Starting in Willunga is the most local an event ride gets to a dweller of the Deep South. After completing all of 38km of the previous Grand Slam at Mt Torrens and also having recce'd both loops of GS2 in the intervening period I was fairly sure that I could complete the full ride and had few excuses not to. The number of kilometres I had ridden in between GS1 and GS2 had increased markedly and a bit of weight had come off also, so this further added to my confidence level. Still, this was my first crack at a 100km ride in over a year (I rode to the start to ensure I was close to 100km, I knew two loops were no more than 90km) so I was at least a little apprehensive.
I had arranged to meet Spartacus (Mark Ferguson) sometime during the ride and as luck would have it I bumped into him at the start. Mark was up for the 50km and I cruised with him to the first refreshment stop at the Star of Greece. We had started a bit behind the rest at 8am, but we found ourselves catching the slower 50km riders fairly quickly. After the stop at Pt Willunga I bid farewell to Mark to get on with the rest of the ride. I must have had just about the perfect lead-out from him as the next hour spent on the bike feeling really good, catching more people through Tatachilla and California Roads! Heading back towards Willunga I realised that I had completely forgotten about Colville Road/St. Johns Terrace climb! I have done Colville Road & Old Willunga Hill separately, but I had never completed both climbs in the same ride. My confidence took a bit of a knock at this realisation, but with a decent rest at Willunga,I still thought it doable.
On the way up to the top of Colville Road I spied a couple who were riding their Bike Fridays with fully loaded panniers front and back. They did not seem to be part of the Grand Slam ride but were steadily spinning away. I gave them fair warning that the climb to St John's Terrace might require an even lower gear. They laughed. They turned the corner. They saw the hill. They groaned. They called me a smartarse!
The climb was all the better for the 'halfway' break at the bottom of it. I was fortunate to catch up with Smudge, Sarah, Rob & Katrina that I have previously met from this site. Spartacus was even there. I'm not sure how he passed me though! ;-)
Old Willunga Hill was next and I was, as usual, not looking forward to it. It's 3km of gravity confirming pain which will take me a minimum of 20 minutes on a very good day. The great thing about doing Willunga Hill as part of the Grand Slam event is that there are plenty of people who also potter up it. Some of whom become 'rabbits' to 'chase' and help take your mind off of the pain. Still, the work was done and the summit was reached. Colville/St Johns & Old Willunga, tick!
The plan had been to stop at the feed store but seeing Rob and Katrina about to head down Brookmans Road just as I arrived spurred me on. I then watched Chewy and Katrina power on down Brookmans Road and fairly quickly out of sight! This section,between the top of Old Willunga Hill and Peter Creek Road was where I realised that, although I was fairly tired, I was probably going to get around. There weren't too many other riders on the road by now, but those who were were encouraging and keeping an eye out to see if you were struggling or not. The drop down Peter Creek Road was a relief, not to mention a lot of well-earned fun! The last refreshment stop saw me catch up with Chewy and Katrina again. The sun was well and truly out by now and the wind had also changed. That has been a common experience for me on long rides. I'm out there so long that the weather changes!!
I figured that I had about 20km until the end and I felt surprisingly good. I'm not sure if it was the Bicycle SA fruitcake or the bananas, whatever it was, I'll have some more for next time thanks! Reinvigorated, I set off at a fair clip (for me) down Kangarilla Road for the next 7km before blowing-up just before McMurtrie Road!
The rest of the ride was an exercise in slow recovery riding with the last little ramp up to Edwards Road proving to be able to extrude that last little bit of pained effort. The last stretch up Main Road to Willunga seemed so smooth.
Geez it was fun!
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