Monday, April 10, 2006

We're back

We rode in just over a week ago now, absolutely delighted with ourselves; we did it! Our heads are still spinning. If you can, do a Great Ride at least once in your life. They are the experience of a lifetime.

So here is what a day was like for us.

Wake up early to the chorus of tent zipper alarms all around (5 am? 6 am? - its still dark). Clutch around in the dark for enough clothes to get decently to the loos (Sam's Loos, Dubbo - semi-trailers of them). Shoes on - hopefully not wet from rain or dew. Queue for toilets; queue for breakfast. Stock up for the day; snacks for the ride from the breakfast selection and water from the big plastic water bartletts. Pack up tent (damp); haul bags over to luggage trucks and then try to remember which truck our bags are on, so we don't have to go looking forlornly when we reach the other end.

Sunscreen, helmet, sunglasses. Bike bags bursting at the seams with all the paraphernalia of the day's ride - tools, puncture repair kit, rain jacket, sunscreen, snacks. Water, water, water.

Off we go - how far today? 50km? 60? 80? Check the Ride guide and oh my, look at all those hills ahead. Hundreds of brightly coloured lycra possums ahead and behind, making our way through the town, the farmlands and the forests in a steady snaking line. Even the cows can't help staring at us go by. The day passes by in stages, morale dips and dives with the terrain, the wind and the weather. The rest stops are welcome, lunch even more so.

I'm slow, so we end up spending much of our day with the older riders and the parents hauling their kiddies up those hills on the back of tandems or in trailers. You have to admire them. Sunlight plays through the trees. Sometimes, I find myself singing with the sheer joy of it, others we tune in to the parents telling their little ones stories to keep them amused.

Eventually, our favourite sign of the day - 5km to go! Some days it comes a lot earlier than others; some days the last 5 km is much longer than others.

Now ... find luggage truck (what number was it?), put up tent, shower (Geoff's Showers, also Dubbo and also in a semi-trailer) and change. Relax for an hour or so if we can, then straight to the HQ bus to get the computer and start putting together the next day's newspaper. Take plates and cutlery along ... we won't be back before dinner.

Karla and Andrew are there - they've picked up great stories and pictures of the amazing cacophony of riders who are out there with us on the ride. Now how are we going to fit everything in?

Oops, that's the call for seconds - still working on the paper, we're about to miss out on dinner. Quick, better go and get firsts. Hmmm, this is good.

Last job of the day - find someone from BV to sign off the paper so we can get it printing; hand over to Judy and Marlese, who go on printing into the night so they can hand out the Paper to the Riders next day at breakfast.

YAWNN!!! Gee its at least 9.00 pm. Bed is calling. Must remember to pack a real pillow on our next ride ...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Au revoir!

Well, after months of training (an event in itself), we leave today for our 900 km bicycle ride, which starts on Sunday morning at 9 am. We'll be riding for the next two weeks, and get back to Perth on April Fools Day!!
We're as ready as we're going to be and excited too. Thank you to everyone who has put up with all our endless chatter about bikes and kilometres ... it has helped us stick to our goals.
After the last two weeks where we have tapered off, we both should now be full of energy and with nothing holding us back from finishing this trip and having a great time doing it.
We expect to come back tanned, slender and of course gorgeous, although the many distractions along the way (we are cycling through the heart of premium wine country for most of it) may put paid to that.
Cheers, and see you on our return
Michelle and John

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's a good thing to have goals

Having posted snippets of our preparation and experience as we have girded our loins for the GWABR over the last 3 months or so I wanted to share with you the personal goals that Michelle and I have for the ride.

With the ride being posted as 827km long we have decided to add in the 173km needed to make it a 1000km ride and have set ourselves the punishing target of doing it in exactly 100hrs, at the reckless average speed of 10km/hr.

I know many of you will see this as excessive and wish to counsel us on a less punishing regime but with so many wineries, beaches, ice creameries, cheese and chocolate factories, tree top walks, cafes and other points of interest to be savoured along the way we cannot be swayed from our resolve.

Although I am somewhat envious of the Road Warriors who will complete the 1000km in 30 hours or so I am sure our equally punishing experience in over indulgence will have its own compensations.

