by Tim Pezet
As a newish member of Audax this was my first attempt at a 300km ride. I’ve been building myself up over the months, knocking off some 200’s, refining equipment and clothing along the way.
We had four registered for the 300 Smelly Welly however Kym had to drop out for car mechanical problems so it was Stan, Nick & myself. Julie & Ryan were on the 100 and Perry doing the 200 solo. My expectations were to complete it ny around 1am Sunday Morning. When Nick said he was aiming for 11pm Saturday I thought “looks like I’ll be riding this one alone”.
Kym and I had done the Peel around Peel (200) two weeks beforehand in the thunderstorm and rain as a “test of our resolve”. My legs hadn’t recovered from that ride but I thought i’ll persevere. With a bit of riding the stiffness might work itself out. Also if it proved painful it’s a good test of mental strength.
As we took off from Nth Bannister at 7:30am the legs didn’t feel so good. But on the bright side the weather gods were looking kindly on the day. Barely noticeable winds, 6° to 18° temperature range and no rain. So I thought of all the days this is the ideal you could hope for.
For the first 60kms I had the company of Julie and Ryan. At Wandering we had stopped for a bottle refill and quick snack before moving on. Unbeknownst to us Wayne had setup a Muffin control point just down the road. Since we had just stopped in Wandering we kept moving so missed out on warm muffins to my later regret.
Due to the rain we’ve been having everything looked healthy, the yellow flowering canola crops looked spectacular. Traffic was fairly light and a decent shoulder on the road. I was relieved to get to Narrogin for a serving of hot chips, coffee and a Kebab for the bike. The legs hadn’t loosened up but felt worst. I thought if things get bad I can “dial a friend” for a pickup and bail out if need be. However once about 20kms outside of Narrogin my mobile coverage ended (damn Optus) so I thought “only one way to finish and that’s to keep going” (only 180kms to go).
It was a nice run through Wickepin up to Yearling. Between Wickepin and Yearling I think I only crossed one car. The weather was holding out beautifully and the wind had decided to comply with the BOM forecast for a change and stay low. Luckily I had packed enough nibblies for the road as there was a dearth of replenishments on the route. My legs weren’t feeling any better and each time I was off the bike they were stiffer getting back on . My average speed was down to about 19km/hr so I knew it was a long time to go. However the landscape and clear sky lifted the spirits as I pushed onto Pingelly.
I arrived in Pingelly about 8:30pm, enjoyed the Kebab from Narrogin, repacked my bags and added some warmer clothes. As I passed the pub I was bailed up by some locals curious as to why I was riding at that time of night which triggered numerous further questions such as what’s Audax, how far have you come etc. Though I didn’t want to lose more time they were very nice and hospitable, filling my bottles, offering to cook me a home meal, gave me their number to call them if I clapped out on the last leg and offered to throw the bike in the back of the Ute and drive me to Nth Bannister (Don’t worry they said “nobody else will know”). That cost me 30 minutes so my 1am finish was now looking like 1:30.
As I pushed on the last 73kms I found it very challenging. My calf muscles had stiffened up such that I had to change my pedal stroke which dropped my speed down to 12km/hr. I was getting off the bike every 30 minutes to stretch the legs and push on. To top it off the GPS would randomly keep changing the distance to end. At one stage I had 61km to go, then it jumped to 89, then 250. Watching the ‘distance to end’ decrease is the psychological crutch I needed to push on (and the thought of a shiny medal) . However the perfect stillness of the night (“aah the serenity”) was magic which helped keep the spirits up. In the end I limped in to Nth Bannister at 2:15am.
An overall average of just under 17km/hr. Not an impressive time but within the cut off. I was stunned to learn that Nick completed in 14hr 20 mins and Stan an amazing 12hr 45 mins (which is not that much more than my 200 time).
I grabbed 3hrs uncomfortable sleep in the car before heading home. I need to work on the post ride recovery so I don’t get myself in that situation again. As a first go 300km this is a good route however you need to be pretty autonomous for food.