Last few months you have probably noticed a banner on Adelaide Cyclists supporting Ride4Repat. From 30th March until 5th April there will be 15 cyclists and support crew involved for a loop ride down via the Coorong through the south east to Mt Gambier and returning via the Princes Highway back to Adelaide. It is 930 km over 7 days.
This event is supported by the two foundations at the Repat, Foundation Daw Park and the Daw Park Hospice Foundation. While there are plenty of these fund raising rides for different causes happening fairly constantly, the Ride4Repat has particular 2 projects which will be funded by the proceeds raised by this ride. Please log onto www.everydayhero.com/event/ride4repat where you will find out more about these two projects we are raising money for whilst getting out and meeting the people who the Repatriation General Hospital serves.
As both an employee of the Repat for about ten years and a member of the Ride4Repat for a second time have seen many grateful people and their families who have accessed the services and their thankfulness never ceases to amaze me.
Adelaide cyclists is a growing community of people who love to cycle and hoping that you will be keen to follow our adventure over the next week and become involved in the stories which we will share with you each day. We hope this group will inspire you all that great things can be achieved by ordinary everyday people. We hope through reading our daily blog you get to know the di versity of backgrounds of riders and support crew bought together for a common good.
As this is the second Ride4Repat edition with the first inaugural edition being in 2012 we have a mix of veteran crew from the original ride and have a bunch of new riders and support crew who are new to multi day rides hence lots of new adventures and unknowns await us.
For any endurance ride everyone involved requires long hours of training. Sometimes the training has been done as riding in a group together and we have often discussed the reason and goals for putting our body through riding long distances day after day for a week. Initially we begin as individuals and show up to training rides wearing different jerseys, and many of us have never ridden together as a group and don't know what to expect. It's not until the actual sponsored jersey arrives and we try on for fit... it is that time a transformation occurs and the realisation of the mission finally sinks in. When I put on my jersey this morning first thought was now I'm definitely part of a team and I have a purpose to make sure all the other team members pull through this ride all the way to the end on 5th April.
Training has been getting serious as this event approaches. It has been difficult to juggle both work, family and training and fund raising committments. Good time management is essential. For me, training has been in the gym, on the road even if its only 30 minutes as every small amount counts. While riding 130km which is the average day for this event can take a substantial part of the day, I can feel confident this is achieveable providing the unknowns don't prevent this from happening. Anything can happen on the road and we prepare the best we can and manage any thing which happens out of the ordinary. As a cyclist over the years I can pretty much tell you I've seen most things, but there is always something new to get the head around. When you take a seven day event with no rest days you never know how the body will react to the previous days efforts and strain. Training we hope simulates and shows us what to expect.
Last weekend a friend Steve F and I, with the help of our support crew member Katrina, wanted to find out what it is like to ride 3 lots of 150km in a day to see see how the body reacts. The distance of 450 km in a day is Mt Gambier to Adelaide via the Coorong.
Our aim was to drive to Mt Gambier with our support driver after work. The original plan was to book our support driver a cabin in Kingston then have Katrina drove us off in Mt Gambier for a midnight start to ride through the night and arrive Kingston at 6.30 am for breakfast. If we could achieve this goal we planned to meet Katrina at Salt Creek, 82 km up the road, and allow our support driver a sleep in. Unfortunately all accommodation was booked out so we decided to find accommodation in Robe. By the time we located accommodation at Robe for Katrina we were running a really tight schedule. We actually got to Mt Gambier at 12.15 am and got to unload our bikes and get rolling at 12.30 am. Katrina headed back to Robe in the car.At first the conditions were ideal for the ride towards Millicent. Some undulating wide roads with minimal road traffic all the way to Millicent. Earlier in the evening we dropped off 6 bottles of water as we weren't sure we could get refills until Kingston. As we pulled into Millicent the stars had disappeared behind black clouds and it was beginning to rain but not enough to be a bother. We headed left for a 30km leg towards Beachport.
Maybe if we understood nature we would have noticed the reason for all the frogs hopping across the road. The change to a westerly heading had us pushing into a slight breeze into our faces. Even though the road was mostly flat it somehow felt harder going than over the previous undulations. Just before Beachport is the right hand turn towards Robe. By this time the rain had become significantly heavier but the change in direction allowed us to pick up the pace. Due to the vegetation encroaching the side of the road we had reasonable protection and also did not see any traffic. By 5.15 am we reached Robe pretty well wet through and the temperature had dropped a lot, which increased the risk of hypothermia if we pushed on. We weren't expecting to meet our support vehicle for 5 or 6 hours, and it was pouring with rain. Oddly enough Katrina was in a nice warm cabin which had hot coffee, dry clothes and a hot shower... all pretty tempting. We decided to do the sensible thing and head to the cabin which was very lucky. By the time we showered it became very wet and very windy with 60km/hr winds. Best decision we had ever made to sit out the storm.
