Was the original Around the Bay too short? The Peaks Challenge too easy? Bicycle Network have upped the game once again. The question is: Can you do 300km?
We’ve all heard of Around the Bay. Having ridden the event previously, we thought the 210km distance option was plenty – a literal ride around the bay of Port Phillip and provided a clockwise or counter clockwise direction choice.
Organisers then tacked on a few more twists and turns to deliver a 250km route which includes some bonus bay. Now, if that’s still not enough to truly earn that post-bay feast, there’s another challenge to consider. The latest ATB route is so big that it leaves the bay – shortly after hopping off the ferry at Sorrento – and detours. Once thought to be one of the flatter sportives on the calendar, the 300km route throws in a few hills in order to accumulate its triple century label.
It wasn’t that long ago when a 200km ride was a biggie. Now it’s 300 and it’s no small feat. Not even the WorldTour professionals face a ride of this distance apart from one day of the year at Milan San Remo. If there was a time to revisit or claim your Around the Bay bragging rights, entry into the 300 club is it.
‘Around the Bay in a Day’ is well-regarded as an iconic ride, a must-do for most Victorian cyclists or those with a desire to accumulate as many finisher as will fit in the trophy room. Circumnavigating the entire Port Phillip bay, the 300km loop starts in Albert Park – on the official start line with a few thousand others – and heads anti-clockwise towards Geelong following the original route, jumping in with the 250km riders for a detour through the Bellarine Peninsula and finally rejoining the ferry at Queenscliff. Take it easy for a while, grab your lunch pack and refuel for the final stretch home.
Once off the ferry in Sorrento, everything seems normal. There’s a rest-stop and some more refueling at Safety Beach now far away and just when you think it’s all over, the 300km route take a sharp right-hand turn.
Leaving your fellow start line riders behind, 300km entrants take on a quick climb up Arthur’s Seat – the scene for many a Herald Sun Tour battle – and it’s here where your legs should be properly warmed up. You’ve done more than 185km and of course, this is what you’ve been training for months on end.
Once over the other side, you’re off to Flinders for a quick venture out of the Bay. Now, before that Bass air gets too intoxicating and you miss the bay, it’s a climb over Red Hill to appreciate those views again and back on course to the finish line. Find yourself a few good wheels and hold on as the bunch speeds down Beach Road. Get to this point and you’re done and dusted. Welcome to the 300 Club.
Don’t fear if the 300 Club isn’t calling your name this year, maybe it’s taking your relationship with your saddle to a level of commitment you’re not quite ready for, or maybe you just want to a few fast kays down Beach Road to make it for early lunch. Either way, Around the Bay has all the familiar faces and there’s 9 route options for rider of all levels of fitness. From a 20km ride along Beach Road on fully closed roads, to variations on the route around Port Phillip and Mornington Peninsula. The best part is no matter the distance, you’ll find your mates back at the party in Albert Park once you’re done.
In classic Bicycle Network style, all riders can expect a plethora of rest stops with 12 dedicated stations in total along the 300km route. Keep an eye out for the Super Stops, lunch and if you’re in need, there’s a valet service too. Riders are also treated to plenty of additional on-course support with traffic marshalling and closed roads in certain sections – all clearly marked. If that’s still not enough, Bicycle Network and its bunch of Team riders have support rides on the calendar in the lead up to the big day. Bicycle Network invite you to join their frequent training rides and a full training plan for those going big on the bay. Considering the 300 Club or something more manageable, it’s a guaranteed good day.
Sunday, 6 October, 2019
Early-bird entries are currently open and start $40, and $285 for the 300km option including a 300 Club jersey – if entered prior to 26 July, 2019.