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…..
And very much soaked to the skin.
With 10 km to go I had it in the bag.
I had been riding a Road bike for almost 2 months & was really getting addicted. I found this 6 hour Enduro at Sandown Raceway, and really became passionate about doing this one. Having never raced at a racecourse before I was really looking forward to it.
They couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. I was worried that riding round & round in circles would be tedious and maybe even boring. But thankfully this was not the case. I found it easy to get into a rhythm, and sit on the back of groups and work my way through each lap. I gave it everything, and was nowhere near the fastest on the day, but I was happy as I rode better than expected. All up I managed to ride 75 km’s without before stopping when my wife arrived. And had a bit of a chat with her, and a rest. It was nice that my wife could see what I was doing, which was giving me so much enjoyment. I was really enjoying myself, and didn’t notice as the laps flew by. There is one small climb at the back of the course.
As the day wore on got harder, and harder to get up.
I was going to pull the plug at 130 km’s, but started riding with a group that was representing Dengani Coffee. There was some really nice blokes amongst the bunch, and were trying to go for the team victory. I jumped in their group and tried to help them out as best as I could. I was nackered, but I gave everything to support a bunch of strangers, and smashed lap after lap with them. Hey, they didn’t win, but it was sure fun trying to help them to reach gold.
I took a lot from this ride, as I was still pretty inexperienced, and started to see parts of my riding that were improving, though there were still a massive room for improvement. I managed 160km’s which was a record for me at the time, and really helped me believe that I could start riding longer distances. A couple of riders rode over 200km’s on the day, and I started to ask myself the question of what I would need to do to be able to do that.
Always a story for the future.
When I got back into cycling in 2011 I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was recovering from a torn Achilles and had to battle injury much of the first year. My family had bought bikes and equipment from the HASA store in Dandenong. I chanced upon an advertisement on the Website looking for riders to represent them in a 6 hour Enduro Victorian State XC series up in Woodonga. You needed to have a HASA bike. And they offered you free merchandise in the way of reimbursement and paid for your entry fee. I could borrow my brother in laws bike, and applied. Pinching myself thinking this was too good to be true. My first (and last) sponsorship!
Here’s the thing. I loved riding, and had some fitness to go fast for short periods. But I was no Mountain Biker, and had no idea what exactly they did on an XC series. I trained hard for it, but when I drove up to Woodonga and got to the course. Straight away I thought “you’re fucked!”.
I looked at all the rocks that you had to ride over. Technical turns, jumps, and the crazy climbs. I was blown away. Having never done anything apart from ride the fire trails at Lysterfield Lake on a Mountain bike. I didn’t even own a pair of cleats back then and rode with runners. My attempt to ride the circuit was nothing short of embarrassing. I was constantly getting off the bike to walk over obstacles, and was struggling to breath. The course was broken into 3 sections. First up was a mega technical and I had no hope of riding large parts of it. The second part was a ridiculously steep climb. I would haphazard close to 15%, and I wasn’t a hill climber back then and had to get off it and walk it.
This followed a mad capped descent through this tiny single trail that was bumpy as all bat shit. My bike didn’t have any suspension. It felt like I was being ripped apart and in pain on the descent. The last section wasn’t so technical. About the only part that I could ride a bit before getting to walk several technical section. I was concerned in this section as there were 4 jumps about a meter high close to one another. As you landed, you hit the next, and this caused you to pick up speed and so on. I was pretty nervous going through these.
Ultimately one lap destroyed me. I had signed myself up for a 6 hour Enduro racing for the HASA team. There was only one other member of my team Daniel Wayenberg, and we were to take alternating turns. Unfortunately as I was in a team I had nowhere to hide.
On the day I was a fish out of water. Everyone looked so strong and had such great bikes & kits. I just sucked. My first lap I spent the whole time getting off and walking my bike over rock gardens. Technical corners and steep hills. I was looking over my shoulder and getting off the path a lot of times whenever someone came up behind. My fitness was lacking for something this intense and really struggled. I was embarrassed with how bad I was riding. Constantly riding into bushes and trees and had a lot of skin ripped off on the first lap. You could guess that I really wasn’t having the best time of it.
Losing another life
When I hit the 4 jumps in the last section, the first 2 went well. Unfortunately I got a little overconfident on the third jump. This tiny voice whisper something negative in my ear which caused me to crap myself. I accidentally pulled on the front brake as I hit the last jump. This caused my rear wheel to flip over my head. I realized pretty quickly what I had done. And knew that if I couldn’t right the bike I’d brake a lot of bones. My first thought was that I was going to destroy the bike and would be apologizing majorly to Chris for destroying my bike. Figured if I broke my neck may not even be able to do that.
I instinctively leaned the bike to my right. I was now in a position where I was going to drop the bike flat on its side. A horrible image of my collarbone snapping again popped into my mind. I pulled the bike back under me and as I was heading towards the ground I was expecting a major crash. How I didn’t kill myself, and had to pinch myself when I landed squarely on both wheels and kept going. I don’t know how I stopped the bike from flipping over my head. Thankfully no one was around to see that I had almost killed myself. This was a total nightmare.
I got back to the start and sent Daniel off. Having about 40 minutes to wait for him to get back and went and did a lot of soul searching. I wanted to throw in the towel. This was a humiliation, but ceded that I put a fair bit into this and needed to do at least another lap.
Lap 2 came, and the field had slowed down. I wasn’t passed as many times which meant I rode longer sections. And was able to get a little bit more confidence. I was out of my depth, and exhausted but no one seemed to care that I was going so slow. As I was so courteous to get the hell out of everyone’s way.
