Audax Australia (West Australian Region) ran its annual “Winter Dawn til’ Dusk 200 km ride on June 18, 2011. Â This year’s ride was an anniversary ride, so the route was a new one and an actual 214 km. However those that completed the 200 km before dusk can claim the Winter Dawn til’ Dusk Award. Â This ride is run on the closest Saturday to the winter solstice (southern hemisphere) which is June 22 in 2011.
To satisfy the award, the ride started at dawn (7:15 AM) and formally finished (200 km) at 5:18 PM; of course the idea was to get the 214 km finished before sunset, but that was not to be the case for me, but I did manage to make the 200 km point with a minute to two to spare and hence have now successfully completed a winter dawn to dusk ride on my second attempt.
But back to the ride. Â Approximately 12 riders I believe headed off the Gingers Roadhouse in Upper Swan to get the ride underway. Â Five of us where to go on to complete the 213 km ride with six enjoying the shorter route of 120 km and I believe one rider pulled out at Bindoon.
The first 60 kilometres of the ride took us through the beautiful Chittering Valley to Bindoon and the world famous Bindoon Bakery. Â After a quick replenishment break the faster three riders headed off to Toodyay and beyond. I soon followed suit and shortly afterwards Rob was chasing me down. Rob caught me as I told him he would on the climb out of Bindoon. Rob then kindly waited for me at the start of Dewars Pool Road where we then road together along the beautiful undulating Dewars Pool Road to Toodyay. On both of these sections I averaged around 24.7 km/h which isn’t a bad pace for me. Â Dewars Pool Road is a great ride along side deer farms and Wandoo forest. Â The weaher was kind on this section as well, just adding to the beauty of the ride. Â Rob has kindly shared some of his photos from the ride and you can see just how beautiful this section is.
After lunch we headed off to Bakers Hill and the next control at Worooloo. Â Rob soon vanished out front as he hoped to make the ride finish before dusk. I soon realised this was not going to happen for me and I settled into climbing to Bakers Hill on the dead roads and into the wind. Â Before making Baker’s Hill the weather had turned for the worse and rain pretty well settled in for the rest of the ride.
By the time I made Bakers Hill my moral was down in the dumps and I didn’t even bother stopping at the famous Bakers Hill Bakery, instead plowing on in the wishful view that getting off the Great Eastern Highway four kilometres past Bakers Hill would be a turn for the better. Â It wasn’t to be as I fought my tiring legs, dead roads, wind and rain through to the Woorooloo control, and on through Chidlow, Mount Helena, Stoneville and Parkerville (when does the hill descent ever begin?). Â At last Toodyay Road appeared and down we go, right? Wrong! Yet another hill, more rain and wind. Â I was now thinking that I had completely blown any chance of an award, net alone betting my previous times for this ride, but eventually the descent arrived.
By this time, visibility was very bad, it was close to dark and the wind was blowing bad. I Â quickly learnt that a variable shoulder, wind, three rear lights and a safety vest was no match for aÂ 60 km/h descent in poor visibility and I quickly pulled my speed back to 30 km/h descending the remainder of Toodyay Road to the Swan Valley. Â As it turned out I did reach the 200 km point before dusk by about a minute and I got the award, but at this point on the ride all my focus was on finding the last turn at Oakover Road as just down the road was the Great Northern Highway and then a short “sprint” with the wind back to Gingers Roadhouse. Well not quite that simple as I nearly went down on the railway crossing just to the north West Swan Road. Thankfully it was only a near miss as coming down here in poor visibilty with all the road train traffic is not something that one would wish on there worse enemy.
So shortly after the railway crossing the ride ended at Gingers. Rob who had done well finishing the full distance before dusk (well done Rob and to the fast group ahead of us) was waiting for me at Gingers, enjoying a curry in the warmth of the roadhouse (he need a lift home :)). Bikes were soon loaded and there ended another enjoyable and challenging Audax ride. Thanks to Perry for organising a great ride.
My thanks to Rob Firth of Acorn Photo for the photos.