Okay so a bit more of a write up for the Wahine

There were 29 starters, 3x 1200, 4x 1000, 3x 200 and the rest doing 600

Really started in December when Francis and I did the Three Parks permanent. He mentioned he was going to do the Wahine at Easter. I was like "yeah sure, I'll give it some thought" as I had a soft target of doing a 1000/1200 in this season but hadn't really put too much thought into it. Yes, surprising I know.

Checked out the club calendar to see what rides met the criteria and really it was a choice between Wangaratta Wahine and Young-Binnaway-Young, with the Young ride having precedence given the closer start.

Checked the actual calendar and saw the timing for the Wahine was better being over Easter and close to ANZAC day to maximise leave. Now, how to get the wife on board.

Knowing she had a friend who lived south of Ballarat that she hadn't seen in years I suggested we could make a decent trip of it. They could drop me off and pick me up on the way home. So the motel was booked and then choice was which distance to do?

After some umming and ahhing, I elected to register for the 1200 (which Francis had planned to do), figuring that I'd either get to 1000 or I wouldn't with either distance so it didn't really matter.

Since my primary focus this year is completing the YRR, I wanted to bank a 200 in case of failure at the Wahine. A nice gentle ride from Bilpin sounded just the ticket :). It gave the bike a good solid workout and re-highlighted the fact my climbing is compromised just at this point, between gearing/fitness/fatness. A fairly conservative ride was done, with the knowledge I had the 1200 less than seven days away.

Still commuted by bike, as much for recovery as anything else, but took it easier than I would normally.

As the rides were so close I went straight from recovery to load feeding. Lots of different carbohydrate sources to break up the monotony and more fluids to help stop dehydration. Also undertook a course of creatine supplementation, which should help with glycogen storage. Studies have supported this idea, but whether it works or not for our type of endurance I don't know. I continued the supplement regime until the day after to possibly aid with returning my glycogen levels to normal.

Went through a checklist of all the gear, including battery chargers, replacement tubes, tools and tyre. Additional kit including cold weather gear.

Nutrition wise the plan was to run three bottles, two of water and one of Perpetuam, with supplemental bars and gels. Eat at all stops and try and avoid as much fried food as possible. Motel had a microwave, so three frozen lasagnes were purchased for the following nights as well as milk, juice and gatorade.

Still felt pretty nervous about the distance, remembering how awful I felt at the end of the 600 the previous season.

Day 1: 376km 25.4km/h Total time: 17:53 Moving: 14.48 Cafe: 3:06
Rolled over to the start and caught up with those riders I'd previously met but hadn't seen recently. Francis and I introduced ourselves to the third 1200 rider Daniel from Hong Kong and encouraged him to join us. We didn't really have a plan beyond riding together, but we settled on attempting to average 20km/h including stops to finish by 1am.

We quickly fell behind the other riders but that was fine as we knew we had the longest to go. We pulled into the first checkpoint just as two of the 1000 riders were leaving. My slow coffee killed our time at that first stop, which annoyed me a bit.

After the first stop I took a long turn at the front. Having done so much solo audaxing I trust my legs to tell what sort of pace I can manage for the day, and with me on the front I don't have to try to manage someone else's pace. Slowing and surging take a great toll on me I have found. So the other two sat in behind and we motored along quite nicely. About halfway to the next checkpoint we caught Ral (who was doing the 1000), he joined our band of merry adventurers and we continued on to the next stop.

Here we worked out we could possibly make it back before midnight without pushing too hard if we managed our time off bike carefully, so that became the new target. We crossed the border twice before arriving at Echuca. Daniel had a flat and replaced both tube and the raggedy tyre he'd been using. Dinner at Shepparton and we had an outside chance at being back by 11pm. The Noodlebox was shut but the burger bar two doors down was excellent and would see repeat trade from us. Final stretch of the day saw us climbing the Warby's before descending into town. No wildlife incidents fortunately but they were spotted both climbing and descending.

We arrived back at Wangaratta at 11.50 inside our adjusted schedule, Ral reckon we saved him 2-3 hours. A 6am restart was agreed and we headed off to our various motels. Milk, shower, lasagne, gatorade, bed.

