Is there no end to my appetite for physical punishment? Tomorrow I fly to Western Australia to prepare for the Great WA Bike Ride, starting this Saturday.
Up to 2000 riders will tackle the 540km course, which looks to be a beauty – a loop through the southwest of the state, from Manjimup down to the big karri forests of Pemberton, out to the beach at Busselton and up the coast, then back inland to Manjimup again.
I enjoy these big rides, though there are certainly less enjoyable aspects to them. The 2010 Great Vic Bike Ride had about 4000 riders and volunteers. While it’s great that the event is so popular, there are disadvantages to having such a huge crowd.
Bicycle Victoria does an excellent job on the organisation, and it’s now become such a well-grooved act that the queues for showers and food moved smoothly enough. Gear was transported with incredible efficiency, police and marshalls kept everyone safe on the roads and camp-grounds were well run, even in the pouring rain that turned Dookie into a quagmire.
The major disadvantage of the teeming mass of humanity was social.
I rode the Great Vic with my son, and enjoyed his company very much. We didn’t know any other riders, but unless you’re a complete misanthrope it’s impossible not to meet people on the ride. We met lots of nice people to chat to over a drink or a meal, lost them in the crowd and never saw them again for the rest of the week. As someone remarked, ‘I’ve talked to dozens of people and haven’t really met anyone.’
I’m hoping that 2000 riders will be a bit more manageable in that respect.
I’ll also be giving myself a break from the mass camping by meeting Mevrouw T when she comes down to Margaret River for the mid-week rest day. We’ve booked a guest house – with a proper bed, a private bathroom and a roof.
My former partner in theatrical and musical crime Damien lives in the area. He suggested we do the ride together, and we may skive off towards the end of the event for a night under cover in his house. I believe he has one somewhere.
As soon as I can get internet access on the road, I’ll let you know how it’s all going.
For more details on the Great WA Ride click here.