On Sunday 20th October the team took part in the 21st edition of the iconic Bupa Around the Bay in a Day – Fundraise for the Smith Family cycling event. Being Bicycle Networks flagship event for the year, and by far the largest cycling event undertaken in Australia, we were all very excited to be a part of the day. Having over 14,000 riders line up along Alexandra Parade was a sight to behold, and being led to the front of the line for the start felt very special!
The four of us met up at the Bicycle Network administration tent at 5:30am, where we got ourselves sorted, had a coffee to wake up and exchanged a bit of competitive banter with the 3 Peaks Pro team and Co. who were leading the way for the Anti-clockwise direction. Having only four of us heading the group going to Sorrento first, we were keen to get off to a good start and take advantage of the nice tailwind, although we were a bit apprehensive about Cams intention to turn this into another Melbourne to Warny type race :)
As we lined up on the start line with the 3 Peaks Pro team, CyclingTips, Jo Hogan and Lee Turner, the sun began to rise behind us, and it promised to be a magnificent day out there, although a bit windy for our return leg. Some Warny nightmares were looming at the back of our minds but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm felt by everyone.
As the MC counted down the seconds to the start we clipped in and prepared for the long journey ahead, along with the thousands behind us! We rolled through the closed streets together to Port Melbourne, where we bid farewell to our competition, er, I mean the Anti-Clockwise group ;-) Then Cam decided to get our team time trial training kicked off by ramping the pace up and taking advantage of the clear roads ahead. The next 50 or so kms seemed to fly by pretty quickly as we rotated turns nicely and enjoyed the wind at our backs. The atmosphere heading down beach road was fantastic as we came across hundreds more riders in various team groupings, from regular weekend riders to large bunches of corporate outings.
We paced our way up the little inclines through Mt Eliza and Mt Martha pretty easily and then soaked up the coastal vibe from Dromana through to Sorrento, as we enjoyed the sights of the many more riders heading towards us coming from Sorrento on their 100km ride to the city. At this point we didn’t envy the head wind they were facing but knew that as soon as we crossed on the ferry we’d also be faced with some challenging conditions.
We made it to the ferry by 8:20am, having made the most of the tailwind, and rolled straight on after picking up our lunch bags and powerade. It was a nice relief to get off the bike at last and sit down for some lunch, refuelling the bodies as best we could before the return leg. It was also great to chat to a few others on the ferry who had all joined in the ride from various points along the route.
Once we got to Queenscliff, a couple of us weren’t feeling the best, after a pretty rocky crossing, and we were glad to be on solid ground again. As we rolled out of the docking area we took our time to get the legs moving again, as we meandered through the lefts and rights to find our way onto the open roads again. The wind was certainly hitting us now and the pace dropped considerably, however we all felt good still and were keen to get into a rhythm again.
All was going well on the return, although the legs probably wouldn’t have agreed at the time J, until about 40km to go when Cams rear derailer decided it had enough and just fell off. We’re not sure if something got caught up in it or not, but there certainly no chance of repairing it and continuing. We ended up pushing him to the nearest petrol station, which was only about a km away luckily enough. Given we were on the open highway back from Geelong at the time, it could have happened in a worst spot in hindsight. Albeit very disappointing to lose Cam at this point as we had all worked so well together as a team, the remaining three of us continued on towards the finish. Only about 10km later however, Sam got a rear puncture, so the rhythm was broke again. Once fixed, we were again on our way, and hoping we didn’t have any more mechanicals before the end. In hindsight it was amazing that we only had the one flat between us all day, as there was quite a bit of glass and debris along the highway. We pushed on through the wind which for the last 60 or 70km was a very strong northerly, hence we tried to protect ourselves by riding in an echelon most of the way, which proved a little challenging at times given the narrow strip of the service lane. As we could see the city looming closer we ended up turning off and zig zagging our way to the Westgate via Point Cook, Altona and Williamstown, as the city skyline teased us forward. We were out of water at this point and it was extremely warm out there, hence the finish line couldn’t come quickly enough.
Eventually we turned a few final corners and onto the Westgate Bridge, which gave us a very welcomed tailwind for a few kms, until we rolled down into South Melbourne somewhere. At this point we rode alongside a lot of other riders who were finishing off their chosen ride options, and it was great to see so many families out there enjoying the day!
At just past 1pm we rolled past the finish line, collecting our finishers medals enjoying the party atmosphere of the finish area. Alexandra gardens was a buzz of excitement with lots of exhausted but satisfied riders, now enjoying the various amenities on offer from some well-earned recovery food and drink to a nice post ride massage, along with a beer or two J It was just a shame that Cam didn’t make it back with us.
Overall, it was a great day out for everyone, a true celebration of cycling in general with many ride options for all sorts or riders. This is truly a very special day for cyclists in Melbourne, with many traveling interstate to be involved. It’s an extremely well run event by Bicycle Network along with the hundreds of volunteers that donate their time to make it happen. It was a pleasure to be part of, and we hope to be back again next year to fly the flag for the cyan army!
And yes, we did beat the 3 Peaks Pro team back to the city ;-)
~ Report By Keith Leonard