Today started with disappointment. A change of plans, because of the increased holiday traffic, the police, having concerns for our safety, have withdrawn our permit to ride from Canberra to Cooma. This essentially has cut our day down to 65kms. So plan B. In consultation with the Police, a new route has been drawn up. Drive to Cooma and then ride the long way round, along the Snowy River Way, into Jindabyne. Some stunning scenery and some big hills to climb. We bundled bikes and bodies into the vehicles, drove to Cooma, met in McDonalds carpark, filled up with coffee and we are on our way. Wesley, a year 12 teacher from Eagles Wings in Zambia is traveling with us. He started the day with some words of encouragement, but also a story of a vulnerable child in Zambia. Some perspective on the reason we are riding.
Today was a test to the strength and endurance of both our teams. The big hills I mentioned were towards the end of the ride when our riders were at their most vulnerable moments. Before that they endured headwinds strong enough that they needed to peddle down hills when they should be free wheeling and conserving strength. They encountered sleet, hard wind driven pellets of ice that would sting as it is blown into their exposed faces. As the sun started to go down, the temperature dropped, at one stage - zero degrees.
It was along day. Team Twenty Seven rode into camp just after 6pm. Team Twenty, an hour later after 7pm. a long tough day in the saddle. They were greeted with hot chocolate and a roaring log fire to warm them after the hard ride. One of the hardest in the history of Challenge For Change. What a grand way to open this years challenge. These men and ladies are riding for the children in Zambia. If you see someone you know in the photos or if you have a favourite rider, please go to the Eagles Wings website ew.org.au and donate some money in that riders name. Send your rider a word of encouragement and tell them what you have done.
More to come tomorrow and I think it may get colder.