Double means two times.
The Longer Ride.
'Hey, wake up. It's 6.30'
Olly was dressed. I recall hearing my alarm and simulataneously slapping the stop button.
Alex was stretching his torso in preparation for the day ahead. I pulled on my mostly dry kit form yesterday and headed downstairs to the foyer for the depart. Alex had a flat and it was a good excuse to spend another 10 minutes waking up. The lights were on, but no one was home. Through the tinted glass I could see trees bending and swaying in the wind. I scratched my eyes and looked again. They were bending in the opposite direction to yesterday
'You're joking. It can't be a headwind both days'.
We meandered through the vacant streets of Warrnambool to find the
only cafe open before 7am, paid a princely $4 for a jump start, then
cleaned out Baker's Delight of every baked good they had. Croissant, Croissant with ham and cheese, blueberry scone, another
blueberry scone, a cheese twist. I kept thinking this is way too much
bread but thought and action were not in the same building.
I still didn't want to get on my bike.
Rolling out of Warrnambool, the WIND was epic. It threw us around, and sitting on was now on the other side of the leading riders. If ever I felt asleep on the bike, this was it. I was tender, sore, exhausted, and pretty grumpy. Maybe that had more to do with two gatecrashers forging the pace up to mid 30s to gain valuable 'UCI Training Ride' points.
I rode alongside and screamed at them. You had to scream anything to be heard in this wind.
'You can't keep this pace up all day?!'
'We are catching the train back. Only riding to Colac'.
With that, I cut the invisible cord we'd latched onto their wheels and let them go up the road. It was a futile pursuit going hard for an hour when we had 12 or potentially more ahead of us. A sniff outside of Camperdown, Olly punctured and Nick and I rested roadside.
I looked at my speedo and clock.
11am. 80km in 3.5 hours. A quick calculation based on an average speed of 25kh put us in at Melbourne at 8pm - not including breaks.
Maybe the train wasn't such a bad ideal. Olly and Alex eventually rejoined us after repairing the flat, and I posed the idea to Alex.
'I didn't come along to ride to Warrnambool - I signed on for the DOUBLE WARRNAMBOOL'. Olly concurred and any plan of utilising public transport quashed. I liked the way they thought and as painful as it would be to push on, I knew I had two incrediblly solid spirits to ride with. Nothing could stop us it seemed.
We left Nick at the station in Camperdown, filled up on water and supplies, slapped on sunscreen and sailed into the breeze again. We were comfortably swapping turns knowing that the distance was a weight we were all carrying.
Chatting over lunch I discovered my travelling partners ages. A decade younger. I wondered how I would have gone on such an epic trip when I was their age.
When I was your age...
I'd just started my career in courieringering in London, Around the Bay (on a mountain bike) had been my biggest ride previous and it had shattered me. My idea of cycle touring then involved my backpack with 3 man tent and food on my back, and a mountain bike. I'd travelled around the UK (London to Brighton, to Southampton, to Bath, to London) with my brother doing so, then the French Alps.
Every ride brings a new adventure, and every ride I learn something about bikes, myself or others.
For example, I learnt my brother is a show off, and is twice as determined as anyone I know. Quit is not part of his semantics.
Back to the current adventure.
We returned to the Winchelsea larder, Alex was reunited with his phone and basking in the sun over one last coffee we were quizzed by a passing mother and son.
'Where's your support vehicle?'
I laughed. She was serious.
We had reached Grovedale at around 6pm already 10 hours in saddle and 90km still to go. Grovedale was the point at which we pointed our bars north, and for the first time in close 20 hours of pedalling we would NOT have a headwind.
From high up on the range the You Yangs seemed massive. We were comfortably sitting in the high 30s to 40s and I was felled. This time it was a shard of something through the casing of my tire. 'FAR CANAL'. I cried.
Alex clicked his stopwatch and I went to work. Changing it in record time, thanks to a helping hand. Why waste previous energy pumping away.
Point of failure.
At some point, mechanically something will fail. It is near impossible to be prepared for everything.
I rode from Banos, Ecuador to the Amazon with fellow adventurers and at one point, we were down a man. I rode back a kilometre to find my friend stranded by a hut on the side of the road.
A pin from the chain had split on the $5 hire bike and we were miles (and hours walking) from anywhere. A local came out from the hut, and chained up his monkey to the nearest tree. He offered a suggestion. He handed us a rock. With that rock we crudely hammered the pin into place and continued on.
Three snapping spokes within a very short space of time rendered Olly's front wheel close to useless. It would no longer pass through the fork without hitting the leg.
The only solution was to toy with spokes until it did, and remove the front caliper to give more freedom. Alex tweaked away tyre-lessly and after some time we had a result.
It rolled like a clown's wheel, but it meant we could more than just limp our way back to the civilisation.
As the sun closed on the day, and a huge moon rose I finally felt good. Strong even. Maybe it was because we were again with 22km of the center of Melbourne and I had a sniff of home.
Alex threw out the idea of Sydney to Melbourne in 90 hours between turns of the crank. What may have sounded like madness now seemed not only reasonable, but feasible.
My companions lights flicked behind me and a gallant three of us crept through the black backroads of Brooklyn. We came to the Footscray turn. Stopped. Shook hands. Went our seperate ways.
'Nice riding with you'.
Two days. 600km. Thousands of words and a few photos.