Cycle for Hope – the Wrap Up

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Hmm, what did I learn?

So, just in case you could not tell, or you might not have ridden with me before, when it comes to cycling, I love this shit, I really do! I love all kinds of riding, but I really think that the longer the journey, and the more challenges that it presents, for some strange reason, I love it even more, and will often be heard to profess this as we are tapping along! The other thing about me, is that I try not to get too wound up about situations, or how people may be acting/reacting at the time, and will also be heard to issue the words of wisdom, “It’s all good!” Life is far too short, and our time in it far too fleeting, to let the little things cause too much worry! Basically, don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.

This was an awesome ride, well organised and run by Brenton, and he is to be much applauded for all of the effort he put in to making sure it all worked. If you have never organised a cycling event that continues for an extended period of time, you really do not understand exactly what is involved to make it happen. The concerns that are constantly racing through your mind, rider safety, the stress that can happen when something slightly out of kilter happens, or attempting to cater for the needs and personalities of the participants. All of this weighs heavily on the organiser, and Brenton handled it all superbly.

Much was learned on this trip, and some of what we had learned from Square2Square was shared with Brenton before he embarked on his journey. They had over catered for their ride, which in a way can be a good thing of course, rather than running out! I think we have both learned that things like protein supplements etc are not really required on this type of journey. If a rider feels that is what they may need to make it through the journey, it may just be a case of self catering for it.

Working as a team helped pull these guys through some pretty tough days of riding, and when the three of us from Adelaide joined in with them, we fell straight in to their patter of riding, as did juz when she joined as for the last 50km. Their basic principle was to ride as a team. To ride at the speed of the rider on point, and if they were going too fast, to wind them back in, and keep the group tight. This also helped reduce the overall size of our vehicle, as we did not have a long line of riders stretching out over a great distance. It also meant that by rotating every three km’s, you had a chance to rest and recover, which meant you were almost “fresh” again, when you were on the front.

When riding two abreast, and preparing to rotate, give a call with 500m to go, so the second wheel/s can take a drink, prepare themselves to take the lead, or advise the rider behind that they were not able to take the lead at this stage, and would instead roll to the rear of the pack. When changing over, we only ever went three abreast, which meant the two leads pulled out to the right, and fell to the back of the pack in single file. This again reduced our overall space we occupied on the road.

Interestingly, Brenton and Brad rode 3,200km’s without a single puncture or mechanical problem, we hadn’t even crossed the road in Melbourne when we got our first flat! The only person to get a puncture on this trip was one of the Pt Pirie riders who joined us, and the only one to get a mechanical was Chewy, who threw a spoke just with the sheer power he puts through his wheels!

Hotels and Motels, especially those in the rural areas, will be much more friendly and interested in what you are doing, than what they are in the City areas! I think next time we look at one of these group rides, we also investigate the alternate accommodation options, we went straight for cabins in caravan parks, as generally these will accommodate more people. But some of the places we stayed in, were equally as large as a cabin, and when the bill is plit four ways for example, it really is a good price.

Brownies are an excellent recovery food! Massive thanks to Sarah for a couple of batches of her home made brownies to tide us over, a ginger cake, and then on the morning of our last day, she managed to also bake another batch of brownies for Brenton to eat on his long drive home in the Kia!! Chapeau Sarah!

Next year, I think it would be great to do a ride from Perth to Sydney maybe, it’s only about 4,000km’s, but I know already that I could not do it at the same time of year, there is just far too much work left back here to finish off for the auditors!

Massive thanks to Brenton, Brad, Terry, Jason, Sarah, Chewy, Juz, Scott, and everyone else who rode along with us, and all of the others who supported us along the way. Big thanks to Brenton’s family, you were all fantastic to us, and thanks for your generosity, hospitality, beer, and fantastic laughs. Peter, we really do need to teach you how to drink the Zambucca’s properly next time mate!

Big shout out to a couple of my favourite sponsors, Ride Easy Sports Products/Chamois Butt’r and Sukkie Hydration, your support at the last minute was much appreciated!

I love this shit!!!

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Farewell Cycle for Hope

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I love this shit!

This was the first day off the bike for a few days for most of us, and for some strange reason, Sarah feels an overwhelming compulsion to be as active as possible every day, so today even after smashing out all of those kilometers was to be no different for her. As the bikes were all securely locked to the roof of the car, the only other option she had was a run. For whatever ridiculous reason, I decided that I would join her, so after a wake up call at ridiculous o’clock, I donned my running gear, and off we set for a gallop around Mildura.

