Monday September 24 2012
|Day||Ride Time||Distance||Average Speed||Elevation||Calories|
|1||4 Hours 17 minutes||120 km||27.9 kmh||680 m||2310|
Day 1 of Cycle 4 Sam IV was a 119K sprint from Blinman, South Australia’s highest town, to Hawker, taking us through Flinders Ranges.
I had no idea just what a mammoth effort Cycle 4 Sam was, and certainly not the number of people that were involved. At least fifty people besieged Blinman on a sunny Sunday afternoon, causing the poor hotel manager, who was of course from Leeds back home, to get quite frazzled.
The big morning finally arrived, 15 intrepid athletes at the peak of their physical fitness prepared to set off on a 1030K (it’s actually already got 9K longer) crusade to Adelaide. With the Team Captain declaring he was going to run a tight ship I already felt out of place. I was the only member of the team that hadn’t shaved their legs, and a Pom to boot. In addition to the riders, we had a fire truck paving the way, and a caravan of vehicles (including a caravan) taking up the rear.
After 30K, some cheery Aussie shouted “Only 1000K to go!”, which although mathematically correct at the time, wasn’t quite the encouragement I was looking for.
Next thing we know were riding in parallel with a mob of kangaroos. Although initially one of the coolest things, quickly turned to concern as it became evident that the mob had designs on getting to the other side of the road. My recollection is a bit vague (I’ve had a few beers this evening), but with a single hop the entire mob cleared the whole peloton leaving everyone in awe of these majestic creatures (although I’m led to believe they’re considered pests here).
We continued towards Huck’s Lookout negotiating cattle grid after cattle grid and taking in the unique smell that is rotting kangaroo road kill. Once at Huck’s Lookout, we all participated in the ceremonial releasing of balloons in memory of Sam and other children that have passed away after suffering from terminal illnesses.
A stage isn’t a stage without a trademark sprint finish. Fortunately Petie-Pops was coaxed into a demonstration of unadulterated power when challenged by the only other non-Australian rider in the group. Exerting more than a full kilowatt of explosive muscle, he made a manoeuvre that saw him finish well clear of the only other rider that was racing him. By the time I flew past him we had apparently finished racing. I’ve still got a lot learn!
Tuesday September 25 2012
Day 2 Report - by Petie "Pops" Roberts
|2||5 Hours 40 minutes||154.7 km||27.3 kmh||1020 m||3153||
I’ve done a lot of bike riding, in lots of different places, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a single day ride with the variety of this one. Hammering through open plains, twisty descents and tough climbs … today’s ride had it all … and set against the incredible backdrop of the Flinders’ Ranges and South Australia’s mid north region.
The peloton set out at 8am, full of spirits and with the wind at our backs. The first section took us through the outskirts of the Flinders’ Ranges National Park, across a rolling open plain with a strong northerly wind pushing us towards Quorn. Before long, we were riding comfortably at 35-40km per hour and starting to really get cohesive as a group. Niall won the sprint finish into Quorn with a fast burst … this was definitely the entrée for an amazing day in the saddle.
After a short morning tea in Quorn, we set up and over the Pichi-Richi Pass towards Port Augusta. The Pichi-Richi pass is a beautiful ride through a mountain gorge, criss-crossed by a pioneer railway, with red ochre walls and (in the spring) green grass and wildflowers. It is not a tough climb up, but it is a gorgeous descent. As soon as we summited the climb, a small group put the hammer down and rode in a tight sprint formation through to the next stop at Stirling North (congrats Andreas on the sprint win).
Lunch was had at the side of the road before we set off on an unchartered section between Stirling North and the highway leading to Horrock’s Pass. What we found (Old Wilmington Rd) was a bumpy, potholed, crusty path akin to roads of the fabled Paris – Roubix spring classic. We were on that damned road for 20km, fussing and cussing, while Richard took a cheeky move off the front and built an unassailable lead up Horrock’s Pass. By the time the peloton made its way onto the highway, Richard was already close to the finish and tasting the sweet scent of ‘King of the Mountain’ victory. The climb itself, was gorgeous as the road snaked its way up the valley an over the pass. I went up with my brother Marty and enjoyed climbing fast as a pair. Others followed and we had a celebratory picture at the top, before a smokingly fast descent into Wilmington and a Johnny Pops sprint win.
