I had luxury of a very late start today in order to time my arrival in Adelaide with a pretty awesome treat...my wife meeting me at the finish line! Whilst it is not very far to cycle today, entering an unfamiliar city by bicycle is always challenging so I was allowing plenty of time for navigating busy streets. The first task was to get out of Tanunda and ride to Gawler. The 2 towns are (almost) connected by a sealed bike path called the Jack Bobridge Track. Tanunda also has a cycling hub facility which I had a quick peek at on my way out. It has a secure lock up facility, electronic bike bump...and coolest of all, a vending machine for inner tubes which I certainly haven't seen before until now!
|Jack Bobridge Bicyle Path. The Grapes - St Hallets|
During all that there wasn't much time for reflection as I was too busy concentrating on navigation and traffic. So quite suddenly I found myself pulling in to Adelaide Parklands railway station...the finish line after riding thousands of kilometres for over a month, and my wonderful wife who had flown here to enjoy this moment with me. All I could manage was a loud burst of laughter as I pulled to a stop...I was done?!
A series of events would transpire to change that fear into action. The first, was when my father was dieing in a hospital bed in France. I was flying over there to say goodbye to him. I can't recall if it was the flight there or back, as I was in a bit of a mess as you'd expect. But on the in flight entertainment there was a documentary about cycling available called 'Inspired To Ride'. Its about an amateur cycling race across the USA. No prize money, no trophy, and the riders have to be completely self supported. The only reward at the end coming from their own battles with pain and extreme perseverance. The rider that won was a British bloke called Mike Hall and I was just gobsmacked by his insane levels of endurance, way beyond that of even pro Tour de France riders.
|Mike Hall - photo credit: Road.cc|
In the documentary, at one point Mike is asked what is adventure? He said: "...it is different for everybody...but its more about: does it [what you are doing] intimidate you, does it worry you that you are taking on something a bit bigger than you thought it was going to be?"
Mike Hall was killed by a motorist in March when competing in a similar race across Australia. My own ride was a thousand times easier than his, but I nevertheless felt like I was riding behind him at times, and when struggling would remind myself: "What would Mike do"? And he sure as hell would not give up. Ride on bro...
In researching the best conditions to attempt a crossing from Perth I had settled on April/May as the best time to go in order to avoid insanely hot outback weather, and have the best chance of light winds. Late last year I looked at how much leave from work I had, and made the decision: I could train over summer and have a crack next April.
At this point a colleague at work was in a heck of a fight with cancer, and her plight was devastating. In addition to her another close colleague had recently lost her Dad to Cancer and her mum was in a fight to survive. Maybe my bike ride could do something positive for others as well? I looked into Cancer charities and Cure Cancer Australia stood out as being a very cool idea, to target innovation in research and for all kinds of cancer. So the plan was hatched!
Needless to say, I had plenty of doubts about whether I'd actually make it or not!! Especially once underway. On the first few days of the trip the bike felt so heavy and slow, I was tired at the end of relatively short days, and still had such a long way to go! But without those doubts it would not have been such an adventure. It was only after my 3 day ride from Albany to Esperance covering 480km that I started to build some confidence and had got used riding with a heavy load. After that, chance encounters with strangers, all so incredibly generous and caring, and all the support from friends, family and colleagues kept me going! Thank you all so much, especially my wife for enduring my selfish undertaking....
So far we have raised over $5300! The donate page is here if this has sparked your interest.
...So, if an average middle aged bloke with a desk job can cycle across a continent and raise a bit of money for a good cause, what can you do?
Total distance today: 82km
Total trip distance: 3562km