Route description: Start at McLaren Vale, head out to McLaren Flat, turn off to Blewitt Springs, Head through Bakers Gully, over into Clarendon, ascend the Scenic route to Chandlers Hill, cross Piggott Range road and down Cox's Hill road before returning to McLaren Vale via the Coast to Vines shared rail trail.
We started our ride just a little late after receiving a message from Rob to say he was running a little late himself. The little delay gave Rob the chance to catch up well before we reached McLaren Flat. At McLaren Flat we picked up Brett who had arranged to meet us there, by the fire station. With a plan to keep the group together until we at least reached the start of the inclines at Blewitt Springs, meant we did not require a TEC. Brett however offered to help by keeping an eye on the back as we progressed. Reviewing my Fly6 footage showed that the group stayed together right up until the inclines and observed the good practice of riding single file on the busy road between McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat and although riding 2 abreast to Blewitt Springs, immediately moved to single file each time a car back call was made. In fact it looked like a tidy little group from what I could observe!
Start Of The Inclines.
As we started the first kick we split into 2 main groups, from what I could see, with a group of 5 at the front. By the second incline, although not that much distance between the groups I noticed Lisa break from the back group to join the front group.
With great weather and some lovely views of the Vineyards through Blewitt Springs it was turning into the great ride this loop usually presents us. Before we reached the end of Blewitt Springs road we had fragmented a little more as the longer inclines had their usual effect. Even though we were fragmented there was not a lot of distance between us all
Regroup on Chapel Hill road.
A very short break here to refuel and re-hydrate saw us quickly on our way again, heading to some small descents into Bakers Gully before the climb out and Kick to Kangarilla road. After Luke's nervous moment, a fortnight ago, while descending Penny's Hill road where he got the front wheel wobbles, I stayed with him on these descents while he tried a new position to better control his bike. Adding weight to the front wheel by going onto the drops takes some getting used to but he seemed ok on these descents. Holding the crossbar between his knees seemed to give him a little more confidence. As always it takes time to build confidence!
The long steady climb out of Bakers Gully spread the group out a little and although they had been warned about the kick on the last 100 m of the climb it still took its toll.
Regroup at Kangarilla Road
While some took on food and most drank some fluid we were soon on our way down the descent into Clarendon. A busy little road at times but it is dispensed with soon enough. Probably the least safe feeling part of the entire route for newer riders I would think!
Then the grind up through the main street of Clarendon before the regroup at the base of the Scenic route out of Clarendon, a 4km at 4% grade climb. One I consider to be an excellent first timers real climb but Alison tells me she would rather climb Old Willunga Hill! We are indeed all different ;-)
We regrouped just inside the climb's Strava segment so PR's were unlikely for all but a couple who didn't stop and rode past the regroup. We ran into Baron here and so I volunteered to TEC up the hill and while doing so was able to chat with Baron until he left us at Main Road, before reaching Chandlers Hill. While ascending, out of Clarendon, we had the King's ride, Graham Kings group of riders who consist mainly of riders who have either progressed from the SSRC P ride or the Muddies group riders ride down the hill past us.
Regroup Opposite The Christmas Tree Farm
Everyone had ridden well having reached the highest point of the ride and I think they were all ready to enjoy the easy return trip to McLaren Vale. Across Grant Gully road and Piggott Range road the group held together well riding in single file a lot with lots of traffic. We spread out a little as we started descending Cox's Hill road. We had a little distance between us as we passed the unfortunate rider climbing Cox's hill with a persistent Magpie attacking him while ignoring us going down!
Regroup at Corner of Panalatinga and Wheatsheaf roads
A very brief regroup and we were on our way again. Lisa suffered a dropped chain here and had some quick assistance. We were onto the Coast to Vines before we all got together again.
The rest of the ride was uneventful apart from seeing the King's group leaving McLaren Vale as we arrive at the Cottage Bakery, where they had just left. Here we enjoyed the company of the SSRC L riders who had arrived some 20 mins before us.
Using Lisa's data as typical for the group the ride was this:
No Punctures, 1 dropped chain and I think we escaped all magpie attacks!
Well done everyone, you did the group proud. Well behaved and rode withing your own capacities. It was indeed a pleasure to take you all on this journey!