Day 6 – Would you like grit with that?
This morning I woke up and saw how dark it was and thought, “you beauty, a few more hours sleep”. And then the alarm went off. Weird. I dragged myself out of bed and looked out the window.
Bugger. I strolled into the bathroom to brush my teeth and there was a blinding flash. It wasn’t my pearly whites. Then the boom. God had dropped something heavy. Nice, thunder and lightning. Sounds like a good way to start the day. I packed up and wandered out to see the group all looking towards the heavens.
There was some brief chatter about delaying the start, but because we had to be in Geelong by 3PM, it was decided we would ride on.
When we left, it wasn’t bucketing down, but you would have had to been damned quick on your feet not to get wet. We back tracked along the road we road on the day before for a few hundred metres, then hooked a left and we were heading to Geelong, albeit it on a slightly convoluted route.
The first few kilometres were hard work. The wind was pretty strong and we were pushing into it, coming from our right. Even with a rain jacket on, I was getting wet and cold.
You can see from the photo above the sort of roads we were traveling on. We also had the company of some rather large trucks. The ones going the same was as us were great.
As long as you got the “truck back” call and we hugged the left side of the road, there were no real issues. The problem came when the big trucks were going the opposite direction. Not only do they manage to pick up the water off the road, but all the grit and crap that is on the road as well. We were hitting this spray of water and grit at some speed and the trucks weren’t going slow either. It didn’t take too many skin peels to figure out the Superman position. That is, wait til the very last second, make sure you are going straight, then put your head down so the top of your helmet cops the exfoliation. Once this was sorted, there were no longer any issues.
The first stop of the day was at Skipton. A tiny little town on the Glenelg Highway. This leg we had averaged 25kph. At this rate it was going to be a long day.
Earlier in the ride, Tony had told me that we had to be careful at one spot because we were turning right at the bottom of a big hill. Well we were heading down a big hill with a right turn at the bottom. “Hey Tony, is this where we need to turn right mate?” I asked. “Nope, that’s tomorrow!” was his reply. I can’t repeat what I said to him once I realised it was a joke. Bastard.
Can you guess who this is?
Yep, that’s Dangerous, complete with facial food.
And this is why we called him Ugg.
I was so cold I even had a cuppa. Not the usual go for me. A little warmer, we set off for the next stop at Rokewood. We had the wind behind us no, and a lot of this was downhill. At times, the sun busted through some holes in the leaden skies, but as quick as it appeared, it was gone. It rained on and off. Despite the crappy weather, we covered the 40kms between Skipton and Rokewood in 1 hour and 12 minutes, average 33kph. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a long day after all. It was at Rokewood that Wendy took the terrific photos of all the riders that I posted in the rider intro earlier in the blog. About 30 seconds after she took the last shot, it poured down. We took shelter in the rotunda at the park.
I was freezing. Luckily Ash took our minds of it with a short little speech, thanking Tony and Wendy for organising the trip. It was a nice moment, considering how we were all feeling at the time. Kudos Ash.
Then it was out into the elements. Once again it was pretty horrible. Another 40kms to the lunch stop at Inverleigh. Once again, with the wind up our backsides, we got moving at a pretty rapid rate.
It was on this leg that we had the right hand turn at the bottom of a hill. We were then on the Inverleigh Shelford Road. And what a road it is. Snaking its way along a small valley, it is probably one of the best bits of riding on the trip. The road surface isn’t exactly billiard table smooth, but it is pretty flat and windy and was just great fun on the day. A left turn on to the Hamilton Highway and we arrived in Inverleigh.
With a little over 20kms to ride, I lashed out and had a fair old lunch. Chicken and salad roll, rocky road, chocolate milk and an orange juice to wash it all down. I nearly broke the “Nothing bigger than your own head” gastronomy rule.
Tony had a few mates there to say hi, and a few others that were going to ride into Geelong with us. Including a bloody menace in a recumbent. He didn’t even have the standard facial hair and hessian clothing of normal recumbent riders. More on him in a bit.
After a long stop at Inverleigh, we hit the road. Somehow Gary and I were behind the flying wheelchair. This proved troublesome. At one point, doing a reasonable speed, I was all set to go around the guy in the comfy chair with pedals when one of his tyres hit the ripple strip and he shot out at 45 degrees to his previous trajectory. Mini tanty #2 for the trip was brewing. Luckily, I managed to go around him on a hill. From there it was a lazy ride into a cafe just outside of Geelong.
Apparently we were waiting for a fire truck to arrive to escort us into the finish. That would be a nice touch. The sun came out and we had a 40 minute break before we left.
A quick shot with the fireys and their big red truck, and then we were off. The final leg of the trip!
The last climb of the trip, up the Deviation. I wasn’t expecting this!
It started getting dark as our group, swollen from six to about twelve, edged ever closer to the finish. In Geelong proper, we seemed to catch every bloody red light in the joint. This comes as a bit of a shock after nearly 800kms with out a traffic light. We turned a corner and headed down towards the water. That is when it started to rain. The closer we got to the finish, the harder it rained. People were slipping on the wet roads and slippery man hole covers. A few times I thought someone was going to hit the deck. A combined total of over 5500kms and not a fall, and it seemed like 1km from the end someone was going to come off. As we turned into the car park, Ash’s front wheel went sideways for a brief moment. He stayed upright. Then it was a few hundred metres, in pouring rain to the finish.
People were cheering and clapping as Tony and Ashley took our mini peloton across the finish line. It certainly was a great feeling. We had done it. Ridden from Adelaide to Geelong. It was fantastic to see Ashley getting hugs off his family. And John. There were people everywhere. I even got a man hug off my mate Jason, that so and so who roped me into this and then bailed out!
In the pouring rain, there was a quick handing over of the giant cheque for $12,000. A few photos, a quick champers and then the rain got too much for me. I wanted to go home.
I was cold, tired and relieved. I grabbed my gear from the back of the van. Went and said goodbye to as many of the blokes as I could find, and it was over.
If you think that is the end of these bloody annoying blog posts, think again. I will milk one more post out of this cow yet! The next installment will be a wrap up.
Thanks for reading this far.