Bobby an AC regular and myself both missed out on doing the Grand Slam 4 this year due to the flu. Over the subsequent weeks we have compared notes on colour of phlegm and general levels of fatugue. But with the GS5 looming we finally realised to complete the series this week we had better get off our sofas and hit the road. Sadly the day we picked happened to be yesterday with quite a marginal weather forecast.
Still we galantly headed out (after having almost hit the freeway before realising neither of us had a map and having to head back home again) which meant we didn't start until 10 am. Still plenty of time for us we thought. I am sure I don't have to tell any of you what a fabulous tour of the hills this 150km route is, but for Bobby and I it proved to be an epic adventure. Despite getting quite wet and hailed on the first loop was incident free, and we were patting ourselves on the back for getting back to the car by 1:30pm, and planned to hit the Meadows pub for lunch :).
The second loop was an entirely different story. It started with a severe hail storm as we battled the elements from Echunga to Meadows, and the water on the road was at times more than rim deep, so by our lunch stop we were both soaked (again) and shivering. After the climb out of meadows, I really enjoyed the long down hill to Ashbourne though it didn't really help the chill factor. But after turning off towards Strath, Bobby had a flat, which he fixed quickly enough and we got on our way. It was now 3:30 in the afternoon and I reckoned with 50 km to go and almost 3 hours of daylight left we should be fine.
Then in Strath just after Bobby warned me about the railway tracks (they are angled with the road not perpendicular) and that they were treaturous when wet, I almost managed to clear them before my rear wheel slid out and I found myself sprawled on the road. After a quick check of myself, I turned my attention to my bike. It appeared (in it's current filthy state) to not have suffered too much. Bobby too had come a cropper and a quick inspection of him showed that we had been very lucky and no major issues appeared. After a 10 minute breather while I inspected the grazes and stopped seeing stars we got back underway.
As we climbed our way from Woodchester to Wistow though Bobby said " Sarah you're going to hate me. I've got another flat!" Sure enough we had to stop as his tyre was slowly getting flatter and flatter the higher we climbed. It was by now 5 pm and I was really starting to worry as we still had 27 km to go and a tyre to change and a little over an hours light left. Also during the climb I had realised that my rear derailleur had been knocked during the fall as when on my biggest cog at the back it was hitting the spokes on my rear wheel and under tension my chain kept skipping. Not a major issue I could still ride, but definately a mild annoyance, and my 10 speed became 9.
Once the second puncture was repaired both Bobby and I put our heads down, the relaxed and chatty ride suddenly became serious and I was watching the kilometers turn over as the sun dropped lower and the grey clouds threatened. Heading in and out of Mount Barker we hit "peak hour" traffic and with the damp roads and lowering light levels, I was very concious that we were quite vulnerable. Still it was a relief to make the last climb in to flaxley and know that the Echunga pub was only 5km's away. We finally rolled in to Echunga at almost 6:30 pm and I reckon all light was lost within 10 minutes. Boy, was the welcoming of the pub greatly apprecaited with it's log fire and friendly staff and patrons. A fabulous end to what was a challenging day made even more challenging with the extreme weather and the various incidents. Oh and did I mention, we got really wet over and over again? lol
It all makes for good stories and I hope the 200km GS5 next weekend proves to be as much fun.
See you there,
oh and my bike is in the shop getting some TLC so it will be ready to roll :)
The rides stats are here
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