Up and out of bed early today — well, early for me! After a few too many weekends where I’ve managed to justify staying at home, or sleeping in, or not going riding, I think it’s finally time that I really did get out on my bike and train for the Alpine Classic! Relying on native ability just isn’t going to work for 200km of mountain climbs!

The Duke/Myers family barbecue at Shoreham provided the impetus, all I needed to do was ride down there and join them for lunch. Simple really, apart from Jo not being able to quite remember where I was meant to go. Tentative directions and an instruction to phone for help if I got lost!

A wonderful cool morning as I headed off down to St Kilda, onto Beach road and keep heading south. A quick hello to Pete as he was arriving at his shop and then total mayhem — a triathlon had closed Beach road from Brighton to Black Rock and everyone was being redirected onto suburban back-streets. There were cyclists and cars everywhere, nobody seemed to know where they were, or where they were heading, and it was a wonder that I didn’t see anyone knocked over with the way they were all tearing along, trying desperately to get further south and back onto Beach road.

Gradually increased in temperature as we got to Mordialloc and then on down to Frankston. As usual, some idiot tried to knock me off my bike in Frankston — petrol-head central. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a commodore with P-plates, this time it was an elderly bloke, he sped past flicking my elbow with his mirror — obviously too hard to pull out and go around a cyclist. His next stunt was to stop at the traffic lights and have the passenger throw open the door and step out directly in my path.

Up Oliver’s Hill, then through the hills to the Mornington turnoff, pausing to fall ungracefully off my bike at a set of traffic lights. Major embarrassment — the rains of the last week had made one of my cleats a little rusty and I was just a fraction too slow in unclipping when I stopped!

Mornington was busy, café goers and shoppers, then through the hilly twisty bit around the coast to Dromana. Safety Beach was another surprise — the entire road had been dug up through the middle of the town, so once again I had to detour through back streets — and I didn’t realise that Safety Beach was big enough to have back streets!

Just after Dromana is the left-turn for Arthur’s Seat. Rounding the corner is a very demoralising sight, the road seems to go under the freeway and then straight up the hill like a ski-ramp in reverse. Luckily that isn’t the way to the top, the road up the hill is hidden behind the freeway and zigzags its way up through four kilometres of forest, gaining about 300 metres in altitude. Steep climbing, and hot, since the sun was now beating down. I was going slowly enough to marvel at the size of the bull-ants crossing under my tyres. Also had plenty of time to check out the chairlift pylons and cables, now repaired after their collapse a year or so ago.

From the top of Arthur’s Seat it was about ten kilometres to Shoreham, rolling downhill most of the way — shorter and quicker than I’d expected. Only the final turnoff at the end of the Redhill-Shoreham road nearly fooled me, I couldn’t see the signs and didn’t realise at first that I had to go straight ahead. Turning left, I glanced back and spotted the sign, crossed the road and coasted the last few hundred metres down to the town. Just over a hundred kilometres, less than I’d expected, three and three-quarter hours, and maybe there’s a chance that I’ll be fit enough for the Classic!

Perfect timing, I arrived just in time to chat and cool off before the barbecue was lit, and just as the clouds started cooling everything down. Over lunch the clouds turned first to a few spots of rain, gradually increasing and forcing us under cover. Two small, excited, noisy and very tired nephews occasionally forced us back out into the open.

After a long hot day, I was glad to be getting into the car to be driven home. Especially since the rain kept increasing, becoming a solid downpour by the time we’d returned to Melbourne. Drivers on the freeway were doing their usual frightening best to tail-gate at 100km/hr in pouring rain and low visibility. Worst of all were the semi-trailers, up higher their drivers could see, or just didn’t give a damn, and kept on thundering past, intimidating everything and everyone slower out of their path — Professional Drivers indeed.