A few hours sleep and the rain subsided but it was still windy around 9.30 am. Now about 4-5 hours lost hope of getting back to town on the bike was fading fast. The last time Steve and I rode from Robe to Macclesfield we left at 5.15am but had very long breaks which made for a very long ride. This time we decided on shorter breaks and attempt to ride to Kingston before making a decision to keep going or pull the plug.waiting out the storm turned out to be very wise as by 10am we had a tail wind to push us along.
Steve and I realised that the longer we stayed on the road we could make up lost time just by sitting on a 30km/hr average. We rolled into Kingston in at lunchtime for a late breakfast and to replenish the water for the next 80km leg to Salt Creek with its famous roadhouse which has been the oasis before the 65km trek up the Coorng to Meningie. The wind proved to be a friend as we made up time with the average speed ever increasing the further we pushed up along the Coorong. Even though its a cool day the reflection of the white sand and salt air can cause wind burn as well as dehydration. Consequently each opportunity to stop is welcomed to replenish water and apply sunscreen. The traffic had increased significantly and it is wise to give trucks from behind the widest berth and move off the road onto the shoulder... and share the road. Basically we encountered no near misses and probably gained respect of other road users as most gave us lots of room when they went past.We arrived in Meningie at around 5.30pm. Originally we had hoped to be a Wellington at this time to take advantage of arriving in Wellington before the roadhouse shuts. I bought 10 litres of water in Meningie just in case as in Wellington tap water is unfiltered directly from the river.
Leaving Meningie the favourable fortunes of a tail wind held good and we made the Wellington Ferry before sunset for a beautiful crossing the Murray. By the time we made the Wellington Roadhouse it was just closing and we scored a free chiko roll. Never thought a chiko roll could taste so nice.
Leaving Wellington for a 48 km trek west towards Strathalbyn had us in very cross winds. It is very open country side with the wind blowing off Lake Alexandria. The pace had dropped off as it was a struggle to maintain the pace we had kept up all day. Gradually we were heartened by seeing Mt Barker in the distance and a glow of lights from Strathalbyn on the horizon. In between is Langhorne Creek and the Belvedere climb only a few kilometres out of Strathalbyn. We arrived at Strathalbyn at around 9.30pm. By this time the batteries on the lights were starting to give out so we swapped over batteries which we kept in our support car so we could have bright lights through the Adelaide hills. Being the weekend and time of day people were beginning to leave the hotels pretty drunk and getting into their cars later to encounter us cyclists on the road... not a good mix. To cop abuse from motorists brings out a drunken rage but at least the abuse means they had seen us and avoided us on the road. Ridden many times on open roads at all times of day, in lonely places and this time I was feeling worried.
After 410km the legs would have to cope with a fairly long climb out of Strathalbyn towards Macclesfield. As we were about to leave got some messages from a mate, Tim, who is also a Ride4Repat participant, asking when I was getting back to the Tollgate. I texted him 'after midnight'. I didn't expect a reply, but sure enough he text me back telling me he and Matt were waiting for me. Never thought anyone would rake such a keen interest in Steve and I riding the furthest distance we had ever achieved in one day. Had to get a hurry up but the legs were not fresh so just had to plod on.
Kudos to Steve who had the power left to lead me up the long grinding climb out of Strathalbyn and out of Doctoes Creek up towards Macclesfield and through Flaxley and finally making it to Echunga. The territory is all to familar as we pushed onto Mylor and the Aldgate Valley Road. Even though Aldgate Valley Road isn't steep it felt like riding up a ten percent hill. I really didn't mind the hurt in the legs as was about to achieve a memory that would last forever. We regrouped at Aldgate for a final push to Stirling and up Ayers Hill (bitch hill) which is the last climb after 445km. Now thats a bitch... but luckily its a short climb of only several hundred metres to Crafers and the famous bollards at the top of the Old Freeway.
So close yet so far...ever mindful passing Michael Warners memorial plaque we remember to be extra on the look out for stray wildlife. After 23.5 hours we arrive the tollgates and meet the crowd waiting for us and experiencing the euphoric achievement of 450km in a day having ridden from Mt Gambier.After a time of reflection about this tour it was evident that to complete it we had to adjust our tactics somewhat. Without the flexibility of plans we never would have succeeded. The idea of riding 450km in a day does seem excessive but the ability to to ride 150km 3 times over in a day shows ability to recover between each leg. Essentially the Ride4Repat is about a bunch of cyclists supporting each other to get get back on the saddle day after day for a week. Im pretty sure some interesting stories which come out of this ride and hope you will follow the blogs and share our story.
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