Tuen's Blog

Infrequent diary of a procrastinator

Cycling 210km in a Day!

Written By: Tuen - Oct• 19•10

Some of you may know that myself, Tony and a few other friends had been preparing for the annual Around the Bay in a Day cycling ride in Melbourne.

Well, that day was just two days ago on 17th October, and it was (under current expectations) an experience of a lifetime (in other words, I’m not doing it again!!).

According to their website, there were about 16000 participants, and we arrived around 5.40 am for a 6 am start. There were a number of different ride combinations, including 50km, 80km, 100km, 210km and 250km, both clockwise as well as anti-clockwise and including as well as excluding a ferry ride. Our ride was the 210km anti-clockwise with ferry ride from Queenscliff to Sorrento.

By the time we were allowed to start off, it was already 6.30am. The pre-ferry segment of the ride was pretty comfortable for me and I felt quite good and strong. We crossed the West Gate freeway in a group, but soon after that, we began to string out and cycle at our own pace. Most of the time, I managed to keep pace with Tony.

The weather turned bad when we were headed towards Geelong on the freeway. It started to drizzle and we got pretty wet. During the pre-ferry segment, we got wet and dried out twice over. We took about 3 rest stops during this segment, and made pretty good time and arrived at the ferry around 11.40am, completing about 110km. Unfortunately, I had a flat tyre about 2km from the ferry and that slowed me down quite a bit during that last stretch. I didn’t stop to change the tube though, and plowed on the last 2 km to the lunch and ferry point. There, with the help of Kok Wah, I got my tube changed and we had lunch and waited for the rest of the group to join us.

Due to a ferry breakdown, we were allocated the 1pm ferry, which really delayed us quite a bit. We should have been able to get the 12pm or latest 12.30pm ferry and have a chance to finish earlier, but as it was, the ferry only arrived at Sorrento at 2pm. At the end of the ferry ride, Mary and Ren and Lena and Nick (Frank’s wife and son) were waiting to cheer us on. They had earlier driven up to have a leisurely lunch at Port Sea Hotel. We took some photos and set off from there.

I found the 2nd segment to be harder of course, and there was a long climb involved as well. I was getting tired and starting to hurt in various places by the time we reached the last 50km mark, which was our second last rest stop. By the time I reached the last 30km mark and what was supposed to be our last rest stop, I was in very bad shape. The next 20km was just miserable for me and I lost sight of Tony and Frank and slowed to around 10km/h on the upslopes and even on the flats and downslopes, I was going much slower than I should or could have. At the last 10km mark, I had to stop and take a 5 minute break just to ease the pain and relieve the cramping that was starting in my left foot and the pins and needles in both legs. That last 10km seemed impossible to finish. But it seems, fate had more in store for me. After starting off for about 1km I experienced another flat! I had to stop again, but thankfully, the leak was very slow and I was too tired to change the tube, so I just pumped it up hard and hoped it would last me the final 9km. It did.

It was a fantastic feeling to finally cross the finish line, at around 7.25pm. Cath and Lena were waiting for us and we took some photos and finally set off for home, where I had a good sleep that night.

We had been on the road for almost 13 hours, and calculating my own riding time, subtracting rest stops and ferry ride etc, I was on my saddle for about 9.5 hours! I could hardly walk after getting off my bike, and the numbness in certain parts only finally went away around this morning!

Yesterday, Kok Wah suggested in an email that next year, we should do the 250km route. I told him that he could go it alone!

But would I actually do this again? Well now that the pain and soreness is gone, and the feeling of achievement is high, I think, maybe I would. :)

Some photos here.


From left: Tony, myself, Joo Ann, Frank and Kok Wah

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  1. David Ball says:

    great to read about your day – and that you all finished!

    My day was a similar, arrive at 5.40am to discover that I had left my front light at home – oh well too late to go home and get it, so just hope that it got light before I got through the start gate.

    The first half hour was frustratingly slow with so many people, I was so keyed up to get going, so it took a supreme amount of will power to reign in my enthusiasm and go with the flow.

    Tootling down to sorrento was uneventful, stopping only twice. once to turn off my rear light (that I had not forgotten about), and later on to remove my wind vest. Pulled in to Sorrento at 10.40am feeling pretty good about life and even considered cycling all the way home when I got to the finish line.

