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First and Last

My first Bicycle SA Sea to Vines will also be my last.

Not because I didn’t enjoy my day (I did), and not because it wasn’t a challenging ride (it was). The reason I won’t be doing another one is quite simply that there aren’t going to be any more. Next year will see the inaugural ‘Amy’s Ride’, taking the place of the Sea to Vines. ‘Amy’s Ride’ will offer a new opportunity to the road riding community as well as recognising and promoting the work done by the Amy Gillett Foundation.

The fact that this was to be the last Sea to Vines was incentive enough to finally have me register.

Under starter’s orders

glenelg jetty
riders everywhere!

I cycled to Glenelg for the start, adding ten kilometres to what would already be a long day in the saddle. I was on my mountain bike, so I expected it to be putting in a fairly decent effort. As I rode down Cross Road and Anzac Highway, I saw scores of riders heading in the same direction. Most, I suspect, were Sea to Vines participants.

I pulled in to Colley Reserve and I immediately saw familiar faces – friends from the Outback Odyssey, Annual Tours and other rides. There were 800 or so riders preparing themselves for what promised to be a great day. The fact that I managed to see and chat with so many people speaks volumes for the friendships and camaraderie that goes hand in hand with Bicycle SA cycling. The weather gods had been kind and the expected maximum had been revised to 29, eight degrees cooler than the predictions of a few days earlier…

Michael Bridge delivered the final instructions to the riders from his position in the rotunda, and at 7.30 we rolled onto the road, neatly tucked in behind our police escort.

On the road

The pace was pretty good as we made our way to the Toll Gate and the start of the climbing. All the lights were green and, apart from having to tolerate those riders who think that the twelve inch gap between you and the kerb is an overtaking lane, it was all very pleasant.

It was a rare treat to ride up the freeway rather than have to use the bike path, sharing the road with the classic cars that cruised past, on their way to their own special day.

The breeze dropped for a few moments as I was passing the Mt Osmond turn off, and I could immediately feel the heat of the day. A maximum of 29 is better than 37, but it is still warm enough to make you sweat.

As we passed through Devil’s Elbow and neared Eagle on the Hill and the first refreshment stop I chatted with another rider – one of the few others with flat handlebars. Neither of us mentioned anything about climbing, and the time passed quickly.

Once we’d been through Crafers I was in new territory. I’ve been to Mt Lofty and around to Norton Summit, but not much deeper into the hills. I had no real expectation apart from enjoying myself. All I had to do was turn the cranks and follow the red arrows that had been set out by the route marshals. The scenery was beautiful; it seemed impossible that there could be so many shades of green. Where else would anyone possibly have wanted to be on such a glorious morning?

There were some enjoyable downhills around Piccadilly, just not enough of them. There never is.

We took a slight detour as we headed into Uraidla, courtesy of another set of red arrows and signage – this time for the Hills Garden and Environmental Expo. We passed other riders, busily checking route maps by the side of the road, similarly confused by the extra set of signs. Soon enough, we passed the site of the Expo. It looked interesting enough, but we decided to keep on cycling…

En route to Lenswood we had to turn right and we were assisted by Greg, playing the role of traffic warden. He expertly guided us through the intersection, marshalling cars and bikes with quiet authority.

By the time we arrived at the refreshment station at Lobethal it looked like a plague of locusts had been through. These cyclists can eat!

revive and survive

In the heat of the day

From Lobethal the route took us through Mt Pleasant and onwards to the Barossa. The ride became a bit of a slog somewhere between Mt Pleasant and Williamstown. I’d been pushing my bike for a few hours and my legs were feeling heavy. My level of fitness is OK, and I’d kept my fluids and fuel up, so I figured it was just the fact that I’d hitherto never ridden this route that was getting to me.

The day had warmed up considerably by late morning and whenever the wind dropped I started to notice the heat. Hordes of flies decided to make camp on my head and shoulders as I slowly worked my way up the hills. The extra weight was almost enough to send me toppling over. Well, you know what I mean…

At around the 100 kilometre mark the road levelled out, which made for a refreshing change. The downhill into the stop at Williamstown provided much needed relief, and sent the flies packing. I took my time at the stop, chatting with a few friends before climbing back onto the bike and heading off once again.

Almost there

It was downhill into Lyndoch, followed by a gentle ascent into Jacob’s Creek. By this time of the day, any climbing felt like work, so I was more than looking forward to completing the ride.

As we closed in on our destination, we saw more and more riders who, not content with their efforts thus far, had turned themselves around and were now riding home. Dedicated, super-fit or crazy? Perhaps a little of each…

We arrived at Jacob’s Creek and rode through the arch, very happy with our day’s ride. The band was playing, there were cyclists everywhere, and lunch comprising pizza and a glass of wine helped things along no end.

My legs were tired, I was hot, I was just about ready for a lie down, but I’d enjoyed myself and felt a quiet satisfaction at completing the journey.

It’s taken me a few years to get around to it, but I can now add the Sea to Vines to my list of completed rides. And just in the nick of time!
job done

© Copyright David Robinson, 2008

Not to be reproduced without the permission of the author