Still on The Barkley Highway......
Guest Blogger- Daun
When I first decided to join this amazing adventure, I knew that it was going to be just that... an amazing (and crazy) adventure. This is my first Eagles Wings event and I feel so privileged to be part of it. First off, Reid is a legend. I joined the team in Townsville and it didn’t take long for me to grasp the enormity of what he is doing. Sure, there were meetings ahead of time, looking at maps and seeing where he would ride, but it wasn’t until I was here, on the road, travelling those distances that it really hit me just what he is doing. I know that he is tired, he is in pain, but he just keeps going... with a great attitude To Reid, this ride is not about Reid. It’s about children in Africa. When I begin to feel the fatigue of long days I remind myself of Reid, and the fact that I am living the good life compared to him. In the same way I know that this is what keeps Reid motivated and moving- reminding himself that the suffering that children in Africa endure is much more than what he is experiencing.
Our first week on the Aussie Challenge could be classed as cruel if I was not voluntarily putting myself through it. These are the numbers; 406km, 450km, 451km, 471km, 400km, 402km and 491km, a total distance of 3,071km (an average of 438km per day). If I make it through the first week, I’ll end up at a place called Pamayu in the Northern Territory, on the Stuart Highway, heading to Darwin. Have you heard of that place before? I tried to Google it and found nothing! No information. Then I tried Google Maps and could not see a single house, not even a pub! I did however see a huge road train and I went to street view - the place looks desolate. In a little over three weeks’ time, apparently all things going to plan, we will be there. Can’t wait!
I planned the first week with the long kilometres for a couple of reasons. If I know myself well enough, generally speaking, if I just aim for the minimal amount when doing something, I will fall short. If I aim high when setting goals, I give myself a better chance. Currently, the record is set at 377km per day; if I have any chance at all I need to set my sights on something unrealistic. If I achieve “the impossible” in the first week, I should be in a better frame of mind to believe I can achieve the overall goal. It also provides a greater buffer in case things go wrong – which they may. Or, I will fall in a heap.
Australia is big. I am small.
I was lying in bed the other night, unable to sleep. The thought popped into my mind, “Australia is BIG!” It seemed to just hit me just how massive Australia really is and the reality of riding a bike around it suddenly felt crazy, impossible. I began to feel very, very small.
If you see me this month (and you’re not keen on parting with your money) run, hide or don’t answer the phone if I try and ring you. February is the month that we as a team begin our fundraising. To be honest, I really find this area difficult; it does not come natural to me. It was really hard getting the energy and enthusiasm to start fundraising, as training and planning is taking so much of that away from me already. But without raising any funds for vulnerable children, my task is simply a ride around Australia. It becomes pointless and aimless.
On Sunday, we began sharing the journey and purpose at Cleveland Baptist Church and it was a huge encouragement to me personally, as many people signed up for simplicity boxes. There were heaps of riding questions and plenty of comments that went along the lines of; “mad”, “crazy”, and “are you serious?” Then there were other comments about concern for my personal safety. It’s hard to hear those comments, but I really do understand them and greatly appreciate them. I seem to have a slightly higher upper limit of risk that I’m willing to put myself through than most. It is not something I've developed, but something that has always been part of who I am as a person. I accept risks. Having my own family, (my daughter Sierra and another baby due in June) has dramatically reduced what I would do, but the risks I am willing to take are still true to who I am as a person. If I didn't take risks, I don’t think I’d set the kind of example I would like to see my own children follow, which would be disregarding the way that God created me as an individual. It is a balance, and one I take seriously for many reasons. But I really do understand when people look at my life and have genuine concern.
I am off to New Zealand tomorrow (Monday morning) and it could not have come at a better time. I have been training seriously for the Aussie Challenge for over three months now, and the rides are starting to get a little monotonous! It feels like the same old, same old every day. It has been great when I have had either club rides, or been riding with friends for company. But as the holiday period is now over I am losing friends to their 9 to 5 jobs!
I managed only 530km this week, which was 70km less than what I should have done. It was my own fault, I just felt lazy one day and headed home when I should have stayed out longer. So, New Zealand will be great just to change up the scenery and push out some big kilometres each day, all with a good mate of mine (Andy H) who is joining me for the trip to NZ. We fly into Christchurch and then head across Arthur’s Pass, down the west coast and into Queenstown, before jumping into a car to Milford Sound, then back to Christchurch. It’ll be good.
As for my nutritional downfall last week - it is amazing what happens when you fuel the body with what it needs! Within 24 hours of reintroducing a more balanced carb/protein diet, my energy levels were back and muscle soreness disappeared overnight. I’ve written a BIG note to self; carbs are good.
On a slightly different note, word about what we are trying to achieve is spreading through various networks. This has happened mostly through friends who think it’s funny or downright dumb to attempt 400km per day on a bike around Australia. On Saturday (after a club ride with Wynnum Redlands), I was sitting around a table with some very strong riders, including an ex-professional, a female world champ and two or three others, when a mate said, “hey, you know what Reid is doing?” After he’d told them, Mel (the world champ) just looked at me in disbelief, as if she had not heard correctly. "What are you doing!?” She asked. I could not look at her, as I knew she would have a good understanding of how hard and/or stupid this attempt is, so I just turned my head away and laughed. Seriously though, I could not look at her as my confidence would have been shattered. It is good to either live in ignorance or push away the inevitable some times.
Eventually the enormity of this will hit me, and then it will be a matter of whether I have what it takes or not. Sometimes, it’s much better to talk to people who have no idea about cycling. In that situation, the common response is, “400km? Is that far?”
