There's no official start time on the Semaine Federale rides, so after watching a few folk get away early I set off about 8.30am. Distended stomach notwithstanding, I followed a couple down the excellent Rail Trail, although many riders for some unknown reason chose to stay on the road. Soon after leaving Bright I was on my own and making steady progress into the headwind, the long sleeved jersey discarded as the sun came out. Just outside Myrtleford I picked up a couple of other riders, but they apparently weren't feeling social or don't appreciate large bearded men drafting them to escape the wind, so I let them continue on their wordless way.
Both the 100km and the 60km rides today appealed and although the 100km was tempting it's a bit dangerous to go out too hard on day one. The urge to ditch the plan was never stronger than at Myrtleford where the ride signs showed only a flat and easy 20km to the Lake Buffalo checkpoint. I stayed strong and repaired to the bakery for a cool drink. There were more riders about here: with 100 riders, three ride options and no set start times, people tend to spread out a bit on the road. I had a chat with the famous Leigh Patterson (pictured below), chucked my lunch in my musette (10.30am is a tad early for lunch after a huge breakfast) and got back on the road.
The ride back was made even more agreeable by the tailwind. More riders were evident now, particularly families taking advantage of the rail trail and the bike parking at the Rail Trail Cafe at Porepunkah was well and truly full. The last few kilometres were fast ones, even dodging the growing bike traffic as the Rail Trail neared town. We have a harder ride tomorrow - over the evil Tawonga Gap - so nice to have an easy day to start with. Happily, I'm back in time for an afternoon nap before the riders' bar opens at 5pm.
281km so far this year.