We awoke today to what felt like colder weather than yesterday morning but apparently it was .5 of a degree warmer. After a hearty breakfast provided by our capable roadies, Beth Shaw and Rebecca Newing, we had our team ride briefing and devotion. The first leg today was a 30 km ride to Marulan for our morning tea break. The good news… only 95kms to ride today…the not so nice news another hill climb to start the day
There were blue skies and a lovely sunrise as we prepared our bikes for the days riding ahead. By the time we were ready to roll dark cloud was approaching from the south and it was looking a bit bleak.
We started out through Goulburn heading north and it didn’t take long for my fingers and toes to go numb again. The hill climb wasn’t too bad but the wait at the top while one of our riders fixed a puncture gave us too much time to cool off. The other thing was that as we climbed the hill above Goulburn we rode into fog and this persisted for probably the next 10kms. We broke the rides up into 3 groups at the top of the hill with slow group heading off fairly quickly, the medium pace group following after the puncture was fixed and a few riders interested in more pace holding back a little longer.
We started off with Lise Newing taking the lead rider role and setting a relaxed pace through onto the Hume. The fog burnt off to reveal a lovely sunny but still cold day. Everyone is getting used to riding in a group now too. Most have picked up the various hand signals and are passing calls well up and down the pack as we ride.
About 10kms from Marulan, while climbing a hill on the Hume, Brent dropped his rear wheel off the side of lumpy bit of bitumen and quickly tried to pull it back up while maintaining his momentum. The end result was a badly buckled rear wheel and no chance of finishing the leg to Marulan. With his bike on the support car and Brent catching a lift with Steve Fletcher (our excellent support roadie) Jim Blaxland (head of Nike for Bibles) and I took the lead and picked up the pace a little through to Marulan. Of note on this final stretch into Marulan was a pair of Camels spotted amongst the rolling Southern Highlands hills. Who would have through you’d see camels on a cold winters day in the Highlands! WIth about a kilometre to go to Marulan Jim managed to roll over something that punctured his tube and slashed his tyre badly.
First order of the day at Marulan was to see what could be done with Brent’s rear wheel. To see to this our fellow rider and bike mechaninc extraordinaire, Dave, was call on to work some magic. After removing the wheel and giving it a good examination his assessment was that the rim was too buckled to fix and couldn’t be fixed by simply truing up by spoke adjustment. It was looking like Brent wouldn’t be doing anymore riding but Dave suggested that we could try a brute force approach. We could support the wheel rim on each side of the buckle and give it a ‘whack’. So, while Dave held the wheel over a couple of fallen gum tree branches I gave it good ‘whack’ with the bottom of my shoe. Dave gave it the wheel spin and couldn’t believe how straight the rim now was. Within 5 minutes he had adjusted a few spokes and the wheel was spinning true. Both Dave and I were thanking God for this mini miracle and Brent was back on his bike.
After a quick morning tea of slices (provided by parents and supporters of the ride) and fruit we gathered for another team meeting to discuss the ride ahead, around 40 kms, through to Bundanoon for lunch. My new tyre had also arrived with the bicycles spares ordered in the morning before we left Goulburn but after a quick assessment of my rear tyre (damaged yesterday) and the fact we were ready to go I decided it would probably hold up until Bundanoon.
From Marulan turned off the Hume at Old Tallong Rd and our route took us through the beautiful Southern Highlands countryside around Tallong, Wingello and Penrose. Brent has been riding really well and is having no problems maintaining the pace of the group we are riding in, in fact on one of the hill climbs towards the end of the ride he overtook 3 of the older boys in the group!
We arrived in Bundanoon for lunch right on time and enjoyed another lovely spread and some rest time in the sun
After the obligatory team ride briefing we set out for the final 30 or so kilometers through Exeter, Sutton Forest, Moss Vale to East Bowral. This stage of the ride was fairly uneventful (read no punctures) although Tim Newing did manage to twist his chain and had to hitch a ride in the support car for the last few kilometers.
We finally arrived at the Southern Highlands Christian School, our base for the night, at about 3:40pm. Right on time given we weren’t supposed to arrive at school closing time. A quick assessment of my rear tyre showed that I was luck to complete the last section of the ride as it had begun to open up and the tube was now visible through the tear! Another small miracle I hadn’t got a puncture again. Time to change to my new tyre.
As soon as all there gear was unpacked from the support cars most of the kids were out on the schools open basketball courts playing ball. You wonder where they get the energy after riding 95kms? I’m sure they’ll sleep well tonight!
Average speed today for what we’ve called the ‘medium fast’ group was around 23.5kms/hr over the 95kms. Not bad for a group of riders with year 7 through to year 10 age kids in it.