Sydney to Brisbane 2018 1000KM Cycle Challenge for suicide prevention charity RUOK?
Alarms sounded at 05:00. No one stirred. 06:00 came and passed. We eventually fell out of bed and went about readying ourselves for our ride. The photo below didn't exactly turn out as I hoped, but it is somehow aptly representative of the way we felt as we climbed into the truck to head to our starting location of Nana Glen.
Everything a little blurry at sunrise.
We had amended our route late the previous evening after discussing the options and the deteriorated conditions for cyclists along the main Pacific Highway. Normally there is an excellent shoulder that doubles as a cycle lane. But with all the roadworks for the road widening project, the shoulder is currently unreliable. Sometimes it's a few metres wide, and totally safe, at other times it disappears to nothing without warning or notice, forcing us to ride within close proximity of trucks and the other vehicles hurtling past. So we decided to create a different route of similar length, that included some of the touristic drives slightly further inland.
Heading inland was not without its own challenges, as we soon found. This low-level bridge had wooden planks running lengthways, with nice tyre-width gaps in between. As we rolled down the hill towards the bridge Mr Tillen enquired, how good is your balance? Thankfully, we went for it full gas and all made it across without losing a wheel down one of the gaps.
Our nemesis Mr Headwind was back, albeit briefly. By staying inland and away from the coast we managed to avoid it for lengthy spells by nature of the fact we were surrounded by woodland and tall, densely packed trees.
Lush green scenery almost all the way of our journey.
When the road goes up the legs start to sting. We all climb at our own pace, mindful not to leave gaps in between - we always try to maintain eye contact between all team members at all times.
He's still there...
We planned a stop in Grafton. After crossing he river on the cycle lane across the bridge we found a great little tea shop on one of the main streets. Caffeine and carbs are once again the order of the day.
Bridge over the River Clarence.
We are soon on our way again, picking up a northbound route that hugged the river as we made our way towards Lawrence and Maclean. We find more of those bridges over rivers that have the wooden planks running the wrong way and even take a ferry further up river towards Maclean.
Ferry before Maclean.
Our route was again taking us towards the Pacific Highway, which proved to be as busy and uninviting as ever. Although we did see this sign, which we would love someone to explain to us.
In our quest to find a non-highway road we tried all kinds of routes, some more successful than others. As we turned towards Iluka we found this dirt road. We gave it our best shot, but the surface was just too rough and unsafe on road bikes, so we turned back and made a new plan.
Road bikes didn't like going off-road.
We decided to ride up to Iluka so we maintained our daily mileage target, but kept off the busy highway. This turned out to be a great decision. We arrived at the pub at Sedgers Reef and decided to have a beer. The landlady asked what brought us to these parts and we explained. Turned out she, like so many others, had a story linked to suicide. She told us about how she lost her son-in-law. She also took a bucket around the bar and had a whip-round for us, raising another 60 bucks for the cause. We were blown away- good work guys.
We rode back from Iluka towards the highway but just could not face the prospect of trucks roaring past us along the narrow shoulder. With 155KM on the clock, we reluctantly took the decision to put the bikes in the truck and drive to Evans Head, where our accommodation was booked. Highlight on this stretch of the ride was the old feller in his mobility scooter on the cycleway near the river estuary. As we rang our bells to let him know we were coming through, he yelled, "good on ya fellers, I'm off to get me-self a coldie, what do ya reckon to that!?!". "pretty good idea mate! We'll be joining you soon!".
We checked in to our motel, found a place to eat, and headed for yet another early night, with a 140KM day ahead.
Here is a link to the ride on Strava.
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.