First of all, HOW IS IT DECEMBER ALREADY?!?! 😮 Wow. How the months fly by. Now I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s continue…
It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a flight. Almost exactly 12 months in fact, as I was in Melbourne this time last year for FulGaz. Once again (with borders finally opening up) work flew me up to test some exciting new features and of course attend the FulGaz Christmas party.
I always hire a bike when in Melbourne as there’s plenty of good riding to be had. Hiring is expensive, but when staying in a hotel it’s very convenient. I think of it not as paying for a bike, but paying to avoid the hassle of bringing my own. It’s just so easy to have a bike waiting in the hotel for you on arrival. All I do is pop on my own pedals, adjust the position, and go!
Mask wearing is compulsory for all indoor settings in Victoria.
Saturday morning I rolled out of the hotel early to hit the Beach Road. Melbourne’s Beach Road is an “iconic” ride destination and arguably the most ridden road in Australia. I’m still not 100% sure why, as it’s just a road, and you can’t even see the beach for a lot of it! But without fail, thousands of cyclists flock there every single morning to cut laps.
You’ll always see cyclists in the opposite direction, often in big bunches. You’ll also pass other cyclists going the same way as you, then find them stuck to your rear wheel. I’m not a massive fan of strangers sitting unannounced inches off my rear wheel (or doing the same to strangers myself) but this is common occurrence and acceptable on Beach Road. It is what it is. On this warm and sunny summer’s morning I first headed North towards Melbourne City, cycling all the way up to where the ferry to Tasmania docks.
Rental Pinarello K8-S with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry in the background.
After a quick photo op I swung around and pedalled South. A few kilometres later I spotted a MASSIVE bunch up ahead. I got low and poured on the power to make the catch. Reeling in the bunch it was even bigger than I had thought, at least 60 riders if not more! I could see they were on a “social” cruise, tapping away at 30kph, some dressed in Christmas attire. Instead of tagging on the back I increased my effort and pulled around them. Passing a big peloton and using their draft to slingshot off the front felt like making a Tour de France solo attack!
I cleared the Christmas cruisers and quickly found myself at the tail end of another bunch. These guys seemed to be holding a better average, so I said g’day and struck up a conversation. Terry, who was sweeping at the time welcomed me to work in with them. The distance soon flew by, but we did seem to catch every single red light along the way! Certainly not like here in Tasmania where I can ride 100km without a single traffic light.
At the turnaround re-group in Mordialloc, Terry introduced me to the group, invited me to ride back with them for coffee and even invited me back for their Sunday ride (which I did). A bicycle is a great leveller. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manual labourer, high flying pilot, investment banker or telemarketer, out on two wheels we’re all friends.
On the return leg into a stiff headwind we swept up a few more random riders, some of whom didn’t appear to have the best bunch skills (that’s putting it very diplomatically). The paceline started to get sketchy at the tail end. I was sitting five or six wheels back in the double paceline, where overlapping wheels, erratic moves and unnecessary brake taps were yo-yo-ing the group. Not wanting to get caught up in the mess, I signalled to swing out and powered to the front. Myself and another guy then settled into a consistently smooth pace, towing the bunch to the café.
After a fantastic Melbourne coffee I said my thank you’s and goodbyes before heading back towards the hotel. I was feeling pretty toast to say the least. With 80km on the clock I decided to push on to the hundred. I’d already clocked a solid 100km the day before, but quite fancied two in a row!
It was barely 9am but the temperature had passed 30 degrees C, I’d messed up my fuelling, and also run out of water. By 95km I was crawling, simply watching the Garmin as I got closer to my hotel. I was sure it was going to be a 99km ride and I would have been fine with that! Luckily it registered the hundred right outside my door. I climbed off and hit save, happy to have ticked off two metric century rides in two days.
So that’s a wrap! Twelve from twelve for 2021, done and dusted! 😎 After a 400km week, I’ll probably start to wind things down as we head towards Christmas. It’s been a good year.
Distance: 100.1 km / 62.2 miles
Total elevation gain: 487 m / 1600 feet
Average speed: 30.1 kph / 18.7 mph