There were quite a few riders on this ride. I didn’t count exactly how many but it was more than usual. I wasn’t feeling great on the ride because I had been really struggling with energy levels for more than a week (due to illness, not from too much riding!). Consequently, I was dropped before we hit the 25km mark of a 215km ride. On the leg down to Mandurah I was experiencing mild stomach cramps, lower back cramping and a slight cramp in my left calf. Not a good start to a ride that would take about 10 hours!
Next, I got lost because I didn’t have a route sheet (partly) but mainly because I was dreaming along not really paying attention to where I was going. I knew the next section though and soon found my way back to the designated route. After that, I limped in to the first checkpoint feeling sapped of energy (70km down, 145km to go). Although Grant had been behind me, I caught up with him at Mandurah and we rode most of the rest of the ride together.
After coffee and date and walnut cake, I was feeling a lot better as Grant and I set out through the very scenic Halls Head and headed down the coast to the Dawesville cut. The riding along the Peel Inlet was spectacular! The weather was cool and overcast with just a slight headwind. I find that stretch of road very pretty and relaxing. I was faring better energy wise but was still glad to reach the Lake Clifton checkpoint at the 97km mark. We had another break there.
I always find the next leg into Pinjarra a real struggle, even though it is only 40km. However, with cooler conditions and Grant to chat to, I did find it easier than the last time I rode that leg. Still, I was glad to reach Pinjarra for another break where I quickly consumed a litre of choc milk. My various cramps seem to have disappeared by this point and I was faring a little better energywise. At Pinjarra we were caught up by Rod and three other riders who had left 35 mins after us. Grant and myself decided to press on for the Hopelands Primary school where I figured Rod and the rest would catch up again.
The run up Hopelands Road was a real struggle. I was still lagging in terms of energy, feeling lightheaded and riding into a constant headwind the entire way. I recalled to Grant that Hopelands school was after a cross road, bridge, house on the right and some trees. We saw all of the signs but then there was no school. By that point I was really struggling, frequently dropping off the back of Grant and then struggling to catch him again. We came across another cross road and I thought that maybe we needed to start counting again from there. I was cursing because I was getting desperate to stop. Finally the school emerged from the trees and I immediately lay down on one of the benches. I closed my eyes and felt my head swimming. All I felt like at that point was going to sleep. Unsurprisingly, I soon heard Rod greeting Grant, so made my way around to the rain water tanks to top up my water. My hydration pack wasn’t sealing properly but as I wasn’t full (the water level was below the seal) I figured it wouldn’t leak. After a quick rest, the now group of 6 of us set off for Baldivis. As I rode along I felt something wet and cold dripping down my back and into my shorts. It turns out that putting the pack on my back forced the water up and over the seal, filling my pack where the water leaked out and down my back, soaking my shorts and running down my legs into my shoes! It would have been quite nice if it had been a hot day but it was cool, so not great. After a year of cycling, I am still making n00bie mistakes.
Riding in a group of 6 into a headwind was much easier than a solo effort. I felt a lot better after my rest and took some turns up the front as we made our way to the freeway PSP. One rider left us there and so as a group of 5 we headed up to Baldivis, the final checkpoint at the 180km mark. By then, I was lagging in energy again but no one else wanted to stop. I farewelled the rest of the group and headed over for some energy and much needed break. The guys had been asking if I was ok when they left me and I found out afterwards that I had a blood nose and there was dry blood across my face. I didn’t even know!
The final leg started off slowly until the energy started to kick in. I then had some better sections and some sections where I lagged again. I was very tired by the end of the ride and was gladder than usual to pull in to the end point.
The total elapsed time for the ride was 12:05. Very slow but I was glad to finish after starting in such bad shape.
A huge thank you to Grant for keeping me company and pulling me along. Without you I would not have finished in time.