After fifteen days riding from Brisbane to Melbourne you'd think I would have thought about what to say once I reached that final kilometre.
What a journey it was. I saw some amazing places, met some amazing people and learned a fair bit about myself in the process.
The final day started with a fair smattering of rain. We had decided to wait at the train station as there were some riders coming in on the Vline service. As they arrived, the rain continued to fall and it took a good 15 minutes before it was clear enough to head down the road and meet the rest of the day's riders.
The group was very eclectic. There was a strong core of regular riders who had completed numerous century plus rides, and there were some riders who would be attempting their longest rides to date. Regardless, it was sure to be a great day on the road, so long as the weather held.
We rolled out of Warragul around 8:45 and no sooner had the group got into their stride that yours truly brought the morning to a grinding holt with my 8th flat for the journey. Finally, the front wheel had given in. A quick change and we were underway!
It became obvious pretty quickly that the group was going to be split, a core of stronger riders up front pushing hard into a growing headwind while a few others lingering back and still giving it everything they had. It was no problem, we just had a few more regroup points and kept the day in the social aspect it was always intended to be.
The first 90km of the day was heading west, straight into a mild yet growing headwind. Eddie, Edmund and Marcus did a great job of taking the lead and pushing through. Cory was brilliant with the directions, if it wasn't for he and his dad Bruce ensuring we eventually turned left and right where we needed to, I'm sure we'd still be rolling around the back streets of Drouin and Garfield!
Taking a halfway breather in Cranbourne allowed the group to regather their composure and make plans for the final assault to Melbourne. Turning onto Thompsons Rd we were intent on reaching Mordialloc and regrouping before rolling into the city. Just a few kilometres shy of Carrum the heavens opened for the biggest downpour of the day. Luckily, a bus stop appeared before us and we jumped in, taking the shelter while we could.
A quick regroup in Mordialloc and the roll down Beach Rd began. The ironman event was being held the following day and there were a few athletes out doing some last minute training. Eventually, we caught one unfortunate rider and realising that four schmucks on bikes were closing in fast, we kicked it up a gear. The adrenalin kicked in and with a yell of "I'm chasing him!" I was off. I caught him, and went past him... then looked back and realised I was alone. Clearly, the adrenalin was good! Eventually, Eddie and Edmund caught up and we all powered through to the next and final regroup point.
We waited... and we waited... and we waited some more. Ian and Marcus had arrived. Then Matt and Bec rolled in. Where had Warren and Simon gone??
Realising they had turned off earlier than planned, the group of seven high-tailed it for the Belgian Beer Cafe where we knew an eager crowd were awaiting us!
Cresting the rise on the Nepean Highway at St Kilda was an amazing feeling. 1450km, 14 days, eight punctures, two rear tyres, hail, 80km/h wind gusts, logging trucks, countless roadworks, back roads with pot holes deeper than car tyres - they had all slowed me but not stopped me! It was downhill from here to the finish line.
Rolling through the front gates was a great feeling. Finally unclipping for the last time, getting my hands on loved ones and knowing that I'd be waking up tomorrow and not riding... I almost stood there motionless as thousands of thoughts and feelings went through my head.
Oh, and that first beer didn't even touch the sides!
A huge thanks needs to go to everyone who assisted me in getting from Brisbane. Mum and Dad obviously for driving behind me ever so slowly to make sure I wasn't added to the tread pattern of a passing truck. Emily and Beck for their constant emotional support from home. Everyone who joined me on the road, be it for 5 kilometres or 123km, having some extra wheels out there made a world of difference!
For now, it's time to rest. I'll be back on the bike soon, in fact it's already been cleaned and degreased ready for the next ride! As for the next big ride, that'll be in a few years, but you'll be sure to hear about it!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
There just isn't enough words to describe what today was like.
Waking up to the sound of wind racing past your window doesn't really put you in a good mood getting out of bed. That mood turns even worse when you realise it's a howling westerly and you're riding... west.
Heading out of Bairnsdale was ok, the only problem was the wind. The whole way down from Brisbane I'd been able to find a comfortable cruising speed around 35km/h, even when I had a big headwind I'd managed to keep it above 30km/h. This wind was something else, I was struggling to even reach 25km/h, forget about keeping it there!!
After 10km the rain started and after 15km I'd had enough. My speedo was showing I was moving at 20km/h and I was rapidly running out of gears... and I was on flat ground! Knowing I was meeting riders in Rosedale, we decided to have an early lunch in Sale and I'd ride from there.
We found a nice cafe and indulged in the local caffiene while watching the trees outside curtsey to Mother Nature. Some really nasty looking clouds rolled in next and the entire day was at risk of being abandoned. A phone call later and the ride was still on, albeit from Rosendale. We hot footed it away, opting for lunch down the road.
This is the Rosendale Hotel.
Seeking some shelter from the wind we pulled up behind it into what appeared to be a vacant lot. While Mum and I got started on some sandwiches, Dad went around front to ask the publican if a) it was ok, and b) for a beer. Not so, apparently we had to ask first... but that's what we were doing... still, we should have asked first. Stuff him, we went to the bakery instead for some hot pies. While there we watched the wind blow a table and chair down the street. Was I really going to be riding in this??
Eventually, the Traralgon Recyclers trio arrived and after a quick snack and some warming tea, we set off.
The headwind had not improved since leaving Bairnsdale, if anything I think it had gotten worse. I was running at 39x21 and was still struggling. For the non-cycling readers, that's a gear I'd use going up a very steep mountain, not on a flat country road!
Following some local knowledge we weaved our way through the backroads and through some really nice scenery. But, the inevitable storm clouds rolled in and they gave us hell. Wind gusts up to 80km/h, blinding rain and then hail. The going was tough and with nowhere to take shelter we had to just keep plugging on.
Eventually the rain cleared and we started approaching the power station in Hazelwood. As we rose over the smallest of crests we were greeted by the full force of the headwind and I watched as my speed dropped to just 10km/h... and I was pushing hard!
Eventually, we reached Traralgon. It was just 38km from where we'd started in Rosendale, but it had taken over 2 hours of riding time to get there. The roads we took we great, I'll be back one day soon to ride them without the wind and hail, but today was just about survival. A big cheers to Geoff, John and Jo for their company!
Tomorrow we reach Melbourne. There have been many times I wasn't sure this day would ever get here, but now it's so close I can already taste the beers and deep fried goodies on offer at the Belgian Beer Cafe.
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
I swear it wasn't me who broke the mirror...
Bad luck has been a constant companion on this trip, and today was no different. Leaving Delegate our first obstacle was finding someone to take the room keys and to pay for the stay! 8:30 and the entire town was nowhere to be seen. Knowing there was some dirt road ahead, we jumped in the car and drove up to Bonang where I'd been assured the road was sealed all the way to Orbost. Yeah, sure it was...
30km later, we found bitumen and after riding up all the previous morning, I knew there was a lot of downhill to enjoy today. There were plenty of signs warning about logging trucks, but the overnight rain would have meant the area has near inaccessible to many of them, particularly those with heavy loads. So off I took, intent on having some fun on the way down. What I hadn't counted on was the number of trees that had fallen across the road. They all been cleared, but the'd left behind a fair amount of debris which was fine if you were in a car, on two wheels though it was enough to cause a problem.
The other element was the short sharp rises that punctuated the descents. They weren't overly difficult, just irritating. And given that it was very cold, the short climbs hurt just that little bit more as I hadn't been able to warm up enough before my front wheel rolled over them.
I finally got a good stretch of downhill and started dropping at a good comfortable speed, when out of the blue I come upon some roadworks... a small team rebuilding the bridge! I stopped at the line and the guy waved me down, first comment out of his mouth was "what the #### possessed you to ride through here??" I explained what I was doing and where I was heading and he gave me some really good advice about where the logging trucks were likely to be.
Off again and a few kilometres down the road, I pass a tractor pushing another fallen tree off the road. I'm not sure who was more surprised. I'd decided that I wasn't too keen to share the disturbingly thin roads with loaded logging trucks, so not far after the junction they joined my road, I pulled stumps and we all headed to Orbost for lunch.
The plan from here was to skip down the highway to Nowa Nowa and then ride to Bairnsdale via Bruthen. The plan sounded good. Unfortunately, I encountered more glass on the shoulder than you'd see in a crowded bar on a Saturday night. 15km later I punctured and when I checked for the guilty shard of glass I found a seriously thin wear patch on the rear wheel. Game over. We loaded the bike and headed into Bairnsdale where I changed the tyre and gave the bike a much needed clean and lube to prepare it for the last two days on the road.
A disappointing way to end the day but these things happen.
Now, Dad took the below photo and wanted me to add some witty comment along the lines of "Beware Cyclists - cos they're a really aggressive mob...". So there you go Dad, done!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
Today really hurt, but at least I knew to expect it.
