Tag Archives: Amy’s Ride

Dumb things I have done

It started out okay. We (the other half and I) had followed the forecast as the Bureau of Meteorology kept adjusting it. Jan 2 2012 – the day of Amy’s Ride – was going to be hot. 41°C (105.8°F) to be exact. The ride organisers elected to invoke a heat contingency plan which meant we got bumped from the 120km (75mi) ride to the 70km (43.5mi) ride.

At first it was okay. It was warm for that early in day but I figured we’d finish the ride before it got really hot. Uh huh… bit of wishing thinking there! I was okay until the road surface hit 45°C (113°F) about two and half hours into the ride. (Yes, we should’ve been quicker but common sense dictated we take it easier.) I felt like I was slowly being cooked. I couldn’t drink the water in my bottle because it was too hot and even a small sip made to spit it right back out. I suffered. I suffered like I haven’t in a long, long time.

It became very apparent to me as I slowly rolled into the Botanic Garden in Geelong that I wasn’t in the best shape. I felt very shaky and bit disorientated. My other half was sneaking further and further away from me as I came to the end of my endurance. But I couldn’t sing out to get him wait because I simply didn’t have the energy to do so. When we did come back together he suggested we head straight back to the car (which we’d just rolled past) but with about 500 metres to go the exact words out of my mouth were “I’m f#$king finishing it!!!”

I have no idea how I made it to the end. It was blessed relief when I could finally unclip and put my foot down on the ground and simply know I didn’t have to get back on the bike. Getting off the bike proved to be a little more tricky because I wasn’t certain I had the strength to swing my leg over. I wobbled my way over to the covered BBQ area and sat myself down on the only seat available which just happened to be in front of the organisers. I think a few of them might have had their eye on me in case I keeled over. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt that weak and distressed.

At first there was no satisfaction in what I’d just done. It felt like one of the stupidest things I’d ever attempted and I have to admit it was pretty dumb to continue when the road temperature got to the point where I felt like I was being cooked. I was obviously starting to suffer from heat exhaustion and probably should’ve quit. But not me! No, I’m too stubborn and bloody minded to do that. No sag wagon ever for this little black duck. All I can think now is: moron! whilst still feeling a sense of achievement for completing the ride.

So yes, I feel like I’ve already done my really dumb thing for this year and it’s still only January.

Of course, three days later I rode up Mt Donna Buang. I am a glutton for punishment. I have no idea how I got talked into it but I must admit I enjoyed this ride far more than Amy’s Ride. At least it had one of the best descents I’ve ever experienced. Took me over an hour and a half to get up and under 25 minutes to get down. I have to say I’d do it again just so I could experience that descent again. I slogged my guts out to get up the damn mountain but you couldn’t get the smile off my face on the way down – except maybe for the really steep bit (locals will know it as the bit around Cement Creek) as that was a bit scary and had me grabbing the brakes. I couldn’t feel my toes by the time I got to the bottom in but it was totally worth it.

The next challenge is the SCODY High Country Cycle Challenge in March. Mt Bulla anyone? For someone who’s never liked climbing, I certainly seem to be doing a lot of it these days.

I was right

120km really was a lot further than I thought it would be. But I had a great ride!

I was hoping to do it in 4.5 – 5 hours and my time ended up being 5hrs, 5mins and 18 seconds. A little over but still pretty damn close. It was a huge effort. I feel like I’ve achieved something but I’m not sure exactly what. I have to say that by the end I was spending a bit of time out of the saddle as my butt was starting to hurt quite a bit.

The Bellarine Peninsula is stunningly beautiful. At once point we were riding along and the ocean was about 20 feet away and perfectly still. It was so gorgeous.

The ride was a bit hillier than I expected but it also gave me proof that my climbing has come along in leaps and bounds. The hill I struggled on last year was easier (still not a cruise because it is an short, sharp climb) but it didn’t feel anywhere near as much of a trial as last year. There were a few long, slow climbs that I didn’t even notice. The road surface was a bit crap but there’s not much you can do about it. As we were heading into Queenscliff, I developed huge cravings for a sandwich so we had a break and ate something that wasn’t an energy bar. The cafe we stopped at even had my favourite juice.

It was a different ride from last year. Apart from being longer, I was much fitter and better prepared. I did a lot more of the lead work and supported my riding buddy through to the end. Last year it was the other way around. It’s really satisfying to see how much I’ve improved. I’m stronger and fitter then I thought was. It hard to judge my progress when I don’t have anything to measure it against and don’t really set myself challenges. Perhaps I should.

Anyhoo… it was a great day out on the bike.

Tree project

Week fifteen

Spent a rather pleasant day today hanging out with my brother and his partner who’s about two weeks away from giving birth to their first child which is hugely exciting. I headed over so that my brother could swap over the Cannondale’s rear derailleur for a new Ultegra one in the hope it’d mesh better with the cassette and shifters. It’s not 100% as the shifters are 105s but it’s better than before. I think the next purchase will be new shifters (and probably a new front derailleur to complete the groupset upgrade).

Nearly fell off my bike trying to ride without cletes! I didn’t realise how used to them I’ve become. My balance felt totally off and I really struggled to work out where to put my feet. Plus I wasn’t helped by the fact that I had my runners on and they would touch the cranks with each rotation because the heels on them are quite bulky and poke out. Still, managed to save myself from a tumble which is good. Next time I’m taking my shoes!!

Tomorrow is Amy’s Ride. 120kms. Suddenly it seems like a really long way when before it didn’t. I’m hoping to do it in 4.5 – 5 hours. I’m pretty certain there will be some significant napping on the couch once I finally get home. At least the weather is meant to be okay with only some mild drizzle mentioned on the BOM website. Wish me luck!!

Amy’s Ride

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.