Despite the claim that the ride started on the 29th of November, the first day was allocated to get the riders to the start point at Albury. So this meant that the 9 day ride was really an eight day event. Considering that a rest day was included, the overall result was seven days of riding. As the distance was a bit shorter than the last couple of years the daily mileage was about the same.
As this was only the second time on the ride and by definition the second time that I had taken any notice of the weather at this time of the year, it was not too surprising that the weather is quite unpredictable. Even so the forecast that I found on the Thursday prior to the event had forecast thunderstorms for the Monday and they arrived as advertised. For most of the ride, though, conditions were warm to hot.
The makeup of this ride is namely three groups. There is a sizable number of school groups, mainly high school, that are on the ride for the first and possibly last time. I found them to be generally well behaved despite their enthusiasm. The largest of the three groups are the social riders. These tend to be regular attendees that are for the most part in the older age bracket, although the family groups fall into here as well. I generally sensed that this group treated the event as it was intended to be. The final group that I encountered were the serious riders. These tended to be in small groups that did not seem to have the time for idle conversation while enroute. Their main aim seemed to be to cover the daily distance in the shortest time. Their impatience, and bunch riding, did cause the odd problem.
As far as the actual overall riding group was concerned some quick calculations had the length of the ride column, if they were in single file, to cover around 10 km. As the riders departed over a 2 hour time period the actual span was more like 40. To those drivers unaware of the event the bicycle riders would have appeared to go on forever.
On the road there appeared to be a number of accidents and flat tyres. Obviously the bad accident just prior to the rest day had a major impact. Despite the organisers main concern of a serious accident on one of the major descents, this one occurred on the flat just a few kilometres from the end of the day. While it may be in bad taste to speculate as to the cause of the tragedy, I do note that the the group would have arrived at the finish for the day by around 11 am. This was at the end of an 88 km distance on one of the 'mountain' stages. This could have been a factor in the rider error.
On the following ride day the group with ultimate responsibility for the separation of riders and other road users, the police, noted that some riders had not been effected by the fatality and chose to ride as if it was the Tour de France. The end result was all riders being put onto the rail trail, which upset me as I was already on the rail trail and these people were getting in my way.
As a general observation I noted that very few riders seemed to have rear vision mirrors, at best guess around 20%. Over the last few years I have come to rely more and more on my mirror. On this ride you are constantly coming up to slower riders, sometimes riding two abreast. It is difficult, at times, to remain on the left hand side of the road during the overtake. To then have a group of six or eight riders, in a bunch, overtaking yourself and it is obvious that all the road is required. With the mirror at least I could hold off until after the bunch went through. Perhaps this is why Janet leaves at 6, although I wanted to have the feeling of being in a big ride.
This thing has been going for over 30 years and seems to be filling a need for a number of riders. I do not pretend to understand it after only two appearances. For a large number it is an annual event. To others it is more like something to cross off your list. I am still making up my mind.
|Moyhu 6am/Michelle centre/big day ahead|
|Powers Hill Lookout/one of about 30 to go|
|Tolmie road closure/drama down the road|
|We're going to Bonnie Doon|
|Great Victorian Rail Trail|
|Riding the Black Spur|