I could see it shadowing me the last couple of days, always off to my right... the Great Dividing Range. Finally, the time had come. I was going over. Hopefully.
Leaving Merimbula the road started off reasonably flat and I found myself in a good rhythm. That didn't last, with a taste of the day ahead around the 14km mark with a short sharp rise.
All up, the highest point I'd reach today would be about 930m above sea level. Considering I was starting in a seaside town, the only direction I was going was up. I'd looked at the ride profile, I knew the climbing tapered off after 60km, so I was determined to get through it as best I could. I'm not a climber... even after losing weight in the first week and a bit, I'm still too close to 100kg to scare anyone going up a hill. I'm more a descender...
Taking the Mt Garragh Rd was a gamble. I'd never driven it before and I'd heard mixed reports. It was a known truck route, but also a favourite for motorcyclists. The gamble paid off, the road was beautiful and when I had enough oxygen in the lungs to admire it, the views were great. The road itself it full of twists and turns with some great climbs and some really great descents, albeit very short ones.
As always, I'd had concerns about the trucks. The bulk of the road has a speed limit of 100km/h and the trucks I'd seen weren't really afraid to use some speed to get up the road. But the trucks I encountered were great, they always gave me plenty of room and at one point the driver slowed right down until he could safely pass me. I would have yelled out a big thank you, but I probably would have fallen off from the extra exertion!
Halfway up we reached a small town called Wyndham. It had a post office, a cafe and a pub. Perfect spot for a refuel!
From there it was three sharp inclines until the summit, and hopefully some reprieve. How wrong I was... Upon cresting and seeing the first real descent all day, I could immediately feel the full force of a westerly wind in my face. Given that I was heading directly west, this proved an issue. I tried to soldier on and aimed for Bombala, another 30km down the road. 10km later I started noticing my front wheel wobbling and I knew it was time to pull stumps. The climbing had been achieved and I was happy. We cruised through Bombala and reached out overnight beds in Delegate. I'll be sleeping well tonight!
Tomorrow should be fun. The road from Bonang to Orbost is full of twists and turns, and it's almost all downhill! I'l be hoping for a god surface so I can have some fun.
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
I knew today was going to be hard.
While the ride south from Moruya didn't have any distinct hills or mountains, it was continuous rolling undulations with some short and sharp climbs. It was also a long time on the Princes Highway, often with no shoulder and heavy traffic inches to my right.
At first, the undulations were fun. The road conditions were some of the best I'd had for a while and I was able to enjoy some of the downhill runs. But that feeling didn't last.
After a refuel in Narooma, going up the gentle rise to get out of the town I could feel my legs screaming. I'd gotten used to the screaming in recent days but this was something else. This was a scream of "oh please no more!!" So of course I pushed on...
It was approximately 20km from Narooma to the turn-off to Bermagui, from there is was a winding backroad all the way to Merimbula and I was intent on reaching it.
Alas, turning off the highway was the last movement for the day. Getting up a small climb and turning left, my legs just couldn't give any more.
Knowing that tomorrow I'll be dragging my sorry self over the Great Dividing Range I took the softer option and occupied the front seat to the overnight accomodation.
On the plus side, we did continue along the backroad and I can happily report, it looked like it would have been magical to ride! Still plenty of climbing, with a particularly steep twist coming out of Tathra, but the road surface looked impeccable and the traffic volume was very low. I'll have to come back and give it another go.
Bermagui was nice also, we stopped there for lunch and while a few windsurfers made the most of the growing breeze, I was just too stuffed to enjoy it.
Tomorrow I ride towards Delegate, with a fairly decent looking climb over the Great Dividing Range. It's going to be a challenge. To this point I've covered 1,020km and climbed nearly 7,500 vertical metres - a bit of a change from my regular weekly riding. But Melbourne is in sight and I'm determined to see it through.
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
It's been a long time since I've ridden 180+km in a day, and the last time I did I had the benefit of resting the day after and it wasn't constantly into a roaring southerly.
Needless to say, I didn't feel enthused about getting back on the bike today.
Our host for the previous evening, Bun, had served up a feast! Home-made scones on arrival, followed by prawns and finally some lamb, backed up with poached peaches for dessert. How could you top that... With bacon and eggs for breakfast of course! So, with a stomach full to bursting, we set off into yet another southerly breeze, rain clouds on the horizon.
Around 45km into the day I came across a Caltex truck stop and while getting stuck into some toast (you work up an appetite on the bike!) the heavens opened. It wasn't heavy rain but it was consistent and enough to completely saturate the already wet roads. The passing traffic didn't help, so we racked the bike and headed to Ulladulla to reconvene.
The spray from the passing trucks made it very treacherous, particularly when you consider that the pooling water on the shoulder would often be an inch or more deep!
Once we reached Ulladulla the roads were dry and the sky was blue, perfect for riding! I visited the local bike shop to stock up on some tubes - always a depressing trip - and after a quick lunch it was back on the road, intent on pushing through the final 50km to Batemans Bay.
The road was a mixture of beautiful and horrible. The sweeping undulations were a dream to ride on, but the passing traffic was moving at 100km/h so I had to always be careful when moving out to enjoy the bends that a big b-double wasn't tearing down on me.
I try not to watch the kilometres tick by, it's a horrible thing to put yourself through. But I knew how far it was to Batemans Bay and the constant up and down was starting to get to me. I crested one small rise and I could see the top of the bridge leading into town - adrenalin took over and throwing the bike up a few gears I roared into life and went screaming into town. Opting to ignore the pedestrian bridge, I merged with traffic and gave a driver the fright of his life when he saw me sitting behind him... at 60km/h. The end was in sight and I wasn't waiting for it.
Arriving in Batesman Bay also gave me the chance to meet Ali, a local who had contacted me when she heard I was coming through town. We had a great chat and Ali assured us she'll be rattling her tin to help raise some funds.
Finally it was time to take the shoes off and head to the overnight accom, a little down the road in Moruya, and a great spot to rest and prepare for the next day...
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
After having my feet up for a day it was time to put in some hard yards. Today was going to be tough, 160km to Nowra, and then another 30km to the overnight accom in Orient Point.
Joining me for the ride was Michael and Alex, and they were well warned they were going to be taking the lead. We shunted off at 6am and headed to Waterfall train station where we'd we be meeting some others. It was really great riding through Sydney so early, unfortunately we encountered some pretty heavy traffic, of the cyclist variety!
Reaching Waterfall, where we were joined by my cousin Justin and his three mates. They were all smiles and laughing, but I'm sure if they knew what was ahead they may have looked a little more serious... maybe. We were spending the day on the bike after all!
Taking off through the National Park, we eventually popped out at Stanwell Tops and took a moment to take in some fresh breath and enjoy the view. In the distance we could see the Seacliff Bridge and Wollongong, our first official stop for the day.
There was a lot of wind about, and it was getting stronger the more we came out of the National Park. Once we hit the Seacliff Bridge it was in full force and right in our faces! There was very little chatter as everyone just followed the leader, and did everything possible to not find themselves on the front. Thanks Andrew!
From there we stopped in Wollongong to enjoy a late breakfast before pushing off once more. The guys that joined us in Waterfall were pushing for a 2:30 train in Nowra but with the big southerly blowing that was never going to happen, so we parted ways in Kiama and Michael, Alex and I battled on, thinking only of a warm shower and sitting down.
Reaching Nowra we knew we were in the homeward stretch, just 30km to Orient Point. ON cue, the heavens opened. Not any rain of substance, just sleety, misty rain. The kind of rain that gets in every open area, fogs up your glasses and just makes life uncomfortable. To their amazing credit, Michael and Alex took the bulk of the work on the front and drove the train home. There is not way I'd be hear writing this without their tow-rope, I'd still be out there pushing into that wind!
Thanks to everyone who joined today, it's always great fun rding with others and it's something I'd been missing over the past week. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we're bound for Batemans Bay!
But for now, it's time to enjoy the hospitality in Orient Point with Michael's father Bun!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
I was intent to rest my body on the day off, but the bike needed some urgent TLC also. Urban Cyclist on Botany Rd, Rosebery stepped up to the mark.
Taking the bike in on a Saturday they looked her over and have given her a new lease on life! They fixed my brake cable, refreshed the chain and brought my wheels back to looking like new!
They're a great team at Urban Cyclist, and they really know their stuff. They've got a great range of bikes, everything from the Colnago M10 down to something my daughter had her eyes on. They also have a great looking tour to Canada coming up.
Imagine spending two weeks riding through the Canadian Rockies... well, now read about it. Urban Cyclist is organising a group to travel and ride in August. All the details are right here!
After seven days on the road it was time to put my feet up and relax.
