Distance 237.4km

It’s a very long way, and a very long day. Being woken by the alarm at 04:45, having to get out of a nice warm bed and eat breakfast in the dark — surely these aren’t things that people chose to do on the weekend, on their days off?

No way was I going to ride all the way in to Docklands for the 5:30 start, I checked on the map and it was the same distance from Docklands to the end of North road in Brighton as it is from our house to the end of North road, so I felt justified in leaving home and heading straight along North road. Its a strange time of day to be out riding, on the sun’s just starting to come up, on the plus side there’s hardly any traffic, on the down side, what traffic there is tends to be tired taxi drivers or drunk night-club goers heading home.

Once on Beach road I joined the maelstrom of south-heading cyclists, organised bunches travelling at all sorts of paces, disorganised bunches and individuals meandering around in their own ways. Despite looking I couldn’t see any Monash jerseys, so kept on heading south with a group of people from Geelong and an Italian gent from somewhere up in the mountains near where we’d been travelling last year.

Ten past eight in the morning and I arrived in Sorrento, a stupid time of day to be so far from bed! Stranger still to be queueing for lunch at a time when few will have had their breakfast — then it was time to join the mob for the nine o’clock ferry. One good thing about heading to Sorrento first instead of Queenscliff is that its a slightly shorter leg, so the chances of getting an earlier ferry are greater — people arriving at five to nine find themselves booked on the ten o’clock ferry, quarter past nine can end up having to wait for eleven o’clock or worse!

Queenscliff to Geelong seemed to meander all over the Bellarine peninsula, right-angle turns all over the place and as a result we had alternating headwinds, side-winds and tailwinds! From Geelong onwards it all straightened out though, sadly it was then a blustery headwind the whole way to Altona. The road is dead boring, the freeway traffic noisy, the chatting subsided, fewer jokes were being made, the day just subsided into a 65km slog to get back to Melbourne.

Up and over the Westgate bridge, the view of the river and the city a highlight. About a dozen riders almost crashed into one individual who decided to stop and adjust his shoelaces — dead in the middle of the lane! Then what should have been a wonderful down-hill run back to Docklands, except for the wind slowing us all down!

Two p.m. on the dot we sailed in under the banners, stepping off the bikes to a number of creaks and groans, a mix of smiles and exhaustion on the faces around us.

Four o’clock and I was back home, ready for a long hot shower and a cold beer! Eight hours riding, 237km, I think that’s the longest day I’ve ever spent on the bike — certainly its the longest distance!