What do you do when you have an urgent family issue that is 2000km away and your non-riding significant other is unable to fly due to recent medical procedures? Obviously, the answer is drive. We had a week or so of getting the thumbs up from the medics for the road travel so I prepared a bike and stowed it in the van then packed everything else around it while popping emails to RO’s to advise my intent to ride some 50km BPs.
Our first three days of travel were focussed on getting to the family down south. Once we were satisfied that there were no life threatening circumstances, we were able to relax a bit. I made the decision whilst in SA to take a drive into Adelaide and ride a flat 50km BP. Unfortunately my first selection (SA’s Tour de Audax) wasn’t available so I popped a message off to Matt who is the RO for the Outer Harbour Greenway – a pleasant suburban and industrial route from the Adelaide Oval out to the harbour and back.
This is a pleasant route through the leafy and sometimes historic parts of Adelaide, passing the Aviation Museum, docklands and eventually ending up at the Pilot station at the harbour. To me it seemed a little strange riding in a different and unfamiliar area but the sights along the way were a very good introduction to Adelaide and surrounds for the visiting tourist. To compare to a SEQ route, one of Pete W’s bikeway rides is very similar. Just like SEQ, you are at the mercy of the coastal winds and in this regard Adelaide didn’t disappoint – 30-40kmh winds on the way out and an awesome tailwind on the return journey. Novel for me was the need to dismount and cross railway lines at uncontrolled locations. We don’t have these in SEQ. My recommendation is to pick a calmer day!
After leaving the family, We holed up in a motel in Warrnambool during the storm (70+kmh winds) for a couple of days and then travelled the Great Ocean Road and took time to see the sights and the remaining apostles along the way. We expect the view to be different next time we are down this way.
Our journey took us to country Victoria and on the way we revisited a childhood food favourite of mine – a deep fried, battered hamburger patty. The benefit of these is more to do with enjoying your food rather than it being healthy. To help with a 50km BP, Thomas facilitated a 50km permanent based on one of the calendar events in the area, a nice loop from Wandong to Broadford and return via Kilmore. I elected to ride from one of the mid point controls – riding the hilly bit first, into the morning breeze and light drizzle then the flatter bit on the return. Due to my lack of fitness, I was a little concerned about the amount of climbing and thought at first I may need to walk a couple of steeper bits. To my surprise I managed to ride every ascent (slowly) and make it to the first couple of controls with minutes to spare. I found the roads and shoulders quite good for riding and was pleasantly surprised with the tail wind and flatness of the final leg which helped me finish with plenty of time to spare. This ride of all of them planned restored my self belief in riding hills. This route gives a scenic tour of the area, with a couple of nice towns and plenty of paddock based wildlife.
With Victoria behind us, we were on a slow return journey to Brisbane and there were three remaining rides to complete. Before leaving Victoria, we discussed the logistics of me riding and checkout times etc.
The next stop was Canberra, where I rode the Canberra Parliamentary Triangle which is a lap of Lake Burley Griffin, taking in the sights along the way such as both Parliament Houses, a glimpse of Government House, passing the National Carillon and if you are lucky you will hear it playing music. This is an excellent introduction to the suburban cycleways of Canberra, somewhat confusing until you work out that the cyleways have numbers, cross roads at lights and can appear on either side of roads. I did find on my ride that the motorists were well versed with the interactions between both modes of transport. This is an excellent introduction to the lake and surrounds, and if you follow the classic route (ie start at Watson) there is an excellent burger place right where you finish.
We left Canberra early the next day with an expectation of reaching Parkes the that night. One important bucket list item for any cyclist is a lap of Mount Panorama. The circuit is on public roads and is only closed for race days and special events and is two way when open. Mt Panorama does have a calendar that shows when the road has an event on it so you can avoid the days the road is closed.
I rode my lap about three weeks prior to the Bathurst 1000 and a lot of preparation works were under way such as signage and road repairs. Boyed by my restored faith in riding hills, I knew I would struggle on the climbs, but not so much as I feared at the start of our journey. It is amazing the number of people that walk the entire lap (pedestrians get a small shortcut at The Cutting).
I did struggle and persevered as much as I could but unfortunately The Cutting was a bit too steep for me at the moment and I elected to walk 100m around the corner to the next flag marshalls station (where there is a good place to mount up). From there, a slow ride to Skyline and the lookout.
At the top I joked with some-one who drove up – they said they would make it down before me. “Ha” I replied – “You have to walk all the way back to your car” and their retort was “and you won’t get booked for speeding from the camera photos”. Most likely true, but I took my time and didn’t speed anyway (My wife sees the stats from the GPS) but managed a very respectable 33kmh over the hump on Conrod Straight and finished my lap with no hassles. The corners are a bit tigher than they appear on TV so do take care.
My take on the circuit? Very much like Coot-tha Back but no saddles across the top of Mt Panorama and more certainty to be caught speeding on the way down if you mis-behave in Brisbane.
After Bathurst, we made our way to Parkes where I had planned to ride one of the iconic 50km BPs – To the Dish and Back. This one is a relatively flat route with the climbing near Parkes and a sneaky 0.5-1% for a while. There was a bit of wind on the way out and I started at 9am to dodge all the school and commercial traffic but I needn’t have worried – this is essentially a minor road and had very little traffic. The scenery and photo opportunities on the way out were excellent. This route does have 10km of gravel but it was in a good state. You get to sneak up on The Dish and can see it just after you turn off the major road.
I elected to skip the coffee at the cafe and return back to Parkes after a photo. The Dish was undergoing maintenance on the day and we returned after lunch for a tour and coffee.
Two days later we arrived in Brisbane and I signed up for a 50km BP to round out the set of 5 PBs in 5 regions in one month. I might need to suggest a medal for that one!
Thanks to Matt, Thomas, Peter, Wayde and PJ for the 5 permanent routes.