It really was an awesome morning for it, and after running the length of the town, we finally found the river, and ran back to the Mecure alongside the river. I think Sarah may have been going easy on me, as I was managing to keep her in sight, but stoped a couple of times with the clever ruse of taking a photo, and disguise the fact that I was beat!

The breakfast at the Mecure was awesome! This would easily have been the best breakfast in a very long time! I smashed a bowl of Cocoa Pops, a tub of yoghurt, triple stack of awesome pancakes with syrup & cream, four slices of raisin toast and a coffee! This was the biggest breakfast I think I have ever eaten, and obviously “needed” it, as I felt so much better after it! If you know Chewy, well, that was a warm up for him of course! He managed to hoover up four packets of Cocoa Pops, a big fried breakfast, bowl of baked beans, maybe eight pieces of toast, then a coffee! That boy is a lean mean eating machine!!

Lunch stop today was back at Peter’s brothers house in renmark, where the family had again laid on a feast and drinks for us, and were all as warm and welcoming as they had been just the day before! Brenton, as I said to you mate, you have an awesome family, great bunch, with great sense of humour and community spirit, and we were all very greatful for their hospitality. I must say, I loved Peter’s set up for his bbq area, very impressive! And the outdoor living area where we ate was perfectly laid out for the weather that they so often enjoy in the Riverland!

Sadly, we had to leave eventually, as we still had a fair drive to get back to Adelaide, and Brad still neeeded to organise a flight back to WA! So after some very warm farewells, and of course more photos, it was time for us to roll out. We had decided to stop at the Waikerie Bakery for some afternoon tea on our way home, but sadly this was closed, so instead we went back to the Bakery at Waikerie! Mmmmm, apricot turnover was good!!!

Our drive home was uneventful, following the same route for most of the way, that we had recently just ridden. The trip back was of course much quicker in the Skoda than the trip out on our bikes, but hell, we all loved that bike ride, and will be doing that again!

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Day seven for the Monkees – Cycle for Hope

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Woot! Party time!!!

We had a fantastic night with Brenton’s family at their shop, Formula Paints, where the frothies were flowing freely, and the bbq was cranking over, with all sorts of meat delights! (Apologies here to the vegetarians, and those wanting a more balanced diet, this was a meat fest, with fresh bread and tomato sauce!) Brenton’s brothers and their families were all awesome, and all welcomed us warmly, and provided the sort of hospitality that can only be shown by genuine folk, and we had a fantastic night, with far too many drinks, and a whole lot of laughs!

Today was the last day of the ride, the stage that you look forward to in one way, as you will achieve your goal, but dread in another, as it means that the experience is almost over. For mine, I get to the end of the event, and I find myself wanting to just keep on riding. Sydney was only another 1,000km from here, easily achievable!

Todays ride was Renmark to Wentworth, and we were joined on this leg by Scott Hardwick on a restored ex Dean Whitehorn bike, and a couple of the Riverland Cycling Club guys escorted us out of Renmark. The pace was set, and we were away, continuing our rotations, but this time, we planned to ride the whole journey two abreast, as we had our full compliment of support vehicles, plus Brenton’s family following us.

We stopped for lunch at Lake Cullullerane, a beatiful picnic and camping location that I had never been to before, but am thinking I must revisit by bike again one day. Just prior to pulling in here, we were overtaken by a car, that obviously did not see the semi trailer boring down on her, and already pulled out to overtake us! So to avoid a serious accident, the semi driver pulled over to the “hard” shoulder of the road, and continued to overtake this driver. This was a pretty scary moment for some, as if the truck had tipped on the shoulder, or caught a wheel and twisted, it and the car could have easily taken us all out!

I can hear a couple of folk thinking, “Well that’s a shame that the truck missed Smudge!”, sorry to disappoint, you might want to pay a better driver next time!

The lunch stop was brilliant, a bus load of gamblers were already there, and came over to throw nmore coin in to the collection tins, and even brought us over some very nice chicken pieces. As we were preparing to roll out, a fine gentleman with a smile like an old picket fence came up for a chat, and warned us about the condition of the roads ahead.

Well thankfully he did, as the roads were atrocious that bit further up, with some very major potholes and uneven surfaces. One of the potholes was so deep, I swear there was a feller sitting at the edge of it fishing! Juz joined us for this section of the ride, and even took the lead role for one rotation at the front of the fastest moving pack she has ever been in yet! She did very well, and will do even better after some more coaching and advice. She smashed her previous PB for that sort of distance, which was awesome for us to all be a part of.

