Eastlink 65km ride: Redux #1

OK, I’m back from the 65km Eastlink Challenge. Yes, that’s me mugging at you with my homemade carbon fibre recumbent bike. And yes, I did do the ride wearing a checked shirt. But no, I wasn’t smoking a pipe and chewing on beef jerky.

You know, I can’t tell you much about Eastlink the road because I didn’t see much of it. I can tell you that it’s smooth and undulating in places. The concentration required on the ride was so intense there wasn’t time to enjoy the scenery. There were just so many people.

A. Lot. Of. People.

I turned up early… real early. The organizers were still setting up. In return for a lateral engineering suggestion that solved a signage problem for him, a thankful organizer went and got my rider ID for me early, so I had plenty of time to sit about and watch the gradually growing mayhem.

The organizers area was on the east side of the tollway under the interchange (see pic – I’ll bet most of you didn’t see it this empty!). The starting grid was on the western side of the road – we would be riding on one side of the tollway only, and returning on the same road, albeit on the other side. I staked out my position (#2386) reasonably early, and was able to watch as some plans went awry.

The first blue was that the organizers had put some very nice ramps across the divider so that riders could cross over from the registration area to the ride start. Unfortunately, both these ramps were near the front of the start line. As the area at the start started to fill with riders, it became difficult for riders to get over the ramps and make their way back up through the crowd to their start position. The organizers were forced to send the riders up and over the interchange to join the ride from the rear instead.

The second blue was, that as anticipated, the rider ID and transponder distribution system – which worked fine early – was unable to cope with the massive queue that grew later – and as the ride start time approached, the organizers threw up their hands and told the rest of the riders not to bother and to join the back of the ride (by riding up and over the interchange).

The pic at right shows the riders in front of me with the start gate in the far distance…

I had time for a pleasant chat with all the folks close by in my start area – and we were able to chat for some minutes after the start gun went, too, since nothing was moving. Eventually we shuffled off, and I was only able to actually put both feet in the pedals just before the official start line.

I wove my way through the crowd and after about 3km was eventually able to put it in the big ring.

The organizers had admonished us to form into 2-abreast after the first couple of km. This just didn’t happen until we were about 12km down the road where it narrowed to 2 lanes (one coming, one going). There were folks over the entire width of the road. In order to pass in the first 7km, I had to use the breakdown lane (on my right). My bell got a major workout.

Eventually the traffic spaced out a little and it was a good run for a few km until our lane narrowed and 2-abreast was – sort of – honoured, although there were always folks in the third position passing, often diving into the opposing lane.

I waved hello to George and Eric as I passed. I was sort of hoping to catch Steve, but he started almost a thousand riders ahead of me and he’s fast, so I never did.

A few km out from Frankston, a lone HPV came swishing in the opposite direction. It was Jeff Neilson in Overzealous who had overtaken the elite CSV riders after about 12km (he started after them) and who would go on to lead all the way to the finish.

Update: Jeff started 5 mins after the CSV race, caught them within 12km, and finished 8 minutes ahead of them in a time of 1hr 23mins. And that’s despite having to stop to make the U-turns at the turn points (he has a 50m turning circle!)

Halfway to Frankston, there was a rider down in the middle of the road being attended by paramedics. I encountered an ambulance on the way back, as well. I’m not sure if it was for the same accident. (Update: it appears to have been the aftermath of a wheel touch amongst the CSV rider peleton.)

It was a bit of a zoo in the single-lane area near Frankston, with one near miss I saw when a woman slowed right down in the middle of the road causing an entire peleton to swerve and panic.

Things had thinned out a bit by the time we passed the start, and I was able to wave royally at the massive crowd of cyclists building for the 30km fun ride. I heard the commentator say “Look at that! One handed!” as I passed. (Note to worried readers: the traffic was negligible by then and I only need one hand to steer this machine, so no, this wasn’t reckless.). From this point, my average speed started to drop, thanks to some long although not steep climbs – the roll down never seemed to make up for the slow grind up, and I was passed by (only a few quite fast) small groups as I groaned my way up to Ringwood.

The ride back from Ringwood was a dream – overall more descending than climbing, and it was fun zooming by as we encountered the rest of the 65km ride going the other way.

In fact, the last 30km was actually very pleasant indeed. I seemed to have left the biggest group of riders behind me, and the really fast riders were well ahead, so the road was mostly clear in front.

In the last 10km of the ride I’d got a second wind and was going well. Unfortunately, the folks on the other side of the road weren’t. There were a mixture of 65km and Fun Ride bibs in a massive crowd of riders that was going at a snails pace. My guess is that the slower 65km riders were not fast enough to get through the start before the Fun Ride started – and they became entrapped in the 3-lane-wide slow-moving morass of Sunday hybrid bikes, MTB’s tandem trailers and so on. Some of them were straying into the single lane left for we returning riders, so I found myself hammering along in the breakdown lane a lot.

I have never seem so many bicycles in my life.

It would have been nice to put on a sprint for the end, but the area after the finish gate was clogged with riders.

At the finish, I said Hi to the HPV contingent (see right), who were all very nicely cooled down by now, including Steve in his Block of Cheese. Then I cycled back to the car and – well, the rest is irrelevant, and you really wouldn’t be interested.

Yes, I enjoyed the ride, mainly because I came early and well prepared.

My average speed (including the walking pace shuffle to the start, so the actual riding average is somewhat faster) was 34.9km/hr, with a maximum speed of 62km/hr somewhere about Cheltenham. No sore bum, shoulders, back or neck, and a nice burn in the thighs.

UPDATE: By the looks of things, I probably finished somewhere in the first 200 riders. I must have passed over 2000 upright bike riders along the way!

UPDATE: You can leave feedback on the ride with Bicycle Victoria at

http://www.bv.com.au/great-rides/41340/

(scroll down to the bottom right)

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3 Responses to “Eastlink 65km ride: Redux #1”


  1. 1 Brad June 21, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    A great report on the ride. It sounded very crowded but enjoyable. Goodonya mate! Plent of velomobiles there too. I have not seen one in Perth at all. Might have to get myself one.
    Is that the Noodler tailfairing I see on the back of your Talon or did you make a new one?
    If you made a new one what method did you use?
    How did you attach it to the bike?

    Cheers

  2. 2 microsoar June 21, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Brad.

    That’s the old fairing attached to the Talon with a bit of a lashup. (it’s secured to the rack mounts on the rear forks and to the water bottle mounts up front with bungees!) You can see that it’s not ideal as it sticks out a bit at the bottom. Nevertheless, it does help a lot and it’s a good place to stick the repair kit, waterproofs, food and camelback.

    I’m planning a new, lighter fairing specifically for the Talon for use in the Around the Bay ride and onward. It will be a carbon fibre/kevlar space frame/pannier section and stretch fabric over the space frame.


  1. 1 Eastlink 65km Cycling Challenge. 15th June 2008 « The Strange Adventures of Petunia Happenstance and her Chicken of Destiny Trackback on June 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm

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