Saturday in Brisbane saw the annual slaughter that comes from the Wonders of Glorious Mee. 215km with an estimated 4,000 metres of climbing (including Mt Nebo, Mt Glorious and the steep Mt Mee). Of course, I rode to the start from Fortitude Valley where I was staying for the night. There's not too much mucking around at the start of this ride, as a group of around 20 (more than double last year's turn-out) set off from The Gap and headed straight for Mt Nebo.
This is a climb where it is difficult to get any sort of rhythm, mainly because it is a series of short sharp rises, punctuated by false flats. This was made even worse by the branches all over the road from the previous night's wind storm. Of course, the wind on the mountain provided a reminder of what was to come later in the day (most frightening was that it came from the north-west).
After climbing into sweeping mountain views on Nebo, it's then a short, winding descent before climbing once more - this time the rises are sharper and slightly longer to the first food stop at the summit of Mt Glorious - although in the temperatures there was more water consumed than food. This is actually quite a nice section of the ride, travelling through about the only patch of rainforest in that area.
Unfortunately, there must be a descent, and the descent of Mt Glorious is treacherous, with steep gradients and sharp hair-pin bends that seem to corner for just a little too long to be comfortable. At one point, hard on the brakes, I was seriously wondering what that railing in front of the cliff would feel like. I didn't quite get curious enough to find out. There were actually a couple of crashes on this section behind me. Apparently there were no serious injuries thankfully, but the potential for serious consequences in any crash is more inherent here than anywhere else.
Down into the Brisbane valley, where the wind was massive, and the heat even worse (probably close to 35 C by now). On to the long 50km stretch to Kilcoy, straight into the teeth the same wind that had already snapped branches from trees. Having rather stupidly decided to go on a solo-breakaway here, I decided to take a lower gear and spin for 50km. The wind got even more stroppy (or maybe it was my taunting), but the best part was, there was bugger all it could do to stop me!
There is one savage climb on this section, a steep bit shortly after Lake Wivenhoe. This was worse than last year - a bushfire had recently killed all the surrounding vegetation, leaving only the scent of ash in the air.
By the time I arrived at Kilcoy (the lunch stop for the day), the wind and the heat were taking a toll. I think it was only the thought of lunch that actually kept me going through that section. I also noticed a magpie - the same one who had a 'pop' at me in last year's edition. I flashed the water bottle and he backed off. Evidently he has a long memory.
It was hard to get the legs going after the lunch, an undulating ride to Woodforde, made more interesting by learning that magpies sometimes attack in pairs. This is a problem - how do you decide which one to squirt? Fortunately I had a tailwind by this point, so I took off and left them behind quickly.
Despite having already consumed several litres of water for the day, I topped up in Woodforde (and drunk some more). A smart idea as it turned out. The next challenge was the climb of Mt Mee. For this first 2.67km, this is pretty steep. There were actually a few walkers here (I wasn't one of them - a triple is a good thing), but nobody criticised any of them. The heat was becoming unbearable, and most of the water I picked up at Woodforde ended up being squirted through my helmet vents in a bid to keep my head cool.
Eventually I fought off the urge to throw up, crested the steep section, and encountered another problem. The road turns sharply west in the rolling hills near the top of Mt Mee, straight into the headwind from earlier. Again, I decided to put it into a spin, but with a little less vigour after 160km. Most of the riders were rejoicing in making it to the water stop at Mt Mee. This was a victory in itself.
Someone produced some of that Gatorade powder-mix. Some of it found it's way into one of my bottles (well, at least it would be something different to squirt magpies with). Setting off was even harder this time, but it did give a few moments to enjoy the rolling green hills and spectacular view of the Glasshouse Mountains offered from Mt Mee.
The descent into Dayboro is actually quite scenic, and not quite as steep as the descent of Glorious. The road basically flattens out here, but with a couple of smaller climbs to test the legs. There was one quite challenging climb between Dayboro and Samford - but with under 30km left of the ride, I was feeling pretty good, and tore it apart.
Three of us reunited for the final section through Brisbane's suburbs. One last hill on Settlement Road - it offered little resistance in the end, before we came in to the finish at the Gap well inside the time limit (not that I cared by this point).
I guess the thing that will stick in my mind about this year's edition (apart from the heat) is the comraderie that all of the riders in this edition shared. There was no big-noting or putting anyone else down - only encouragement. People were quite happy to share whatever they had - even though this was a supported ride (and the support crew did a great job, too).
I also noticed that a lot of riders got cramp on this ride. I wasn't one of them, but I'm wondering (if anyone is still actually reading this) what generally causes that to happen. About the only cramp I ever had was leech-inflicted, but I don't think even the leeches would have hung around for long in this heat.