Day 2: 332km 24.2km/h Total time: 17:09 Moving: 13:43 Cafe: 3:26
More of the same, we were again aiming for 20km/h average. Again good conditions. Three man rotation at the front doing 5km turns. Daniel was struggling with the distance/pace/heat and was working hard to just hang on. Entirely understandable given he wouldn't have come across such long flat sections being ridden in mid to high twenties. Nothing really stood out from the day. Lunch was at Shepparton where we availed ourselves of the burger bar again, this time not buying too much food. Daniel started to find his flow after lunch and joined the rotation so we had a four man rotation with a 15km rest between turns.

We got back about an hour later than planned but still early enough to get a bit more sleep. Another 6am start was planned. Again it was milk, shower, lasagne, gatorade, bed.

Day 3: 294km 22.3km/h Total time: 16:46 Moving: 13:10 Cafe: 3:35
The Queen Stage. Climb up to Beechworth was good. I actually got a little bit ahead here and tried to get some pics of the guys as they came into Beechworth. Wasn't overly successful. Brief cafe stop at Beechworth before heading down the hill. Nice run down apart from the ACT driver who would not overtake me. Bumped into some cows grazing the roadside heading into Wodonga. Did a townie of Wodonga before finding the chicken place/control. Was getting quite warm by this stage. Back out of Wodonga and then crossing the Hume Freeway, which was "fun". Back through Chiltern for another quick stop. Icy Poles were the order of the day, saw at least 32 on the computer. Another uneventful run back into town where we split up and agreed to meet back at the Advance Hotel at 4.30pm.

Should have checked the radar because we ran into a storm. It was still quite warm, which was fortunate as I'd elected to drop my bigger saddle bag, which of course had my wet weather gear in it. About halfway to the control point we stopped for about 10-15 minutes as we couldn't see where we were going. We had two offers of lifts and one of a porch from the locals, who (quite rightly) thought we were mad. The rain eased off and we continued carefully on, ensuring we were well spaced, but didn't lose anyone. Got to the control but the pub was shut. The publican heard us milling about on the verandah and kindly turned his lights and spoke to us for a little while. We headed off again into to some intermittent showers again rolling turns counting off the kms.

No huge issues on the run in to town (I had a momentary panic when my light died). A slightly late return saw Ral finishing his 1000 (and Woodrup). Again a bit later than I had hoped but another slightly longer night's sleep was possible. A revised 6.30 start time was agreed and it was back to the hotel for milk, shower, lasagne, gatorade, bed.

Day 4: 217km 21.6km/h Total time: 12:49 Moving: 10:03 Cafe: 2:46
While we had until midnight to finish, none of us wanted to be out there longer than needed. But also weren't prepared to beat ourselves up and not finish having come so far. Most of the route from Wangaratta to Bright was completed on the rail trail. What a revelation that was. It may have been slower than the road, but the removal of traffic helped reduce a lot of stress on that last day. Bakery stop at Myrtleford which was needed. Bright was very busy and coming out on the way to Harrietville was fairly stressful (for me at least). Lunch at Myrtleford and then a good roll down to Bright. Just as we entered the built up area of Bright I broke a rear spoke. Tucked it in until we got to the park where it got unscrewed and recycled. On to Myrtleford where we had planned to stop at a cafe, but it was shut. Well shutting, they very generously allowed us to get cold drinks and food. Final quick stop at Everton station (retired) before the finish. We had to slow because of a number of roos deciding to shadow us but once back onto the road there were few issues.

I was surprised to realise there were actually people waiting for us to finish. Sarah and Leigh had beer and food (nice). Brevet cards were handed in, photos taken, thanks given and good-byes made.

At the end I felt so much better than at the end of the Temora 600. Reflecting the fact conditions were very moderate and we spent more time as a group.

