I was starting to develop as a cyclist, and was looking to broaden my horizons in cycling. My Aunt lives in Mount Helen. I arranged to stay at her home in order to participate in the Ballarat Spokes Classic. I arrived early, and decided to do a lap of Lake Wendouree first. This is is about a 5km circuit. I didn’t quite anticipate how long it would take me to get around the lake. You should have seen the look on my face when I came around to the start line, and everyone had left. They were just letting the back markers through. Doh!
I stepped up the pace and found it difficult to overtake. Traffic was heavy and as I was battling through the back markers who were quite slow. I enjoyed a game of leap frogging throughout the first 20km’s of the ride. As soon as we hit the climb heading up to Mount Buninyong I started to fly away from everyone. When we turned off onto the Midland Highway I thought that signified the end of the climb. I was confident that I would do well up this climb as I was heaps faster than all the other riders. At the turnoff my jaw dropped when I saw that the road just kept going skywards. I didn’t realize how long it was and how hard the climb was. Getting hit with a strong cross wind that made conditions really tough. Within the first km I was in the hurt locker and had to pace myself all the way to the top.
I was hurting, and as I’d ridden off on everyone I was now riding in no man’s land. The next 25km’s was spent fighting strong cross winds, and sapped a fair bit of energy. I eventually was able to latch onto a group. The relief was short lived as we hit the second major climb for the day. Mount Edgerton which is 1.1km’s @ 8%. Even though a bit of a blur, I felt I rode this well, but sure was hurting. From there it was a fair bit downhill, but I struggled to find groups to latch onto. Due to leaving so late, the riders that were at my pace were well & truly down the road.
I enjoyed the section going down to Gordon, but as soon as we turned left it was like turning into the eye of a storm. It felt like we were fighting into a 50 – 60kmph head winds, and I struggled. I jumped onto the nearest group that I could find, a group of 5 riders. The trouble was that I was the strongest rider in the bunch. All except for one of the riders would go to the front for such a short time. None of them could handle the winds. I was left to do much of the pace making for about 90% of the final stretch. This was new to me. I was used to going in events and leeching off others wheels. It was very difficult conditions, but I was enjoying myself. The section back to Ballarat was close to 32km’s into a very strong headwind. I can’t remember much of the trip. The group stayed together the whole way, and I wanted to go for a big sprint at the end. I got beaten by two of the riders that sucked my wheel for the last 32km’s. But I wasn’t too disappointed considering all of the work I did. I was exhausted, but glad I did this one.
On the ride back to my Aunt’s I got lost. This was lucky as I discovered a short 1.1km climb through Mount Clear. Which at the time nearly wiped me out. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and it was a strange event for me. The first third I did really well, but then hit no man’s land and really struggled. I was able to pull something special for that head wind on the way back. Coming to dislike riding into head winds. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time in the hills.