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Reports about Scooting the Great Vic Ride 2009

November 16, 2010 1 Comment

Scooting the Great Vic RideHi, it’s Deb Stewart here.

Well, I’m gearing up to footbike the next Great Victoria Bike Ride (2010)… and as one very ‘testy’ footbiking individual reminded me: I haven’t finished posting on last year’s ride! Ooops!

So here’s the goss from last year:

Abridged version…

Day 3 to Day 9

Rode each day and then went home!

Just kidding…

Day 3

Woke nearly frozen as we had a major temperature drop through the night… This little Brisbanite is NOT used to these sudden changing weather conditions! Thank goodness for my thermals and super thick sleeping bag.

After icing my face with a bottle of cold water – yes, I was swollen like a watermelon again – we scoffed breakfast and took off.

Today was a short one into a strong headwind – only 48km but somehow I managed to get burned again and forgot to put lip balm on resulting in bad chafing that made me look like Angelina Jolie’s love child.

At lunch I had to stop and wait in line for the porta-loos… and as nature was screaming, this wait was excruciating! Fortunately, I got to chat with one of the teachers who was chaperoning a group of teenagers from Parkwood High School – yay! for Parkwood… you guys rock! Everytime they saw me for the rest of the cycle tour they would ring their bells and screech “Go Scooter Girl!!!” Thanks for the encouragement guys, I appreciated it.

When I came back after visiting that desperate call of nature, I saw two women looking at my kickbike laying in the grass at Linda’s feet (my sister-in-law).

“You weren’t riding the scooter, were you?” a woman asked Linda.

Linda shook her head.

“No, she’s looking after it” the other woman said, “She’s his mum.”

I was torn between a snort of indignation at being mistaken for a boy, and an evil snicker at my sister-in-law being mistaken for my Mum.

Fortunately the women melted away into the crowd of riders before Linda had the chance to assault them with her bike pump.

Back on the road Jeremy Lee, reporter for the ABC, cycled with me for a while and arranged an interview for later that afternoon. Yoo hoo! It was fun being interviewed… only wish I didn’t sound like Micky Mouse on speed! Thanks Jeremy, you asked all the right questions.

At the end of the ride as we were walking into camp a woman said, “Oh! You’re on a scooter too. I saw a boy on one of those yesterday.”

(There are times like these when I wish I had brought my push-up bra with me!)

When I explained to her that there was actually only one person riding the scooter on this ride and that was me – her reply said it all…


Food, water, bed and looking forward to the 100km ride tomorrow… and wondering if I should dye my hair pink…

Day 4

Not a happy little footbiker today, I can tell you…

100km of ocean road with gale force winds that nearly blew me off my kickbike more than once…

A constant barrage of sharp hills and winding corners that didn’t give you the opportunity to let go of those brakes in case you became a permanent fixture of the flora and fauna on the Great Vic Ride…

And silly mistakes by other riders such as stopping suddenly in the middle of the road at the bottom of a hill or undertaking on a left hand bend…

I wasn’t even in the mood to stop and look at the 12 Apostles – a sight that people from all over the world rush to Victoria to witness.

As a cyclist swerved across in front of me to look at the view of the 12 Apostles, I slammed on my brakes and did a quick deviation to avoid the impact. I bit back the f-bomb and the cyclist who had been sitting on my back wheel yelled out, “Get a postcard, you dumb *$#@!”

I lost Linda around the 55km mark as something odd happened to her bike’s steering – it was grinding each time she tried to turn the front wheel. So we made the decision that she would wait for a mechanic and I would continue on, hoping she would catch up.

A Police Officer on a his bicycle cycled with me for a few kms… nice man, and I did my best to chat but this little footbiker wasn’t her usual chirpy self today – in fact, I was starting to suffer a bit.

Whacked my ankle a beauty – you know the perfect hit? The one that sends pins and needles up your shin and feels like you’ve sheared your ankle tissue to the bone? Well, it was one of those!

A few kms later another rider sees the blood seeping through my sock and offers me a bandaid. Geeze, that’s a good advert for the kickbike. I curse my clumsiness.

On one hill I started to feel a little dizzy. I hadn’t eaten for quite some time and cursed myself again for not stopping earlier. I pulled to the side of the road and bit into an apple… fortunately, I felt a bit better within a few minutes.

There was a drink stop not far out from camp, so I stopped and bought a Watermelon Gatorade… aaaah! nectar from the gods! Delizioso!

Getting into camp I heaved our bags to a spot, set up the tent, and then collapsed inside. The balls of my feet were bruised from hitting the raised ‘audible lines’ on the sides of road and my ankle was swelling up.

I ate another apple and waited for Linda’s arrival.