When we took the last turn off to Wentworth, Brenton’s family was there again to cheer us on, and take even more photo’s as we rode passed! Sarah let loose with a hearty “We love this shit!” as she took that corner, bringing a laugh to everyone there! A little further down the road, Juz needed a drink, sp we pulled over allowing the cars to pass us again, and when we remounted, one of the family cars was parked blocking the road.

Not knowing what was going on, I took off ahead of the group to find out why they had blocked the road. Lo and behold, there at the roadblock was Terry’s missus, who had flown through the night from WA to be there to greet Terry, and the rest of us! This was a fantastic moment, as Terry was definitely the Mayor of Struggletown by now, and finding it hard to keep going with a raging cold and chest infection, but like the trouper he is, he carried on without complaint! It was a beautiful moment for all, when Terry let loose with a “That’s my wife!!!”, and they hugged in the middle of the road.

We remounted and headed for Wentworth, Terry finding a new strength from deep within knowing that his wife had flown over to share in this moment with him.

The arrival into Wentworth was a bit of a let down for Brenton, as originally one of the sponsors was going to set up some sort of welcoming for us, instead we rode into town, and made our own little fanfare when we finally found somewhere to pull over. After much discussion, we decided that it would be easier now that the destination had been reached, to pack all of the bikes away ready for transportation, and head back to Mildura to get cleaned up, before heading off to the Coomealla Club for dinner that night.

One of the local footy players was celebrating his 300th game there with the club, and we had been invited to share in that event, which surprisingly was a very nice night indeed. The speeches were good, our team was introduced, and one of the ladies from the committee came over, grabbed our collection tin, and went from table to table getting donations for our ride which was awesome of her.

We headed back to our motel in Mildura, which sadly was the Mercure, and we had stunning apartments that had been supplied by Integrated Services, and the comfort was most welcome after the journey we had just completed! A few of us gathered in our room for a while, sharing some drinks, some laughs, and talking about the amazing journey we had all just shared.

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Day six for the Monkees – Cycle for Hope

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Hmm, now what have we been up to?

So blogs really are a wonderful thing, but more importantly, if you don’t note it all down straight away, especially on events like this, things tend to blur together, and you can easily become confused! So, going back in time a couple of days…

The night at Blanchetown was awesome, the cabins were very comfy, located down by the river, so instead of hearing the waves from the ocean, we could actually hear the water rushing through the lock! That, and the normal cockies, galahs, and kookaburra’s singing their songs.

Leaving Blanchetwon we had an awesome heart starter, with the massive climb up out from river level, to “normal” level. That was a tough start to the stage. Of course Chewy had to ride it in the big ring, and race Brad to the top. It was kind of like watching Jens and Robbie McEwen battle for a hill climb. Sorry Brad, but Chewy had it all over you mate.

This stage was to Renmark, and again, it was another awesome day of riding, with the team working together extremely well. We had John from the Blanchetown Hotel come down and do some photo work with us, so I will be sending some of these through to Denise from Ride Easy Sports to say thanks!

We seem to have a few mornings where we are running that bit later than we had anticipated, and this of course was another of those days! We were thinking of stopping by at the Waikerie Bakery, even if only to have a brief stop and a photo, but time was not on our side. So instead, we stopped at another bakery in Waikerie, on the Sturt Highway. So whilst not as much fun as the Waikerie Bakery, it was still a bakery in Waikerie!

We had a group of guys from the Riverland Cycling Club join us at Barmera, and worked with us riding through to Berri, and then on to Renmark where they all lived. These were some bloody strong riders, and really smashed us up on the ride, but were a fantastic bunch of blokes, and great to ride with.

The local radio station was doing an outside broadcast at Barmera, so we stopped by there for Brenton to do an interview, and some of us to smash some food from the bakery. We hammered it from Barmera to Berri for our next break, again at the local radio station, and this time Brenton, Brad, Terry & I had a tour of their facility, then Brenton was interviewed by their local DJ.

From Berri it was on to Renmark, where we were met by a number of Brenton’s family, which was really awesome, especially for Brenton of course! This was meant to be the ride end, as it was Brenton’s plan to originally ride just the 3,000km’s which would have got him to his family home of Renmark. The Greater Western Sydney Giants however asked him to finish it in Wentworth instead, which is the outer recruitment area for this team.