The last section of the day took us south of the Goyder Line. We rode past beautiful crops, thankful for a good winter, and towards Melrose. After a big day of sprinting, we established that teams worked better than individuals and small groups started to form with 5km to go. The peleton stuck together through 3km, then 2 km and with 1km to go into town, we saw the town sign and the sprints started in earnest. Wheels changed leading into the line, but finally (on his birthday) Andreas took the sprint by the width of an inner tube.
It was a wonderful day of work in the saddle, with climbs, sprints and group work taking us over 155km and through some stunningly beautiful South Australian scenery. Tomorrow will be a different day as we head off on a 195km trek towards the Yorke Peninsula. Undoubtedly though, there will be the same spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition that made today a wonderful day of cycling.
Wednesday September 26 2012
Day 3 Report - Melrose to Moonta by Andreas "I want to talk about leadership" Clark
|3||6 Hours 18 minutes||194 km||30.6 kmh||434m||3675||
With two days completed, day three presented a number of challenges for the peloton.
My birthday celebrations were now complete and the peloton was clearly going to struggle with the lack of purpose for the day ahead. A stirring inspirational address from the co-captains allowed the peloton to start to focus on the journey to Moonta Bay.
That focus, however, was rudely interrupted by a distressed Shane O’Brien who had just liberally applied deep heat to his rear end instead of chamois cream. We were left to apologise to those poor souls enjoying a much-needed sleep-in in the Melrose Caravan Park who were rudely startled from their slumber.
Once Shane had taken the necessary remedial action we set off and enjoyed the strong northerly which powered us down the highway. After some 20kms we turned westwards and snaked our way through the Telowie Gorge - a stunning ride enjoyed by all.
The peloton regrouped after the descent and paused to refuel. Port Pirie was the next stop where media commitments awaited for Michelle and Marty. With the spinnaker set – the peloton caught the northerly again and set sail for Port Broughton, then Wallaroo and cruised into Moonta Bay – completing the journey of 195km comfortably which was the longest ride for many of the contingent.
Recovery plans immediately kicked in with beers in hand and a gentle wade to relieve tired muscles. The chef’s renowned laksa was devoured with fervor.
All up another magnificent day’s riding – blue skies, favourable winds and stunning scenery coupled with a bunch of riders pulling together in memory of dear little boy and other kids who show us great courage. Cycle4Sam takes us a world away from our day to day existence and we are all better people for the experience.
Thursday September 27 2012
Day 4 Report - Moonta to Marion Bay by Mark "Kakk" McInerney
|4||5 Hours 33 minutes||170 km||30.5 kmh||450 m||2598||
Day 4 was greeted by blue skies and a light north easterly wind - perfect riding conditions for our southerly 170km journey from Moonta Bay to Marion Bay on Yorke Peninsula.
All the children led us out from the jetty with one, Ben Melville (eleven years old), continuing the ride for the first 22 kms.
The second hour saw the peloton average over 30 kms/hr until we rode through a swarm of bees. This caused the group to scatter and unfortunately Johnny Pops front wheel touched the rear wheel of Peter Roberts and he went down. Luckily he was the only one and other than a large graze on his left bum cheek and the tearing of his $480 carbon infused bike shorts no other damage occurred. Dr Gus wrapped him up like a drum and he was off.
It showed enormous courage for Johnny not only to finish the stage but also lead out many of the days sprints. Very gutsy!
At lunch in Minlaton, former peleton captain Jamie “Dutchy” Holland joined us. This immediately caused friction in the group as new skipper, Andreas Clark usurped his authority and led a sprint up the hill into Warooka, ably assisted by co-captain Richard Fuller. Poor Dutchy was left in the wake, claiming a breakage on a newly serviced bike – very questionable!
For me personally it was a day of mixed results. Firstly, I got told off for snotting on riders behind me – understandable.
Secondly, the last 30km was a killer, and I limped over the line, both physically and emotionally spent. I can understand the physical part but the emotional side was not expected.
Today we wore our pink jerseys, and for 6 hours, I looked at the word ‘persevere’ on the rear of the shirt.
