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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Oppy 2016

Graham and bits of Steve Nurse, heading into Cressy

Mick and Graham

With a group of seasoned Audax riders in our sights.  We passed this mob soon after.  Seeing other Audax riders out on the road was one of the highlights.

Team Laid back at the end, St. Mary's cricket club Geelong.  Mick, Graham, Steve

Ride Producer Simon Watt (left) with Dave Ellis and Simon's 1980's Dutch clunker.

This post is written a week after the 2016 Oppy and my legs have almost recovered.  

I used the Oppy as a riding weekend away.  I wanted to go into Uni on Friday morning but had the afternoon off, so headed off all packed for the weekend on the trike on Friday morning.  It was wet and by the time I got to Uni, I was wet too!  One nasty feature of this wetness was having soapy water with shampoo in it run into my eyes, not very nice I discovered.  After Uni in the morning I caught the train in to the city and then on to South Geelong.  There are new suburbs and station sprouting all over the vast plain to the West of Melbourne, and many of the roads that service the area are already choking at peak hour.

In the afternoon I visited my friend Damian, then pootled down to the caravan park cabin where I’d spend the next two nights.  Soon my ride partners Mick and Graham turned up.  Mick had grown up in Geelong and he drove us up to his Mum Joan’s house in Belmont for an enjoyable fish’n’chip carbohydrate loaded dinner.  This bought back memories,  (as did several other places on our ride) a Uni friend and I had rented a house in Belmont 35 years ago and worked at the now-closing Alcoa aluminium refinery.  Mick took us back to the cabin after dinner for a quiet night and a good sleep.

Up next morning early for an 8 o’clock start.  We headed long a riverside bike track with hundreds of runners on it for the first few k, then popped out onto a highway heading toward Rokewood.  There was only one decent hill on the way and we had reasonable winds so made good progress.  “Par” for this sort of riding on recumbents seems to be speeds of 28kph on good road with an  overall average of 20kph.  This gives you 6 hours sleep at night if you plan to do the 360k, 24 hour Oppy.

On the stretch between Rokewood and Camperdown, we slipped well behind par and battled headwinds for 80k, reaching Camperdown for a break at about 4pm.  My strength was flagging a bit by this stage but Mick and Graham and were riding pretty strong.  The going was a bit better from  Camperdown on, and there was great scenery riding into Colac.  Mick’s GPS got slightly confused by new roads at one stage, but in general Mick used it with great aplomb to navigate us safely through the course.  Thanks Mick! 
It was dark as we shipped out of Colac towards Beeac.  In Beeac we stopped and chatted and joked with a large party of Audax riders and their support crew.  How the other half live, they had snacks and cups of tea and coffee all made for them.   We plodded on and rested just out of Winchelsea, finally reaching Belmont at 2:20 in the morning.  This is not horrendous for an Oppy, the last one I went on we finished at 4 am.

The Oppy rules say you have to do 25k in the last 2 hours, so it was up early again the next day to polish things off.  We took a short ride down the Bellarine and the route took us on a pleasant detour through the Botanical Gardens to commune with bemused-by-recumbents early morning joggers, walkers and dog leaders.  I was in mild panic over whether we’d make the final checkpoint in time (24 hours riding for nothing, aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhh) but the botanic gardens were in fact not far from the finish and we got there “comfortably”, 2 or 3 minutes spare.

The finish was at the crowded St. Mary’s cricket club rooms where a breakfast for champions of baked beans, toast, eggs, muesli and juice was available.  Awards of various types were handed out and we caught up with our rider organiser Simon Watt who put the appropriate elephant stamps on our brevet cards. 

After packing up the cabin, Graham gave me a lift back to Melbourne.  Sitting in the warm car gave me a chance to doze off.  I was dropped about 10k from home and slowly rode back along the bike paths.  A bit more sleeping when I got home.

Thanks to Mick and Simon for the organisation and Graham and Mick for the assistance while riding.  The new jalopy made it, the old body made it, strange but true.  For now I am (a bit) over Audax but we’ll see.  I may still take on some more long rides.


Steve Nurse

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