Well, it started as a really off the cuff statement in response to Blighty’s search for a new challenge after completing the 250km ATB in 2010. Who would have thought that a question like that would lead to a team of ten cyclists forming to take on the challenge of their lives so far!
Some of us had ridden together for a while, some of us had ridden together a few times over a number of years, and some were new to the group! So we had a few training rides as a group before we left so we could get to know each other that little bit better.
None of these rides really fully prepared us for what was to come when we hit the road as a group, but I am not sure that anything really could!
So, back to how it all began! We put a bit of a call out on the Adelaide Cyclists site to see who else may be interested in joining us, and strangely enough, there were a number of people who were dead set keen on it! Sadly though, some were not able to get leave at the time we were planning, and a few others who joined us on some of our training rides, decided that it was either not really going to be their thing, or that they still needed to do some more work before they would be ready.
With these sort of rides, there are so many things to think about! What type of bikes we had, shimano vs campy, spare parts, support vehicle/s, routes, accommodation, and food! Well the route ended up being pretty easy, as most of us wanted to take the coastal road, even though it was a few hundred kilometers longer. We also decided that we wanted to ride down to Sorrento and take the ferry, instead of the somewhat boring route to Geelong.
With the route sorted, it was then a matter of finding caravan parks with suitable cabins in them in each of the towns. So lots of internet time, and lots of phonecalls, got the accommodation side of things sorted. I must say, that some of the photos and descriptions on the websites were a lot different to what we may have actually found waiting for us! For mine though, and the two Happy Shackers sharing with me, we were happy with every cabin we had. Each of them had somewhere for us to sleep, be it a bed, bunk, or even a lounge, and there was either an ensuite of big communal bathroom nearby. What more could you really want?
With regard to spares, quite a few of us had either spare wheels, or spare bikes that we could take the wheels off of, as well as having spare chains, cassettes, cables, bidon cages, in fact almost enough gear to build some more bikes on the road. Con and Chewie are both exceptionally mechanically minded, and also had lots of bike tools, so we really had no problems with spares or mechanics on the road. Chewie is so keen on his bike mechanics, that every night he would strip down and clean his bike. One night he even pulled the bottom bracket out because he thought he heard a squeak!
I think between us all, we also had enough spare tyres and tubes to have about another 20 riders out there with us! The idea of having wheels on the trailer was awesome, as it meant that instead of fixing a flat, all we had to do was rip the current wheel off, and put a spare on. So much quicker and easier, especially when we had our first flat pretty much as soon as the bike’s had been taken from the trailer!
Our support vehicle was a 22 seater bus from Timeless Land Adventures and Tours, towing a fully enclosed trailer. We were exceptionally lucky here, one of the teachers from Blighty’s school owns the bus, and the trailer was from the school! An awesome deal was struck, where the team would pay for the bus hire, fuel, Geoff A.R.G.G.(All Round Good Guy), Petherick’s food and accommodation, and the school would donate his time! Win/win!!
I got in touch with some of the companies I have either been involved with previously, or have been in touch with over the internet. These included Shotz (electrolyte tablets and awesome bidons), Chamois Butt’r (about 80 tubes of the best chamois butt’r you can get IMHO!), & Zero My Bike (2 floor pumps and some Co2 kits for us to either use, or auction off).
Whilst on one of our training rides, we caught up with Rossco, who owns four Natural Food Barn stores. I have had the pleasure of riding with Ross a number of times over the years, as well as patronising his store when I am working in that area. Originally I think we were looking at him more for some assistance with energy gels/protein products etc, but Ross is a great rider, and this ride was on his bucket list to do too, so he was in! And he brought with him some excellent gear from Redbak and Balance to help support and recharge the riders!
We also decided that if we were going to do this ride as a team we would need team jerseys and t-shirts! So Blighty and I got together, and with the assistance of Nadine, his graphic designer, we came up with an amazing design for a jersey that we were all really excited by. Nadine designed the logo for us with input from Blighty, and this was a real eye catcher. Some of us also got some knicks that matched the kit really well too, and were very comfy to ride in!
For our t-shirts, we decided to reverse the colours of our logo, and have a black t-shirt with white writing on it, which came up really well! These were awesome, and were fantastic when we went out to tea all wearing them, as they certainly got the conversations started about what we were doing and why. So many people after having a chat with us, would drop some coins, or more often the folding stuff!, into a donation tin we had with us at all times.
The charity we selected was the Flinders Medical Centre for Innovation in Cancer, incorporating the Livestrong Cancer Research Centre. Pretty obvious why we chose Flinders and Livestrong, given that all of us ride with Cancer Voices SA, and all of us either know someone who has been affected by cancer, or in the case of Con, is a survivor himself. Another fantastic reason for choosing these guys, was that 100% of the donations received would go to the research work being carried out, and not spent on administration items such as salaries, accommodation, travel and entertainment! That was a massive plus for us.
I have been lucky enough in my various cycling and other activities, to have met some of our community leaders along the way, and have managed to maintain some excellent relationships with them. This led to a couple of great opportunities for the team. It meant that Brooke Whatnall could catch up with us before our ride, take some incredible pictures of the team, and pitch the idea to a couple of the editors at the Advertiser. This led to us being given over half a page in the Advertiser on the day we left, more space than I have ever received in the paper before for any of my events.
I had spoken to Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood about our plan to do this ride on a number of occasions, so he made himself available to us for the Monday of our return, and met us at Victoria Square to welcome us all home safely. This was excellent, as Stephen is a massive supporter of alternate transport including cycling, and is an excellent supporter of some of our ideas. He gave some excellent speeches, and took a keen interest in each member of the team. He’s also not too shy about having his photo taken, and in these circumstances, neither am I!
Premier Mike Rann, his media advisor Lachlan Parker and I have also been keeping in touch for a few years now about cycling opportunities in Adelaide, so on the Monday morning as we were having coffee, I got a message from Lachlan asking where they could meet us to say hello, and catch up with the team. So we met at Crafers, and this was another excellent meeting, as there was no media around, it was just the Premier and us, having a chat about our ride, and taking some photos for our own souvenirs of the ride. Mike and Lachlan knew that I was auctioning off my CVSA jersey that Lance Armstrong had signed at the TDU2011, so Mike presented me with an official TDU jersey also signed by Lance that we can auction off for the centre. How cool was that?
So, in eight days, we rode over 1100km’s, had an average speed of apparently between 25 and 26 km/h, rode up some pretty big hills, rode down some stunning descents, met some amazing people along the way, made some awesome friendships, and really did live the dream each and every day. I’ll post some more detailed blogs about each day, and some of the highlights of them soon!
Keep the rubber side down,