I was worried about this ride. My kilometres are way down and it was not going to be an easy ride with forecast temps of 37C, hills and headwinds.
Leg 1 – Clackline to Northam – 46km
We set off a bit after 8. Temp was fine but I immediately started to struggle. All the other riders took off but Perry hung back to have a chat. My heart rate was unusually high, peaking at 170bpm, 13 minutes into the ride but my speed was very low – I was struggling to maintain 15km/h. I had a chat to Perry who left me to fix my rear mudguard. Mudguard fixed, I set off again. It took about half an hour to warm up and then the ride into Northam was relatively easy. I really enjoyed the sections of the ride that followed the Avon River. Nicely scenic and a great way to start the ride. The weather held and being an overcast day it remained a pleasant riding temperature. Riding time: 2:05 (22.08km/h).
Leg 2 – Northam to York – 62km
After a quick stop in Northam for a cold apple juice I set out on the longest leg of the ride for York. The scenery changed to sweeping views of the wheatbelt. The views were spectacular but there were some nasty hills to reach those views. More than once I found myself out of the saddle in granny gear just to struggle to the top of a hill. At one point I looked at the speedo – 7km/h, gave up and walked the bike for a while. Many of the hills were conquered at a mere 9km/h. I noticed the kilometres click over very slowly at that speed. The upside of hills though is the decent and at 50km/h the kilometres click by much faster! After Grass Valley the temperature shot up and I really struggled to make it to York with the mercury hovering around 40C. It was at this point that I started to worry that I would not make the cut off time of 13:30. According to my bike computer I would not make it into York until 3:00 PM which meant I would have taken 7 hours to reach the halfway point of the ride and at that pace would take 14 hours to complete the ride. I thought I would probably pack it in at York because I was too hot, too tired and out of time. However, when I reached York I checked my Garmin and found my bike computer was still on daylight saving time. I had an extra hour up my sleeve and I knew I could finish the ride in time. Riding time: 3:22 (18.41km/h).
Leg 3 – York to Beverley – 30km
After cooling down in York with a milkshake and re-filling my water bottles and pack I set off for Beverley. I ran into Tony who was quitting after making a wrong turn and wished him well. At the next turn I was sure that it should have been left but the route sheet said right. I headed up a short hill to investigate and found an information stop with a great map which helped me get my bearings. I was right though and backtracked onto the correct route. I pushed hard to make it to Beverley in 90 mins to make up some time. However, more hills and headwinds slowed me down. I made it by 4:30 after pushing hard. It was interesting to see the looks on the faces of the local bogans as I walked into a pub in full lycra to get my brevet card signed. Ride time: 1:30 (20km/h).
Leg 4 – Beverley to York – 33km
By the time I left Beverley the cool change was through and the sun was low in the sky. I figured it was time to ditch my long sleeved jersey and compression leg coolers. I stowed my discarded hot clothing and donned my hi vis vest directly over my bib shorts. I felt a lot cooler and set off towards York to set a record time… until I crested the first hill and realised I was riding into a gale force headwind. Well, perhaps it was more sideways but it really slowed me down and at points the gusts buffeted bike around. I had to literally talk myself through that leg but stayed focused and made good time, especially as the headwind died down. I was stoked to make to to York by 6:30 PM. Ride time: 1:45 (18.85km/h).
Leg 5 – York to Clackline – 44km
I spent as little time as I could getting my brevet card signed a re-filling my water. I headed out of York as the sun was setting. The temperature plummeted and I felt energized after food and drink. I really enjoyed riding into the darkness and appreciated a tailwind and a flatter road. I made a lot better time to the 200km mark average around 25km/h. But I faded after the turnoff to Clackline as the headwind got stronger and the hills got steeper again. I was very relived to finally reach Clackline at 9:05 PM. Ride time: 2:07 (20.78km/h).
All up this was a very challenging ride for me. After pretty much deciding to quit at the halfway point I pulled it together and finished strong. It felt pretty good to finish with 25 minutes to spare. I found the ride physically and mentally tough and felt a great sense of achievement for finishing. This ride was the first of a series of challenges that I have decided to complete in the 2010-2011 Audax year, so it really meant a lot to me to finish in time.