After the first week of the Ride Hard to Breathe Easy Challenge on Strava, I’d already amassed 341km, putting me well ahead of schedule to ride 800km in April. I’d finished the week with a solid 112km ride and I was starting to build some great momentum.
But that momentum didn’t last long with week two of the challenge getting off to a sluggish start. Here’s how it unfolded:
Day 8: Sunday April 8
The Easter long weekend seemed like a perfect opportunity to get in some big kays but those plans were thwarted when I got sick on Saturday night. I spent Sunday in bed and lounging around the house, trying to get myself back to proper health.
Day 9: Monday April 9
I’d planned to head out for a ride Monday assuming I’d be back to full health by that point. I wasn’t and so I spent the last day of the Easter break sitting around doing nothing.
Day 10: Tuesday April 10
A combination of morning rain and the back end of the cold/flu I’d been suffering from meant I didn’t get on the bike on Tuesday either. Spending the first three days of the week off the bike wasn’t a great feeling but it was probably a good decision in the long-run.
Day 11: Wednesday April 11
Back on the bike. Finally. I got up early and met the Donvale Demon down at the Brunswick Velodrome for some laps. I managed to complete my fastest lap around the 320m track – 24 seconds – giving me an average speed of 49.5km/h. On this particular day I had the Demon’s measure, but that wouldn’t last long …
That evening I left work a little late and rode straight home in the dark.
Day 12: Thursday April 12
Another day, another chance to have a solid pre-work ride at the local ‘drome. This particular morning was freezing and my Garmin was reading 7 degrees for most of the ride. I just couldn’t get warm but according to Strava I managed to equal my best lap time of 24 seconds.
The Demon seemed to enjoy the cold and proceeded to put on a clinic. He smashed out a 22-second lap, leapfrogging my best and placing him fifth on the Strava segment page.
As with the day before, I rode straight home in the dark.
Day 13: Friday April 13
In a point of difference from the previous two days, I went straight to work and did a longer ride on the way home.
After finishing work early for the week I headed south through the city and out to the Capital City Trail. I followed the path along the Yarra, out to Yarra Boulevard and then rode back up Station Street to Thornbury. A nice way to end the working week, including a top-ten finish on the Pipe Bridge to Yarra Boulevard Strava segment.
Day 14: Saturday April 14
Ride: Warm-up & E-grade road race at Kyneton and ride back to Melbourne
Distance: 150km (605km total)
Earlier in the week the Demon, Fletch and I had decided to sign up for the opening race in the Northern Combine road race season. The race was held up at Kyneton and rather than having two of us drive up, I rode over to the Demon’s house and he drove us up. Fletch took the train.
The Demon and I rode E-grade while Fletch, with a couple of D-grade crits behind him, decided to give D a crack.
I won’t go into much detail about the race itself as this will be the subject of a standalone post in the coming days. Suffice to say that it was a learning experience and one I’m glad I had.
The Demon had to leave straight after the race so I waited around for Fletch and the two of us eventually set off south. The plan was to ride back to Melbourne, following the Calder Freeway as far as we could before cutting through the western suburbs and back home.
The fact the weather was perfect (25 degrees) and there was a strongish north-westerly breeze made the decision to ride home an easy one. Sure we were both tired from racing but with a tailwind most of the way home, it was a great ride.
We took turns at the front, working hard to keep the pace up, watching the kays tick away. We average somewhere in the vicinity of 35km/h back to town with long stretches above 40km/h and several stretches at 50km/h+.
The road surface was, for the most part, quite decent … apart from the considerable amount of gravel and debris in places. We stopped near Sunbury to lend a hand to a couple who were trying to fix a puncture. Not long after setting off, Fletch got a puncture as well. Today’s takeaway? If you’re going to ride the Calder, be prepared for punctures.
I knew we had to exit the Calder at some point close to town, but the regular cycling turn-off point, at Sunshine Avenue, was closed off. We got stuck riding on a section of the Calder that, ideally we would have avoided: a long climb along a stretch of road with no emergency stopping lane.
It made for a couple of hairy moments. It certainly would have been nice if Vicroads had made it clearer where we were supposed to exit, given the closing of Sunshine Avenue.
We got off at the next exit – Keilor Park Drive – and after a couple of minutes spent on Google Maps we found our way through to Essendon and home from there.
All in all it was a great ride home, a great day overall and a great opportunity to put in some serious kays for the Ride Hard to Breathe Easy challenge.
So that’s two weeks down, 605km completed. I’d like to think I’ll be able to complete the 800km by this time next week and that 1,000km is within reach for the month.
And while I’m hoping to cover 1,000km for the month, the current leader, Guido Gadomsky, has already ridden more than 2,100km. If memory serves, he completed the challenge well inside the first week.
And while we’re on the subject of impressive numbers, it’s inspiring to see just how many people have signed on for the challenge: more than 3,600 so far. Even more impressive is the fact more than 1.3 million kilometres have been ridden, in just two weeks(!), by people involved in this challenge.
Well done to you all. Keep the kilometres coming and keep doing your bit to spread awareness about lung cancer.
If you haven’t already joined the Ride Hard to Breathe Easy challenge on Strava, get on it! It’s free to enter and all you need is a smartphone with the Strava app or a compatible Garmin device.