It's late Sunday night and 7 guys are rolling the quiet streets of Adelaide. We are all feeling quite spaced out and need food NOW! We finally see some bustle around an Italian restaurant, the kitchen is open, we are seated and all flop into our chairs. Still in a daze we order plenty of pasta and pizza to refuel and we begin to clock our surroundings. The large table beside us is clearly here for the Tour Down Under, industry types and wait a minute… Baden Cooke. The former Tour De France Green Jersey winner is up and heading our way...
“are you the guys that rode over from Melbourne?"
"err... yes", we respond a little start struck
"Waiter can I shout these Guys some beers!" Baden shouts
"and may I take a photo with you?" he finishes.
B-A-D-E-N C-O-O-K-E is asking us for a photo.
We had made it, 800kms from Melbourne to Adelaide in two days.
The 450km day one looked like this with another 350kms to ride the next.
To sum the ride up simply, it looked like this;
- 7 x Riders
A father-son combo, Ol'Greg and Nic Norden. Some young guns including 'Mouthie' Michael Crosbie and Ryan 'Funny Man' Flinn. Distance expert Jesse 'Kays' Carlsson, an experience rider in Mark 'Sambo' Sandon, plus a cameo by the Cycling Maven and me, Adam 'Captain Flat' Lana.
Saturday - Day One 450kms.
Melbourne / Ballarat / Dunkeld / Naracoorte
4am until 10pm.
25 degrees, a climb into Ballarat and we had a nice tail wind for most of the day. Lots of lovely rollers but a few annoying tyre punctures along the way. 25kph avg speed with stops about 31kph moving
Sunday - Day Two 350kms.
Naracoorte / Keith / Tailem Bend / Adelaide
5am until 10pm
38 degrees and a head wind. Some nice wineries then it was flat flat flat terrain into the hairdryer... more stops and lots of water. After 280km we then had 1200 metres of climbing to through the Adelaide Hills. Mr Maven "crept" with us from Naracoorte to Murray Bridge.
As the numbers suggest it was a tough physical challenge, but it's the emotional journey that got me through and stays with me still. It creates the memories that will stick with me forever.
That emotion began well before the ride even began - I could hardly fathom how was going to ride 450km in one day and back it up with 350km the next? My biggest ride prior was 180km and most of my weekly rides consist of what Jesse calls "Dad rides" 50-60km power rides early in the morning before the kids get up.
We were all excited and nervous at the beginning, the dark roads of the Western Hwy were full of debris and some pretty close passing cars. Then after having 5 flats in the first 60kms (I had 3 of them) the excitement turned to some serious anger, doubt and I strongly considered heading for home.
Instead I rolled on, still apprehensive but the kilometres started to clock over and something changed, the sun came up and I soaked up the empty roads and golden rollers. The silence in the group moved to chatting, laughter, jokes, and even singing, I was having fun, all giddy and excited about the journey.
But alas, the many hours in the saddle brought new challenges and I started to feel little aches and pains appear in my hands, feet, arse, knees and where ever. The numbers also continued to mess with my mind, especially knowing how far I was from my final destination, the guy beside me was still talking, but he is not so funny anymore.
I just had to remind myself to keep eating and the salty nuts I had prepared actually tasted pretty good. I broke down the numbers and worked out how far I had actually come. A bit of a hand massage on the hoods, move around a little in the saddle and I just kept peddling. The pain in the knee disappeared as a flock of black cockatoos jousted with black crows... things got good again.
And so it continued, like the rolling hills we all ride, I experienced the swings of emotion. I took solace in the fact that what goes up must come down, and vice versa. If I entered a dark patch of doubt I knew that I could get through it, then all of a sudden I was at the South Australian border and things were better again, or I got to the Adelaide Hills and I was happy to start climbing.
The 800km journey is not too different to an hour long Crit, CX, MTB race, or even a good hit out with you and your mates. You build up some nerves, you go out with gusto and you think "why am I doing this, I can't keep this up", you have moments of awesomeness and think "I am smashing this", but then you're spent again and can't go on, until you find that something in you to keep on going and charge to the finish line.
The 7 of us in our group all seemed to go through this in our own way. A great bunch of guys who respected each other through the range of emotions or mechanicals and I was so proud and impressed with everyone on the trip. For me personally it was a nice sense of achievement, I have done it, and the praise from people around you is humbling and a nice bonus.
Would I do it again... yes.
I was on Grovel CXR with CC30s
Jesse on Grovel Prototype Ti with CC24s, but confessed that he would have preferred to be on his Trans Am winning Belgie Disc
Ryan was on a Carbon Roadie with Carbon CC38/50 Mullet Combo
Nic and Sambo where on Carbon Roadies with Carbon Rims
Greg was on his Specialized Touring Roadie with Alloy Rims
Here is what Ol' Greg had to say about his experience.
Going with the flow when you are out of your comfort zone.
A local Melbourne ride on a Wednesday morning gave me the chance to test myself. I meet Adam for the first time and he explains a ride to Adelaide. There are 4 guys so far you are welcome. Pretty simple take stuff and all your gear. Leave at 4.00 am Saturday at the corner of Sydney rd and Brunswick st ride 450km to Naracoorte. Stay the night then start at 5.00 am on Sunday and ride 350 to Adelaide.
After much thought. 3 hours, I explain the details to Nick more discussions over the next 24hrs. The most common response from people was that is crazy. Can't be done. The strange thing I agreed. It was mad but I need to test myself. So Nick and I take the view of we will start and go with the flow. Worst case we go for a long ride.
7 riders turn up Saturday. We take off with no media or fan fare. It's dark. I don't no the riders very well. Basically I'm shitting myself. 60 mins on I flat near Melton on the Western highway. Traffic rushing by its dark. Now fuckin shitting myself. What the fuck am I doing. I could be sleeping in.
A SRAM van pulls up Rob Eva gives me a tube and pump. There is hi fives and hugs. Back on the road in no time. Gregory just relax and go with the FLOW. The rubbish on the road lead to 8 punctures for the day. Bogans throwing cans and drinks at us. Karma will take care of them. So many mental challenges and doubts that I could do it. Blessed by the 6 other riders working as a team. The common cause. Do it coz we can. Just take it one town at a time.
It was a very special day. I allowed myself to trust the guys around me and to experience it with Nicholas and my mate Mike was gold. The other guys. Adam, Sando, Ryan and Jesse were brilliant. Jesse has the course nailed and was a huge impact on the fact we all got through day 1. How do you recover from day 1? Simple wait 'til day 2 is over.
This is crazy shit but gee it feels great to be alive.
It's late Sunday night and 7 guys are rolling the quiet streets of Adelaide. We are all feeling quite spaced out and need food NOW.....