Monthly Archives: October 2013

Around the bay in a day

Around the bay in a day – tick!

The ride was a couple of weekends ago and all the training paid off. I have my finisher medal.

And boy did I, and the thousands of others on the road that day, earn it.

I did the 210km anti-clockwise ride. So, starting in Melbourne, I crossed the Westgate Bridge, passed through Geelong, then down the Bellarine Peninsula to Queenscliff, crossed Port Phillip Bay on the ferry to Sorrento, and then back up to Melbourne through Frankston and along Beach Road.

Riders assemble in the dark at the starting area

Riders assemble in the dark at the starting area

My starting group approaches the start line - finally

My starting group approaches the start line – finally

I think the best bits were: riding through the city early in the morning in the dark with little traffic around; crossing the Westgate on a bike; pedalling through Queenscliff and seeing its heritage buildings; the lunch provided by the organisers of a chicken sandwich, tasty muesli slice, apple and energy drink; seeing so many bikes and riders on the road; and the happy exhausted feeling at the end of finishing.

Bikes leaving the ferry

Bikes leaving the ferry

The line of bikes waiting to get onto the ferry

The line of bikes waiting to get onto the ferry

Things I didn’t enjoy were: pushing into a hot northerly headwind all the way back to Melbourne from Sorrento; the large packs of cyclists that built up and were difficult to get around; aggressive riders; and the bewildering gestures some riders give for stopping, turning, or pointing to things on the road, I found them more distracting than helpful.

Unfortunately I think the negatives have outweighed the positives and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.  Nothing against the organisers, though. It was a very well run event. But I also have a “been there, done that” feeling about it now.

The finish

The finish

So what’s next? Well, the Otway Odyssey, a 100km mountain bike race, is coming up in April. I’ve done it the last two years and is an event I’ll gladly repeat. Must try and beat last year’s time!

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New discoveries

With all the riding I’m doing training for the Around the Bay ride next weekend, I haven’t had much time to spare for other outdoorsy stuff.

My training rides generally take at least half a day, leaving me too tired to do much for the other half and leaving the rest of the weekend for chores.

But the last couple of weekends my fiancé and I have managed to do a couple of short, half day trips to explore some places not normally on our radar – the National Rhododendron Garden near Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges and Werribee Park, west of Melbourne, on the way to Geelong.

Both places exceeded our expectations and are now on our list for future picnics with friends.

The rhododendrons were flowering when we were at the Rhododendron Gardens on a showery and windy day. But the dull light of overcast skies were unable to dim the bright colours of the thousands of flowers in bloom. Who knew there were so many kinds of rhododendron? Plus a wide wide wide range of other flowers.

The garden’s paths took us down into native forest where we saw a lyre bird scratching amongst the undergrowth. On the way back up we passed a large, flat grassy area that’d be perfect for picnicking and kicking the footy on. There were also great views across a valley to nearby ranges I couldn’t identify.

Werribee Park was another pleasant discovery. As well as being home to Werribee Mansion, which was built in the 1800s by wealthy Scottish pastoralists the Chirnsides, it’s also home to the Victoria State Rose Garden.

We picnicked in the rose garden but the mansion’s grounds also have plenty of places to throw down a rug in the shade of a towering tree.

While the grounds and gardens are free, it costs $8.50 for adults to go into the mansion. But it’s totally worth it. The mansion has been beautifully restored and gives an amazing insight into what life was like for the wealthy in Australia’s colonial days.

So, just in time for the warmer months, we’ve discovered two great places to picnic with friends. And kick the footy.