First on the agenda, was picking up some very important cargo from the airport! I'd missed my family and they were flying up for the day to offer some morale support for the week ahead.
Then it was down to Coogee to indulge in a greasy breakfast and say hi to Lee. You'll find him at the Coogee Yeeros on Arden St and you can't go past his coffee. Stop by and say hi!
After that it was all about winding down and recharging the batteries, something I'll be looking forward to doing again this time next week!
I've never been the biggest fan of Manly, but today the streets were lined with gold, it just looked that good!
Leaving Kurri we decided to treat ourselves to a local breakfast. Getting directions to a cafe, we promptly got lost and settled at a bakery for a coffee and toast. Saying goodby to Billy and Di at The Station Hotel, we soon found ourselves weaving through the backroads of Cessnock.
We had adjusted the route a touch overnight, so instead of flying south of Newcastle and hugging the coast, we would instead follow some roads alongside the F3 and eventually roll through Erina. The roads were great fun and I managed to enjoy a few short downhill sections, something sorely missing from the previous six days on the road.
The aim for the morning was to make enough ground to reach the ferry at Wagstaffe, which would then take me to Palm Beach for the final 30km to Manly. The ferry ride was a very welcome relief and the smell of the saltwater was so revitalising! I did get a few strange looks onboard but when the ferry stopped in Ettalong another 6 or 7 cyclists joined, albeit doing their own tour.
I knew there was company waiting for me at Palm Beach, but just how many I didn't know. I arrived to a very warm welcome from Neil (f5m+) and Jeremy (MSRA) as well as some of Jeremy's riding mates, the Balmain Boys! I was even more enthused to realise we would have a tailwind all the way to Manly!
Off we went, eventually navigating our way along Barranjoey Rd and up past Newport. It sounds odd to say it, but th 30km into Manly was probably the time I'd feared for my safety the most! We stuck in the bus lane wherever possible and managed to really put some speed together - the lure of a cold drink on Manly Wharf was enough motivation for me!
We arrived a little after 4pm and were soon joined by the two support cars and a motley crew of MS people, as well as Mark Franklin from Vtech Australia, a very generous contributor to the ride. Everyone settled in and enjoyed the afternoon sun, but it was soon time to board the ferry to Circular Quay, there were still 10km to cover before the day was officially over!
The ferry ride into Circular Quay was really enjoyable. However, once we arrived we realised the storm was brewing, and fast! A quick photo op with Jeremy and the Harbour Bridge and I was back on my bike, powering away to reach Kensington before the heavens opened.
It was a great way to finish the first half of the journey. Saturday will be all about rest, with a cheeky lunch thrown in for good measure. If you're around Coogee tomorrow drop in at the Randwick Rugby Club between 1 and 3 and say hi! Sunday will be a quick day down to Nowra, and I'm hoping for another helpful tailwind.
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
Today was just a little bit odd. On the bike, it was great, but a few of the things we saw on the side had our skin crawling.
Leaving Forster was great fun, scooting over the bridge and then a few kilometres of smooth roads was just the tonic I needed to get the legs moving. It was soon onto the back roads and a 60km loop through to Bulahdelah.
Weaving past lakes and rivers was great, but it was also the first "mountains" I'd encountered. I'll say mountains, but they were just little blips. But after 5 consecutive days on the bike I would have struggled with a speed hump! The only saving grace was that the surface was immaculate and smooth. But that wouldn't last long.
Earlier the week I'd heard my chosen road from Bulahdelah, Booral Rd, was just beyond terrible. With all the roadworks on the Pacific Highway it was still an even money bet which would be better. We opted to rack the bike and see some back country. The tips about the back roads were right, the surface was just impossible to road on, barely negotiable by car!
The back roads were... interesting. This is Girvan Estate, apparently it's Australia's tallest private residence.
Took about 20 minutes to drive through seemingly abandoned properties to reach it. There were cars and caravans scattered everywhere but we were intrigued, and the gates were open. We finally reached the 'structure' and saw a single car parked underneath it, but with no sign of life. Everyone felt a little sick in their gut, the place had a real Wolf Creek vibe about it, so we got out as quick as we could. Apparently it's up for sale, for a cool $1.75m...
We then hit Clarence Town and stopped at the Erringhi Hotel for a cold drink. Outside was Terry who immediately reached into his pocket and pulled out $10 to throw in the bucket! Terry was a great guy and had some great advice for the roads to Kurri.
From Clarence Town the pedals were turned over furiously and Kurri was brought into sight, the lure of a friendly face in Billy and Di at the Station Hotel was enough motivation to get me there in a hurry.
Tomorrow we arrive in Sydney, or Manly to be precise! I'll be hoping for some good smooth surfaces so the pace can be lifted. I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in Palm Beach for the roll into Manly, and even more so to a rest day on Saturday!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
What a diverse day. Rain, sun, media and even a helping tow from a not-so-random cyclist.
Preparing to leave Port Macquarie there were some ominous looking clouds on the horizon. Rather than leave and get caught, we waited ten minutes and sure enough they emptied right on top of us. While waiting for the rain to pass, Prime7 called up and asked if we were still in town for a story. Perfect timing!
It was the second media appointment for the morning, with ABC Mid North Coast coming past earlier. It's great to spread the word of the ride and get a chance to speak about Foundation 5 Million+ and Cottage by the Sea. That's the sole purpose of the ride, not setting any personal cycling records.
The ABC item can be read (and heard) here while the Prime7 item can be seen below.
So, the late start was made even later. But I wasn't worried. There was a chunk of time due on the Pacific Highway today and given the amount of roadworks and the incredibly dicey surface conditions I'd experienced, I was happy to relegate this section to the "on another day" pile and simply ride the backroads. This of course meant stopping for a refuel in North Haven, how could you pass up banana and pistachio bread??
Turning off the highway at The Lakes Way (otherwise known as Tuncurry Rd) I was keen to really push the pace a little heading into town. The road conditions again played their part, making it hard to build any rhythm. I managed to reach an open area and looking ahead I saw another single rider, about 500m ahead of me. Throwing a bit extra into the pedals, I chased him down and gave him a shock when he realised I was on his wheel. A bit of shouted talking later I knew he was Dan, a local of Tuncurry and he was going to give me a tow into town. A few more shouted words later and we'd established that Dan had his own personal connection to Cottage by the Sea! Now what are the odds of that happening...
Taking the rurn-off to the overnight accomodation, I was reminded of just how good the local seafood could be, seeing that even the pelicans line up for it!
The early end to the day wasn't wasted. I spent some time giving the chain and cassette a well-deserved clean, a sure indicator it will rain tomorrow. We then sat back and watched as Dad tried to record the spot on Prime7's news. After it finished I walked outside and was promptly handed $10 by the guy in the cabin next to us! Guess some positive PR can really work!
Tomorrow we head to Kurri Kurri, it's a bit of a longer day and the bulk of it is on back roads. I'll be hoping for some good smooth surfaces so the pace can be lifted. I'll also be hoping for a green light as we go through Bulahdelah, just about the only traffic light on the Pacific Highway!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
That was a fun day, blistering sunshine and just a gentle wind, and an early arrival in Port Macquarie!
Today started off well, leaving Nambucca Heads there was some back road riding before once again joining the Pacific Highway. The backroads are great fun, albeit slightly bumpy. You get these amazing undulations and sweeping bends that you'd love to just open the throttle at and fly through, but around most corners will be gravel, holes and quite possibly trucks. Not the greatest recipe for someone wanting to move quickly on two wheels.
Once on the highway, it was a mixture of bumpy-as-all-sin surfaces and smooth-as-glass surfaces. There was plenty of roadworks which meant constant slowing down. The guys coordinating the traffic were generally pretty good when they saw me coming, but sometimes I just wanted an excuse to stop for a breather.
Lunch was taken at Kempsey. Everyone was keen to try and push on as we were making such good time, but the storm clouds were closing in and between Kempsey and Port Mac there wasn't much of anything.
The rains didn't eventuate, at least not where we were. Heading out of Kempsey I was passed by two over-sized loads, both of which required me to jump off the bike and get as far left as possible. When those big rigs come rolling past there isn't much room on the shoulder.
I took the chance to have a moment with nature. Trying to maintain some modesty, I ventured into the bush and promptly rolled my ankle. After a few minutes I gave it a try and it worked ok for a few kilometres.
But the ankle just wouldn't quit. Every time I tried to push hard the pain in my ankle was a bit too much and I didn't want to aggravate it. 15km from the Port Mac turn-off the bike was racked and a cold beer was placed against it (my ankle, not my tonsils!)
Sensing another day slipping by, I asked the driver to pull over as we turned off the highway. The wheels were put back on the road and I gently pushed on, in to Port Mac and into the afternoon sun.
