Shortly after learning that I was going to be a daddy, I set upon one of the most ambitious months I’ve ever planned. 4 rides totalling 1,200km, including an Everest & a 400km ride. The 200km Gippsland Gold which included over 130km of gravel was the beginning of this craziness. I would be taking my Road bike and was hoping to survive.
I love to explore Gippsland and really looked forward to this event. I wanted to develop my writing skills and hoped to move more towards being able to write for a professional organisation & focused on doing a blog write-up that I was hoping could be used by the organisers in future editions.
It was little over 3 degrees when we set-off and we were treated to some stunning views. There was a low hanging mist and an incredible sunrise. I did a head check to see if anyone was behind me and pulled over to get some photos. I got the phone out & took my glove off and then “BANG”. I went flying and was suddenly lying on the ground with two bikes on top of me. This rider apologised and told me that he was looking at his Garmin and simply crashed into the back of me. I was ferrel. My hip ached a little and my right wrist was banged up a little & bleeding. My bike was ok which was the main thing and there was no point in me venting my frustration at the guy who just nailed me. The accident shouldn’t have happened but it did.
I got straight back on and kept riding. I was angry and my injuries were discomforting but I was able to ride through them. I smashed it up the first climb which seemed to settle the nerves somewhat. Thankfully the further I ventured into Gippsland and the more stunning gravel roads I traversed the calmer I became. The roads became a maze and we had to follow a map which isn’t one of my strong points. I reached into my back pocket to make sure that I was on course and discovered that I had left it on my front seat as well as the spare inner tube that I planned to bring along. Alarm bells were ringing. I had no mobile reception and could easily get lost. I was riding solo and had to either slow down or speed up so that I could jump on someone’s wheel. One of my mates Stefaan was riding, and after stopping for countless photos he eventually caught up to me and we started to ride together, which took away my worry about getting lost.
Not the best of days so far, but it could only get better………..
We were bumping along and my kit pouch under my seat was rattling a fair bit, and I pulled over to secure it better. I could only shake my head in disbelief. The last time I rode out I had used an inner tube & forgot to replace it. My intention for the ride was to carry three & instead I only had one spare inner tube with over 100km of gravel roads left to ride. If I punctured I was right royally screwed. With adrenaline still in my system I started to panic & tried to ride on egg shells. My wrist was stinging like a bitch & my hip was flaring up. This day wasn’t going so well. The crash was bad luck. The rest was my own stupidity.
About 15km down the road I was unbelievably lucky to be able to borrow an inner tube from one of the marshalls & this made me feel a bit more relaxed. I was able to get into a tempo and was starting to smash parts of the course. I was playing leap frog with Stefaan. I’d stop to take photos, get back onto the bike, catch him and pass him. Then stop to take photos, get back onto the bike……….
When we hit the queen climb of the day it was pure gravel, really steep and insanely hard. I gave it some gas and scored the KOM, and then hit Grand Ridge Road. This was by far one of the greatest sections of dirt that I have ever ridden on, and I was in heaven. I had dropped everyone and was riding solo. I hit the descent and was really flying. I was expecting trouble descending on my skinny little 23mm tyres on gravel but was doing well.
For a short while things were looking good. I was in pain from my wrist & hip at this stage but was pushing through the pain.
Given my day why was I not surprised when my derailer snapped off. A fellow rider stopped and thankfully had some mechanical skills (not my strong point). Unfortunately my bike was FUBAR, and the best he could do was to lock it into one gear which completely stuffed me up. I still had legs but I was quickly draining. My wrist was fairly consistent with the pain, but my hip was flaring up. Riding in just the one gear really hurt it. I couldn’t spin the wheels on the descents, and on the flats I had to spin an incredibly high cadence which wasted a tonne of energy, and on the climbs I either had to spin a high cadence or had to push really hard to get up each climb. I was wondering how I was going to ride the 100km back to base. I admitted defeat, and with an Everest the following week & a 400km ride the week after I was in damage control. Finishing this event wasn’t worth risking not being able to finish off those epics. I hoped so much for there being someone I could catch a lift with back at base.
I stopped in Foster & amazingly the volunteers at the lunch stop said they could drive me back. Several riders including Stefaan tried talking me into finishing the ride. I could have done it, but it would completely wipe me out. I had an Everest to ride in less than 7 days, and recovering from my wrist and hip injury would be work unto itself.
My ride ended in the SAG Wagon
The course was amazing, and I was gutted that I couldn’t finish it, but them’s the breaks. The organisation was so friendly and I would highly recommend this event. The crash at the start was horrible bad luck, the rest was all my fault. The rider that smacked into me was DNF as well. He pulled the plug 30km in.
I was in such great shape, but that crash was the start of the end for me. I didn’t fully recover before my Everest on Old Warburton Road. I completed the Everest, but at a huge cost. I experienced one of the worst bonks I’ve ever experienced, and I never fully recovered from the Everest. I had hoped to do the 400km Hells 500 epic the following week & had to pull out of that due to injury & fatigue, and soon came down with a chest infection that killed me for 3 whole weeks. As a result I experienced a winter from hell, where I went from illness to illness.
All this great work I had done to build my fitness to such a high level was all taken away due to a silly accident. I’m not whinging. Given the amount of riding I’ve done, the possibilities for accidents are always there. Just the timing sucked.