Adelaide to Brisbane…by bike!

9 Oct

If you and I know each other on Facebook, it would have been hard to miss the fact that on the 23rd of September Dad embarked on a cycling odyssey from Adelaide to Brisbane.  Well, today he arrived and is currently sitting on my couch… looking well… like he could do it all again!

I wish I could comment on the full ride in great detail but reality is, I wasn’t there. But I’ll give you my highlight reel, and then perhaps talk about today, the finish because I only showed up at the end…

Day one, Dad was blown away to have the extra support from my brother Peter and his friends with extra cyclists starting the ride with Dad (Scott, Dave and Kingsley), and three going the full way to Waikerie (Paul, Brad and Luke) for a 160km first day on the bike. There was also a wonderful group of people roadside to give Dad a send-off. With the constant head wind, I’m sure that Dad appreciated drafting off these strong guys and making day one just that little bit easier.

On the second day, my brother in law Ian was able to cycle with Dad for 100km and, importantly was able to point out what they maintain was the best bakery on the journey…

A couple of solo days on the bike followed, however the support crew was extended with Clarrie and Lyn, and I’m sure both Mum and Dad appreciated the extra company in the morning and at night.

Day 5 to day 9 Dad was joined by his brother Greg… again I know Dad greatly appreciated the company (and no doubt the chance to do a bit of drafting when the winds picked up). Kerry joined Mum as support crew on those days.  Day 9, Greg was sacked when the boys took the wrong road out of Cobar…. see… who said this pair can’t still get up to mischief!!  While this little 73km indiscretion made a short cycling day it was really a blessing in disguise… you see, unfortunately Mum had decided that she would try running the diesel ute on unleaded petrol… so, instead of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, they were able to take the ute to the local mechanic for it to be drained, and cleaned and a filter replaced…. This sidelined them a little, but a dedicated mechanic had them back on the road the next day! I thought it was a really good excuse for a rest day… but when they got the car back, Dad still managed to do 88km that day!

Day 10 to day 16 were a little lonelier than the first few… it was during this time that Mum and Dad were journeying solo. So Mum would bunny-hop around Dad, ensuring he was fed and watered appropriately. Solid distances put him in Queensland quickly, to the point where he really had to slow down so he wasn’t sitting around for days waiting for me to be on a day off!! Day 15 was a big one with 1500m of vertical climbing and 178km over the Great Dividing Range. Day 16 may have been harder though, because he had to ride only 44km… it would have been a challenge to stop then, especially when my place was just 50km away… even if the two days were combined it would have been one of his shortest days on the bike!

Day 17 – now that’s a day I can tell you about.  At about 9am, four eager female cyclists piled into our car to be chauffeured to Ipswich to ride the last day in with Dad.  Jane, Ki and Kim didn’t think that a 50km ride was enough to do in one day, so all three had been up early, completed a very rough 1.7km ocean swim, run 2km and then made it to my place – all by 9am.  I would loved to have joined them but have been battling with a persistent virus that has sidelined me for quite some time now… any way, I digress…  As we drove to Ipswich, there may have been a couple of times where I asked if we could just stop here and ask Dad to come and meet us there… and yet I knew what we were doing was only a fraction of what Dad had been doing day in day out… At 10.30 we set off from Ipswich, with cue card navigation for the first 20km as I’ve never been in that area (thanks Christian, for giving us a route).  It seemed that every corner we went around we found a hill… this pattern continued for quite some time… actually pretty much the whole way – I don’t remember finding too much flat ground… There was one hill where Dad absolutely took off (I’d told him the directions at this point) – one second I could see him, the next second it seemed he was gone… later he chuckled as I asked him what happened there… and then informed me he was just showing us how it was done and then proceeded to tell me that he was only using his large cog as his small one wasn’t working very well (and hadn’t been since Adelaide!!) – so, not only did he smash us up the hill but he did it all with no low gear!!! I was too scared to ask how he managed over the Great Dividing Range…

At about halfway through our journey we inadvertently took a road to the left. It was an awesome ride actually – nice clear bike lane, gentle undulations with some good patches of downhill. However, we found a “No Through Road” sign… and the road to the left suggested that there was a 15% gradient downhill… stopping before the downhill, we all got out our GPS phones deciding to check we were still going the right way because, we decided, if we went down the 15% gradient there was no way we were coming back up!! Well, it is a good thing we checked… we had to retrace 4km of our journey (adding 8km to our ride) to head back to where we should have been in the first place….where those nice downhills suddenly became not so nice uphills… Ooops… just showing Dad some of the scenery…

The remainder of the trip was fairly uneventful. I flagged substantially, stopped briefly to consume a gel and what was left of my water.  As I was flagging so much, and our detour was making our anticipated arrival time later we decided to head home. I had previously wanted to go by Southbank and the big BRISBANE letters for a photo with Dad, but instead we settled for a bikeway photo at the river with the city in the background (still ok!).  At this point I told the girls we had 5km to go and we set off to finishing this thing off!

As we rounded the last corner to our home we were confronted with our 12% gradient street (got to love living on a hill!!). I told Dad to ride on ahead, but he insisted we finish it together, so together we all cycled up, Dad and I led the pack up the hill (first time I lead up a hill all day!).  It was wonderful to be greeted by Jeff, Debbie, Jane, Lorraine, Colin, Dave and Mum, a small but vocal and very welcoming cheer squad!!  I was well and truly done! Shattered! Dad was grinning, smiling and ready to go again… simply stating – “Well, that’s done, what do I do next?”

I guess when you decide to ride 2224.7km (approximately 😉 ) then doing it for a good cause makes the hard kilometres a little more bearable.  When Matt Wilson suggested turning the ride into a fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease, Dad and Mum thought that was a great idea. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of friends and strangers, with $28,780 donated as I type this post – all donated to the Cure for MND foundation.  Our family has of course been touched by this disease, as have many other families (2 families every day!). Only about 10% of MND is genetic/familial with the other 90% random – which is what it has been in our case.  At this point MND has no treatment and no cure, however we continue to pray that a breakthrough is just around the corner, and you never know, this $28,000 may be the money that is used by a clever scientist to find it!  PS you can still donate by clicking HERE until the end of November.

So, as I sign off for the day (to go and eat lunch/dinner) I want to send a massive thank you to all those who have supported Dad, and us as a family – in person, with comments on facebook, phone, sms, wordpress…. wherever… and all those who have generously donated.

I’m so incredibly proud of my Dad for riding all this way. Words can’t even express how much. I only cycled 57km today…. I can’t picture doing three times that amount each day, day in day out for 17 days….  He tells me “I’m not amazing, I’m just stubborn” and “you’re only limited by your mental strength”. Already there have been suggestions for people to double their donations if he rides home (via Melbourne and Sydney) and I can’t believe that he is crazy enough to have already said “I’d do it!”… or perhaps I can…

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