What worked:
Multiple knicks changes - 3 pairs (2x Castelli, 1x DHB)
Spare shoes
Nutrition - ran a Perpetuam bottle + 2x water bottles. Bars and gels in reserve on bike. Made better choices off the bike. Preparation was good. Having food in the motel, rather than trying to source it at midnight
Having a planned rate of advance of 20km/h inc stops

What didn't:
Forgot heart rate strap - may well need to have an actual checklist
Swapping saddle bags half way through day 3. Wet weather gear was left at the motel. Fortunately it was still warm.
Time off bike

Wheels - my cheap "second" set of wheels having covered 20,000km is increasingly unreliable. New wheels for me
Gloves - hands weren't sore but could probably have benefitted from a different pair to relieve pressure
Roads & drivers - the roads carried higher volumes of traffic than I would normally feel comfortable riding. They generally drove closer and with less courtesy than NSW/ACT drivers in the same situations. Except the P-platers they were extremely well behaved. Sadly we were "punishment passed" with 10kms to go. Straight road, two-way about the width of the Hume Highway carriageway. The driver passed well within a metre of both Francis and Daniel, who were in front of me at the time. It was dark but we all had at least two rear lights and reflective gear. Unfortunately that is the image I'm taking away from the event.

Really this ride was the culmination of my experiences and all those riders who have shared theirs with me. I really enjoy the audax community and the spirit the events are run in

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Replies to This Discussion

some others here might also have useful advice

Not I. I've been racking my brains for wisdom from my experience of said event and the best thing I can come up with is: "Do it while in your thirties."


I'll be in my fifties before my first attempt. Gah!

The 2015 Stats for the Australian Group had an average age of 55 and a youngest of 35

Overall stats from ACP for 2015

show a majority of 71-80 year olds finished ! (hope yet)

Although the 81 - 85 year olds did not do as well

Well, maybe I shouldn't have quit, then.

On my first attempt, at age 31, I went slowest at 79:45.

Second attempt, at 35, faster at 66:15.

Third attempt, at 39, faster still at 63:30.

With that progression, imagine how fast I could be doing it in my 80s! 

Pretty impressive times there but best still 14 hours behind Opperman, what was he like to ride with, I guess he had a better bike than you, if you wanted you could still squeeze in another half dozen, maybe 7 to round our 10

I am planning a first in 2023 with a few more after?

Wow. I can't imagine being 81-85 and even contemplating a 1200. Definite kudos

Kudos! It takes me a few weeks to do that distance when touring!

How do you cope with / minimise / avoid chafing?

Thanks Dabba. Equally I struggle to understand how fully loaded tourers do their mileage :)

As for chafing, it's not really something I've had an issue with fortunately. For multi-day rides I'll change knicks and for this one I added a different set in as well to change rub/pressure points. I did lanolin the nether regions each night after showering, but not sure if this did anything one way or another

Finally I sit down to reply to your great report on Wangaratta. Thanks for it.

You say your climbing is compromised by three factors - gearing/fitness/fatness.

On gearing, what do you have? A standard/semi- or compact chainset? What is the largest cog you have at the back? You need nothing more than a 32, and that is only for climbs such as Fitz's, Back of Falls, one or two in the Southern Highlands.

Fitness - have you thought of swapping one of your commutes for a trainer session that is focussed on climbing strength. I don't Zwift, which you do, but they would have climbing specific workouts. Or could you go up Mt Keira on your way to work one or two days a week?

Is there anything you would change in the lead up to doing such a long event? How you would train knowing you had a few months before such a long event?

Thanks for the what worked and didn't.

Had the crankset replaced having worn out the original. So I've gone from a compact 50/34 to a semi-compact 52/36 with an 11-32 on the rear. It was originally equipped with an 11-28 at the rear so the new setup is a very similar ratio. I think the legs just haven't had enough time to get used to that gearing.

My fitness levels don't seem to have come up this year the same way they have done in the past, might just be an age thing :) Interestingly my average speed is up slightly over last year.

My average heart has dropped from 136 to 117 over the past six years. I'm also spending more and more time in zones 1 & 2. I'm in a nice little rut in that respect

Working on increasing my power a bit with Zwift. Keira is a bit out of the way and I need my beauty sleep :)

The main issue is the 8-10kg in extra weight I'm carrying at the moment. So, with bike & gear, I'm pushing over a 100kg uphill, where last year it was more like 90.

As much as I hate to admit it, the reality is I need to lose the weight and that's really what I need to focus on for longer rides


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