Gong Ride


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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[Or: $15 Please?]

Time is flying.  In an amlost literal sense.  Between keeping up somthing resembling a regular training regeme and the rigours of a workplace that ramps up to 10x normal speed for November, I’ve basically let this blog fall behind.

Rest assured, one and all, that I’ve been riding regularly, both on the exercise bike thingo at home and also out and about on the back-end of tandems over the last couple of weeks.

A couple of things:

1.  Exsight now has a web site: exsighttandems.org.au

2.  WIN TV News, Wollongong did a rather nice piece on the group, which went to air 16th October.  You can see it on the site.

3.  We have Jerseys… well almost.  They’ve arrived and await collection.  You can see  the artists conception at the site too.

Thanks to everyone who’s supported my fundraising efforts… we’re at $585, which is really cool, but I’d love that extra $15.  I like round numbers… somthing about my nerdish nature… or autistic tendancies, maybe?  Let not look at that too hard.

The ride is Sunday, and with a 4:15am pickup, it should be a long day. I am, perhapps foolishly, looking forward to it!

As always, if you’d like to make a last minute donation:

http://register.gongride.org.au/?adevenish

After a subdued weekend of riding last weekend, the weekend just gone saw it kicked up a notch.

On Saturday, four tandems set out from Wollongong and rode on the northern cycleway and Lawrence Hardgraves Drive, over the Sea Cliff Bridge to Coal Cliff and back again.  The ride north is probably a little tougher, with an overall rise, and with the addition of a stiff northerly breeze it was a little tough.  The ride back to Wollongong (after coffee at Thirroul Beach) was a lot quicker, and wind assisted.  Overall that made for a ride of 54.8km.  Subtracting the coffee break, we covered the distance in about 3 hours, averaging around 22km/hr.  Check out the map.

On Sunday, Greg, his mate Dave and I took a spin around Lake Illawarra and back via West Dapto.  Again, there was a bit of wind about, mostly coming from SE though it seemed to have moved a bit more NE by the time we were heading back home.  We covered a distance of about 52km in just under 2hrs, with an average speed of about 27km/hr.  See the map.

All in all, it was a big weekend, and I’m feeling a little sore today.

This Sunday, an Exsight Tandems teem will ride in the Sydney Spring Cycle from St Leonards Park, North Sydney to Olympic Park.  Looking forward to it.

And don’t forget, if you want to support my ride in the Sydney to the Gong, and help me raise funds for MS Australia, please sponsor me.

After the 60km of two weekends ago, last weekend ended up being a short ride from Wollongong to Bulli and back again, probably only 30km at the end of the ride.

Spin bike training has also been going well, with 45-minute or hour long sessions three times a week being the norm.

All  in all, I’m starting to feel that the Gong Ride won’t be too bad at all.  I still feel a little hesitant about the hills in the Royal National Park.  People say that they are bad hills, and I’ve not seen them.  The issue being what some people consider bad, others don’t find as difficult.  I guess I should adaopt a worst case scenario outlook, accept that they will be tough, and be grateful when I find they’re not as bad as all that.

This weekend there is a group ride from Wollongong to the Sea Cliff Bridge, and then my Gong Ride Captain Greg and I (and maybe a couple more) will be going out again on Sunday.

Well, I would like to preface this entry by saying that sickness abounds.  Between illness and migrains myself and my dearest wife, much of the training at home on the spin bike just hasn’t happened.  This is a little disappointing, but there’s not much to be done.

Exsight did do a ride around Lake Illawaraa on the weekend, and with some doubling back from Dapto the Berkley at the start and Berkley to Dapto at the end, we totaled a ride of 60km, which was all rather pleasent, what with the wonderful weather and all.

I kind of wish I had more to put here, but hopefully this will improve over the next week.

I mentioned last week that I was preparing for the Sydney to Gong Ride this year on November 1st.  Well, it’s now all official, and here is the information.

Exsight Tandems has a team entered, and I will be riding with Greg Shepherd as my captain.  The event is 90km from Sydney Park, St Peters to Stuart Park, Wollongong, and it takes a route through Brighton-Le-Sands, Loftus, the Royal National Park, Thirroul, Fairy Meadow and Wollongong.

I’m feeling a little excited by this, and it should be a fun day.  (Your experience of fun doing this may vary.)

Now the other part of this is that the ride is a fund-raiser for MS Australia, which aims to support those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. As a disease of the central nervous system it currently has no cure, and indeed bares some similarity to my own Optic Atrophy/Neuritis/whatever we’ve decided I might have this month.

So if you’d like to hear about my ride, support those with MS, or otherwise just want to give a tax deductable dontation, you can sponsor me on this ride.

Note, the profile page isn’t complete, it lacks a picutre and a few details which I will add later, but your support is welcome at any time.

[Or: Today’s Pain, Yesterday’s Adventure]

For those of you who haven’t caught up with me recently, you may or may not be aware that I ride tandem bikes with a group in Wollongong called Exsight.  We’ve got a group of stokers, most of whom are Blind or Visually Impaired, and a group of exceptional volunteer capatains.

In Tandem terminology, the Captain sits at the front, the Stoker at the rear.

It’s a long story how this group got started, but between six stokers, we’ve a team of Captains that let me get out every weekend, and the others who aren’t working get a ride or two in during the week too.

Anyhow, the Exsight group have decided we’re going to ride the Sydney to Gong ride this year. 90km of fun!

Anyhow, one of the captains, Tim, and I decided we’d challenge ourselves a bit on the weekend.  While most of the group were starting in Wollongong with the aim of Austinmer, we decided to ride from my place at Dapto to Wollongong first. (
Map of the Ride)

Through one thing and another, the distance and time between Dapto and Wollongong was underestimated (or misremembered if you prefer) so we missed the group at Wollongong, then at Fairy Meadow.  We pursued the group and eventually met them coming the other way as we rolled into Austinmer.  Now, given we were running behind, and in a competitive way, we felt we had to go as far north as the rest.  Therefor we decided to keep going, getting as far north as Coledale Hospital before turning around.

At that point we caught up with the group at Ruby’s at Bulli Beach, had coffee, chatted, and discovered that they’d only gone as far as Austinmeir. So we’d outdone them all.

Kate, who was riding a half-bike (read: single bike) was riding home to Shellharbour from here, and we agreed to go back to Dapto via Cringilla and accompany her that far.

In the meantime, on the way back from Bulli to Fairy Meadow, competition erupted between our tandem and anther pair, resulting in a race, yelling, the blowing of air-horns and much other silliness.  Over a distance of about 8km something of a race took place, averaging around 37km/hr.  Crazy.

After that, the run home was fairly smooth.  A fun way to spend a morning.  Total distance: 74.3km.

Today, the pain.  Self inflicted, of course.

Soundtrack:
Area 7 – Let Me Down
Los Capitanes – Going Abroad
The Living End – Short Notice
Los Captianes – Play
Doctor Octopus – El Expensive Bando
The Living End – Rising Up From the Ashes