When Linda got in she told me her bicycle saga – the ball bearings in the steerer were all rusted (new bike, mind you!) and will have to be totally replaced. We put her bike in to the ‘ride mechanics’ and were told we could get it back at 7am the next morning.

On the way back to our tent we went via the medical tent hoping to score some ice for my feet, but it had closed. hmmmmm…

This definitely was not my day… even dinner was ordinary! sob sob!

Day 5

Today’s ride of 97km included the infamous Laver’s Hill.

After a number of people said “Oh, I hope you get up Laver’s Hill on that” and “You’re not going up Laver’s Hill on that are you?” and “Laver’s Hill is really hard on just a bike…” I was spooked.

I don’t know what I was worried about! After doing the Tour de Tamborine two weeks before the Great Vic Ride, Laver’s Hill turned out to be a piss in the ocean. In fact, I’d climbed Laver’s Hill and didn’t even know it! LOL

I got parted from Linda as she had to stop again as her steerer totally locked up… looks like the mechanics from the Bicycle Superstore hadn’t fixed it at all. Upon looking inside the casing with one of the Warby’s (“We Are Right Behind You” riders) we saw that the casing had not only rusted now, it had crumbled apart.

So I went it alone – well, not quite alone – how could one be alone amongst 4998 other riders?

Lunch was a feta and lettuce sandwich and I grabbed an apple for later.

I was feeling good today. It was hotter than yesterday, but I had a good rhythm going, got in the zone and passed alot of cyclists on the hills. I’ve discovered the trick to surviving gruelling hills in a pack: Sit on the wheel of a good, ‘speed-consistent’ cyclist and watch the wheel spin in front of you, forget everything else and just concentrate on lifting your knees.

The area we rode became very stuffy, with the road in full sun and thick woods on both sides allowing no wind movement. Up one particularly steep climb a girl around 15 years of age was puffing very loudly. As I passed her she started to hyperventilate… and then screamed in panic. Fortunately, there were adults with her. It was then that I noticed that quite a few cyclists were walking up the hills and that a few others were panicking with the heat.

A short while later I heard the Ambulance come through picking up people and the SAG wagons were full.

Around the 65km mark there was a drink station with ‘stored water’ and Gatorade. I did a quick feel of my backpack and the weight indicated there was still enough water to get me home.

On the next really long uphill I made a comment to a cyclist I passed that there were quite a few hills. A man said that there was only two more uphills and then it was all downhill from there on.

Two long uphills later I took a sip on my backpack bladder and sucked air.

Ooops – I’d just run out of water.

“Ok,” I thought to myself – “if this is the last big uphill, I should make it without water. I can survive 20km with no water and it’s all downhill anyway!”

Downhill? What was that guy smoking????

Another two peaks dragged by and I was starting to worry.

I pulled over and checked my backpack and worked out my survival plan.

I sat in the shade of a tree and ate my apple, relishing every drop of moisture.

A woman pulled up beside me and asked how the scooter was going. I explained that I had run out of water and hoped that a shop would be around soon.

She shook her head. No shops till Apollo Bay in about 17km. She was low on water too and took off again… I think she suspected I was about to jump her and steal her bidons.

I tucked the rest of my apple away into a plastic bag for later and began the uphill kick accompanied with the mantra “conserve, conserve, conserve, relax, conserve…”

Over the next rise a cyclist standing on the side of the road asked me if I needed water. Seems he’d overheard my conversation with the woman earlier.

Oh! Yes Please! He had a spare bottle and gave me half of his bidon, pouring it into my backpack. Now, I’m not a germ-a-phobic – but in any other situation I would never, ever even consider taking water from another person’s bottle… but I was in a bad way. Fortunately, this particular gent took the lid off his bidon to pour the water into my camelback.

I thanked him profusely and took off up the hill.

And you’ll never guess… 200m up around a bend…

Some locals had set up a tent on the side of the road and were making smoothies and fruit juices in blenders powered by bikes on windtrainers! Bloody Brilliant!!!

I ordered an orange and mango juice and a bottle of water. Then sat in the shade of a tree and slugged down the juice, filled my bladder a bit more and took off up the hill again.

As I eventually came out on the straight and sailed down to the camp site, a group of cyclists applauded me.

Now, my last challenge was to find a camp site amongst the 3000 tents and set up. I needed to get out of the sun as my legs were cremated and Rudolf was in the house again!

By the time Linda arrived I was feeling relaxed knowing tomorrow was a ‘rest day’… now I know how the Tour de France guys felt. LOL

Dinner was better tonight… and so too was my mood.

In the tent I watched with fascination as my sister-in-law felt the need to get up and dance like Elvis to the music blaring from the ‘pub tent’ in the background.


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  1. Bruce Cook says:

    Looking forward to the next instalment, and it’s great to hear the full story. You make me want to go and do it myself.

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