My sixth time around the loop; 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and now 2018. I’d entered in 2013 but had the flu the week before the ride and that Saturday it poured with rain, so I sensibly stayed home.

The official timing reports say that I completed the ride in 7hr 22min 36sec, which puts me 9th last of the 177 riders in the 160 km event, and 3hr 22min behind Eric who was first to finish!

A bit of poking around in the results and I can see that there were 351 entries across all the ride distances, 177 for the 160 km; of these 2 are still marked as “On Course”, 34 as “Not Started” and the remaining 141 as “Finished”. So I was 9th last out of 144, I’m assuming that the two still “On Course” either went home or failed to have their tags read when they came across the finish line – hardly surprising given that one of the two sensor antennas was lying face down on the road due to the wind.

I always enjoy it, I’m never fast. The first few flat fast hours as far as Lang Lang, the fantastic scenery climbing up through Poowong and along the ridge, the lunch stop at the Elinbank church, then the rolling hills into Warragul and the small towns along the railway, the surprisingly long last section following the irrigation drains and into the wind, then the last few kilometres back towards Nar Nar Goon before turning off. I’m nearly always surprised at how close the finish is to that turn off, then there’s the wind down and a hamburger, a half hour rest or so before another five kilometres back to Packenham to catch the train home.

The usual mix of ugly aussie drivers, mostly between Warragul and Nar Nar Goon, same as every year – too fast and too close but thankfully no real aggression this year, and the truck drivers for the quarries near Lang Lang all behaved themselves too.

Even with a new organising group and having to provide your own lunch, the ride is enjoyable and affordable, and I’ll be back next year.

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