This week I ended up completing 560km on the bike, with a very sore body. I felt some confusion as to why I was feeling so sore all week. As the start of my weight loss coincided with feeling weak and experiencing out-of-the- ordinary muscle soreness, I looked into it a little further. It's good to get some of these issues sorted now!
A friend of mine pointed me to a good cycling site (www.cyclingtips.com.au), which has a large range of cycling ‘tips’ that address everything from performance through to nutrition, so I did my best to try and identify what went wrong for me. At the same time, I came away with some information that may prove invaluable for the journey ahead.
As the New Year has clicked over and people start their resolutions for 2013, mine is pretty plain and simple; survival. I just want to get through this challenge, get home and move onto another chapter, one that does not involve the extreme discipline of training hard and eating healthily. I know I need to “be in the moment” and just take it “one day at a time” (and all the other one liners that really are good), but to be honest what is ahead of me is a little daunting at present.
Dan, a friend and team member for the Aussie Challenge let me know last week during a training ride that he re-looked at the stats for what needs to be cycled (distances) each day and he said he felt sick. I kind of feel the same way at the moment.
Training is hard. Some days I love it, these are the days when I thank God for my health, sunshine, nil wind and a good coffee at the end. Most days are not like that. My day generally starts at 4:10am for a 4:30am start time. I prepare everything the night before; even my breakfast. Otherwise, I generally frustrate myself by not knowing where anything is when I wake up. 4:10am is early. If you are ever going to talk yourself out of training, it is generally within 5 minutes of waking up. It’s best not to think, just do. Otherwise it is too easy to jump back in bed believing you will make it up the following day. Doesn’t happen.
Originally, I thought I would build up from around 250km per week (6 months out) to around 500/600km per week come departure date. However when serious people get involved, people who know what they are talking about, plans change. Hence, I had to double my weekly average overnight, and the intensity. Gary Land (Pro Fit Bike) advised 600km+ per week, made up of 100-120km per day at 85% heart rate. I don’t know how many people have tried to ride 100km+ at 85%. It’s not easy. I think my best to date is around 83% over 100km. So currently, that’s my training routine, and though I am not hitting the 600km mark, I am at the moment hitting around 500km on average.
And now the fun begins.
A lot of first time riders have joined Challenge For Change this year. All were champing at the bit to be away and onto the road. Lots of stretching. Adjustments made to bikes. A few laps of the car park to warm up the muscles. And then they were off. Twenty nine riders hit the road and headed north leaving beautiful Hobart behind. Our riders are split between two teams. Our experienced riders are in Team Twenty Seven and will average 27kph. Team Twenty will average 20kph. Team Twenty Seven left first, eager to be on the road and were cheered on by the rest of the Challenge For Change crew. Ten minutes later Team Twenty were away, again with a big cheer.
Okay, straight up, I am not a bike nerd. I really enjoy riding, but I know very little about bikes. I am embarrassed to say this. If you ride for long enough you will hear loads of bike jargon that seemingly everyone knows but you! Sometimes I try to bluff my way through while I think, “I have no idea what you are talking about.” Second to this, most people that ride with me are really disturbed at my bike’s condition. I don’t clean it. At times it gets confiscated and cleaned for me. This is something I need to work on. But I think it is important that you understand this.
So, when it came to the question of the bike that I’ll be using for this record attempt, I had to hand it over to the experts to assist in making this decision, whilst I only conveyed my big picture concerns of the balance between speed and comfort. Originally, I thought I would be able to take three different bikes for different conditions (hills, flats, off-road/road works), until Guinness World Records team stipulated the use of only one commercially available bike, with no modifications for the whole journey. Hence, this was one of the biggest decisions about the journey for me to make. If the bike is fast, but extremely uncomfortable, I will fail. If it is extremely slow and comfortable, I will fail. Either way, it would do my head in.
WE WERE ONLY SEVEN DAYS BACK FROM OUR 5500KM RIDE THROUGHOUT SOUTHERN AFRICA, BUT APPARENTLY SEVEN DAYS WAS ENOUGH TIME FOR ONE OF OUR CO-RIDERS (TIM) TO EMAIL ME THROUGH THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR RIDING AFRICA TOP TO BOTTOM FOR A 'SOLO UNASSISTED RIDE' (NO SUPPORT TEAMS OR VEHICLES) FROM CAIRO (EGYPT) TO CAPE TOWN (SOUTH AFRICA). HE WAS CURIOUS TO SEE HOW OUR RIDE COMPARED.
The siren sounded. It was 7 minutes past 7am and around 70 cyclists began their epic challenge to see our far they could ride in 9 hours – to change the lives of Zambian children.
On the 11th of June Challenge for Change (CFC) kicked off their first official fundraiser for Eagles Wings, “The Solstice Challenge”. The CFC group had decided to hold an event that would challenge all participants, regardless of whether they were semi-professional speedsters or a part time cycling hack. The Holden Driving Centre was an ideal venue with a flat 1.6km circuit that allowed participants and supporters to view the competing cyclists. Cyclists had a choice to ride as individuals, pairs or teams of four.
Things are about to get exciting as Challenge for Change begins in 2012.
Challenge for Change is an initiative of Eagles Wings Australia and our Mission Statement sums up our purpose and hopes. But as with everything in life there is a starting point, an idea, a thought or a dream, a sudden light bulb moment. Or there is a challenge that is overcome that creates something beautiful, something inspirational. Sometimes something that brings hope starts out as a hopeless situation. So it is with Eagles Wings’ new initiative, Challenge for Change.