It’s been a while since we have had a weekend away so this year a small group of us did what I unofficially call the ‘Toodyay Audax Retreat”. Retreat meaning relaxing in a quiet place not the act of giving up. It was hoped that the three days of cycling would help to build endurance and allow time to relax. It nearly didn’t happen due to lack of numbers. But the social three days with a bit of cycling went ahead. From the perspective of one of the organisers, here’s what we got up to.
After much promotion, Perry as RO putting up a great swag of scenic routes and much prep behind the scenes, only seven of us made the journey to our base in Toodyay. Three riders (Perry, John, Ed), one non-rider volunteer (Glenn), and three who supported and cycled (Gary, Ryan and me).
Day 1 – Friday 2 April
Perry, John and Ed cycled up through the hills from Bassendean to our Toodyay base completing a 100 km ride in hot conditions.
Our hard-working Support Team – Glenn, Ryan, and I – drove up getting to Toodyay mid-morning to set up our venue. Gary, also providing support, arrived a few hours later after doing a secret control to distribute easter eggs to the intrepid trio cycling up.
For the next two nights our home was the Toodyay Pavilion. A good-size hall with all the necessary facilities. The Pavilion had what we needed, but I was told a class below (and half the cost of) the previously used Sea Scout Hall in Bunbury. Toodyay has better choice of routes, Bunbury better accommodation.
Two minor downsides to our inexpensively hired hall. Firstly, a flywire door on only one of the three entrances was an invitation to flies to enter our aircon abode. We also had the company of dozens of little lawn beetles. As fast as we swept them up another batch wandered from under the skirting boards. We had a lush footy oval adjacent to the front door (giant dog exercise area it seemed) and another lush grassed area out the back which turned out to be the Shire’s overflow caravan park (fortunately only three vans set up). Lawn beetle delight. Apparently the month before the oval was covered in screeching white cockatoos all day. At least our beetles and flies were quiet.
We were set up by the time the trio of riders arrived. Our Audax banners were up, kitchen ready, bed area assigned, charging table and even our cinema area all set up. We also had two bike rails from which to hang our bikes. Expertly made by Gary, the rails perfectly performed their role and are now available to support future rides.
Three of us set up swags/tent outside on our lovely green lawn while the remainder slept inside on their mattresses. Sleeping outside was pleasant but the first night was noisy. The just flowing Avon River flowed past us at a distance on one side and we also had the railway line close by. An unexpected five or so trains woke me up on the first night, a variety of birds gossiped all night, but very grateful that the mossies a local warned us about were a no show. The oval’s sprinklers came on just after I crawled into my tent on Friday night. They got almost too close to Gary’s swag but Ryan’s set up and my tent were ok. Delayed sleep though wondering if a sprinkler was going to waterproof test my tent.
Fortunately our group was very relaxed about the meals. Glenn’s spaghetti bolognese was a big hit as was Ryan’s kindly donated and expertly grilled salmon. Our BBQ lunch was well received. Baked vegies get a tick but need to rethink/skip chicken dishes for next time. Other lessons don’t burn the quiche, drop the apple pie (excuse … tricky commercial oven), if you offer toasted sandwiches make sure you bring the bloody sandwich maker, bring less eggs and skip the bacon. Bananas, fruit cake, cold water cooler and cordial are popular. Jelly (thanks Glenn) was a good dessert. We missed not having a cake baker amongst us. I knew our dinners were on the mark when the table conversation ceased as everyone tucked in.
Our meal table also served as our group relaxing area. Conversations about all things cycling – tyres, frames, lights, dynamo hubs, tyre pressures, shoes etc and even shaving one’s legs – took place while everyone relaxed. It was the first time that I got the chance to have a really good look at the bike set ups of the more experienced endurance riders. I especially liked John’s Tailfin rack and pannier set.
After Friday’s hot weather and looking at the next day’s equally hot forecast, our RO (Perry) and those who had signed up to do Saturday’s 220km decided a distance rethink was needed. The route was changed to a 100km out to Bindoon and back along Julimar with an earlier start. Four riders then proceeded to update their GPS devices with the new route – not as easy when away from your usual IT set up. Thanks to Glenn who had an impressive laptop set up that helped.
Ryan also had an impressive laptop arrangement that included a projector. After dinner both nights, most of us enjoyed a movie … cycling theme of course.
Day 2 – Saturday 3 April
I was surprised by how wrong the weather forecast was with cooler than expected conditions. Four of our little group (Ed, John, Gary and Perry) cycled off at 7 am on Saturday to complete the 100 km Bindoon loop. Ryan and I also rode off to complete the Toodyay 50 km that turned out to be a hilly little gem of a ride. The route will be even better during wildflower season. Glenn stayed behind and kindly did some of the support jobs as well as clearing his work email account.
By about midday Saturday I think we were all back at base. We decided on a BBQ lunch and a relaxing afternoon. A few of us walked into Toodyay town in the arvo. Toodyay town was very quiet on Friday but there were a few more tourists about on Saturday.
Wayne and Nick who were completing another 1,000 km ride, also briefly dropped by our base twice on Saturday. On & off during the weekend, we monitored the duo’s progress on Audax WA’s SpotWalla that Ryan had projected onto a blank wall.
About 4 pm, Gary, Perry and Ed decided another spur of the moment cycle was in order. They returned happily after a 30km loop. Dinner and another movie (Mark Beaumont’s Around the world in 80 days) followed.
Our final day (Sunday) saw Perry, Ed and John leaving at 6 am to ride 100 km+ back to Bassendean Train Station. Reportedly the ride was really enjoyable. The rest of us got stuck in packing up and cleaning the hall. Everyone worked really well and at 7.15 am we were ready to leave. Thanks to the Support Team for bogging in and getting it done. After helping clean up, Gary met up with the returning cyclists at the Bakers Hill Pie Shop and later also joined them to ride the final leg.
Not sure we could have improved much for our Retreat. Was suggested the hilly routes and holding it over Easter kept some riders away. The rides were well-planned, routes scenic and safely completed. The social nature of the weekend meant we could be flexible with the ride options. Feedback from the pack has been very positive. While we were only a few, there were good vibes and it made for an easy-going pleasant couple of days. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make it a success. If anyone has suggestions for future weekends away or what we could do better, please leave a comment below.