We ended up staying at the Renmark Hotel, staying on the second floor, which was really nice, however the elevator was broken, and so we had to carry all of our stuff, and our bikes, up several flights of stairs! Tough after a big day on the bike.

Tea that night was bbq at Brenton’s brother’s paint shop, with altogether too much alcohol, and lots of fantastic laughs with a brilliant and close family, all gathered to support Brenton, and by extension, the rest of us!

It’s all good! I love this shit!!!

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Day five for the Monkees – Cycle for Hope

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Push Monkee Boi, push!!

Today saw us riding from Adelaide to Blanchetown, a distance of almost 130km’s, which is not a big ride, but was done at an awesome speed, with an average of just under 36km/h, a max speed for me of about 77km/h down Accommodation Hill, and some more unhappy truckers! Some of these truckies even attempted to run our support vehicles off the road.

But, for five guys working together and rotating every 3km, we were bloody happy with that speed!

Now, for all you Adelaide Cyclists who had the opportunity to join us for the ride out, can I say how bad it was that you could not join us, as with the support vehicles we have, we actually rode down Pt Wakefield Rd to the Gawler Expressway. Then with the vehicles in support, we rode down the NEXY well in the 40’s all the way with the minimal rolling resistance of that awesome piece of road. We did get a few unusual looks of course from motorists, as well as having a Police vehicle drive passed us, but no-one stopped us, so we kept on going!!

Out beyond the outskirts of Gawler we stopped off on the side road leading through to the ACI Factory out there for a brief morning tea break, and thankfully managed to flag down a lunch van, and scored some Iced Coffees to wash down the awesome chocolate brownies that Sarah had made for us. She keeps telling us just how easy they are to make, but personally, I think they would taste much better if she could just deliver them to all her team mates! She’d also made some ginger cake, because Brad does not like sweet things, but he really enjoyed this!

Blanchetown we stayed in the Riverside Cabin Park, in some excellent cabins there, surprisingly enough for the name of the park, along the river side! Amazing how much water is flowing down the Murray now, and high how the actual level is!

The publican at Blanchetown was decent enough to buy us all our first round of drinks when we went there for tea, and looked after us well for the entire night, so much so that the next morning, he came back to the park to take group photos for us! Turns out he is ex professional newspaper person, so the photos he took, and the story he did will appear in one of the local newspapers.

Sarah and Juz turned up later that evening as well, with Sarah coming along to join us for the ride, and Juz coming along to assist with driving the van for us.

Sadly, internet connection was non existent in Blanchetown, given it’s location down by the river, so sadly, these updates are well behind, and on these sort of events, much can be quickly forgotten, and I fear I have!

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Day four for the Monkees – Cycle for Hope

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Not more freaking bananas???

Day four! What a day! So as has been said before, we are having trouble getting people to drive some of the vehicles for us, even though one we are offering is a brand new Skoda Octavia SPV! The other vehicle is a Kia van, not as glamorous of course, but highly necessary, as this has the spares and the food and drinks in it. So after many pleas for help, it ended up that one of Sarah’s friends would be free to drive the Skoda for us today, and one of Brenton’s friends would be free to drive the Kia.

Fantastic! Two drivers, yes, massive help. Oh yes, we have to get them to Pt Wakefield though, because that’s where we are, as are the vehicles!! So, darkish o’clock in the morning, Sarah & I say farewell to Chewy, and leave him playing with his wheels, whilst we head back in to Adelaide this time to collect our drivers, and transport them back to Pt Wakefield!

The plan for today was to have as many of us riding in to Skoda as we could, yet still have our Skoda’s and Kia with us, which of course we could not have achieved without Kerry and Craig, so massive thanks to those two guys! The departure time for Wakefield was 10:00am, so we really had to hightail it to town and back, with barely any time to spare.

The roll out today was awesome, we had pretty much a tail wind all of the way to town, which meant the speed was up, but extremely comfortable, with the average again up in the mid 30’s. This speed is so easy to achieve when everyone was working together well, and the riders all paired up reasonably well. This group has been working well together, and no-one gets left behind, and no-one surges ahead, they work for the benefit of the team basically, and not for individual glory!

There will sadly always be a couple of neanderthals in our midst’s whilst we are riding, like the other day the truckie’s offsider leaning out of the window screaming some garbled obscenities at us, to the numpty L plate motorcycle rider who today just carved straight through our peleton, almost taking out Sarah, instead of waiting the 20seconds for us to pass. He had obviously only just collected his dole cheque, and was in some sort of hurry to get it cashed.