Hedonists can cycle too. :D

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I have TITS too

Well Michelle continues to write about our progress and in general, very accurately too. Unfortunately I don't get as much TITS (Time In The Saddle) as she does, partly because I travel with work and partly because i am now suffering from a lung infection which leaves me short of breath. But although her TITS are much better than mine I have pretty good TITS too.

I am told by the Doctor that I can still ride gentle rides and should be clear well before the ride. Nothing is stopping me from going as far as I am concerned.

What I have noticed, being a fat arse in comparison to many we have been riding with lately, with the weight difference being 40kilos on many we have met, is that regardless of the TITS the extra weight is a real burden when tackling hills. I can match most with on road flat and undulating road speed but consistent hills make me suffer and ultimately the legs just give up.

Hating to admit it, I have had to pull out of a couple of Kings Park rides because of lack of hill climbing ability. What I am finding is that TITS doesn't necessarily prepare you for the hills.

That being said and having driven the route I am pretty comfortable that there isn't a hill along the way that I can't walk up and still make the distance well within a reasonable time frame. We are now averaging about 22km per hour (including hills) and there isn't a day that presents itself as being unconquerable at that rate.

The other benefit is that whereas I have been spectacularly unsuccessful in completing 2 circuits of Kings Park in a ride so far there are no days I recollect on driving the route where there is hill after hill after hill with little or no respite.

I have plenty of experience of being able to manage pretty significant hills and with some coasting on the other side and some flat have been able to manage the next hill 2 or 3km away.

So the spirits remain high, the lung still has to heal but that shouldn't take long and with 2 more weeks to go there is still a fair amount of TITS to be had.

I am already visualising the final ride into Perth and the sense of achievement having ridden for 14 days, more than 850km and shared some amazing experiences with some wonderful people.

Michelle and I can see a lot more TITS in our future and are currently planning a 4 week cycling tour of Vietnam in February 2007.

That of course will be on our new flat bar touring bikes we will buy after the headt experience of the GWABR. This continues to be so much fun and is developing into a lifestyle rather than a journey.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Less than a month to go!

Oh cripes! less than a month now. What to pack? How much will it all weigh?

On Saturday we visited our daughter (who has a patch of grass in her back yard, unlike us apartment dwellers) to practise setting up the tent we bought weeks ago.

I'm sure you can picture the scene, as two chubby parents outside in the heat squabble about where this or that peg goes and which way round the tent fly goes, while daughter stays inside in the cool, sipping nice chilled drinks, and looking on at us somewhat bemused.

Luckily, we can put the thing up and it seems to have come with all its parts, so at least we have somewhere to sleep on this trip.

Now, where did those sleeping bags go when we downsized?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Its all about T.I.T.S.

Time In The Saddle, that is!

And mate ... we're trying real hard to get some. But this is a never-ending continuum, you know. Somewhere, way at the extreme end you have the real cycling gods who can climb anything, go at any speed and in whose dust we merely crawl in awe!

Somewhere just a bit closer to our end are those people on the BV forums, who've done several of these rides, who have a comfy bike, who do hundreds of km a week ... I think they're just going on the Great WA Bike Ride for a bit of a rest really! People like Manji, Two Wheels, Werner - they're strong, they've been training hard and they just seem to lope along comfortably.

But somewhere, somehow, after 3 years of intermittent commuter cycling and 4 months of preparation for this ride, we've moved a bit along the continuum. I look at the real beginners now, saddles down low to the ground, pedalling hard because they don't know how to use their gears, wobbling about all over and I realise that the hours have paid off a bit. We have made some progress.

I think I can relate to the guy who signs off all his emails saying "cycling never gets any easier, I just get faster!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bikes & Roses

OR: You can't get THAT on a bike!

Picture the scene - Shiney GWABR Green Machine in one arm; HUGE bunch of long-stemmed red roses in the other. Oh the dilemma! Which to take home?

Fortunately, the Knight in Shining Armour (in this case John in an apple green Holden) came to the rescue and I didn't have to choose. Just like he did when I faced exactly the same dilemma, with a very large Miss Maud's cake box in hand, housing an extremely delicate Grand Marnier cake for his birthday a couple of weeks ago. One slip and it would have been pudding!

Sorry to have to admit this in such illustrious company, but there are some trips even the most dedicated cycle commuter just can't do.