The Finish Line
As this EPIC ride moves into the final ‘few’ kilometers, I thought it might be a good time to start thinking and reflecting on our (your) journey, as the wider Eagles Wings community, over the past month and a bit.
Cast your mind back to the week prior to the ride… It was pretty rainy here in Brisbane and we were busy getting the word out about the Send Off BBQ, seriously hoping that ‘Fake Reid’ would arrive in the post before Flo set off around Australia and Reid sent out his ‘pre-ride’ email. For those of you following the journey back then, you may remember these words: “My challenge is 400km per day for 35 days. Your challenge; be radically different in the way you approach and think about your life and lifestyle in order to be more generous people. Thank you for your involvement, I hope you get a lot out of this and I look forward to seeing and hearing about the difference we make in others and ourselves.”
This morning we awoke to the sounds of bellbirds singing in the tall gums of the Snowy Mountains. We were just past the turn off to Orbost on the A1 heading east. Reid had decided around 1a.m. after a full day of climbing and descending, that he needed to stop at this location, have his four and a half hours sleep and press on tomorrow. Late in the day on Thursday, he had struggled with soreness in the top parts of his legs, but he woke with renewed enthusiasm and strength. Three more days of riding had a nice ring to it!
We passed through the town of Cann River, made a smooth transition into the state of New South Wales around 12.45 - celebrating with bacon and egg sandwiches 'with the lot', before heading to the coast at Eden by mid afternoon. The hills proved to be relentless, the downhills following exhilarating, but once again, the road neverending. As we write, Reid has ridden through farming and coastal towns such as Bega and Moruya and aims to finish cycling by approx. 1-1.30am. This morning Reid conducted an interview for the breakfast program on Brisbane ABC radio 612 and was able to express some of his frustrations and reasons for undertaking such a challenge. He continues to receive favourable and continued interest from a range of media channels which increases the opportunity for exposure to Eagles Wings. You can hear his interview at blogs.abc.net.au.
Sorry for the delay... technical issues on the road.
When we approached Geelong yesterday, a new road appeared before us - the road Dan had plotted was replaced with a brand spanking new one. Apparently it opened only two weeks ago and we wondered if cyclists were allowed on this section. After a failed reconnaissance mission in the car to find the exits we had planned, Dan returned perplexed. At that exact moment, Heather and Maria from 94.7FM The Pulse Radio Geelong rang his phone. They announced they were down the highway and just passed Reid as he cycled into Geelong. They were only too happy to navigate us through the new road entering Geelong, joined us at KFC where they conducted an interview for their cycling program, and helped us get out the other side. Perfect timing!
Late last night at 9.30pm we crossed the Victorian border – another milestone done. This was the final time change the team needed to go though. At the time it was 6 degrees, with a strong crosswind. Reid was dressed in arm and leg warmers, two vests, a jumper and a beanie and his booties. After arriving at the overnight stop at 2.47 am , he quickly ate some Penang Chicken, swigged on his protein shake and magnesium drinks and hopped straight into a warm bed in the van, opting to stay in his cycling gear so as not to lose any valuable sleep time. We have told him that he is due for a shower tonight as 3 days is the team’s limit!
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The sun comes up, alarms are going off… it’s time to wake up and begin another day. As I sit up, I realise that we have been camping right next to the sea. What a beautiful sight to start the day. Today we had a 6:30 wake up for a 7am departure. That is for most of us. Tiffany, however, sets her alarm for 2 minutes earlier than the rest of us so that she can get up and make porridge for Reid and the rest of the team. This has become the early morning routine ever since Tiff joined the team. While Reid eats, Dan is out getting the bike ready to go. It is a quick 30 minutes and Reid is off and riding. The rest of the team clean up camp before setting off on our hunt for Reid.
This morning, Reid awoke at 5.30am to see windmills atop the hills surrounding our overnight stop. When he looked, he knew by the direction they were facing that it could only mean one thing – headwinds! His prediction proved correct. He says the road today was like porridge - lots of bumps and vibration. Scenery for the first part of the day included the saltbush surrounding Snowtown, and the cattle country that led us into Adelaide.
Daniel Badger, a local rider (and nuclear physicist), met us at the turn off to Two Wells. He was able to navigate the team in through Adelaide, and out the eastern side. Reid felt honoured to have such a brainy person as part of our team – even if just for a few hours! The scenery through the Adelaide Hills was inspiring – towns like Stirling. This settlement had streets lined with liquid ambers, leaves turning from green, through to yellow, bright orange and red. The air was crisp, the grass green – such a stark contrast and relief to the relentless dust and heat of the Nullarbor. Reid reported that the peaks and trees were welcome after the mind-numbing scenery on previous days. A few times they could not see the top of the rise, with the road winding upwards into the Adelaide Hills.
