Continued from part 2:
We got to Salt Creek some time after midnight, I really have no idea of exactly when it was. A quick water in and water out stop, and we looked down the road for a spot to sleep. The winner was literally a ditch, filled with native grass, in the open. I just cannot think of a better example of our determination to finish this ride than the fact we had a nap in a ditch on the side of the highway, in just our cycling clothes. It was bloody comfy too…
210 kilometres to go…
That is manageable. We had all ridden in excess of that on plenty of occasions. Next stop Meningie. On the way the sun came up, and it couldn’t have come sooner. Well for some of us, Sam was riding stronger than an ox. Even before the sun comes up – 48 hours into a ride, he is full of chirp. At least Pete, James and I had all shown fatigue at some point.
At Meningie we found a cafe, and had bacon and eggs, oooohhhhh yeah! We had been gagging for that, and weren’t let down. We laughed over that breakfast at how ridiculous the numbers we were discussing were. “So we’ve done 900, 150 to go…” Who talks like that? We knew that is was ridiculous, but even more funny was that we were absolutely going to make it.
On the way out of tom, the wind picked up, and was roaring at our backs. The turns on the front of our line became great fun! We were ripping along over 40 kph, after having ridden for more than 2 straight days, with fat grins on our faces.
100 kilometres to go.
We crossed the Murray on the Wellington ferry, got to the other side, and had a brief toilet stop. 100 kays. Just 100. The first 100 had been nothing but a warm up. 100 we could do any day we damn well pleased, and it wouldn’t even be hard. That was cool to think about.
Right about then we got our very first sherpa too. Dan Humphrey rocked up to ride with us. He’s a mate of Sam’s, who I’d sherpered for on his everesting recently, and it was great to have company. But the best was that my gorgeous wife Sarah had driven with the kids out to come and see us, and I almost didn’t notice! I was so intent on riding on this fairly average section of road, I didn’t pay attention, and nearly went past, until Sam pointed them out to me.
Oh man! My family is everything, and the thought of them was what had helped me through the darkness on that picnic bench out of Port Fairy. Sarah had even baked for us, so we enjoyed some snacks at that stop. It was hard to leave them, but we had a ride to finish, so we rolled off.
Strathalbyn came, and we picked up another sherpa, Maurice whilst sitting in the bakery. The ride in from here was glorious, as we kept picking up company along the way. People were coming out to ride with us at every point we turned.
Pretty funny to watch James and Pete finally get a chance to engage in some mountain goat battles. These two mongrels would be 65 kilograms soaking wet, and their KOM sheets on Strava are pages long. So the cheeky grins they shared as they took off was fun to see. Sam went off after them, but my diesel legs just didn’t have the revs to chase on the long hills.
24 kilometres to go.
From Mylor we rode up the most beautiful road in Adelaide, Aldgate Valley Road. Gorgeous. It’s only a fairly gentle gradient, but it’s windy, narrow, and runs through a beautiful little valley. We had a good 8 or so other people out with us now, and it felt like a regular bunch ride! Bizarre, we were 1000 kilometres, and 2 and a half days into this ride, yet we were just rolling along like it was a normal weekend ride.
We rode into Aldgate at the top, where all of Sam’s family, and a tonne of mates were waiting at the pub. He had a huge cheer squad out, and they cheered for all of us. I honestly cried a little coming in there, it was lovely, a great reception. So when you have a pub stop on a ride, what else do you do, but grab a hops based sports drink?! Man that stuff went down my throat with glory, possibly the best beer I’d ever tasted.
The stop was only brief but, we had two climbs and one descent left. Ayers hill was the last climb we had to do, and I’d been a little worried about it. It’s only fairly short, but it’s in the mid teens for gradient, and with so far in our legs, I was hoping to not have to walk it. Turns out those fears were unfounded, we all set personal bests for the climb! James and Pete took off like the mountain goats they are, Sambo gave hard chase, and I just pushed. Man that was great fun, and totally symbolised the carefree attitude we took into the whole thing, Bugger how hard it was, we wanted to have fun.
With widening grins we rode onto the final descent down the old freeway, a downhill ride of around 7 kilometres. It’s not steep, but I just tucked into a little aero ball, and rolled super quickly down the hill. It makes me sound like a total bastard, but it was nice to see Sam starting to struggle at the end. After having been so very strong for the whole ride, seemingly unbreakable, he was finally showing some proper fatigue. He is still human. One very, very tough human.
At the bottom, we made sure that the 4 of us were together, and on the front. We loved having supporters ride with us, but we started the ride together, and we wanted to finish it together. The ups and downs of that ride had made us into a strong unit, with a close bond. We had looked out for each other the whole way, and no-one complained once if someone needed to stop for a minute. You just could not have asked for 4 better guys to roll together, and so when we were riding the final kilometre, straight through the middle of the Adelaide CBD, I started crying. I was so goddam proud of what these boys and I had done together. We rode so hard and so far, it was unbelievable. It’s still a bit unbelievable. We did it so tough, that the only thing we could do to keep going was sleep for 20 minutes in a ditch on the side of the highway, and there was not a single word of complaint about it. What a perfect example of the hardness and the camaraderie of the ride.
So I cried. Lucky I wear really big glasses when I ride, so I didn’t look like a total sook. Even then I would have probably cried anyway. This was huge, it had seemed impossible, but we were here, rolling down the hill to the finish. Right out front of Adelaide Oval was standing my wife and little kidlets, and that was it. I cuddled into my wife’s shoulder, and cried hard. I was so intensely relieved to have made it, and so damn proud.
A carton was opened, and we sat on the steps, surrounded by supporters, and happily drank those beers. I had several. Oh man, so damn good. We had done it, 1100 kilometres in 60 hours. 12 hours behind what we’d planned, but it didn’t matter, we had done what even we thought was impossible.
Three days later, and half of both hands are numb, and all of my toes are the same. My crotch is a total disaster zone, and my mouth hurts from eating so much food. But GOD DAMN did I enjoy that ride. We all rate that as the best thing (aside from kids and wives) that any of us have ever done. That was one truly incredible adventure, with memories that will struggle to be surpassed. It sounds weird, but by completing this I have inspired myself to go further. If I can do that, well surely I can do anything? And that’s the real point, that’s the reward that comes from these challenges. When you complete something that you think is impossible, the feeling of confidence and achievement that come from pushing back the boundaries of your possibilities is something that lasts a long time, and makes you into a better person.
Thanks so much for reading, please remember to drop your email into the subscription box below, and subscribe to the blog. It’s worth it just for the welcome email I’ve heard… 😉