Riding to Forster tomorrow, with about 60km on the highway. There's just no other option unless I add about 100km to the day... and that's not going to happen!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
Today was one of those days you thanked the stars for a support vehicle.
With only 140km to Nambucca Heads, we indulged and took off a little later this morning. Last night we dined at Grafton's Village Green where we were served the biggest meals I have ever seen in my life. I highly recommend the prawn and scallop pasta - yumm!
Weaving through town, we stopped at Grafton City Cycles to top up on some mechanical supplies, where Nathan was awesome and threw us some tubes for the cost of the packaging. He told us he's only recently taken over the store, so if you find yourself in Grafton and need anything cycling related, drop by. Nathan is great for advice on routes too!
Opting to avoid more time on the Pacific Highway, Nathan directed us through town and suggested getting up five mile hill, then turning left down Orarra Way. From there it was one continuous road to Coffs Harbour. Perfect!
The road itself was great. Weaving between farms and very light on traffic, but the traffic that was there was heavy, big logging trucks or trucks I can only assume were carrying big pallets of bananas from Coffs. They always gave plenty of room but wth no shoulder to the road, there wasn't much to give.
Cresting a small hill I started feeling rain on my face. I soon turned the corner and could see in the distance it was getting worse, a lot worse. I pulled off and took shelter under a tree as the rain really started pouring. Eventually seeking cover in the car, I watched as a logging truck went by, spraying water across the entire road and making it near impossible to see anything on either side of it.
That made my decision very easy. Rack the bike and wait for it to clear.
The plan evolved to head into Coffs Harbour and evaluate the weather. Down the road we came across Coramba and stopped for some home made meat pies and a coffee. I enjoyed having a chance to put my feet up, but was itching to get back on the bike.
Arriving in Coffs the situation hadn't improved. It was really frustrating as the road surface looked the best I'd seen since leaving Brisbane and the lond sweeping undulations would have been great to ride on, but the high speed of passing vehicles coupled with the continuing rain didn't bode well.
With time and the weather against us, the call was made and we high-tailed it for Nambucca Heads. We'd been told that between Coffs and Nambucca the only option was the Pacific Highway, but we found a great run, starting with Hogbin Drive and then Pine Creek Way. For anyone thinking of riding through here, the road surface looked great and there was a good wide shoulder the whole way!
Seeing how good the road surface was I was really contemplating jumping back on the bike, and just as I did, the rain started again. Really hard this time.
All that rain would have left this spot smelling oh so good...
So, another day down and another day closer to home. It's great fun being out here, but you do start to miss the niceties of home.
Aside from Mum and Dad in the support car, we've had some terrific support from others along the way. From Robyn at Brisbane's Newmarket Gardens, Hamish at COG Byron Bay, to Shane at Nambucca's White Albatross, they've all made this trip a lot easier! I'd really encourage you to have a look at their businesses and consider them if you're travelling through. You can see their smiling faces and get details of their businesses here.
Tomorrow the wheels are pointed towards Port Macquarie. Here's hoping for a good, dry run!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
You ever get that feeling the universe is trying to tell you something?
Leaving Byron, the skies were looking ominous. Sure enough, a few kilometres down the road the heavens opened and the roads became soaked. That's not too bad, but just 6.5km from the day's origin, I picked up some glass and the morning was deflated.
Quick as a whip, the new tube was in and I was away... but not for long. Another 15km down the road and the same wheel flatted again! This time it was pouring and I knew a hot coffee and pastries were waiting for me in Ballina, so I took the soft option and threw it in the car for the final kilometres and made repairs in a dry garage. Thanks Uncle Alan and Auntie Lynne!
From there we quickly joined the Pacific Highway. I hadn't ridden on the highway before so it was a new experience for me. I don't want to repeat it... The trucks were great, they gave me plenty of room to move but the kilometres just dragged on. Must be something to that theory that highways are designed to be boring so drivers arn't distracted...
We eventually came up to Woodburn and my stomach was crying out for a feed, so it served as a good spot to pull over, cool the heels and put something in the belly. Just out of view in the image below is what appears to be a high water mark... it looked very close to topping over and spilling into the street. That river sure is full!
After Woodburn I was keen to really make some inroads towards Grafton. Pusahing hard like that in the warming sun takes it out of you.
Some 70km after joining the highway, I finally turned off and hit a more serene backroad. The change in traffic volume was great and we came across some great sights, like an old wooden bridge. It looked great, until I went to cross it and realised the gaps between planks were more than capable of bringing me down!
KNowing Grafton was just down the road I really started to suck in the big ones, intent on arriving at a decent time. Unfortunately, it all came acropper 20km short. Pulling over for a breather and a drink, as soon as my unclipped foot hit the ground my left leg completely seized up with cramps. It wasn't pretty and a good 30 minutes later both legs were still twitching, so the decision was made to pull the pin and call it a day.
Tomorrow will be down the coast towards Nambucca Heads, via the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour!
All the data for today's ride can be found here.
One day down, thirteen to go.
When at home and commuting to work, I have a tradition with my daughter Emily. As I prepare myself to push off, she stands at the door and then when that first pedal goes down she yells out "go!" I could just about hear her this morning as I set off.
Setting off from Brisbane was a great experience. Joining me for those first few kilometres were six other intrepid cyclists, and after initially getting lost we found our way to Logan Rd and the adventure began!
It was great to have some company as the many kilometres ahead are going to be largely solo. So thanks everyone for making the effort!
Once out of Brisbane, the first goal was to reach the Gold Coast. Conscious that I'd be losing an hour once over the border into NSW, I really pushed hard to make good time. I did, but the wind was starting to pick up and it quickly became a race between the wind and the heat as to who would claim me first.
A well-timed water break in Coolangatta allowed me to cool my heels while also taking in some pretty decent looking water. But the break couldn't last too long, Byron was calling and I still had some serious territory to cover.
About this point the riding got hard. Long flat roads, some serious heat coming from the bitumen and a southerly blowing just hard enough to make you aware it was there. I'd sensed a few early cramps and had eased right back but the going was tough. Earlier in the day I'd been happily cruising along in the low 30km/h area whereas now I was struggling to maintain even 30.
A few hair-raising moments on the Pacific Hghway out of Tweed Heads was soon replaced by more long flat roads, specifically, the Tweed Coast Road.
I knew Byron was getting close and I was really keen to push a little harder and make it there in a decent time. As I came over a small crest... BANG! My rear wheel had blown through the side wall.
I'm not too bad when it comes to bicycle maintenance, but I'd never tried to fit a tyre before. Knowing tomorrow is Sunday and there's an excellent chance of the bike shops being closed, the decision was made to throw the bike on the car and high-tail it into town. Lucky we did...
Hamish hung back after his shop had technically closed and helpfully put my new rubber on the rim. He also showed incredible restraint in asking why I didn't know how to do this when consideing I'm doing the ride I am...
So if you ever find yourself in Byron and want to hire either a bike or a surfboard, go visit Hamish at Cog Byron Bay on Lawson Street!
With the new rubber on, it was time to head back to the bed for the night.
All the data for today's ride can be found here. Tomorrow I'm off to Grafton, but not before rolling through Ballina and saying hi to family!
Over the last few months I've been ultra-cautious about avoiding sticky situations on the road. The last thing I wanted was an injury before attempting my ride to Melbourne...
Famous last words right?
After arriving in Brisbane yesterday, I was keen to get out for a spin today and get my bearings, turn my legs over and just generally get the body back in tune to cycling.
Heading off down Logan Rd everything was fine. In fact, everything was great. The sun was out, the breeze was blowing and the traffic wasn't too bad at all. I went out around 20km and decided that was good enough and turned back to head home.
I'll admit to getting a little lost going back through the city. I could have avoided it but I felt like stopping for some coffee and cake goodness in South Bank. It was worth the visit.
Back on the bike, through the city and I start making my merry way along the roads. I had noticed some drivers seemed to be getting a lot closer than I was used to, but nothing too bad and certainly nothing I could do to change it.
I was approaching the light for Newmarket Rd when bam! Well, not bam but vroom! A truck went by so close I'm sure I felt the rubber of the wheels on my shoulder. I had nowhere to go but left, so I tried in vain to jump up a driveway. It didn't go well, the front wheel didn't clear the small height difference and I went down.
It hurt like hell but as I collected myself I saw all limbs were intact, the bike appeared to still be functioning and other than a few nasty cuts on my elbow (no, I wont post photos) I was ok.
Really, the only casuality was my phone which now has a shattered front screen. It did take the force of the impact so if that's the cost so be it.
A close call the day before I start my epic ride - could have been a lot worse!
It’s definitely looming large on the horizon. Day to day, I know I can cover the distance. However, there are many questions I won’t have answers for until I actually get on the bike and ride.
Can I put seven days together, all covering more than 150km at a time?
Will my body just shut down when I reach Sydney and enjoy a rest day?
