I just had the rare opportunity to take part in an event called the Tour de Cure on behalf of CSC who is was a sponsor of this charity fundraising event for the fight against Cancer. It is probably the least restful annual leave day I ever spent in my entire life but certainly a cycling experience I’ll never forget nor am likely to experience again soon . This is my account of the ride but there is also the offical blog of the day’s ride on the Tour de Cure web site.
Ed Lie, from CSC Wollongong, joined me for the ride and we met up with the Tour de Cure crew on the south eastern side of Wollongong at 7am for breakfast, ride briefing and for the mechanics to do a safety check on our bikes. As the ‘newbies’ we were given our own additional briefing on ride etiquette which amounted to "stay at the back of the peloton, listen to the direction of the tail end riders behind us and ride safely at all times". Riding at the rear of the peloton wasn’t really a problem for me and at times (on the hills) it was more a case of trying to stay up with the rear of the peloton. It was actually a real buzz to be riding in a peloton of around 30 riders. I must say that the focus on the safety of the riders was excellent too. At nearly every stop Geoff would remind us to stay alert and ride safe.
We started the ride at around 9am with a short ride to the Reject Shop for a promotional photo. The guys were interested to know where the CSC offices were so they could stop there for a photo as well but it was too far out of their way and would have impacted on the schedule to much so we continued the ride through to Wollongong where we stopped for another promotional photo at the local sky diving offices at Stuart Park (where the Sydney to Gong ride finished last year).
That’s me on the far left
The ride through the Northern suburbs of Wollongong was kept at a nice pace, in the mid thirties, through at times pouring rain. I think if we hadn’t been wearing black riding gear we would have ended up black anyway from the road dirt thrown up in the wet. By the time we reached the Sea Cliff Bridge the sun was starting to show through the clouds and we had seen the last of the rain for the day.
We arrived on top of Bald Hill at about 11:30am where a brief but excellent lunch was served by Canadian Kitchens.There were even dietary instructions posted for the riders indicating how much they should be eating and drinking based on their weight.
After topping up our drink bottles with Powerade and throwing a few Gu’s into our back pockets Geoff gave us all a quick briefing about the next leg, 23kms through the Royal National Park, ending at Bundeena. We started off again at about 11:55am for Bundeena where we were scheduled to be picked up by a ferry at 1pm that was being specially provided for us during the ferry drivers lunch break. We had to be there by 1pm as the ferry had to be back at Cronulla for the regular scheduled run so they couldn’t wait around for us. About 12 kms into the Royal National Park we discovered we still had another 24kms to go to get to Bundeena (the GPS in the support cars had underestimated the distance)!!! This meant that we had to pick up the pace considerably to make it to the ferry by 1pm. Unfortunately this was discovered at the bottom of the climb out of the park to the central plateau that then drops down to Bundeena! About half way up the climb one of the riders dropped back and as I couldn’t keep up the required pace on the hill rode beside me with one hand on my back giving me a boost. I wasn’t given the opportunity to slacken off though with constant encouragement’ to "suck it in", "push it on" and "don’t leave anything on the road"!. I found out later from one of the support car drivers that we were averaging 35.5 kms/hr up that climb! Once we reached the plateau there was no time to rest given the time pressure and I had two riders combine in front of me and take turns slipstreaming me. What a rush as we pushed it along, with plenty more encouragement,, in the mid to high forties to finally drop down into Bundeena at 12:55pm!! I’ll never forget that part of the ride. I honestly didn’t think I could keep going at times and found reserves I didn’t know I had. It really exemplified the impact that working as a team can have. We had a goal and worked together to make sure everyone reached it. There is no way I would have been on that ferry if it hadn’t been for Josh and the other members of the team.
After a relaxing ferry ride to Cronulla and coffee on the plaza we rode through to Kurnell for another promotional photo at Toyota. The pace then picked up again and we rode nearly non stop from there into Sydney to be at Sydney City Lexus for our final promotional photo of the day. The final ride over the finish line at Fox Studios with the crowd of family and supporters capped off a fantastic day of riding that I was proud to be a part of, if only for a day.