Gate Bridge, so it's best to make the most of it. It's also an easy climb with a fantastic descent that just begs to be used for a coasting race.

The most amazing thing about the bridge this year was not the fact that I won the coasting race down the other side, that was to be expected because I've been working on my technique (I can lay on the cross bar without losing control now), no, it was the one legged guy we caught up to about half way up. He wasn't wearing a prosthetic either, just peddling away with one leg. How amazing is that? He made it around no worries too apparently, despite the heat. It doesn't surprise me though given the size of the calf muscle he was sporting. Methinks he's done it before.

Anyway, It was a fantastic morning and we had a fun ride down to Geelong. We weren't late so we stuck with the bunch, took our time and chatted with whoever we found ourselves riding with. A quick relief break at Altona and then on to Little River where I had to stop for a smoke. A man can only go for so long on caffeine alone after all. Then it was on to Geelong where I had to wait for my 15 year old niece who was with us this year. We had a nice long break there where we all topped up with some energy food (I use "Goo" with caffeine, or preferably 2x caffeine. I recommend the "Espresso Love" flavour) and then it was on to Queenscliff.

The day had started to warm up by this stage and my niece began having difficulty. She was carrying a knee injury and about halfway between Geelong and Queenscliff took avail of the "sag wagon" to get a ride back to Geelong and get picked up by her mum. Next year perhaps.

We eventually made it to Queenscliff where we stopped for a quick lunch and to wait for the ferry. It wasn't long before we were on it though (as you can see) and an hour or so later we arrived in Sorento .

Now Sorento's a lovely place, I know, I've spent many a holiday down there. But I have to tell you that the water is complete shite! It's very heavy water as it is so it has that stale taste anyway, but do they have to chlorinate the absolute crap out of it? I'm glad I had some Gatoraid to add to it to make it bearable.

After stopping at Dromana to replace the plain water we were carrying (along with every body else), we made it up Balcombe Hill, over the rolling hills to Mt. Eliza and down Oliver's Hill into Frankston. We'd been separated by a set of lights, so my two compardres were waiting for me in Frankston.

There we had a quick smoke then continued on to Mornington where I had to stop and fix a puncture because some fool had scattered drawing pins on the road. Once that was done it was onto Beach Road for the last hour home.

Now bear in mind that I'd been on the bike for 7 hours already and it was 31 degrees Celsius (88F). So it was at this point that the rest of my body really started to protest, along with my legs; they'd been at it since we climbed the hill. But this is what I meant earlier about it being a journey in more ways than one. This last hour is a journey of discovery for yourself. You know there's a sag wagon that'll happily take you home, and you know that it hurts. You also know that it won't kill you if you keep going and that the whole point of doing this thing is to do it all.

But I eventually rolled into town at about 5:00pm. We completed our 210km in about 8.5 hours, time on the bike. For pictures of me in action, go here...


Dikkii said...

I said it last year, and I'll say it again. Youse guys are sick.

Plonka said...

Fully sick mate...:)

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Only 210km in 31 degree heat :)

Good work Plonka.

Sorrento is a nice place was there a couple of years ago and my Dad used to play for Frankston Football club.

Plonka said...

Thanks Sean. For a weekend hack that's used to Melbourne's milder temperatures, it's a long way.

Frankston eh? He's among good company then.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Hey Plonka,

Since you'll be resting up after that long ride consider yourself Tagged

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