    The ferry did take forever – and only got off the boat in queenscliff at 10 past 12 noon. by that time I had been cooling down for 1.5 hours and the legs did protest about moving again. And then the showers arrived. peddling through drizzel, with cold protesting legs was not enjoyable. Fortunatly by Geelong that rain had dissapeared and the sun started to break through – and then from Geelong the glorious tail wind kicked in. Oh my goodness – turn my legs that were now nice and warm again, and able to cruise along at 35kmh was a great feeling. quick stop at little river to fill the water bottles and keep sucking down electrolyte.

    Keep on peddling and the first twinge of cramp appears – “oh no you don’t” I tell my legs – suck a bit of elctrolyte and munch on a home made energy biscuit put the cramp to rest.

    Up the westgate bridge – by now all thoughts of cycling home had long gone, just focussed on getting to the finish line.

    Into the city, and the end is in sight. Across the line at 4.45pm 10.5 hours after leaving. 8.25 hours in the saddle, averaging 26.1kmh for the 215km.

    missed my target of 8 hours by a smidge but happy to have finished with no punctures and a smile on my dial.

    would I do this again – not by myself, no. But if anyone wants to go around – why not?

  2. Tony says:

    I had a fantastic time.

  3. Mrs. Antoinette Tan says:

    Bravo for all the endurance!
    I wonder if a much more expensive bike with more sturdy tyres may carry you through without all the flats & the force needed to push on. Maybe you should invest in one should you go again next year.
    However, Congratulations on your achievement!


  4. Tuen says:

    David, my question to you is, did you ride to work on Monday? :)

  5. Joo Ann says:

    The ride along the freeway towards Geelong was like an endless experience. Managed to catch up with Frank for coffee break until I discovered later that there was MORE endless freeway towards Geelong. Good to see familiar faces on the ferry though which gave a boost of energy to finish.

    My first sign of knee cramps came at the start of Beach Road. Almost gave up but couldn’t figure out an alternative way to get back so peddled on and kept my mind on other thoughts. A small climb became like a huge mountain effort. Hey how come no more gears??

    The final leg of seeing Port Melbourne was like a beautiful scenery & relieve. Home sweet Alexandra Gardens.

    More: The mind plays on you at Beach Road. I couldn’t think of anything except (like a pregnant woman) ‘lusting’ for beef noodle with all the fatty ingredients. Was dreaming that my wife will cook that for dinner (but knowing full well she don’t cook this dish). The next morning a friend of mine send this dish to my home saying that they cooked this the night before but was too late for them to send to my home! WoW.

  6. David Ball says:

    Justin – I am silly, but not THAT silly. Took the train on monday (legs and prosterior were tender) – but back on the bike today.

  7. Tony Chong says:

    Well done, David. I am very envious of your average time. I think we did only 23km/h. Maybe we can join up on the next RTB.

  8. Frank Peh says:

    At age 47 I feel pretty long in the tooth. Instead of taking it easy I chose to do the opposite. I decided to put this aging body of mine to the test. This was a decision made against good advice from friends who cared enough to say so. I did not have the courage to consult my doctor.

    After eight months of training, I thought well, my choice of 210km route can’t be that bad so at 6am in the morning last Sunday I was at the starting point in the city with my team of four other crazies.

    Off we went climbing up the West Gate Bridge (only time its opened to cyclists). En route to Geelong just when I started a 15km stretch of continuous uphill climb it rained amidst a headwind. It must have been about 12 degrees. To keep me going I started thinking of Lena and Nick and initiated a conversation with God. It helped. He listens but he also has a sense of humour as we all know.

    It was wonderful to see Catherine, Lena and Mary with the kids cheering us on at different stages. Thank you ladies for the efforts and sacrificing your sleep. Your presence made a difference!

    After 9.5 hours and 210km of actual cycling, I crossed the finishing line at 7pm. Throughout the ride I had muscle cramps in my legs and right body and a very sore butt. That night I had the deepest sleep ever. Come to think of it, the last time I felt that way was when I was a teenager in school :)

    May the Lord’s Blessings be on you all my friends.

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