The best thing about cycling in Melbourne, apart from the weather always being sunny (tongue in cheek), is all the bunch rides that are available for you, it’s genuinely hard to choose which one to do. I’m creating a list of them all, which I might share one day. Anyway, one of these rides I was recently inducted into is called the Tuesday Night Champs, or at least that's what some people call it. It’s a pretty tame, that is until the turn-around point.
It starts in St Kilda at about 6:30pm—there’s no 'about' about it, it’s exactly 6:30pm—that’s one thing with cycling, you have to be on time else they will leave without you—and leaves from Barkley Street. It runs down the back roads for a while, probably to avoid the peak hour traffic on Beach Road, that’s my guess. Eventually you do come out onto Beach Road, and spend the next 30km on that same road. It’s a beautify road the first few hundred times you do it, but it becomes very...samey to me. Quite frankly I’m a bit bored of it, but this ride was going to be a smashfest, so the scenery is irrelevant.
When you get to Mordi, short for Mordialloc if you’re struggling to find Mordi on Google Maps, the group turns around and heads back. The turnaround is a treat itself. Safe is probably a good antonym to use.
From here is where things get brutal. The day I first did this ride was a steady 38 degree day. I had already used up a full bidon on the way down, so I had one left for the smashfest. It was also a northerly wind, and guess which way we were heading. North, we were heading north... Into it. Just thought I'd make that clear.
According to the regulars, the ride can vary in speed and intensity on the way back, basically and mostly dependant on whether a 'Drew Ginn' partakes. And by partake, I mean leads the group back at an extremely fast pace. Yes, for those familiar with rowing or the olympics or Australian sports culture, he is the triple olympic gold medalist, Drew Ginn. That rower from the Oarsome Foursome.
The ride is tough, and although others do take turns on the front, it is mostly Drew himself that is pushing the speeds high. We’re talking 50km/h into a headwind. Crazy speeds. It’s faster, obviously, with a tailwind.
People are spat out of the line throughout the ride, and if you’re near the back, like I was, you have to spend a fair bit of time and a lot of energy going around those that get dropped. This causes a serious amount of pain to catch the new wheel in front, which managed to remain a good bike length away for when felt like an eternity in purgatory!
Beside the unbelievable amounts of sweat dripping into my eyes and soaking my clothes, the dry mouth, the shivers, and the pain, I managed to finish the ride still in the line. I won’t even call it a bunch, it was simply a long line of people all holding on to the wheel in front like their lives depended on it.
The sun was setting as the ride came to a close so I went to a bridge to take that god damn awful photo at the top (here again without it being cut to fit the page) of this post. I was completely exhausted so I probably thought it looked good at the time…