Doser Freight Forwarding – Women and Children’s Hospital Foundation Fundraiser during the ‘Tour down Under, Mutual Community Challenge Tour’ February 2010
Mission accomplished: 162 kilometres, total ride time 7 hours and 10 minutes.
Total travel time – 8.5 hours
10, 9, 8……3, 2, 1 go, well that’s how most races start but then, this was not meant to be a race. Thank god for that because if it had been a race we would have been disqualified from the start. We, that is my neighbour Mark Dawson and I left our homes at 6 a.m. all kitted up for the challenge with vitamin pills/energy drinks etc. and arrived at the Norwood Parade at 6.10 a.m. ready for the 6.30 start. When we entered the Parade the road was divided by a portable fence so we rode away from the start line until we found what we deemed to be an opening and joined the throng of many ( it seemed like 100’s rather than the 1000’s talked about), and followed them to the start line. The tempo picked up quickly and I suddenly realised that even though it was only 6.15pm, these guys wanted to get going and we really had no choice other than to go with the flow. So off we went, early.
The ride out of the city along Penfold Road up to Gorge Road seemed easy and flowing well at most intersections were manned by police who stopped other traffic and waved us through. Travelling along Gorge Road with the sun coming up seemed like it was a tourist ride en masse and I was most surprised to find that when we got to Cudlee Creek (30.9 km) we had already travelled over an hour. From there on the climb came as a shock as they seemed to go on for quite some time. I had not trained on this road before and even though the climb was probably no steeper than others that I had ridden up, the constant whirr of bikes overtaking me (some quite fast) probably made me try a little harder than I should have had.
By the time I had turned in to Fox Road which led to the King of the Mountain section my brain started to panic and the fear that I would not be able to conquer the mountain without dismounting set in. I managed to ride up 400 metres and then decided that it was beyond me. I walked to the 800-metre mark and then had another go… and it worked. If I had only known earlier that the devil was waiting for me at the top!
The ride from here onwards through Lenswood, Woodside, Nairne and then to the first Refreshment Station at Little Hampton was pleasant and seemed relatively easy. I had however almost consumed 3 litres of my water and energy drinks by then and a top-up of fluids was essential. Unfortunately, the water available to us tasted like bore water so the next stop was a shop to purchase expensive spring water. By this time we had travelled 65 kilometres and the time was about 10 a.m… Only about 100 km to go…
Again, the ride through Mt Barker (no traffic control here though), Strathalbyn (stop for a quick bite to eat – bananas and more bananas) and then on to Langhorne Creek was better than pleasant. Anyone who has watched the Tour de France because of the scenery should do this section of the ride because it is so picturesque. Vineyards on both sides of the road, rolling hills etc. made me feel like I was travelling through Europe.
And then as we were coming out of Langhorne Creek I realised that the devil had put a curse on me and all of the rest of the riders. The pleasant ride turned in to what I can only describe as a nightmare. Strong winds had come up and hit us front on one minute and sideways the next. If you weren’t lucky enough to be riding in a peloton it felt like you were not going anywhere. From 38-42 km per hour to 14-17 km hour, just like that. By the time I got to Milang, I was totally exhausted. I was nauseas, dizzy and felt like that the ride had come to an end for me. I needed a cold drink fast and walked into the only shop at Milang, joined a queue of some 15 riders only to find out that all of the drinks in the fridge had only just been put in there and were quite warm. So it was off to the Milang pub to get some cold bottled water, I got the last 2 x 350 ml bottles. So I had to top up with Coke. By this time we had traveled 125 km, the time was just after 1 p.m. and the last 35 km’s seemed like a huge challenge, maybe impossible for me to surmount.
After a 30 minute break, it was back on to the bike but after only having ridden 1 km I suddenly felt a cramp in my left leg which stopped me from pedalling altogether. Luckily some hints from my friend Mark to do some stretching exercises soon had me back on the road. Unfortunately, the wind persisted for the next 20 km and I feared that the professional riders might have almost caught up to us, which meant that we would soon be told to get off the road to let them through. Try harder, get your butt out of the saddle, because this cannot happen. I must get to Goolwa before 2.40 p.m. to be allowed to ride through the finishing arch.
Well, I tried very, very hard and guess what…… I got to Goolwa at 2.38 p.m. and they had just closed the main street and diverted all Challenge riders in to a side street on to the Oval. Not the glory of the cheering on by the many visitors and town folk of Goolwa for me this year. And not for Mark either as he had decided to wait for me at that turn off so that we could ride in to town together. Thank you Mark, but you should have not waited.
Footnote: When one of my Employees had an accident 2 years ago, colliding with a bike rider on his way to work, I was so pleased that the rider escaped serious injury that I offered to buy him a new bike as long as I could have his accident damaged bike. This turned out to be one of those stories where something really good came out of a bad situation as it is this bike that I have been riding on for the last 2 years and in this challenge.
So that is the end of the challenge for me for now and it is time to say thank you to all that have promised to support me in my quest to raise funds for the Women’s and Children Hospital Foundation with this ride. It was your kind offers prior to the ride to help me raise those funds that made me try harder and stopped me from giving up on more than one occasion.