This morning I was 1 of 16 riders who left Bayswater Train Station at dawn (7:16 AM) on a 200km hilly bike ride . There was just a little light drizzle as we left the station and headed out through Guildford for the hills. The first part of the ride was pleasant until we hit the hills I have been dreading for 4 weeks (this was my 4 week challenge). At first they were not too bad but they quickly turned into hills so steep that I even had to walk up one of them . It was a long slow grind up those never ending hills but I was optimistic that soon they would be over and I would be riding on flat road again . The upside to all those hills was that I kept toasty warm even when there was light drizzle.
The ride through Stoneville, Parkerville and Chidlow was very pretty and mostly flat. Even though I was riding with Andrew as the last two rider, I thought we made ok time considering all those hills. By the time we made it to the Bakers Hill Pie Shop (an Audax WA institution) there were still some riders there who left shortly after we arrived. For morning tea I bought a vegetable, nut and cheese pasty that was extremely delicious. It was a fairly east run down to the Clackline Toodyay Road and the riding was nice along there at first. Part of the way the road became hilly. The hills were not too steep but fairly long. The achievement of climbing a hill though was to be greeted by another hill! This went on until close to Toodyay Road where there was a short downhill section offered some relief. The ride into Toodyay was very pretty with the road snaking through bush and farmland, small creeks occasionally criss crossing from one side of the road to the other. By the time we arrived in Toodyay I was ready for a rest and quickly downed some home made rice patties and home made All Bran Loaf (an old family recipe).
After a very quick stop Andrew and I set out for the Chittering valley along the famous (or should that be infamous) Julimar Road. Julimar Road is a serious of hills, each seemingly longer than the last. Views of the horizon over the next hill tantalize riders with the promise of downhill as a respite from the relentless hill climbing. Alas it was not to be, each ‘last’ hill was simply followed by another which only came into view as each hill was mastered. It was a long, slow, hard climb and about half way along I was thoroughly sick of those wretched hills. That said, if you are going to do a hard ride, it should be through countryside like that, with rolling farmland on one side of the road and forest on the other. Yes, there was the occasional shower but these were followed by lengthy periods of sun. The sun brought the soaked countryside to life with the sunlight glistening off the abundant water droplets on the grass and tree leaves.
Eventually the torture ended and I was rewarded by glorious downhill sections to rest my very tired legs. These led into the Chittering Valley which was spectacular to ride through. The valley is open farmland and the sun shining on the wet grass shone emerald green. The thick carpet of green was punctuated by deep blue dams which were overflowing with all the rain.
I pushed through the farmland which transitioned to orange orchards to my final stop – the final checkpoint. I had taken so long struggling up all those hills on Julimar Road that everyone had left. The kind shopkeeper signed my Brevet card and I set off again without food or a rest as I was running short of time. I passed Roland not far from the checkpoint. He was struggling up the hills as his leg had cramped. Even so I had trouble keeping up with him until he stopped for a break. There was short uphill section before more glorious downhill. I made really good time along Great Northern Highway and to my surprise I soon caught up to Andrew.
The ride with Andrew to the end point was a bit miserable. It was cold, dark and raining periodically. It seemed a long way as I was quite tired and running low on energy. Almost to the end of the ride I crossed a wet rail line wrong, my front wheel slipped out and I went down hard. I was very lucky that Andrew skillfully avoided running me over (thanks Andrew). He helped me and my bike off the road and I rested waiting to see if I was ok. After a couple of minutes I hobbled back to my bike. My left knee was very sore and stiff and my back wheel was wonky (again ) but I seemed to be able to ride ok. Andrew rode with me the last few kilometers to make sure I was ok (thanks again ). I finally made it and was very glad to have finished.
I was looking for a harder ride this time with some hills but didn’t expect them to hurt so much! Overall though I really enjoyed most of the ride. Almost the entire ride was through spectacular country, the weather was fine most of the time and a lot of the ride was on flat ground, downhill or up some ‘gentle inclines’ which did not feel much effort. Yes, there was also a lot of harder hills but it sure did feel good to defeat them. The funny thing was that riding along the flat or down the corresponding downhill sections the previous hills didn’t seem so bad .
Rating: a very hard but enjoyable ride.
I am sorry but I have lost track of the forum riders who participated in the ride. I remember Aaron, Andrew, Perry and Roland but I am sure there were more. Please chime in a let us know your thoughts.
This was a number of riders first Audax ride and for some their first 200km ride. Congratulations to all those who finished and also to Roland who put in an extraordinary effort but ran out of spares so close to the end. Well done all.