Sydney to Brisbane 2018 1000KM Cycle Challenge for suicide prevention charity RUOK?
Carlsberg doesn't do bike rides, but if they did, it might look something like today. We started the day by the steps of the Sydney Opera House as the sun began its daily ascent over the iconic landmark.
The temperature was cool, and the roads were damp from overnight showers, but we were spared any rainfall during our 6 hours in the saddle today as we began our journey towards The Gold Coast. The roads were fairly quiet as we rolled away from the harbour area. The three core riders who will complete the full distance were accompanied by three more Sydney locals, joining only for this stage of the 1000 KM challenge ride.
We made steady progress on the quiet roads and were soon heading out of the city limits via the Harbour Bridge Cycleway. One of the benefits of spending a long day on the bike in a group of riders of similar ability is the chance to have a good catch-up. One of the guys who joined us today is an old mate who has been living in Sydney for 15 years now. Paul Wilson once cycled from Istanbul to Beijing and wrote a book about the epic experience - you can read about that here. Given the kind of distances he's covered in the past, today's 160KM route was but a bimble.
Some of the early scenery was truly spectacular, especially so as we made our way along the Bobbin Head Road and the first significant climbing of the day. The group took turns getting to know each other and swapping stories of other rides we had done or are planning to do soon.
We continued north, heading through Brooklyn and more amazing scenery. We eventually stopped for lunch just beyond the halfway point at Gosford, where two of our Sydney-based party turned around and headed back to the city. We thanked Kel and Mike for their company and turned our thoughts to food. The stop was timely as moments before we were involved in our only unsavoury incident of the day when some lunatic in a white Hilux clipped one of our group and narrowly missed the rest of us with an extremely ill-judged close pass manoeuvre. Thankfully for him, he was able to get through the nearby traffic lights before they turned red. I'm quite sure had we got hold of him his car keys would have been launched beyond reach.
Lunch arrived in the form of four portions of pie, chips and peas. Classic sports nutrition. It certainly hit the spot and set us up for the second, shorter leg of our journey. With the majority of the climbing already out of the way, we looked forward to a flatter run up to Swansea.
We were forced to stop every few miles, to capture photos of magnificent sights. The giant pelicans as we passed through The Entrance being case in point. Our approach to route planning has been, shall we say, flexible. After The Entrance, we identified a "shortcut" which we estimated would take 10km off our route, and save us some busy roads. However, in the event, our navigational powers let us down and we ended up tagging on a few extra KMs. No-one really minded as the weather was a perfect 25C and sunny.
As we reached the outskirts of Swansea Paul peeled off to go and meet a friend of his, leaving just 3 of us to roll into the town and find our accommodation.
As we located our motel, I noticed my Garmin was reading just over 97 miles. I'm sure I'm not the only one who cant turn down the opportunity to bag another century when you get so close. I mean, would a cricketer suddenly retire on 97 Not Out, when they are so close to reaching the magical 3 figures? So, despite arriving at our destination, on we went. More pelicans were congregating by a little beach just up the road. We circled around for a few minutes before heading back to the motel, where the distance covered finally ticked over to 100 miles. Here is today's ride file on Strava.
Delighted with our efforts we rewarded ourselves with a dip in the freezing cold pool, which surely aided the recovery of our sore legs. We also managed a couple of cheeky beers before cleaning the bikes and prepping our kit for the morning. Then it was time to eat, so we headed out in search of the customary vat of pasta.
We were so full from dinner, and a couple more beers, that the walk back to our digs was most welcome. An early night was very much in order, as we planned a 06:00 start. Everyone was in bed by 21:00, with only me now still awake tapping away at the keyboard to post this update.
One flat tyre. Four pies. Six riders. 100 miles. 161 kilometres. Day one done, seven more to go.
Tomorrow we have planned a slightly shorter route. But who knows what distance we might end up covering if we attempt to accommodate another of our infamous shortcuts.
Tired now so will sign-off for now and try to write more after tomorrow's shorter ride.
Please help us reach our fundraising target of $10,000 by donating at our Everyday Hero page. Thank you.
In loving memory of our lost friend Ed Skuza.