Will I manage to keep my sanity while riding largely solo down the coast?
Will I handle the expected coffee withdrawals...?
Throughout all the training, the one aspect I loathed the most were the hills. It would have been easy to just sit there on Beach Rd and do lap after monotonous lap. But where is the fun in that?
Getting up the hills is always tough, but after time they became easier. Not easy... just easier. My PB up Melbourne’s 1 in 20 improved by a full seven minutes.
My theory behind the hills was to build a good base of strength. If I had the strength then I could use it to build on the endurance. And maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t fall apart in the morning of the second day.
Last week I came across an interesting quote from Scott Martin, a journalist and cyclist who writes for RoadBikeRider.com:
"Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels. The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles."
It’s a pretty apt description of pain, picturing it as something latching onto your back as you push pedal over pedal to keep moving up the mountain.
Martin then follows up with:
“To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain….at cycling’s core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there’s no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge. Without challenge, no improvement. No improvement, no sense of accomplishment and no deep-down joy. Might as well be playing Tiddly-Winks.”
Yep, that’s it. The pain I felt while training was horrible, pushing up the hills, then continuing to push through to the next climb, and the next. It was rough. But it got better and over time I came to love the feeling, the searing pain that raced through your legs as you pushed harder and harder.
It’s an addictive feeling and I’m certain that without that addictive element there’s no way any cyclist would keep putting themselves through it.
Just one more mountain...
Image: High Wycombe Cycling Club
Clearly, this is the day I’m looking forward to the most. Home. No more holiday parks. No more nightly stretches. No more constant monitoring of hydration and food intake. More importantly, no more bike! Well, let’s not go crazy...
After close to 2300km, the thought of reaching home, having a cold drink and curling up in my own bed will be all the inspiration I need to turn the pedals over!
I’ll be aiming to leave Warragul Station at 8:30. I know there are some people jumping on the Vline service which arrives at 8:15, so if you’re interested in joining them let me know and I’ll put everyone in touch.
From Warragul we’ll roll towards Cranbourne, stop for a quick refuel, a friendly chat with the group and then turn our wheels to Port Phillip Bay.
We’ll join the Nepean Highway at Carrum and follow it up through Mordialloc, weaving around through Black Rock and then open the after-burners for the city.
The final rest stop for the day, the final stop for the entire journey will be the Belgian Beer Cafe Bluestone on St Kilda Rd. It has a huge outdoor area, food, drink and space for bikes and kids!
Some whether you’re keen to ride or keen to just join us at the end, everyone is welcome!
Ask your average cyclist what they love most about riding and they’ll tell you either corners or going downhill. Ask them they’re pet hates and they’ll generally say long, flat roads.
Today I’ll have plenty of the latter.
First stop today will be 65km down the road in Maffra, home of the Maffra Cheese Company. I’ll need to avoid this place as I could easily spend all day gorging on their assortment of cheeses.
From there I’ll be putting my foot down and pushing on to Moe, a small town with more history than I’d ever have imagined.
Once the fuel tank has been replenished, I’ll be busily getting the wheels in motion to reach Warragul and prepare things for the final day’s ride into Melbourne.
While my ride is considerably easier, I came across this video of an amazing effort by Andy Wilkinson. Riding in a 24 hour event, Wilkinson clocked up a seriously impressive 540 miles... that's 860km! That's more than most people ride in a month, and he did it in a day!
This weekend was the last real chance for a good hit-out before boarding the plane to Brisbane. With forecasted temps of 35+ and strong NNW winds... it was sure to be a tough weekend to spend on the bike.
The plan for Sunday was to head to Emerald, then double back to Olinda and see how the legs felt from there. Setting off at 6am to try and beat the heat didn’t work the way we intended with the temp already around 25 before the sun was even up!
Still, up the 1:20, down through Sherbrooke and Kallista and before we knew it we had arrived in Emerald, three riders all straddling the finest machinery Italy can produce!
A coffee and some bakery goodness before hightailing it. I say hightailing it, but really the pace was pretty sedate. No one was in the mood for anything silly and we all knew what was ahead of us... The Wall.
Ordinarily, The Wall wouldn’t be too much of a concern, but we were starting to really feel the heat and the legs were getting wobbly for some.
The Wall is tough, really tough with a few sections hitting a gradient of 10%... Ouch!
Rolling into Olinda is a great feeling as you know it’s downhill to Sassafras. The morning had really taken it out of us, so we took the chance to refuel...
Heading home via Canterbury Rd meant we were fully exposed to the sun and heat and it really hit hard. The strong headwind wasn’t helping but I pushed on to the city, did a loop through St Kilda and then headed home, all up 131km and a touch over 1600 vertical metres, a great day in the saddle!
Despite the pain of having just ridden up the Great Dividing Range, I’m really looking forward to this day and it’s mostly all downhill!
Nearly 2000m of descending, through nearly 1000 curves as I weave my way towards Orbost, flick a right and roll into Bairnsdale.
There won’t be very much to see between Bonang and Orbost. In fact, there may not be very much to see between Orbost and Bruthen. That’s potentially 150km of solitude, no coffee and next to no scenery to occupy my mind.
Maybe I’m not looking forward to this day…
The one major achievement of reaching Bairnsdale is that it is easily reachable from Melbourne, and that’s a big mental plus for me as I’ll know I’m not far from home.
Day 13 on the road is a long one at 180km, but I’ll be pacing myself and making the most of the downhill sections to save every ounce of energy, after all, there’s still two more days until I can pack the bike away!
I think by this point in the ride I would have earned the right to say it at least once.
Day 12 is the day I go over the Great Dividing Range. In school I remember drawing maps of Australia and always taking great care to mark where this mythical line of mountains were, but never really knowing much about them.
Today I’ll become quite intimate with the Great Dividing Range. The climbing starts 17.5km in and it mercifully ends some 40km later. Sounds simple, apart from the 800m vertical metres I’ll be trying to conquer (I’m sure it will give me flashbacks to Falls Creek’s apty named WTF Corner.
There’s a small town 68km from my starting point, it’s called Cathcart and it will be my oasis. Assuming I reach here with any self-respect left, I’ll be putting my feet up, enjoying a meal and just allowing my legs, heart and body in general a chance to recover.
I shouldn’t forget the 80+km I still have left in the day.
You see, I’m not a climber. I’m 6’4” and typically weigh in around the 102kg mark. By way of comparison, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg stands at 6’1” but carries a whopping 34kg less. Ever wondered just what 34kg looks like?
After Cathcart the road gets interesting. I aim for Bombala, another small country town and from what I’ve been told this could be the point where I say goodbye to bitumen. The road from Bombala to Delegate, although being a main road, hasn’t actually been graced with black-top and instead is a fine mixture of God’s dusty crust.
I’ll try and keep riding but having no real idea what the surface is like this may be the point at which the bike is thrown in the car and we drive the 20-30km to find bitumen again.
I’ve heard a few stories about this stretch of highway, apparently famous in motorcycle circles for having 1038 curves in a 90km stretch between Delegate in NSW and Orbost in Vic. Since I’ll be going downhill for those curves they should be a bit of fun.
This is a day I’m really looking forward to. The towns dotted along the NSW Sapphire Coast are amazing and although they might not feature high on the holiday lists of many people, they each have hidden gems that can occupy your entire day, if not your week!
Having said that, day 11 will be hard. While the distance of 180km and the climbing of 1400m isn’t in itself any different from the previous ten days, it’s the way those climbing metres will be earned that will make it so difficult.
The ride profile tells me there are eleven official climbs for the day, and ten of them come in the last 100km. After I pass the 60km mark for the day, I’ll start climbing and ascending 16 times for distances between 50 and 100m. Not that much I hear you say, but considering what I’ve spent the past week doing I know my legs are going to really feel it.
Knowing what the second half of the ride has in store for me, I’ll be looking to really enjoy the coastal aspects early on.
Leaving Batemans Bay, I’ll trace along the water’s edge, eventually turning inland to find my way to Moruya. Further down the road I’ll find Narooma, a coastal hamlet that offers the visitor everything they could possibly want.
It’s around this point I’ll be screaming at my legs to keep going. Channelling the inner Jens Voigt! Merimbula isn’t too far down the road and that promises a chance to put my feet up, have a good feed and prepare for the next day.
You're doing what??
That was the question posed to me when I told my family I was going to ride from Brisbane to Melbourne. And it was a perfectly valid question...
Preparing for my two weeks on the road has been an eye-opening experience. The initial idea was spawned in October 2010 and "training" started two months later.
My work life took some seriously unexpected turns in January 2011 and it's kept me busy ever since, in fact I'm writing this while flying to Cairns on a Sunday afternoon for work commitments the following day.
