nick\’s my name

November 9, 2006

The Dirty Reds Finish The Gong Ride

Filed under: cycling, Gong Ride — nicksmyname @ 9:41 am

A big thank you to everyone who sponsored the Dirty Reds for the GongRide. You certainly got your money’s worth. I was seriously close to pulling out it was so horrible at one stage, but I kept thinking of the grief I would get from my sponsors (plus I didn’t really have any other option to get to the end of the race!!!!) and I kept slogging through the rain.

Despite all the best intentions I didn’t do any real training for the event at all. I had all the best intentions, and even organised one early morning run, but things just got in the way. In the end I rode to work three times the week before and hoped that the 5k’s I regularly do to work would all sort of cumulatively help when it came to the full 90k’s.

We started well. By 7am we were all ready to ride. The weather was a little threatening; it was overcast and drissling lightly as we set off. The team was Mark, Mike, Jane and myself. Mark was the only serious cyclist amongst us; he eats 100k’s for breakfast. Jane rides occasionally I think, but not normally anything of this magnitude. Other than my regular rides to work I seldom clock up much distance. Mike had to clean the cobwebs and dust off his bike and get some of the rust seen to before the race, but he had a particular motivation to do the race (in fact it was his idea).

Back in August, Mike, Renae, Tony and Pete had entered the Oxfam 100k walk. Yes, 100k. Yes, walk. Again, it was a fundraiser, and they had to walk 100k’s through bushland during night and day; only stopping for a few hours sleep. Madness. But despite a strict training regime and tons of preparation, the mind was willing but the body could not comply and Mike had a knee blowout half way through and after dragging himself along in a lot of pain he had to drop out at about 64k’s. He caught a lot of grief (none of it meant seriously) from his sponsors etc. So Mike was on a mission to complete this ride and prove to the world what a finisher he is.

Here’s the course profile:

GongRide course image

The course started easily enough. There was a huge mass of riders; 10,000 riders were starting over a couple of hours, so there were bikes everywhere. The first sobering event was near Taren Point where there was a nasty accident. A female rider was down on the road with a large pool of blood around here head. It was a horrible sight. Lots of people were looking after her and the ambulances shot past a few minutes later so hopefully she was OK. It certainly put a dampener on the jolly atmosphere at the time.

As we rode up to Sutherland my left knee started to give me some pain. This got worse for a while and then thankfully stabilised. Knowing Mike’s story I was very nervous that this could end my ride. Mike in the meantime was getting pain in both knees and was struggling a bit on the long hills but absolutely determined to finish the race.

The first ride down into the Royal National Park was just sheer bliss. Bombing down the hill in the trees; bikes everywhere, no cars. It was fun fun fun. After a good break for lunch we headed back up the hill to Otford. It was a long old slog; the silence of the national park only broken by the clicking of gears, the heavy breathing of the riders and one GSOH girl who had rigged up a stereo in her pack to play a selection of bike riding tunes. (only 5 songs; she must have been going mad after a few hours!!)

Once we got to the top a huge wind was blowing. This gave us the first indication of what was to come. From the top of the hill we could see Wollongong and it felt like the rest of the ride was going to be a piece of cake; just 30ks and looking mostly flat. It looked easy.

After barelling down another fantastic hill the next challenge was the new sea bridge which was extremely exposed. (you can see a picture on the GongRide homepage.) At this stage we were riding in to a 60kmh head wind. Most riders were practically standing still or had got off to walk. It was a long hard slog up the bridge and over the headland.

Pretty soon after the bridge it started to rain. The last 20 ks were just disgusting. It was lashing rain, we had the headwind and as we rode along the coast we had all the ups and downs as we passed every cove along the coast. Somewhere around Thirroul I had to walk up a hill for the first time. By Tourangi point I was totally exhausted and mentally hit a real rock bottom. I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I was struggling to pedal and lot of riders who we had overtaken a long way back were scooting past. In the end I dropped back, got off the bike and found a cafe which had some chocolate. Half a Curly Wurly later I had my walkman on and was listening to the happy deviant pop of Lilly Allen and feeling a lot more positive. I got back in the saddle and the rest was a piece of cake.

I couldn’t quite believe it when I got to the finish line. More relief than happiness, but by the time Renae appeared and we got in the car I was feeling very happy indeed.

Here’s a picture of Jane, Mike and I at the end;

Jane, Mike and Nick at the end of the GongRide 2006

(Mark left us behind at Otford and was nearly home by the time we finished the ride.)

Overall, it was definetly worth doing and was a lot of fun for the first 70km’s. I will do it again, but next time I will do the training beforehand, I will use a road bike instead of my mountain monster and if it’s raining on the day, well… I will have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Maybe I will extract some extra money from my sponsors for misery endured.

Speaking of which if you meant to sponsor me, but didn’t get around to it, you can still do so on the Gong Ride website.

So, Mike, what’s the next event?



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