Monday, October 17, 2011

The bay conquered.......

A little prophetic of me to post the video of hideous conditions late last week in reference to the Around the Bay in the Day. Not deterred by the storm clouds and buffetting winds the LAID Cycling crew rolled out in their eye catching kit for the 210km (counter clockwise).

Man on the spot Mark 'Woof' Maiolo relives the journey

Think of a number. Any number.
Nup... higher.
Keep going.
Have you reached 33,082 yet? Ok you're done.

Now have a think about that number. It's quite a bit, isn't it?

Thirty three thousand and eighty two. That's how many pedal rotations I made in our 210km jaunt for the 2011 BUPA Around the Bay ride.

What this number can't convey though, is the highs and lows of weather, comfort and emotion that came along with seven hours of riding, nine hours out on the road, and many months of preparation.

We woke at 4am to greet a mild morning as we slid into our gear and loaded our saddle bags and jersey pockets with repair kits and enough nutrition to keep us sustained for the day. A 5am roll-out from Elsternwick allowed us time to warm the legs, collect a few more mates waiting for us at the Arts Centre and claim a position towards the front of the starting area. By the time we crossed the official start line, we were ahead of thousands of equally eager riders, pain-free and full of optimism.

As always, mass-starts can be a little dicey for the first few kilometres, but we made it through incident free. The only exception being the extremely slow rider complaining about people unsafely passing on his left, while he was positioned to the very right of the lane. Give this guy a Nobel prize for logic. Or maybe a Darwin Award.

Before we knew it, we were at the base of the Westgate Bridge and the sight of an ascending road got the juices pumping for our resident Tasmanian mountain goat Phil - onward and upward he surged and we overtook many riders as we huffed and heaved to the top of the bridge. We didn't get much of a chance to savour the views from the bridge's zenith before zooming back down and commencing the long grind into the wind towards Geelong.

I can't tell you much about the next 60 kilometres, besides the fact they were tough and long. Heading directly into the wind we pushed hard and worked amongst a group of 10 or so equally eager riders, rolling turns to push the pace and each take our time in the wind. LAID Cycling looked a treat at the front of the peloton, doing the badge proud as they forged ahead in the blowy conditions. The town of Geelong was a welcome respite and the views of the water lifted our spirits. Coming out the back of Geelong we were presented with a most welcome tailwind and a dead-straight road. At this stage, Rob's eyes lit up and was chomping at the bit to lay the hammer down.

Now let me take a moment to tell you about Rob. If you were to put Rob's thighs side-by-side with a tree trunk, the tree trunk would be shitting itself. This bloke is a powerhouse! His background is in track racing and time trialling, so this segment of road was made for him. He soared past and yelled out "jump on!" so we caught his wheel and comfortably raced along at speeds nearing 52km/hr. Needless to say, the trip to Queenscliff was more pleasant and we arrived at the ferry stop just before 10am. Through our huge efforts and teamwork we just managed to squeeze onto the boat before it departed - beating last year's time by nearly one and a half hours. That's huge in anyone's book! 110km down, 100 to go.

The 40 minute ferry ride gave us time to stretch out, grab a decent feed and reflect on our efforts so far. Surprisingly the optimism was still very high and we took the time to realise how much we've exceeded expectations already. The home stretch is a familiar route and the plan was to take it easier, enjoying the ride considering we'd made up so much time on the outbound leg.

We stuck to the 'take it easy' plan by rolling off the ferry and straight to the nearest cafe for a preparatory cafe latte. The coffees were finished and the drizzle started so we clipped in and started on our homeward leg. Ten minutes of warm-up spinning saw us get into a comfortable rhythm before Rob transformed into the TT-Man again - and again we jumped on his wheel and held 45km/hr along Point Nepean Road through Rosebud and Mt Eliza, but stretched out as we went skyward into Mount Martha. The top of the climb afforded us a suitable rest point to regroup and roll down into Frankston via Oliver's hill - we're into familiar territory now boys, 50km to go!

Familiarity of surroundings brought a sense of relief that we are close, ohhhh so very close to the finish line although to some home was still too far to dream about. With 160 km completed Serge (pictured above looking like he completed the Paris-Roubaix), the old fellow Puppa, was also pushing his own pain thresholds with back spasms, stomach cramps and seat rash in the nether region. A million thoughts pass through ones mind at that stage including giving up, going home, getting off the bike, stopping .... but as the good LAID jersey says “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever”... we all shared his pain in the ass and peddled on with kilometres counting down one by one.

The winds whispered to us "take it easy fellas, can't have you home too quickly..." as it gusted into our faces through Chelsea and Blackrock, slowing our pace considerably. The extra effort required to push into the wind burnt up our calories and we started flagging - we're on the home stretch so hopefully the legs and lungs and heart will keep us forging ahead. With each pedal stroke we made it closer and closer to the finish line, and every so often the wind picked up to let us know who's boss.

We finally reached Pickles Street and turned away from the oceanic gusts along the Esplanade. A few hook turns later, and we were greeted by a cheer squad of Bicycle Network Victoria volunteers applauding us for our efforts and letting us know we're only one kilometre away from finishing. The emotions swelled and the excitement peaked as we took the final u-turn into the Alexandra Gardens and we crossed the line arm-in-arm, the sense of relief clear on our muddy faces.

So it's now nearly 24 hours since we finished the ride and the legs are still a bit sore, the eyes are hayfever-dry, and the legs are on the burnt side of tanned - not to mention the awesome burnt demarcation lines on my wrists and mid-bicep - it's going to take some work to even out these tan lines!

So what do you say, shall we try the 250km option next year??

Some ride pictures below:


  1. The comments about Rob are hilarious and so true! I'm glad you all survived, well done and great write up and where do I get a pink kit from? Can anyone have your kit?

  2. Rowena,

    Anyone can purchase our kits. At the moment we have the tops and Bib shorts available with Arm warmers coming VERY soon.

    email me at

  3. Great write up, I loved it. A shout out to Phil as well as he he sat at the front for long stretches and was a great super domestique as he sat on 40kmhr.

    Great to meet Mark and Serge and will ride again with you in Melb or Tas

    Also where can i get a kit from :)

  4. Email me at ( or call
    Me) to get the kit......a fantastic introductory offer for early adopters ;)


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