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Parkes 'n Ride Weekend - 17-18 March 2012

Wayde Hazelton ran the inaugural Parkes 'n Ride Weekend on 17 & 18 March 2012 offering six rides of distances from 100-600km on Saturday and four rides of distances from 100-300km on Sunday. All riders enjoyed a magnificent weekend of riding. Tim Hancock recorded his experience on the Parkes East 400 below... so read on!

Parkes East 400 Ride Report - Tim Hancock

parkes_timhancockWith a few 300s under my belt in the last 12 months, including the BRAG ride in January, the time had come for my first 400 and Wayde Hazelton's Parkes East 400 on 17 March 2012 didn't seem unreasonable with only 2500m of climbing. However, on the Friday he told me that I was the only entrant and that there were two long stretches of 80 and 100 km with no services at all. It looked a bit "audacieux" – but that’s why we do it, don’t we?

parkes_gooloogongAt 6:00 am, Bob McHugh and I departed from Cooke Park in the dark and a light drizzle, but I lost him in the first kilometre when he turned north for Molong on the 300, while I went south to Eugowra and Canowindra. In about an hour, a couple of lights behind me proved to be Wayde and Kevin Linnett on his recumbent. Together we reached Eugowra and the Lachlan River at 8:00am, but then parted to take different routes to Canowindra. By this time the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing. Every watercourse was running, but the roads were not flooded. The bird-life and the bugs were prolific.

At 10:30am I reached Canowindra, the 100km mark, and a bacon and egg roll. I was on my way again at 10:50am just as Kevin and Wayde appeared. We said "hello" and "goodbye" and from that point I was on my own for the rest of the ride. The next 100km to Euchareena climbed and rolled through Cudal, Manildra and Molong. The towns were sleepy, the day was warm and the cattle and sheep were shoulder deep in new grass. I have never seen the Central West looking so blissful and prosperous. Just out of Molong, I met the 300km riders coming in the other direction. Bob McHugh was leading the way with Howard, Bec and Warren Page close behind. They hadn’t stopped at the Gelato shop in Molong and neither did I, but a burger was welcome.

Wayde had warned me that there were no services on the 83km between Molong and Wellington and so it proved to be. However, I was carrying quite a lot of food and had three water bottles, so I had no problems. A mild cramp was quelled by a handful of salt tablets and Endurolytes and I was careful to keep my salt intake up from then on.

parkes_rd2euchareenaAt Euchareena I turned on the lights and headed downhill towards Wellington on the Burrendong Way. This is the main route between Orange and Wellington and carried the only real traffic that I saw on the whole ride. There were quite a few cars towing boats, but I was lit up like a Christmas tree with two tail lights, two strip lights, a rear helmet light and two head lights. Being extra cautious, I pulled off the road and stopped several times to let vehicles go past.

Wellington came up at 8:40pm, about an hour behind my ride plan, but still well ahead of the control closing time of 11:16pm. The girl behind the counter at the BP signed my brevet card and confirmed my fears that McDonalds was likely to be the only food available. 45 minutes and a quarter-pounder later I was on my way out of town towards Arthurville. Most of the town’s cats seemed to be sitting on the road warming themselves. They were quite contemptuous of the passing cyclist who had to veer to avoid them. Then it was into the dark and up Mt Arthur with 140km to go.

This leg was essentially a dog leg out of Wellington to add a necessary 40km. There were several long climbs and a number of obscure turns on minor roads, so I took my time to check each turn with the Garmin, the cue sheet and the iPhone. I was very glad of my SON dynamo and Supernova E3 triple LED wide beam light which gave a me a good view of both sides of the road for at least 100m. With my two additional narrow beam Niteflux lights, I felt quite safe. Twice I spotted big grey kangaroos at the side of the road before they moved and I saw plenty of foxes.

The night was balmy with a bit of a head wind occasionally and I only needed arm warmers. How lucky can you get?

At midnight, I turned right onto the Renshaw McGirr Way (the main Wellington-Parkes road) where the sign read "Parkes 98km". It was then just a matter of riding down those mileposts. At Yeoval at 2:00am I woke every dog in the town and shouts of "Shut Up!" issued from every house, but I saw no-one – no people and no vehicles – until a ute went past me and stopped. It was 2:45am and it was Wayde with coffee, food and water. Brilliant! Apparently he had been waiting for me further back, but had gone to sleep and I had ridden past him!

After 10 minutes chat I was off again and the mile posts just rolled by with the road. At 5:50am I hit the outskirts of Parkes. I stopped the clock at Cooke Park, made a few more turns of the pedals around the corner to the All Settlers Motel and hit the sack. The Sunday riders apparently went past a couple of minutes later. According to the Garmin, I started at 6:02:12am on Saturday and finished at 6:02:16am on Sunday. Some sort of record, I suspect. Distance: 402km. Ascent: 3,120m.

What did I learn? You will get there if you just keep pedalling, eating and drinking.



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