Bicycle Victoria launched the Around the Bay in a Day in 1993. This is Australia’s biggest mass participation events which offers a variety of ride options, with the Queen rides of 210 km & 250 km’s. These require the riders to cross the bay on the Ferry to ride around the bay.
In 2011 I signed up for the 50 km distance. This was a bit fool hardy as I had ridden in a 100 km event just yesterday for a charity race for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. I was pretty nackered from that ride, and my knees were quite sore. With strong Westerly’s forecasted for up to 60 km/h it was going to be a challenging day. I forgot to put on my timing chip, & asked for assistance from a Bicycle Victoria member.
I didn’t think that they put it on right, but I assumed that they would know how to do it.
There were thousands of cyclists lined up to start this years Around the Bay in a Day. It felt good to take part in such a big event. The start seemed to take forever for them to send everyone off, and when I finally got out on the road. Frustrations continued with constant stops at traffic lights.
I lined up to climb the West Gate Bridge for the first time. Driving it in the car I never really realised how steep it was. We were heading into a strong cross wind, and my legs felt like lead and it was a real struggle to get up it! I overtook dozens of riders clawing their way up to the top which felt nice, but I had to work for it. From the top I broke loose from everyone and didn’t see another rider for the entire ride.
So far I was less than impressed with the ATB.
All I had seen was an industrial wasteland, and was expecting something far more glamorous. The wind was insane, and I had to use all of my energy just moving forward, and shut myself down. Riding through Altona was the highlight of the ride, with beautiful coastal views to my left. There were times when I was actually distracted from that gale force wind I was pushing against.
I managed to get to the half way point and I was spent. My knees were aching, and I was demoralised. I got to the event village and was the only one there, and got myself a Sausage with Onions. I polished it off, and still no one else had shown up. So I decided to get back on my bike and keep going.
This was one of those rides that was about to turn magical.
I was horribly inexperienced, and not that fast. When I turned onto Korroit Creek Road I had this incredible tail wind that pushed me along. My exhausted legs were suddenly sitting on over 40 km/h, and coming the other way was a very long line of struggling riders. I can’t begin to describe the euphoria I felt. My knees hurt, and I was struggling physically. Watching riders ride the other way struggle more than me, doing well under 20 km/h & you fly by them the other way going over 40.
I was flying, and got a second wind and fanged it. The k’s flew by, and I was giving it some gas. I still hadn’t seen any riders going my way, and when I hit the other side of the Westgate Bridge gave it everything I had. Coming down the other side I was doing well over 70 km/h & covered my rider number so that I wouldn’t get done for a speeding ticket. I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road when I was slowly overtaking cars. I wish that I could have seen the look on their faces.
Going through Port Melbourne I came upon a Marshall & I asked how many riders were ahead of me, and he told me 2. WTF! I was in third place. My blood boiled and I stood up and gave it everything I had. Rocketing through the city. I guess I had hopes of catching the 2 riders ahead of me to no avail. There was a sense of immense pride finishing this one so well. Vowing to come back the next year and try for the 210 km distance.
I eagerly looked up the website to see my name in third place.
You know how I mentioned that I thought the BV member didn’t put my timing chip on correctly. He didn’t. My ride didn’t register at all. The first two riders smashed the course in 1 hour 20 minutes, over 30 minutes ahead of me. I was surprised that I was 15 minutes ahead of the next nearest rider. Unofficially I was 3rd out of over 2,000 riders, which I couldn’t have hoped for in my wildest dreams. I was disappointed not to be able to show anyone what I had achieved. But guess ultimately it was my fault for not putting the darn timing chip on myself in the first place. Given all the grief I’ve had at the ATB’s you can question why I keep going back year after year…..