This will be short but I thought I'd post in-case I lapse into a fatigue induced coma!
Based a ride I've just come back from and previous experiences riding around Darwin Harbour.
Ride: Leanyer - Mandorah
Duration: 5hr 45min
Rules for riding the Cox Peninsular Rd
(These could apply to any long rides in the Top-End)
- Leave home early.... very early! Better to ride in the dark than in the full heat of the day.
- If someone offers to help you by carrying water and food DO NOT refuse!
- Carry spare tube, puncture kit etc.... (If someone else carry's these things for you that's cool too)
- Avoid carrying anything yourself. (I've never done an assisted ride but dam I wish I had!)
- Water, Sunscreen, water, long sleeves, water, snacks and water are essential.
- If you're riding in a Club Ride or expect that you will be in the same vicinity and don't want to be scoffed or laughed at purchase all the latest gear, bike, licra, computer etc... etc... (Kit under $4,000 may not cut it)
- Try not to be on the road between midday and 4:00pm (The sun is a killer!)
- Get some exercise before you go....
Facts about riding the Cox Peninsular Rd
(The following information is based on my first hand experience... anyone wishing to dispute anything written below is free to accompany me on the next ride... You can carry all the shit!)
- A 10 km commute each way to and from work 4 times per week is not enough training for a ride like this
- If your not a super fit super fast rider and leave Darwin after 6:00am your going to be riding in the heat of the day.... (It's not pleasant riding the Cox Peninsular Rd in the heat of the day)
- If you find yourself on the road after 12:00pm midday it is likely you are already feeling fatigued, you are going to suffer a sense of extreme demoralization, dehydration, aching knees and back, you may find yourself cursing every f--king thing you see on the road. The only consolation will be that all the really good riders have already passed you and it's likely that everyone else on the road is feeling the same way that you are... You might find yourself cursing them anyway just because they're there...
- If attend a group ride on a bike that is anything over 10 years old and you wear stubbies shorts and a secondhand flouro safety vest people will laugh at you!
- If you wear said clothing and stand too near the gate of the Mandorah ferry club riders will mistake you for ship's crew and ask you to help them with their bikes... You won't get a tip!
- If you carry all your own stuff and find yourself amongst a pack of riders on flash new carbon fibre bikes you will not be able to slip stream them... You will chew their dust and you will be scoffed at.
- If you carry your own stuff you can pull up whenever you like and have a picnic, (This is a good time to find a comfy position and watch the licra brigade pushing hard through the heat to the next watering point. (There are some bonuses to being as uncool as me)
- If you find you got home a little bit late due to being under prepared, unfit and suffering all kinds of pain don't expect a hero's welcome... ;)
Left home (near Leanyer) 5:10am... forgot water, went back and filled up... Left home at 5:15am, got to the gate and realized one of my tail lights wasn't working, tried to fix it but fudged it instead and chucked it on top of the fridge.... Left home at 5:20am, forgot something else.... I can't remember what it was but I had to go back into the house to get it at great risk of waking family!
Left home at about 5:30am and cycled into the darkness feeling like I'd forgotten something but in no mood to return for it!
Had a great ride along the cycle path enjoying the starlight. (There was no moon). When I reached the usual turn off for the Stuart Highway I noticed the path continued ahead of me through what had been uncleared bushland last time I was there. I followed the path all the way to Howard Springs, it was awesome and I reckon it covers some really lovely country too. I'll have to get back and check it out during the day sometime, when my legs have recovered. Once at Howard Springs I had to double back to the main Rd to get back on the highway but it was well worth the detour.
Peddled into Noonamah at 7:00am, just in time to watch the sun rise. There had been a rodeo on Saturday night and there were people sleeping all over the place in swags and in the back of utes. A sign read 'Highway to Hell'. Ha!
Continued up the Stuart Highway munching on a cool fresh apple and grinning at my good fortune... Arghh the open road.
Arrived at Berry Springs pretty soon after feeling a little knee sore.. There was a food stop for the Club Riders who had registered for the Around the Bay ride with Darwin Cycling Club. Had a brief rest there and discovered one of my water bottles had split, chatted with the ride officials, who advised me that the first group had left Palmerston about half an hour previously, they'd be coming through pretty soon. I kind of wanted to stay and watch them pass through but thought I'd get the jump on them and pushed off.
Bunch of riders
Next stop was the Blackmore River for my obligatory photo next to the sign... I don't know why but I've done it every time... Just as I was getting an orange out of my bag I heard the whoosh of about 10 cyclists flying by.. Here they come. The first of 250 riders.
I jumped back on and peddled off after them... I had no chance. I was only half way around and was already flagging. The rest of the ride was grueling, as it always is. I struggled along, stopping for a drink or to eat some fruit.By the time I'd come to Mandorah the other riders around me weren't going so fast either.
I limped into Mandorah at about 11:15 and could see the ferry coming. When it arrived and the passengers had disembarked I lifted my bike onto the roof where it was surrounded by more carbon fibre than I've ever seen in my life, riders gingerly passed their precious cargo up to the top deck, flinching at every knock or scrape. Gratefully I stepped aboard and crashed into one of the inside chairs.
I looked around at the other riders, none of them seemed as stuffed as I was! They were all shining and smiling with fit capable bodies, I put on my bravest face and did my absolute best not to hobble.. but it was no use, it was obvious I'd hit the wall!
Mandorah Pier (With cyclists)
It took me an hour and a half to ride the 10 km home.
Reflection: At least this time I made it to Mandorah before midday. Good luck to those who were still on the road.