Geared up ready to go.
So, 5.15am on Sunday does exist. At least I don’t have to get up that early again any time soon. It was totally worth it though. Amy’s Ride was fantastic.
We arrived with plenty of time and in time to see Phil Liggett being interviewed. It’s so amazing that someone who is considered the voice of cycling was there. For me, he’s the voice of the Tour de France and it was exciting to see him. I think it’s great that someone who is held in such high opinion came to the ride. He was fully kitted out to ride which was cool. Had a really nice bike too.
A tiny, tiny snippet of the people who turned up to ride.
I don’t think I’ve been surrounded by so many people dressed in lyrca in my life. Around 3000 people had signed up for the ride which must have been a logistical nightmare. It took ages to sent off all the 120km riders. They were lead out by Cadel Evans and a huge group of pros, a lot of who were in Geelong for the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic. It’s great so many of the pros came to the ride, especially the current road world champion. His presence guaranteed news coverage for the ride, which helps get across the message of the ride – that all road users need to have more respect for each other.
My riding partner and I were going to join in the with last of the 120km groups going out but we ended up leading out the first 60km group instead. We were joined by a pack of pros so I can now say I’ve ridden with professional cyclists. We didn’t even manage to get out of Eastern Park without getting lost. The van leading us out went the wrong way which caused mass confusion in the group, including the pros! I got separated from my riding partner in the mess and ended up riding with a guy I was friends with when I was 18. Weird that I could end up finding someone I knew amongst all those people. He’s working as a mechanic for one of the teams in Bay Classic, so riding with him meant I was tagging along after two pros.
I had spent so much time stressing about a hill on route (4.3% incline for 750 metres) but when it came to it, I climbed it way more easily than a lot of other people. I won’t say I cruised up it like the pros did but I kept a constant speed and used my gears properly. I managed to stick with the pros for about half of the hill but the inevitable happened and I got dropped. Still, I didn’t struggle as much as some people did and I managed to catch my friend on the descent.
There was another hill and this was the one that had me say goodbye to my friend. I got dropped and that was it. I probably could’ve caught them but I took a wrong turn and ended up on the 120km ride. But my wrong turn meant I caught up with my riding partner who’d done exactly the same thing. Back together, we hooked along as a decent pace towards Ocean Grove.
The Bellarine Peninsula is really beautiful. The ride from Ocean Grove to Barwon Heads and back to Geelong follows the coast. The sun had finally broken through the clouds and it looked amazing. I think I slowed down quite a bit because I couldn’t stop looking at the view. It was so pretty.
Not sure where but there was the most awesome descent on the course. I’m certain I achieved my maximum speed – 52km – on this hill. I’m fairly certain I was over the speed limit. The thing is, there was this wonderful curve about half way down. It was exciting and totally terrifying at the same time. I have to admit I love cornering at speed and I seem to be reasonably good at it but this is the fastest I’ve ever done it. I suppose it’s an application of “don’t think, just do”. I think I have my dad to thank for teaching me to corner properly in a car. It’s not exactly the same on a bike but I know where to look and I seem to be able to work out where I need to be on the road to not come to grief. So, thanks Dad!
It was a bit of a slog on the way back to Geelong as we got hit with a head and then crosswind. We also managed to take a wrong turn at a five point roundabout. We took the hard left instead of the soft left. The funny thing was that we knew we’d done the wrong thing just after we’d done it. Luckily for us, there was a group of guys out for a ride who put us back on the course.
We headed back into Eastern Park to discover some evil person had put a small hill in the way. The hill just killed me. It was so hard to get up it. But I did. I completed the ride (62.35km) in 2 hours, 19 minutes and 47 seconds. I rewarded myself by drinking an entire bottle of blue Gatorade. It wasn’t even cold.
All smiles at the finish.
One thing that did disappoint me a little was how some people behaved on the ride. The point of the ride and the Amy Gillett Foundation is to promote a better understanding and more respect between car drivers and cyclists. But there were some cyclists who did stupid stuff, like taking up the entire lane when we’d been told before heading out that we had to follow the road rules. Cyclists can’t expect car drivers to be more tolerant when we act like idiots. However, it has to work both ways. Car drivers have to learn to share the road. Car drivers are too ready to blame cyclists and automatically assume all cyclist are going to behave like the minority who are idiots. Car drivers do plenty of illegal and stupid stuff and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. It always seems to be “It wasn’t my fault” or “I didn’t see…”.
Having said all this though, I was shocked at the stupidity of a girl on a bike. I was driving my riding partner home after we returned the hire car and was coming up to intersection where I had a green light. She rode out in front of me – on a very, very red light. I honked my horn and she looked at me like I was evil incarnate. The irony is that I was still in my riding gear, including my Amy Gillett Foundation jersey has the slogan “Safe together” printed on the front. I suppose there’s stupid people every where and there’s not a lot anyone can do about it.