Kyancutta towards Merriton, SA
Let’s do the time warp again!
A slight miscalculation overnight. We knew that daylight saving in SA would end at 3am in the morning, but we weren’t sure if our phones would auto update. As a ‘fool proof’ measure, we set an alarm on current time and then put the phone on ‘flight mode’ so it wouldn’t update… hmm, apparently flight mode can update. We had planned 6 hours sleep, but actually got 7 (bonus!) but it also means Reid will need to ride later into the night. Only one more timezone to cross (central to eastern), maybe we’ll have it sussed by then.
Nundroo to Kyancutta
After the ‘early’ call last night, we have all managed to get a decent 7 hour sleep. We woke at 6am to no wind – for the first time in DAYS. Today, instead of slogging it out through aching muscles and fatigue, he is able to “just ride” and might actually be enjoying it J In fact, as I’ve caught up with Reid at the various pit stops today, he’s been smiling, positive and having a good banter with the crew. Since his frustrations aren’t aimed at the wind, he can start poking fun at the crew, and himself.
Border Village (SA) to Nundroo
The time zones are doing my head in! Sometime yesterday afternoon we crossed into ‘Eastern Western Australia’ timezone (I have my doubts if that is even a legitimate time zone, can’t say I’ve ever heard of it) – FYI it’s 30 min ahead of Perth. Then, at the border, we moved into Central Standard Time, with daylight saving. The daylight saving runs out this weekend, so we’ll get an hour back… To complicate things further, some of phones are updating, some of our watches are ‘stuck’, my laptop is on Brisbane time, the car is searching for it’s own zone and Reid’s Garmin device seems to be right. With roughly zero hours sleep, I’m sure you can appreciate out slight delirum.
Nullarbor (Caiguna) to Nullarbor (South Australia Border)
Yesterday's blog was posted early, before we lost reception. About 30km down the road at 6:30pm (WA time), Reid stopped for dinner and a photo at the "90 mile straight" sign. The headwinds are back, with a vengence. He's feeling worn out and just so frustrated with "thousands of kilometers of headwinds". It seems that no matter which way he points his front wheel, the wind comes directly at him. It is a long hard slog and it is taking a massive toll on Reid’s body and mental state.
Norseman to Caiguna
Reid's cycle route yesterday did not take him through Esperance, but a young journo from the newspaper was keen for an interview. Unfortunately her boss wouldn't let her drive out to meet Reid, so she asked Dan if Reid could "ride back to Esperance tomorrow" for the interview - oh sure!
On Road (between Jerramungup and Raventhorpe) heading to Norseman
After the steak dinner at Jerramungup, Reid and Dan shot out for another few hours on the bike, pulling into camp just before 1:30am. It was a quick celebration "Day Done - Thanks Team" from Reid before he downed a magnesium drink, a protein drink and flopped into his tent, calling out "6:30am wake up". This is a fairly typical routine at night. Dan has recently been riding alongside Reid during the late/early hours, to keep him distracted from the pain and headwinds, but also alert during the ride. So I guess that means Dan needs to create both a distraction and maintain focus - aren't they opposites? Whatever he's doing, he's doing a great job! Nothing better than a 3 hour ride at midnight. Reid joked that Dan will no longer be able to manage daytime riding when he gets home!
Walpole to Jerramungup
The scenery has changed. We've now hit the base of WA and turned left. Gone are the wide flat, brown stretches of the west coast, we are now travelling through national parks and timber country. The roads look smooth (with not much shoulder) and undulating. Coming into camp last night, there were some awesome downhills. At one pit stop Reid tells us "This is awesome, I haven't pedalled for the last 7 km". IF it was during the day, with a group of mates, fresh legs and plenty of sleep, that would've been an amazing ride. Perhaps he'll come back one day...
Today has seen us travel from a rest spot just west of Walpole, on to Denmark to do the laundry, Albany for lunch and now Jerramungup for dinner. As we were waiting in Denmark, Daun was chatting to a local cyclist who had been dropped off by his family to do a one way ride back to Albany. Reid had already left at this point and the support crew were just finishing off morning tea (fresh vanilla slice!) and repacking Flo, when our cycling mate discovered something broken with his shoes - he'd be stranded. As we are carrying a complete bike repair service in our trailer, Daun introduced him to Hedgy, who was able to fix him up and send him on his way. Above and beyond, support crew - nice work!
Billabong Roadhouse to Dongara
Tiffany and I have have just clocked over 24 hours with the team. "Fresh Meat" and "Fresh Blood" are a few of the terms that we've heard. We're super excited to finally join the team here in WA. Our first day (Thursday) was spent driving from Perth to our stop for the night - on road just north of Billabong Roadhouse.
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.