Fear is a powerful motivating force – and it’s just as well that the SM1200 had me shaking in my cleats. Thus, in preparation for the event, I a) actually did some training, and b) invested heavily in carbon fibre. Although a reluctance to spoil the aesthetic and aerodynamic properties of said carbon fibre by adding any form of carrying capacity meant that I spent day one colder & wetter than necessary. And then 3 km of Marulan mud added 3kg of gloop and ruined the aesthetic/aerodynamic thing ….and so on went the seat pack lovingly known as ‘The Caravan’ and I was maximally prepared for alpine blizzards on day two. Of course this ensured near perfect conditions and a need for sunscreen instead.
Tom had recently returned pale and shaking after his recce of the course past Cabramurra – this was having driven DOWN the route we were going to ride up. Hmm. Lactic legs aside, it was a magnificent day on the bike. I started well before dawn from Canberra, worrying about hitting the steep descent from Cabramurra in the dark. It wasn’t actually the descent I was worried about hitting, and sure enough, one rider had an unscheduled hospital visit after a close encounter with a wombat.
Equally enjoyable was day three – taking us from Laurel Hill across to the Murray River and via Beechworth to Mansfield. I rode mostly solo, probably just as well after I discovered the joys of leftover hard boiled eggs at the Lake Hume control. Reaching the Whitfield control involved negotiating the trail of loose rubble posing as a driveway, but it was worth it to peruse the ‘menu’ and be presented with an icy cold drink & freshly made sandwich. Dire warnings of a huge climb to Mansfield were an outright lie, but a much appreciated one as this overcooked cyclist pedalled gratefully into a green shady haven with a nice gentle gradient, followed by some ripping descents.
The final day – clearly concocted by a total sadist – was not over until it was over. All available little uphill pinches in the outskirts of Melbourne were included for our cycling pleasure. And what a pleasure it was to arrive at Albert Park and be plied with food, drink and congratulations. To the organising committee and crew of wonderful, wonderful vollies – my appreciative thanks for an outstanding ride.