It dawned on me, the further I went, what this epic ride is all about.
As the great 7 times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong wrote,
“It’s not about the bike”
Nor is it about the 6 hour day on a small bike seat, the 1,030 kms in 7 days or even the camaraderie between riders and friendships with all the support team.
For me it’s about the young brave boy I unfortunately didn’t know, and his perseverance during his short life. It’s about all the children and families who unfortunately have to go through palliative care. It’s about love, family and friendship.
I’ve been alive 47 years, 365 days (it’s a leap year) and the last 4 days have been some of the greatest.
Friday September 28 2012Day 5 Report - by Alanna "Lanni" Melville
Day 5 dawned in Marion Bay to rain and wind – good thing it was the cyclists’ rest day. There was a little worry over whether or not the kid’s ride was going ahead, but as the weather cleared up, they set of for a fun mini-ride. Mini compared to what the cyclists do daily, that is.
The kids all decked out in their cycling gear, and gathered with their bikes near Cabin One – coincidentally occupied by the Jamie a.k.a. “Dutchy” Holland and family, who was leading the ride.
Other cyclists, including Gus, Johnny Pops, Roxanne and Tom followed in cars. Also accompanying the children was Jim in the CFS truck and Marty and Michelle in the bus/van.
Andreas snuck in some extra mid-ride training, coming along under the pretence of giving his daughter, Molly, a ride, while Liz and Bob came along for the scenery.
Jamie led the group, consisting of 13 kids; Alanna and Ben Melville, Maddy and Connor O’Brien, Izzy and Adele Czechowicz, Lucy and Charlie Roberts, Jack, Chloe and Emily Holland and Jack and Henry Clark.
Everyone stopped at the Rhinos Tavern to prep for the King and Queen of the Mountain race with some good advice from Dutchy – “Pain is weakness leaving the body”.
It was a tough ride, but in the end Ben Melville took out King of the Mountain, followed by Connor O’Brien, while Maddy O’Brien took out Queen, with Izzy Czechowicz coming a close second.
Sue Czechowicz kept everyone entertained, riding up at the back on a very retro bike, complete with basket but disappointingly lacking in the fluffy dog we all expected to be balanced up the front.
Upon return, the group headed to the Marion Bay Tavern for after-ride drinks and a quick lunch for some. The afternoon was quiet and relaxing, and some cyclists even opted for a lazy afternoon fishing – especially lazy because the only fish caught was a small rock cod by Mick Warley (who isn’t riding).
The CFS provided a barbecue at the local community centre and the kids all enjoyed rides on the big fire truck. A hearty rendition of Happy Birthday was sung for Mark, who was 48 (or 84 if you looked at the number-sparklers from the back).
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and everyone agreed that it would be best to leave early the next morning so that we would make it to Ardrossan in time for the footy grand final!
Saturday September 29 2012
Day 6 Report - Marion Bay to Ardrossan by Gus “Wicking Top” Czechowicz
|6||5 Hours 21 minutes||157km||29.2kmh||798m||
The peloton awoke refreshed but wary as to how the day would unfold after being battered with gale force winds and hail through the night.
The peloton were also psychologically battered this morning as the night before they were informed the leadership group was in disarray as Andreas, like the infamous Captain Schettino of the Costa Concordia, yet again abandoned his crew to hand the reins over to the incoming peloton crew member - “Dutchie”.
Unlike the last riding day, where all riders rolled into Marion Bay in unison like a well oiled machine wearing the identical pink “HARRIS” training jerseys (except the Captains of course, who it must be pointed out forgot to pack their pink jerseys for the trip!!), todays motley bunch hesitantly cycled down the Marion Bay esplanade rugged up in a mixture of varying coloured spray jackets and leg warmers (and some in wicking tops).
The spectrum of hazards that awaited them were no longer snakes and the heat, but rather slippery roads and pot holes concealed by water puddles… not to forget the soft mud verges which Tom very quickly discovered with his now infamous double flip over the handle bars after his front wheel sunk into the soft mud verge. To be honest, technically it wasn’t a “fall” as he did land firmly on both feet, and recounting the spectacle to those not witness to this stunt, “Tumble Tom” as the peloton now refer to him, prefers to describe it as an “unconventional dismount”.
