Most of it anyway…
It wasn’t my most successful year. I’d done about the same amount of preparation as for the last couple of years but had to pull out after almost 60km due to severe muscle cramps. in general I haven’t exercised as much as I have in previous years, and working from home means I don’t have the necessity to go for regular (commuting) rides during the week.
Danya had found out that a friend of his was doing the ride and suggested that he ride with us. I met them at Redfern station and we rode to the start at Tempe Reserve, arriving just before 7am. Then the friend sprung a surprise on us – he had a friend we needed to wait for. He contacted her and found that she had bike woes that sounded severe, pedal and chain issues. Apparently she was on her way and wouldn’t be long.
It wasn’t until just before 8am that she arrived; the bike looked ok and was rideable. She wanted to hang around and get photos taken but the organisers were pushing all to get on the road as the police were closing the event at 8:30 so we hit the course just after 8am. As I’m a slowish rider – 15km/h is my average touring speed, fully loaded – we were always going to have to keep the pace up to avoid the sag wagon. By the time we got to Loftus, they were telling people that they had 30 minutes before the rest stop was closed. Unfortunately we were held up for around 30 minutes at Waterfall and there was obviously a really bad accident on the descent to the Royal National Park.
Once we got on the descent ourselves, I was hoping that we could pick up some time. However, we were almost at the bottom and a girl crashed in front of Danya. From what he said, she might have hit one of the cateyes or a bit of bark or leaf. At any rate, her front wheel slipped out and she fell on her left elbow/shoulder. Danya went to help her and get her bike off the road and I stopped to warn other riders coming after us to slow and go around the accident. A few other riders stopped including a registered nurse and doctor, and they thought that the girl had fractured her elbow and possible her scapula. Once the police and St. Johns staff arrived we headed off again and reconvened with the other two at lunch.
By the way, there were numerous riders who were behaving very dangerously. We were told at the top of the hill to keep to the left as there were vehicles coming uphill and the road wasn’t closed. However some people just couldn’t wait behind slower or more cautious riders and bombed downhill on the wrong side of the road. Note that the girl we helped wasn’t one of those. Talking to a St. Johns guy at Red Cedar Flats, he said that the earlier accident involved a bad head injury, and the girl we helped was on her way to hospital with a broken arm.
After a quick lunch, we headed up to the hill to Stanwell Tops. Also, we were told that there was about 5 minutes left for lunch so we hadn’t made up any time at all and instead lost it. Being slower than the rest, I crawled up the hill and was feeling my lack of fitness. By the time I reached the first lookout, I was feeling a lot of tightness in my glutes. I ate the apple saved from lunch and then headed off again. It was then that I realised it wasn’t my glutes but the muscles at the top inside of my legs.
I was ok for a few hundred metres but then the stress of pedaling up the rest of the climb to the real summit meant that I had to get off and walk the steep part. Once it leveled off again, I got back on and rode in the lowest gear over the top to the second lookout where I was told I couldn’t stop as the course was being closed behind us.
We rode down the hill to Stanwell Park and my calves were cramping from having to keep slowing down behind the pack I was riding with. At the bottom, I struggled up the hill and my legs were getting more and more sore. When I saw the sign for CoalCliff train station, I decided that I should stop and catch the train home. I texted Danya and let him know – they had just crested the hill at Clifton. By the time I’d climbed over the pedestrian bridge to the station platform, I saw the sag wagon coming through, so it had only been a minute or two behind me.
I had assumed (mis-remembered) that I’d be able to get one of the special event trains back to Sydney before too long. However, once came barrelling through without stopping a few minutes later. Checking the timetable, I found that trains on the southern line only stop at CoalCliff and similar stations once every 2 hours on weekends and I had another hour and a bit to wait (until 15:07 apparently). I tried to sit down and recover only to find that my legs were so sore that I had trouble standing again and so I spent the time walking and leaning and doing slight stretches.
I was sharing the platform with a guy who’d had 5 punctures. The event support staff weren’t sure what the issue was; I’d passed him earlier and seen the mechanic scratching his head. The other group was a family – father with son and daughter doing their last ride on a tandem that had suffered a broken chain that they couldn’t fix. We waited until the time the train was supposed to arrive only to get an announcement that the train that was scheduled to arrive at 15:16 was running 6 minutes late. It eventually arrived 15 minutes late.
Luckily I was able to get a vestibule seat all to myself and stretch out for a while trying to rest my legs in a comfortable position. The train finally arrived at Redfern around 4:30 and I struggled up several flights of stairs to the exit. I was thinking about getting a train back to Newtown and walking home from there, but decided that going up and down more stairs would be too painful and that it would be quicker to ride the couple of mostly flat kilometres home from Redfern, which is is what I did, getting there not long before 5pm. I had a shower and a light dinner and lots of juice and then collapsed for the evening. If anyone donated to me on the guarantee that I rode the entire distance, they’ll be disappointed. However, I did suffer for their money. My ride data is available here.
Danya and his friend (and his friend) did make it to the end ahead of the sag wagon, so Team Rose wasn’t a complete disaster. Apparently they sat around talking and listening to bands until nearly 5. I don’t know when the special event trains stopped running and I think Danya would also have had a long trip home.