We had been planning for to be at the Skoda dealership at 2:30pm, and we would be met by the team at Skoda, and John Platten. As the tail wind was just so amazing though, we ended up hitting the City quite early, which is always a better plan when being on bikes, rather than being late & trying to make up time!

The team at Skoda was awesome, they had fresh sandwiches, cakes, cold drinks, and freshly brewed coffee ready and waiting for us, which was outstanding! The team were extremely helpful, and all interested to know what we were doing, why, and showing genuine interest in us, which was excellent.

We had to split up from here though, with the WA contingent heading in to the City to check out the digs, and the SA contingent all heading for their respective homes. I had to drop in to Monkee Central, and pick up the rest of the fresh fruit stored there, get a load of laundry done, oh yes, and say hi to Dad too! This could only be a flying visit though, as we were meeting again at 6:00pm at Bocelli’s for tea, then most of us heading back to the Motel in the City for the night, before we hit the road again tomorrow morning, this time bound for Blanchetown!

Leaving the Skoda dealership was funny, as we had to drive passed the guys on Main North Road as they were heading in to the City. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so I wound down the window, leaned out, and started abusing these damn cyclists taking over our roads, getting in the way of us motorists etc! Well we saw the funny side of it in the car, the guys did too when they realised it was me doing all of the abusing!!

Dinner at Bocelli’s was at it’s customary standard, and to save on any fuss, I just ordered six family pizza’s for the table, and if people wanted anything different or special, well they had to arrange that themselves. This was an open invitation to whoever wanted to join us and meet the guys, which was excellent, as quite a few of the AC members did indeed join us for dinner, and may even still be out now? Who knows???

It’s now 12:10am, and I am starting to feel the desperate need for some sleep, before we head off on another big days cycling tomorrow, so I think I need to say goodnight all, and I will try to be less tardy with my updates tomorrow night!

keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Day 3 for the Monkees – Cycle for Hope

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Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me....

So going back in time one full day, which in the hectic life of a cyclist is a very long time, not to mention many seniors moments, that may or may not be the result of either a) Numerous head injuries from various cycling related accidents, or b) Copious amounts of alcohol and other fun things in a misspent youth.

The 23rd as Facebook told everyone, and for those who missed it on Facebook, one of my cycling friends riding with me currently told the crew we are riding with, is indeed the day of my birth. So, this day started with some small celebrations in our room, which was greatly appreciated, and I thought that would be it, well, apart from all of the fantastic messages on Facebook that kept on coming, even today with that whole time difference thing! But no, the word was shared with the whole team, so after breakfast, a team meeting was called, and we all gathered around for the instructions for the day.

Yes, this was a very subtle ruse, as of course the team had gone out and bought cakes, and a card, and we had a nice little singing session, followed by some awesome cake/s to fuel us up for the start of our ride. I elected to drive the support van today, and let Sarah have a day of riding in preparation for the Grand Slam this Sunday, and in return, Chewy would drive one of the other days.

Today saw the team riding from Pt Pirie to Pt Wakefield, and joining us in Pt Pirie, were a number of members of the local cycling club. This was an excellent turn out, with quite a number of guys taking time out to come and see us, and join us for part of our ride. As luck would have it, the Cycle for Hope guys have now been riding for over two weeks, with touch wood, no mechanical issues to speak of. So wouldn’t you know it, in over 2,500km’s, the first person to get a puncture was one of the Pt Pirie guys! A little further down the road, and Chewy threw a spoke, which meant a wheel change for him.

Port Wakefield Motel, well that was an eye opener! Every room was numbered 8! The only difference being each had an alpha character after the 8, so you knew which room was actually yours. The reason? The lasy owner designed it on the principles of Feng Shuey, where 8 is a lucky number! The gazebo was 8 sided, the table under it was 8 sided, and there were of course 8 chairs around the gazebo!

As we have been having difficulties with support drivers, Sarah & I had to jump into the luxury Skoda, to head back to Pirie to get the sports Skoda! Ah, it’s a tough life driving around in brand new Skoda’s! This was about a 250km round trip, so by the time we got back, it was well and truly time for some dinner, thus by the time dinner was done, it was just far too late to blog about the day.

I now find myself sitting at the computer at 11:40pm finishing off these notes about day 3, and day 4 has finished!

I really do need to say a massive thanks though to everyone for making my birthday so special, and I could not think of a much nicer way at the moment to celebrate it, than by being on the open road, with an awesome bunch of people, knowing that we are making a difference for other people out there.

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

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