As the peloton cycled eastwards, and after that first early pit stop (initiated by “Bladders O’Brien”), the light spray of rain soon dissipated, to follow up with a potent 35km/h southwesterly tail wind which the peloton seized upon with delight. Today they were on a mission to get to Adrossan before the start of the Swans and Hawks Grand Final clash, and the weather gods had looked favorably on their quest.
The peloton arrived in good time, averaging almost 30km/h over the previous 155km travelled. They were greeted as they were now accustomed to with cold beers and champagne (compliments of “Jonesy”), 2 hard-boiled eggs (compliments of Brenton), and that much needed nourishment (compliments of Mike). Todays meal, in the opinion of this blogger, was on par with the prior gourmet dishes served- sumptuous enough to quell George Calombaris’ palate, with quantities plenty enough to satisfy even Homer Simpson.
The cyclists were treated to a nail biting Grand Final battle courtesy of the Oates and Clarkes, while being massaged by Sue and Richard, served beverages, and offered a kick of the footy at half time in the hotel car park.
The day ended on a high with a fine meal at the Adrossan pub, followed by the usual Captains antics and self-flagellating. The crowd however was left smiling with a fine hip-hop solo dance performance by Henry.
The day that was….
Sunday September 30 2012
Day 7 Report - Ardrossan to Tanunda by Nerissa O'Brien, Shane O’Brien, and Roxanne Price
|7||5 Hours 50 minutes||151 km||25.9 kmh||615 m||2517||
Perseverance….a long day in the saddle for all concerned! The day began with a beautiful morning in Ardrossan with the group expanding to include Martin O’Connor, Sam Croft, Sara Fleming, Eric Cheney, Kym Hill and Graham Stoker.
Interestingly, the morning briefing by the Captains stated clearly that there would be NO SPRINTING. The aim of the day was safety first, as well as Andreas reiterating the importance of leadership….gee I wonder if he has mentioned that before?
We were fortunate to leave Ardrossan with the peloton being led by the 24P appliance (not the 34P) from the Nuriootpa CFS brigade. This later proved to be essential, especially when crossing the Port Wakefield intersections, Freeling highway crossover and the children’s ride in to Nuriootpa. Reaching Port Wakefield was a welcome relief and it was here that we were also joined by Carl Salt to help us complete the day.
The group had to work hard to get the rotations right and maintain the safe riding performance that sustained us through the first 85k’s. There were many highs and quite a few lows...
- Johnny Pops ‘popping’ a tube in Owen – a town that the entire group had never come across before and were then harassed by a small dog with a very big attitude.
- Richard our formidable Captain who after changing Johnny’s tyre managed to somehow right hook himself in the lip when putting his arm warmers back on, who would have thought arm warmers could be so dangerous? The incident drew blood and nearly required the assistance of Dr Gus although this injury may have proven more difficult to bandage than Johnny’s previous incident.
- There was also the poor form of the Captains sprinting into some of the smaller country towns after Wakefield (Roxanne not happy!)
- Peter Pops smashing the childhood dreams of the children on the kids ride into Tanunda claiming sprint points...really Pete we know you are an ironman.
The highlights, however, far out weighed the lows…
- Sara Flemming completing 163Km on the bike when previously only having ridden 90km in a day was an enormous achievement and one to be very proud of.
- Alanna Melville being repeatedly serenaded by the moving peloton singing Happy Birthday for her rather special 14th Birthday on C4S.
- How well the peloton came together to finish a grueling stage, accident free (other than Richard’s self inflicted fat lip).
- Michelle quite convincingly beating Marty to claim Queen of the Mountain after completing 95% of the ride.
- Finally, one of those great C4S moments, when the peloton was joined by the future ‘Kings and Queens’ for the final 5 km stage into Tanunda. It was special to see so many kids have such a great time bringing a tired and weary group into the finish.
It was a long day but yet again rewarding, especially when welcomed by such a large number of family and friends. Today was about increasing the Cycle 4 Sam family legacy……
|8||3 Hours 25 minutes||83 km||24.2 kmh||1074 m||1738||