My captain Greg and I at Loftus

My captain Greg and I at Loftus after getting through the slow Sydney bit of the ride.

Well, it happened. A team of six tandems (and 10 000 other riders) made their way from Sydney to Wollongong on Sunday morning.

Five Exsight tandems started at Sydney Park, St. Peters at 7:30am, and had a fairly slow ride along the Princess Highway, down to Botany Bay, over Tarren Point Bridge, through the Kingsway at Miranda and around to Loftus. That was the slow part, and little crowded, though we barely had to stop for lights.

After a quick water refill at Loftus, the riders thinned out a bit, and we made good time from Loftus to Waterfall and down into the Royal National Park. The steady decent and winding roads that were closed to traffic, were great and we got to the Hacking River and Lady Wakehurst Drive and started to climb all the way back to the top. We all agreed at the end that the doom-sayer’s who said the hills here were “killer” had exaggerated. Sure, we were starting to feel it by the time we hit the top, but it wasn’t as bad as all that. (As a side note, there were a considerable number of people walking their bikes up. I guess that training came in handy).

Of course that wasn’t quite the end of the climbing. The road evens out a bit as you exit the Royal National Park, and I’m told the views down to Wollongong are spectacular. The road rolls along a while to Otford, and climbs a little higher to hit Bald Hill. Here we were delayed for over 30 minutes, while an ambulance picked up an injured rider (who, according to the following day’s newspaper broke their arm). We’re pretty sure we were at the head of the pack at this point, and the others sneaked past us. Police were controlling traffic at this point, allowing cars periodically through Lawrence Hargrave Drive, and so we were delayed even longer, and it would seem some of the others got through a turn ahead of us.

After all that climbing, we had our reward. The decent down Bald Hill topped out somewhere around 60km/hr, and that was with LOTS of breaking. We rolled through Stanwell Park without peddling. We put some effort into getting into Coalcliff, and coasted down onto the Sea Cliff bridge. Somewhere around here we hit 70-odd km/hr. I think the Sea Cliff bridge is better when you ride north, because the hill out of Clifton/Scarborough is a dossey. Unfortunatly we were riding south. None the less we made it up the other side, and we were defiantly on home territory here.

We rolled along Lawrence Hargrave Drive through Wombarra, Coledale and Austinmer like old hands. Oh, wait, we are. Coming into Thirroul we hit another peak of 67km/hr. We rode the course around to Thirroul beach and through to the bike track that leads to Bulli. From Bulli we turned west a few blocks and road a straight line down Wollongong’s northern suburbs to Fairy Meaddow where we rejoined the bike path at Squires Way, and into Stuart Park.

We made good time, at a good pace. Much fun was had by all.

But this wasn’t all just in fun. The Sydney to the Gong is a fund raising event for MS Australia. Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is the most common disease of the central nervous system and affects more than 18,000 Australians. MS Australia helps those who have the disease, as well as their families, carers and the community, by offering a wide range of services, equipment and support. Their goal is to assist everyone affected by MS to live life to their fullest potential and secure the care and support they need, until we ultimately find a cure.

Thanks to those of you who have donated to my $585 tally, and the event’s $2.6 million total so far. There’s still a chance if you want to donate as well, head to:
http://register.gongride.org.au/?adevenish
and use the “Donate Now” link on the left hand side of the page (hint: it’s under my ugly mug).

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