With less than 2 weeks to go before my 250km Around the Bay ride down in Victoria, Australia, the training kilometers have been racking up. Saturday was an 80km ride with my mate JB (and his new Cannondale Super Six and his first road bike) where we rode from Sydney to Parramatta in Sydney’s West and back. I decided to back it up with another training ride on Sunday, but ratchet it up a few notches – 160km along the M7 Motorway cycle path. The challenge – do the M7 loop twice. JB was in, and this would end up being his longest ride.

Preparing for a 250km ride is tough from a time commitment point of view. Trying to balance the hours needed in the saddle and living a normal family / work life is the challenge. I would love to be able to afford the time that the pros have to train for their passion, but alas my path is different. So I have had to swap long flatter kms with shorter steeper ones. This isn’t too difficult to do in Sydney as you can ask any of the cyclists who ride around in the city. But I still needed to get a long stint in on the saddle.

We hit the M7 at just before 6am, which was really 5am as we have just gone to daylight savings time. JB took off as if he stole the bike, and I caught up with him to remind him that the next 6 hours of riding or so would not be a speed test. It would be all about pace, pace, pace. But that didn’t stop us from having a crack on the fun bits at over 60kph. When we got to the quarter mark, we were feeling good and the sun was just about rising. We headed back into a headwind on the return leg of the first lap, which knocked 2kph off our average speed. Still we were setting a good time.

Back at the cars, my preparation the night before was paying off. I had two ice cold bidons and some food for my second breakfast. We ripped off the bottom layers as the temperature which started at 10 deg celcius had already climbed to 20 and was still rising.

The temperature was to prove the killer on the second lap.

My Garmin measured 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit on the other scale) for extended periods on the second lap. We ended up going through twice the amount of fluid the second time round. This lap it was all about hydration, hydration, hydration. Our pace had dropped off again, and the conversation with that too. We were just focused on knocking the ride on the head. The last 20km was not fun, but having that stretch of the route burnt into my head it was just a matter of counting down the kms. JB asked me with 3km to go “how far we do we have left?” to which I responded “half the distance from your place to mine.” Exhausted satisfaction was what greeted us back at the car (and a swooping magpie too).

Double M7

In two days I had knocked down 240km and about 2,500m of climbing. Those vertical metres are double what I will have to do down in Melbourne. I backed it up on the public holiday Monday with one of my other riding buddies AC. A short 40km to Maroubra Beach and La Perouse into stupidly strong headwinds. The kms are in my legs now, and I will be easing it off now until the big ride in two weekends time. Should be a good ride, hopefully with some funny stories to tell.