Lap 3 came, and hardly anyone was moving. I enjoyed this lap the most, and felt I was getting it. But at the same time was completely wrecked. On the third section I heard some riders fly up behind me. This was a narrow section where it was impossible to overtake. I saw a tiny section I could pull off and did so, planting my left foot to the ground. Which gave way under me and slid a couple of meters down an embankment. I copped only a few bruises. But knew the rider who was flying past me which added to my embarrassment for the day. I got back on and finished the lap. My last for the Enduro.
Well I learned that I was not a Mountain Biker. Amazingly I didn’t have the slowest lap for the day. There were quite a few riders below me. All I can say is they must really suck at Mountain biking. I came out covered in scrapes and bruises. And majorly relieved not to have a major injury. I guess I’ve never ever had the confidence on a Mountain bike to hit the single trails since this event. Maybe I could become a decent Mountain biker if I put the effort in, but it was not for me. Thankfully I discovered the Road bike a few months later, and my destiny followed a different path.
I wish I could forget this ride. It was truly regrettable. I believe that you can get some good out of bad, and I did move on and find my niche thankfully.
Special note: Fortunately HASA wasn’t there to see what an embarrassment I was.
In my early days of riding, I took a day of Annual Leave to do some Mountain biking in the Nong’s. I drove up to Sherbrooke Road & the plan was to do a loop around Sherbrooke Forest………
I didn’t know the Dandy’s well, and thought I was near the car. Somehow I came off the trails onto a main road that turned out to be at the top of Belgrave Fernee Creek Road (Terry’s Avenue). I honestly thought that the car was parked down the hill so rolled down Terry’s. When I stopped at the base of Terry’s, and looked down upon Belgrave (which I didn’t recognise at the time), and wondered where the hell I was. I didn’t have a mobile, or wallet so it was useless going down into the town. I had no idea where I was, but knew if I backtracked that I could find my way back (I hoped). So I turned around, and went up Terry’s Avenue, and of course it started to pour rain.
I got soaked, and being inexperienced and going up the monster all I could do was walk my bike up the hill, and boy did that hurt!
My back was screaming in pain the whole way. This was the start of a hate, hate relationship I have with Terry’s Avenue. That walk back up was hell and seemed to take forever. Quite a few cars passed me. They must of thought me the biggest idiot walking up the ridiculous steep hill in the rain.
With a 50/50 choice and of course I got it wrong.
I turned left and went down the Tourist Road, and within a k, realised that I was going the wrong way. The Petrol station turned out to be shut down, and my back-up plan was ruined. I was now further away from my car, on dead legs with no money and no phone. Of course it started to rain harder. What had I gotten myself in for?
$25 later I was back in my car, and could only shake my head at what a disaster the day turned out to be. It would be nice to lock this one away in the vault, but it’s good to look back and laugh at where you come from.
This ride didn’t deter me from my riding thankfully, and was the start of many adventures.
I started out riding on a Mountain bike. To be honest I was never any good at doing single tracks, and still feel the same way now. I can get fast speeds, but always have issues with going downhills due to my light frame. Honestly aren’t that great with my handling & braking. I know I’m probably better than I give myself credit for. And could possibly develop into a semi-decent Mountain biker. But I only touch the thing once a month and just don’t have the consistency to be good.
When I started to ride I tried to get down to the Wednesday night Trailmix rides at Lysterfield Lake. These started at the Trailmix Cafe at 6:30 pm. Usually we would do between 20 – 30 km’s for the ride. I really enjoyed them as you could smash yourself. Then you would get a large rest as you waited for the last rider to catch up. No one was ever left behind.
You could spend the night chatting away, or you could smash yourself silly, or do both.
They usually split the groups into the slower groups, or the fast group. I tried doing the fast group several time, and really felt embarrassed. I could match the speed & power easily enough. But couldn’t ride for shit, and was always out the back. I felt like a spaz and didn’t feel comfortable. So I ended up joining the slow group which I had far too much power, speed & endurance. Sadly I wasn’t getting much of a workout. But didn’t feel so much as a spaz, and knew I was likely not to hurt myself (only two crashes from memory). But there were always better bike handlers than me.
I hadn’t found my niche in cycling at this stage.
What I was finding that whenever we hit a hill I would fly off. Always loved to get to the top so easily. Waiting for everyone to catch up out gasping for breath.
I stopped going when I discovered Road riding. Finding that if I rode to work would be getting 60 – 100 m’s in around my work day. Whereas would only be doing a short one if went MTBing. I returned several times when I was recovering from an injury or illness. Always enjoying riding there, and wish I could do it some more. I was introduced to night riding at Lysterfield Lake with them. Which is totally insane. Flying through single trail in pitch black at 30 km/h. Dodging obstacles, bunny hopping roots, keeping an eye out for Kangaroo’s is dangerous but exhilarating.
One of the main reasons why I stopped riding with the fast group is they took us up one of the double diamond sections at night. Which I had done once during the day and had shat myself on. At night, I shat myself more. It wasn’t a matter of not embarrassing myself, but of pure survival. When you do a jump at night time, you can’t see the ground. It gives new meaning to the word flying….
Would highly recommend to go down and join them one Wednesday if you get the chance. They’re a great bunch of guys, and encourage riders of all abilities to join. I’ve bumped into some of the guys since then and happy that they’ve remembered me. The pretend Mountain biker.