These interruptions to regular riding have added an additional element of challenge to preparing for something I have zero experience with – days of consecutive long rides.
The grand aspirations of securing a corporate sponsor to help cover the costs was put the side as there was just not enough time. The fact Cyclesmart came on board to assist getting some jerseys made up was fantastic, and I've had quite a few comments from people while out and about on the roads of Melbourne.
The amount of Internet research I undertook to try and formulate a training plan could almost count towards credits for tertiary studies in personal training. I'm not deluding myself into thinking I have it nailed, but the fact I'm now covering the distances I am and not breaking down surely means I'm doing something right.
The monotony of training has been hard. There's only so many places you can ride to in Melbourne that other people will consider joining you for. Beach Rd is fun for a blast, but covering 70+km at 35km/h is not training I need to focus on, nor is destroying myself in the hills.
Groups like the Maling Room Ride are gat. The group as a whole always has an upbeat mood and they're not shy about offering tips to help with the training. It's only a 30km loop, but it's tough, particularly at the pace you hurtle around on Tuesday and Thursday mornings!
When I first started preparing to ride from Brisbane I wasn't sure what to expect from the experience, but over the last 12 months I feel like I've grown, not only as a cyclist but as a person. Yep, that's very cliched but it's true.
I've learnt that my body can take a lot more pain and suffering than I ever thought possible. I've learnt that even a few words of encouragement can spur you on to conquer that next hill. I've also learnt not to consume jam donuts halfway through a ride with Bryce, Mikey and Angelo! Not unless you want to see it again anyhow...
On Saturday 10 March when I push off from Grey St in Brisbane I'll have close to 2400km ahead of me, but I'll feel like I've a lady accomplished what I set out to do.
The goal of the ride is to raise awareness of the amazing work carried out by Cottage by the Sea and Foundation 5 Million+. Just in my immediate circle I've achieved that goal so it can only get better from there!
Two weeks on the road, riding down Australia's eastern coastline, some of the most amazing scenery in the world and all at a speed that will allow me to take it all in. That's going to be an experience that will stay with me forever, and one that I'd love to share with anyone else who would like to join me.
The ride into Batemans Bay is a day I’m particularly looking forward to. Day 10 is only 116km long so I’ll be making the most of it with a later than usual start from Nowra and just pacing myself throughout the day, there’s plenty to see along those 116kms!
Having said that, it’s also a day that I’ll be spending a bit of time on the Pacific Highway and the thought of cruising along the bitumen with cars and trucks hurtling past me at 110km/h doesn’t really put a smile on my face.
The only planned stop today is for a meal in Ulladulla, around 65km south of Nowra. I’ve never stopped in Ulladulla before so I’m looking forward to enjoying it, albeit for a short time. I do know it has some beaches so good even the dolphins stop by for a few waves!
After lunch, and possibly a dip in the ocean, I’ll be back on the bike and gunning it for Batemans Bay. Today is the shortest day of the entire fortnight, so I’ll be stopping to smell the roses and make the most of what I hope will be a great March day.
However, having stayed in Batemans Bay before I know the kind of amazing seafood that will be on offer once stumps is called for the day. Then I can sit back, enjoy a cold drink and watch a sunset like this. How could anyone turn down a chance for that!!
Are you thinking of joining me for the ride out of Sydney? It would be great to get a few extra sets of wheels on the road for the day, or even the morning, and getting home couldn’t be easier.
The easy option is to ride south and get a train back to the city. It just so happens the ride will be going past Miranda, Engadine and ultimately Wollongong. There’s a train station in each of these locations and getting back to the CBD or surrounds couldn’t be easier!
Leaving Sydney will be tough. Arriving I’m sure will have some emotional attachment. Aside from being born and bred in the Harbour City, it’s also the halfway point in my journey south. Halfway to home. Halfway to a night’s sleep that doesn’t precede another day on the bike...
Day 9 on the road will be around 165km and it should be an entertaining day to be on the bike. Heading towards Nowra, the initial aim will be to get out of the city, past the airport and find the sanctuary of the national park.
Getting down towards Wollongong I’ll be riding over the Sea Cliff Bridge, a few hundred metres sure to be a highlight!
Once safely reaching the other side I’ll be aiming to zip through Wollongong and make tracks for Shell Cove, then Kiama. Today is a very coastal ride so I’m hoping the winds are kind to me. After a day’s rest I’ll be trying to push through the riding pretty quickly and put my feet up again in Nowra.
After all, the days 11, 13 and 14 are all over 180km each, so I’ll be looking for as much rest as I can get!
Monday marks 40 days until I push off from Brisbane. That date of 10 March is approaching so rapidly the weeks are turning into a blur.
My training is coming along well. Although I haven’t been able to string together consecutive days of long rides, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the bike and when I have pushed hard for the longer rides the body has reacted well, and more importantly has recovered well for the next day.
I hit the road on 2 January intent on starting the year with a bang! I should have checked the weather forecast... 40 degrees and a howling northerly! Regardless, it was a great day out and the 100+km covered was a great way to start 2012.
January has been a pretty busy month finalising preparations, booking accommodation and securing whatever spares I can for my two weeks on the road. Donations to Foundation 5 Million and Cottage by the Sea are beginning to flow in and they’re giving me a huge boost of encouragement to keep pushing, even into those big northerlies!
40 days to go. It’s going to hurt but it’s an experience I’ll never forget!
Pushing off from Kurri Kurri I'll no doubt be as eager as I was on Day 1. By the end of today I'll be sitting in Sydney, cold drink in hand and regaling friends with tales from the road. Either that or trying to conjole people into joining me for the first day out of Sydney!
I'm not going through Newcastle but I will wave as I pass nearby. As a kid growing up my only knowledge of Newcastle was that it was home to the, at the time, fearsome Newcastle Knights.
I remember driving back from Narooma with Dad and listening to the Knights battle out the 1997 NRL Premiership. It wasn't until Darren Albert crossed the line that the entire town went ballistic and celebrated for what seemed the rest of the decade.
Conscious that I have a ferry to catch, I'll be keen to lay down some rubber and will be aiming to reach The Entrance by midday for a quick refuel and catch my breath. With the tank full I'll get the wheels in motion and heading to a small place called Wagstaffe. It's here that I'll board a ferry, hopefully at 2:20, and enjoy some wind in my hair while I sit back and enjoy the ride before arriving in Palm Beach, home of Channel 7's iconic soapie Home & Away and also my favourite 9-hole golf course.
Many moons ago Dad took me up here to show me where he learnt how to play golf. We teamed up with a couple of locals and headed off. It must be noted that Dad and I are in no way competitive, we're always quite happy to see the other succeed and to simply sit back and applaud… yeah, sure. We were out to trounce one another! Second time around the course and we reach the 8th hole (our 17th, second time around…) and I someone knock it in. A hole-in-one! Dad's been chasing it ever since…
From Palm Beach I'll weave my way through Avalon and Newport and will hopefully pick up a few people as I roll through to Manly and what will be a well deserved cold beer while waiting for the ferry to take me into Circular Quay.
This point will mark halfway in my journey south. I'll now take a take to restock, recover and replenish before saddling up and doing it all again as I make my way south to Melbourne. I'll start off again on Sunday 18 March, heading down the road to Nowra.
I’m issuing a challenge. Think you’ll accept?
This Saturday marks 9 weeks until my ride south from Brisbane begins (Saturday 10 March, to save you counting the weeks in your calendar).
$3 might not seem like a lot, but if 100 people donated $3 each, for 9 weeks… that’s $2,700, all from $3. Imagine if those 100 people then issued the challenge to 10 of their friends…
Small things can add up to something incredible. That’s the approach I’m taking to the ride. If I stand there on 10 March in Brisbane’s Grey St and think “gees, I’ve got 2500km of riding ahead of me” then I’m going to struggle.
Instead, I’ll be breaking down each day into smaller rides, aiming for a town 50km away, stopping for lunch, a piece of cake, a coffee. Small milestones and before I know, I’ll have a few hundred kilometres under the wheels and the final location will be a whole lot closer.
It may seem a bit cliched, but you can do something amazing also
So, will you accept my challenge?
After what promises to be a big meal in Forster, Day 6 will see the wheels be pointed at Kurri Kurri. It will be a fairly average day if you look at the stats:
Forster to Kurri Kurri – 168km
Average day’s ride for Brisbane 2 Melbourne – 162km
Vertical metres to Kurri Kurri – 984m
Average vertical metres for Brisbane 2 Melbourne – 881m
Should be a good litmus test… 6 days into the actual ride. That makes perfect sense.
Bulahdelah is where the dual-carriage highway narrows to a single-lane bridge over the Myall River. If you’re driving north from Sydney, once over the bridge you also have to contend with the town’s single traffic light.
