The Around the Bay in a day cycle ride is an annual ride around the Melbourne bay now in its 26th year. Since i first visited Michelle’s family over here it has always been mentioned as i ride i should do, so was on the bucket list from the moment i arrived. Almost as soon as i got a bike here i booked a place on the 210km Anti-Clockwise loop.
I mentioned that i was signing up to the guys at that i ride with at the Croydon Cycle Works Shop rides and one other hadn’t done it before and was keen. It was great to have someone else to do some training rides with and someone else to ride with.
The ride departed from Albert Park in Melbourne at 05:30, unfortunately this was the day that daylight saving kicked in so we also lost an additional hours sleep. So a 3am (feeling like 2am due to clock change) start it was, we drove to a nearby car park setup the bikes and headed to the start to line up. There wasn’t much organisation here just a funnel to queue up in where they let people head off in batches to give a bit of road separation. Luckily the weather was clear and there was no wind the forecast was perfect for the whole day.
Once the route headed out of the park we were on a mixture of closed lanes and roads towards the West Gate Bridge which crosses the mouth of the Yarra River. This is a freeway bridge of 5 lanes in each direction which you can’t normally ride over. For this event they close the inside 2 lanes for a few hours so you can cycle over – it is quite a novel experience riding over a bridge we normally drive over. The ride up was actually the longest climb on the whole route!
After coming off the bridge the (well signed and marshalled route) headed towards the town of Geelong but via the “cycle lane” which is the hard-shoulder of the freeway. This was a horrible bit of ride, there was crap all over the hard-shoulder, (stones, bits of metal, rubber and anything that had fallen off cars and lorries). Plus cars and lorries going past a meter or so away at 100km/h creating quite a vortex behind and alongside. There were lines of people with punctures along the ride of the road, fortunately we escaped any issues here both having fairly tough new 4 season tyres on. This part of the ride just seemed to drag on, it was very boring and there was bits of fog where it also got quite cold along the way.
It was nice to finally reach the outskirts of Geelong and get off the freeway and on to quieter normal roads. The route took us through the town and out the other side onto the road to Queenscliff for the ferry across the entrance to the bay. This bit of road was very straight but a bit lumpy with a few small hills to test the legs most. We were always aiming to push it down for the 10am ferry, with there only being one very hour a few kms out from Queenscliff i noticed it was about 09:45 so we put on a bit of a push to reach the ferry port with around 10 mins to spare. There we got givens some lunch and headed on over to the ferry which was about a 30min crossing.
Once on the other side at Sorrento we had a brief stop and the feed station and hit the road again. This was much more familiar territory, i’ve cycled down this way a few times before the scenery was also significantly nicer. The route follows the coast all the way up to Mornington where it goes in land a little bit before following Beach Road all the way back into the city.
There was a section of road (Esplanade) from Safety Beach up to Mornington over Mount Martha which was on closed roads (as it had been by chance a few weeks ago when we’d ridden down to Safety Beach) which was enjoyable. There weren’t that many other riders around at this point either with people having been separated out by the ferry crossings. There were a number of other people who had done another route which was the City to Sorrento and back so we weren’t totally alone. It was good to steal a draft from a few groups as they went past.
The final stretch was back up Beach Road through St. Kilda and into the City, this road has 2 lanes of which at weekends the inside one is always always used by cyclists, it is a very popular route for cyclists living in and around the city (as well as further away). It is very flat and if you are lucky, as we were you get a nice tail wind to help you along. Nearer to the city the road did start to get more busy but then were were taken off this round and back on to partially closed roads heading back to Albert Park and the finish line.
Overall it was a great day and, as weird as it sounds, i did enjoy cycling 220km. Surprisingly neither of us felt too bad afterwards, we kept well fed and watered and did have a few rest stops which really helped. We did do the whole route in good time as well. The perfect weather on the day really helped too.
However, i don’t think i would ever want to do the full Around the Bay again, the route down the freeway to Geelong was awful and so boring as well, in the future i will perhaps take part in the 210km Sorrento return route which is down the much nicer bit of coastline, although you will probably get a headwind in one of the directions. There is a bit of me thinking that as the weather was so good and i enjoyed it this time if i do do this ride again and it isn’t perfect i may not enjoy it anywhere near as much. We’ll just have to see what i think next year!