BILL “Lou” McLaren is toughening up his bum for a hard cycling challenge.
After having to pull out of some sections of the gruelling Simpson Desert Bike Challenge last year because of blisters on his rear end, the 75-year-old cyclist is putting in a lot more training now to help him last the distance.
He has been riding up to 80 kilometres a day for the past six weeks to prepare for the 570km five-day journey of pain.
This year will be his third attempt to finish the ride.
“You cannot do it when you are dead,” Mr McLaren, of Port Fairy, said.
“You have got to have a go.”
Among the other riders taking on the endless track corrugations, monumental sand hills and wilting heat, are Port Fairy’s Andrew Hellier and John Jenkins, of Edenhope.
Mr Hellier and Mr Jenkins took on the ride last year but only Mr Hellier finished it.
Mr Hellier has numerous long distance rides to his credit including the 2007 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris.
The three riders will be backed this year by a support crew that includes Mr McLaren’s son, Mark, Ted Carter, from Warrnambool, and Beeb Fleetwood, of Geelong.
Mr McLaren, who has been riding for about 50 years, said desert riding was demanding.
Not only did competitors have to pedal heavier bikes with wider tyres than standard road bikes, the sand on many parts of the track made the going very tough.
“Going over the sand hills, sometimes you have to walk the sand is that loose,” he said. Mr McLaren has ridden at least six Melbourne to Warrnambool cycling classics.
In the five-day Simpson Desert ride that begins on October 1, competitors complete an 80km stint that starts at 6am followed by an afternoon ride of about 50km.
Riders need to maintain a speed of about 12 kilometres an hour to stay ahead of the pursuing sweep vehicle.
If caught by the sweep, riders are transported by vehicle to the end of that stage and receive a time penalty.