All jokes aside, I’ve made many stops in Bulahdelah while driving up and down the coast and it’s always a great place to aim for when you need a rest and a feed. This traditional roadtrip stopping place is now under threat with the Bulahdelah Bypass due for completion in 2013, diverting up to 200,000 vehicles around the town at the peak of the holiday season.
From here my eyes will be set firmly on Kurri Kurri, another 40-odd kilometres down the road. It’s here that I’ll be hoping to catch up with Billy and Di Metcalfe, two crazy Kurri locals I had the pleasure of meeting in July at the Darwin Cup, the Melbourne Cup of the north!
I’ll be hoping for a good night’s rest, as Day 7 will involve some careful timing to ensure I don’t miss a ferry or happy hour when I roll into Manly!
Four days down, 670km in the bag. Roughly 1600km to go. That’s assuming I don’t get lost… a very big assumption!
Leaving Port Macquarie, the first target for the day will be North Haven, some 30km down the road. I have it on good authority that North Haven is a great spot for surfing, but I won’t have time to enjoy any of it.
Around the 55km mark I’ll turn left onto Jerusalem Rd and face the only significant climb of the day, a 163m rise on the way to Stewarts River. It’s not overly steep or long but it will blow out any lingering cobwebs.
Getting lunch some lunch will be great, but my mind will already be wandering down the road to Forster, yet another idyllic coastal destination where I’ll enjoy a dip in the ocean and possibly a great feed of fish and chips.
Assuming I don’t get lost, I would have covered 398km in just two days. Ouch.
I can feel the pain now. My legs will be screaming with every step, my back aching like it’s gone through a World’s Strongest Man contest. The physical pain will be tough, but the mental pain will be the real struggle. Pushing myself to get back on the bike again and ride through to Nambucca Heads some 139km down the road.
Considering the two days beforehand, I’ll be looking to leave Grafton at a more social time of the morning. Although it’s not a hard day of climbing with a little under 700 vertical metres, it is quite undulating with many small climbs, just enough to sap whatever energy you have in your legs.
The aim is to reach Coffs Harbour by midday, 85km down the road. We used to take family holidays to Coffs and I have very fond memories of being chased by peacocks and playing in the pool at the Sanctuary Resort.
It’s a great little coastal town, famous for the Big Banana. If you haven’t been there I highly recommend stopping for a visit. At 7 hours drive from Sydney it may be a stretch, but you could always fly.
Lunch consumed, it’s back to the road and I’ll be aiming at going straight through to Nambucca Heads. The 55km into town is reasonably flat and shouldn’t take too long, and the thought of a swim in the ocean will keep my legs going!
After covering 211km on Day 1 the legs will be screaming for a break. Day 2 won't be providing that, but at 186km and less than 700 vertical metres, the only challenge presented today will be to keep pedalling!
I have family in Ballina so I'll be planning to leave Byron nice and early and meet Uncle Alan and Auntie Lyn for a light breakfast. Ballina is some 30km from Byron so it's a great warm-up distance.
Once breakfast is down, it's back on the road and the wheels will be in high rotation, rolling towards the Banyabba State Forest. This will be a light refreshment stop. Although March is the wettest month of the year on the sat coast, it's also very warm so keeping on top of my fluid intake will be important.
Although the ride is certainly not a race, with the hot and humid conditions of a NSW March, I'll be trying to get the majority of kilometres ridden before midday.
By the 100km mark I'm quite sure my mind will start wandering, thinking about the rest day in Sydney and no doubt a dip in the ocean. I'll also be hoping my old cricket club, Randwick Petersham, can improve their season thus far and reach the finals as I'd love to see some cricket down at Coogee Oval!
Banyabba is 135km from Byron and by this point I'm expecting the legs to really be feeling it. The training in the lead-up is important, but while my intentions a great, it's very difficult to get out for two consecutive days of 200km on the bike, and then turn up to work the next day.
Anyhow, back to Day 2!
Once lunch is out of the way it'll be all about time in the saddle and pushing for Grafton. With only 50-odd kilometres remaining in the day it should be a quick finish, but I may live to regret those words.
I haven't visited Grafton before and as far as I know the town's one great export was a bloke named Tony Martin, my old cricket Captain at RPCC. We went within a few runs of winning a Premiership together in what was a year that defined my love of cricket and the mischief that occurs in a team environment.
There'll be no ocean swim at the end of Day 2, but I have been told there are some great steaks to enjoy so I'll be hunting one down while planning my attack on Day 3's 139km to Nambucca Heads.
This week marks fourteen weeks until the journey from Brisbane begins. Each day will be a challenge and each will bring with it some amazing scenery and experiences, not to mention the chance to visit some iconic locations down the east coast.
Each week, I’m going to preview a day’s riding, and give some detail on the towns I’m planning to stop in. Think of it as a taste-test. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to miss, then let me know and you’d be welcome to join!
Day 1 will start in Brisbane and weave south until the wheels stop moving in Byron Bay, some 211km away. It’s a big ride for the opening day, but it’s also a bit symbolic, after the first day I would have knocked off almost 10% of what I expect to cover for the entire two weeks.
The start line is going to be 189 Grey St, South Bank. Cyclesmart have been kind enough to assist with the custom kit so I thought it a great idea to kick the whole thing off outside their offices. Plus there are some great cafes nearby for a pre-ride caffeine hit!
Although the ride starts on a Saturday, I’m not expecting it to be very smooth getting out of Brisbane. For that reason, I’ll be planning a brief stop in Tamborine, Qld. At 55km from the start line, it’s more of a breather, a moment to pause, have a drink and collect my thoughts. It would also be a great spot to thank any riders who have ventured from Brisbane and may wish to turn back for home.
Lunch will be next on the menu, and the location is planned for the Gold Coast, 110km from the start line. If time permits, I might even take the chance to jump in the water to cool off, it is all about being social after all!
With 100km to go, the rest can’t be for too long. I’ll be pushing on, looking to cross into NSW and make some serious headway, the thoughts of a big tasty dinner and a dip in Byron Bay’s cool waters spurring me on.
If the mood strikes, I’ll take a breather in Pottsville, otherwise it will be all systems go for Byron Bay where a celebratory cool drink will be enjoyed before the focus turns to Day 2, 187km to Grafton.
It was a good hit-out this weekend. After a few days in Far North Queensland the legs were itching for a good spin, and so a few wheels set out on Sunday for a leisurely roll up the 1:20.
Initially a cruisey pace down Canterbury Rd was soon replaced with a pace pushing the odometer to 35km/h. An interesting way to keep something in the legs for the climb!
The 1:20, for those who haven’t ridden it, is a great run from The Basin to Sassafras. It’s not overly long or hard, but at 6.75km and a gradient of 4.2% the real challenge is pushing yourself to a new PB. The Climbing Cyclist has a great review of the 1:20, as well as many other Victorian climbs.
While today was no PB, it was still a good run to the top. The group then headed towards Montrose for what one of the most enjoyable descents in the Dandenongs. The long sweeping corners allow for some great fun on the way down.
This week will be played fairly low-key, if the weather cooperates there’ll be some Maling Room Rides thrown in before Saturday’s big training run, 185km and 1500 vertical metres.
It’s no walk in the park but I’ll be trying to break the ride up with stops at Emerald, Lygon St and Black Rock to help ease the pain.
If anyone would like to come along, for all or part of the ride, you’d be more than welcome. 185km can be a lonely ride when you’re the only set of wheels!
Today marks 120 days until I push off from Brisbane. It’s a daunting number, less than four months until I start the biggest physical challenge of my life! My poor wife is feeling the effects also as I disappear for more and more riding.
Rather than just ride aimlessly, it’s time to really focus the training rides on what I expect to encounter in my fortnight journey south.
The average daily distance will be 165km with a climb of 1100m. That’s a fair day in the saddle and would be tough for a single day out, let alone fourteen of them end to end!
It was time I got a bit smart. Riding to Emerald or along Beach Rd is always great fun, but it needed an added element, it needed to be specific, it needed to replicate what my body will be going through.
I devised two training rides to put myself through a bit of torture, to try and condition myself for something far worse than the 165km/1100m I’ll endure on the road.
Training ride 1 is 180km and has 1500m of climbing. The bulk of the climbing is in the early part of the ride before rolling down Beach Rd to stretch the legs a bit. It can also be reversed and have the climbing at the end.
I’ll have my first crack at this ride on Sunday 27 November. Feel free to come along for all or some! The route can be viewed in detail here. (http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/57248320). As always, the ride is open for anyone to join, for all or just part!
Embarking on a long ride after a period of illness is not the smartest thing to do. Making that long ride on a day when the mercury tips 30 degrees removes it from 'not smart' to outright stupid!
Yet, that's precisely where I found myself on Saturday 5 November, embarking on a 150km ride for The Slog. Starting in Pakenham, the route was to head south-east through Lang Lang and Poowong before turning north for Warragul and then heading east through Drouin, Longwarry and eventually back to Pakenham.
