On Saturday, 6th June 2009, I was one of 11 courageous/foolhardy riders who set out for a 300km (17 hour) bike ride. The start time for the ride was 7 AM with clear, but cool conditions and a spectacular sunrise over the Canning River. This was the final UAF ride for the year, so we set off as a group headed down the Freeway South bike path. After riding for a while we had started to warm up and were able to enjoy the perfect riding conditions. The first leg to Mandurah was relatively easy and enjoyable with only one minor incident being a shredded tyre. In the spirit of Audax, another rider produced a folding tyre and within a couple of minutes we were back on the road. We re-fueled in Mandurah and after a short break were back on the road minus one rider who had business in Mandurah. The remaining 10 riders completed the ride.
The next leg took in some spectacular ocean views from Falcon and then views of the estuary as we rode through Herron. After a quick stop at a servo, we headed off towards Yarloop for lunch. The route took us along some quiet backroads through farmland with more nice scenery. It was nice to be riding outside of the City where there was no car noise and cleaner air. The last stretch of the leg towards Yarloop was pretty tough as we were riding into a headwind along dead flat roads. I was ready for lunch by Yarloop and devoured a huge lunch. The next leg to Preston Beach was relatively short and scenic with the first proper bush of the ride. Preston Beach is very nice, but stinks! Even though it was not that long after lunch, I ate again at Preston Beach to make sure I would be in good shape for the next leg. We didn’t stop for long at Preston Beach and left for Pinjarra as the sun was setting. It had gotten fairly cool by the time we left, so I was glad of the rolling hills our of Preston Beach which helped us warm up. The push up to Pinjarra was interesting for me. I have not ridden much at night and I found it quite exciting. With 9 other riders and a near full moon there was plenty of light to see by and with everyone wearing reflective clothing, it was easy to see them! I do wonder what the few car drivers though as they saw us from a distance! My energy levels were lagging by the time we got to Pinjarra, so I was very glad to stop and eat some more food. I was very cold by the time we left and I was shivering waiting for the others to be ready.
Unfortunately there we no hills to warm us up as we headed up Hopelands Road (an Audax institution in WA). There were warm pockets of air periodically and after some hard riding we warmed up again. I found Hopelands Road to be nicer at night than in the day with full views of the farmland by the light of the full moon. After a quick pit stop at the old Hopelands Primary School, we set off for Baldivis for our final stop. The last leg into Perth started out very cold again but at least there were some hills to warm up on. I wore my jacket zipped up and was glad of the sleeves. I was feeling ok as I counted down the major roads I know (Anketell, Armadale, Roe, South Street, Leach Highway). By then I was looking forward to finishing as I was feeling very tired. With energy levels lagging I found it harder and harder to keep up with the group but having them right in front of me spurred me on. I was so tired that I missed the turn down to the Esplanade at Mt Henry Bridge and had to turn around a backtrack a couple of metres. The group slowed down for me to catch them as we rode to the finishing point. I was tired and very relieved to be finished.
Three of us completed our first 300km ride which is a fantastic effort. I wondered beforehand and during the ride why I had signed up for a 300km bike ride. I realised during the ride that I had signed up to see if I could do it and to see if I could enjoy it. I did enjoy the ride for the most part. The weather was fantastic, the countryside ranged from spectacular to relaxing and we rode along some very nice quality road. There were just a couple of sections where I struggled close to the end of a couple of stops. Overall though I would rate the ride as a great experience and I have a real feeling of achievement for having finished it. My stats: Distance: 311.66km Time (riding): 12:55:48 Time (elapsed): 17 hours Because I rode to the start I clocked a total of 324km for the day. The only ‘incident’ was popping a front spoke on the way to the starting point but fortunately my wheel held up for the rest of the ride.