150km. 700 vertical metres (http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/41290118). It doesn't seem like much, yet it turned into the hardest day I've ever experienced on a bike.
While The Slog has no real significant climbs, it was quite undulating and reaches a peak height of 370m around the 80km mark. To get there, you start riding upwards from the 45km mark. Not steep, but very unrelenting.
Kudos must be given to the volunteers and organisers, they were fantastic! A volunteer car was positioned every 15km or so and they were stocked with fruit, chocolate, fluids and plenty of encouragement.
There were two girls cheerfully manning a rest stop around 70km in who took great delight telling riders "the lunch stop is only another 15km down the road". Without a map we took their word for it… Ellinbank was another 30km of torture away. Thanks girls!
I was riding with the MS1000 team (http://ms1000challenge.blogspot.com/) to gather some much need information for the ride in March. They were great fun and made the day thoroughly enjoyable.
Lunch in Ellinbank was a very welcome break, and with the bottles refilled, the stomach refuelled we set off intent on getting through the remaining 50km in double quick time.
The 20km to Drouin were tough. Quite a few short and sharp climbs tested some legs that were beginning to feel weary. By the time we found the support vehicle cramps had started shooting through my legs.
Determined to reach the finish, a few quick stretches, some more fluids and fruit and we hit the road again. I didn't last long. The final 30km took me an hour and a half as I was riddled with cramps making it near impossible to ride.
Eventually reaching Pakenham, I noticed quite a few sore looking bodies laying around, gathering their thoughts and trying to stretch out some sore muscles.
Looking back now, I shouldn't have attempted the 150km so soon after being bed-ridden with a stomach bug. Regardless, the first 120km went past with relative ease and at a good pace which is very encouraging.
With no more big organised rides planned in 2011, I'll be focussing on shop rides and a pre-planned training route, such as this one (http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=326460). As always, the rides are open to anyone to join, even if it's for the warm-down rolling towards the bakery!
They're designed to simulate the average daily distance and the average daily climbing. If I can start getting through these easily enough then getting home from Brisbane will be no problem at all!
Finally, it feels like summer is just around the corner!
After being completely drenched on the Kinglake ride I thought it best to take it easy at the start of the week. Two trips to and from work on the Gardiners Creek Trail may have been planned to be easy, but with the days warming up the traffic increases and I may stick to the roads as they seem safer!
Thursday was a MRR hit-out. Riding with the Mice, I pulled over early on to check out an odd clicking noise from the front wheel. Nothing broken, nothing loose, no obvious cause so I pushed on. Straight into a strong headwind. I had no chance and waited for the Rabbits group to come past but they were going quick and I was soon spat out the back and had to console myself to pacing back for a coffee at the Maling Room. A missed alarm on Friday meant the commute to work was via South Rd and a brisk pace along Beaconsfield Parade.
Headed out on Saturday for a new experience, joined the regular Saturday morning ride from KAOS Custom Bikes in Glen Huntley Rd, Caulfield. It was a good sized group, 25-30 people and the plan was to head to Mordialloc and back before enjoying some breakfast at Whyte Caffe. The leisurely pace to Port Philip Bay was a nice warm-up but the lights were in a tormenting mood and the group was split at the first opportunity once the pace quickened up.
No one had any intention to chase but after passing a few slower groups we could see orange tops in the distance, so the head went down and the chase was on! There were a few twitchy moments as oblivious riders swung out while we were passing, but all in all it was a well-paced chase and the catch was made in the sweep towards Black Rock. Once reaching Mordi the group split, some continuing down to the Peninsula while others began salivating at the thought of breakfast. A comfortable but energetic pace was set heading back into a decent headwind, and Andrew from KAOS) had some great observations on my humble Colnago. Granted, his BMC was very nice but we all have to start somewhere.
I'm hoping the warm weather holds out and there'll be a few more MRR runs this week before a long overdue ride to Emerald on the weekend. Oh, and don't forget the Belgium Bier Café on St Kilda Rd has their ride and waffles breakfast this Saturday 24 Sept. Aside from coffee, waffles are the next best reason to ride!
There was some great news during the week, a sponsor for some ride jerseys has been all but confirmed! I'll be posting details and a design very soon, which of course will be available for purchase with all profits going to F5m+ and Cottage by the Sea!
Picture this: rolling Victorian countryside, a cool yet comfortable Spring day, good climbs, good roads, good company and a good challenge. That's what I pictured when I entered the Kinglake Classic, 120km of riding from Whittlesea, up through St Andrews, a brief stop at the Kinglake Bakery before heading to Flowerdale and eventually looping back to Whittlesea. It was a nice thought and no doubt it was a prompting factor in why 3,500 other riders entered the 120km and 70km options for the day.
What greeted us was vastly different.
A bleak chilly morning had a very anxious group awaiting the starter's orders in Whittlesea. Some were rugged up for the worst, others were more optimistic and had ditched the heavy jackets, option instead for arm warmers or some even just a jersey. I was riding in a group of four who covered the spectrum of clothing attire. The rain started 5 minutes after we left. Now, rain by itself, while unpleasant, isn't the end of the ride. The strong headwind didn't help either but it was a long ride and we weren't going to have a headwind the entire way, so we trudged on.
Making the first turn towards Arthur's Creek I'm sure there were blue patches in the sky. Hopeful the weather could be lifting, the general pace of those on the road also lifted. However, by the time we reached St Andrews everyone was soaked to the bone. The rain wasn't so much drizzling as turning to torrential, our only saving grace was that perhaps the weather would be clear at the top of Kinglake and beyond, so on we pushed, tackling the climb through Kinglake National Park and reaching the Kinglake Bakery for a well deserved coffee and pastry. While there we watched other riders roll into town, some meeting waiting cars, others near collapse from the near 0 temperature.
Our options in Kinglake were left to Whittlesea via the 70km course, or right and continue on the 120km loop and a guarantee of more hardship at the hands of the weather. A unanimous decision was made to cut our losses and head back to Whittlesea, taking the 70km course into town. And so, as we prepared to set off into the misty rain we were again forced to seek shelter as the heavens reopened and sent every rider scurrying for cover. Knowing our bodies were rapidly cooling we had no other choice but to move on, clear the last climb out of Kinglake and then head to the relative warmth of Whittlesea.
Having already lost sight of one of our quartet, we were again split when cramps drove another to the local pie shop (he assured us it was for the warmth of the pie warmer, but those pies are pretty good!). Down to two, we not so much soldiered on as battled. First it was howling crosswinds threatening to either blow us into passing traffic or just straight blow us over. There was continuing rain, and then the hail started. Only small, but it was like riding into the scatter pattern of a BB gun. By the time the main descent was reached most riders seemed reluctant to have a good crack at it for fear their hands were too numb to reach the brakes.
Eventually, sunshine was found, but it came with a huge headwind. The last 5km into Whittlesea were hard with many riders pulled over to ease cramps. The tales of attrition at Walker Reserve, Whittlesea assured us we were not alone in deciding to abandon the 120km loop. The coffee and sausage sandwiches were a hit, if not for their flavour then certainly for the heat they provided!
Big thanks to the local CFA and all the volunteers. I'd paid for my ticket to ride so I was at least seeking value for my money, but these guys and girls were out there purely to help and assist the crazy riders. Despite the wind, the rain, the hail and the near frostbite, it was a great day and the challenge will still be there next year to complete the 120km loop - weather permitting of course...
It's been a big week. With the website launched it's like I reached a tipping point, it's out there, it's public and there's no turning back.
The link was sent far and wide, work colleagues, friends, acquaintances and even people I've never met before all offered their feedback, and it was really encouraging. It is a daunting task, with the weaving routes I've chosen the daily average will be 166km - that's Sydney to Newcastle, I know some people that struggle to drive that far!
Training hit a bump last week after a rather gentle knock caused some pretty serious back problems. A few visits to the chiropractor and a week later I was back on the bike, albeit gingerly at first. I managed to get out early on Friday for a hit-out with the Maling Room crew. It was only a recovery ride but gees they pushed hard, or maybe it's just been too long since I went out with them. Weather permitting I'll be trying to get out there more regularly, particularly with Around the Bay only 6 weeks away. I'll be riding to Sorrento and back and it promises to be a great day.
Next week is the Genovese Kinglake ride, 120km and two decent climbs. That should be enough to blow out the cobwebs and really kickstart a big spring of training. Having said that, I go past a lot of parks and lately I've noticed quite a few magpies sitting there, staring, intently glaring as I roll past. I'm sure they're just figuring out the best way to attack to achieve maximum carnage… Here's two videos showing some interesting testing of various methods to steer clear of the pesty feathered bombers!