Cycle 4 Sam

Cycle 4 Sam 2006

 

“Cycle 4 Sam 2006” commenced on the 12 month anniversary of Sam passing away, April 19, in Torquay Victoria. During the previous 3 months members of the “Cycle 4 Sam” team had ridden an average of 160km per week in preparation for this 958km bike ride. 

The cyclists, their families, and the support crew, all arrived into Torquay on the day before the commencement of the ride, having driven for 10 hours from Adelaide. There was a great sense of excitement and anticipation at the Torquay Holiday Park the evening before the ride. 

We were also joined by 6 year old Mitchell Harrower and his parents Doug and Liat, and big sister Taylor, from Werribee, Victoria. Mitchell has Niemann-Pick Disease Type C, and prior to meeting to him our family had never met another child with this disease. It was a special, deeply significant moment, and it reminded us all about how important this bike ride was.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 

TOTAL TIME

DAY 1

Torquay 
to Apollo Bay

3hrs28

93.87km

27kmh

141bpm

56.2kmh

5hrs05


A sunny morning with clear blue skies greeted the 6 riders and all the support crew at the Torquay Surf Club for the commencement of ‘Cycle 4 Sam”. The riders looked magnificent in their orange lycra tops. The support crew and all the kids looked just as magnificent in their white “Cycle 4 Sam’ t shirts and caps.

We stood together on the grassy hill overlooking the Southern Ocean. The sky was blue, the ocean had glassy, rolling waves – it was perfect. All the children gathered together each with a coloured balloon. At the end of a 10 second countdown they released the balloons into the sky to Sam. It was a very emotional moment. We stood silent on the bank remembering Sam as the balloons soared into the sky and out to sea. A few minutes later after much hugging and a few tears, 6 cyclists (Richard Fuller, Tom Melville, Mark Reid, Sally Causby, Jaimie Holland, and I) commenced the first day of cycling.

The first day’s ride covered an undulating 94km section of the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. Cycling conditions were perfect on this day with light winds and sunny skies. The scenery was incredible. To the left of us was the beautiful Southern Ocean, to the right was eucalypt forests. In the distance we could see the magestic Otway Ranges which we would have to climb over the next day.

Numerous photos were taken this day as the coastline was so spectacular! We had lunch and lattes’ at Lorne, and arrived into Apollo Bay at 2pm. We were all surprised how relatively effortless the first day was! It was truly perfect cycling.

On arrival at Pisces Caravan Park, our chefs’ Julia and Michael Warley served us a delicious fruit platter, followed by Olive Chicken Pasta. We dined on the deck of cabin number one, overlooking the torquoise waters of Apollo Bay. As we digested this fine food our hard working legs were massaged by team masseurs Susan Czechowicz, Caroline Ward, and Richard Fuller. We were looked after better than most pro cyclists and we all commented it couldn’t get any better!

At about 4pm the weather changed, and it began to rain. That evening all the cyclists, support crew and their families gathered in cabin number one for a pizza tea. At one stage we counted 27 people inside the cabin! The rain got heavier outside, and it rained solidly all through the night. Conditions for the next day of cycling looked ominous!

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 

TOTAL TIME

DAY 2

Apollo Bay 
to Warnambool

7hrs43

168.21km

21.8kmh

131bpm

55.8kmh

10hrs31


There were showers and a rainbow over our caravan park as we made an early departure from Apollo Bay. It had rained steadily through the night, and it looked like it was going to rain throughout the day too.

The day commenced in jovial fashion; comments that the weather was clearing was greeted with skepticism! Our team barista Jane Fuller kindly made all cyclists and support crew cappuccinos’ from the Fuller family espresso machine before our departure!

There was some anxiety leading into this day for a number of reasons. Firstly the distance from Apollo Bay to Warrnambool is 168km, a distance that none of us had ever ridden before in one day. Secondly the ride was to take us over the magestic Otway Ranges. We were given various accounts of the difficulty of this ride. Some sources told us this section would be impossible to achieve in one day!

Raincoats, beanies, leggings, and long gloves covered our bodies as we cycled into the cold, wet conditions of the Otway Ranges. Whilst the terrain was uphill mostly, the scenery was amazing. We rode as a tight pack surrounded by tranquil rainforest. Despite the tough conditions we “carved” through the Otways and made it to the Otways highest point Lavers Hill by mid morning. Our intense training program through the Mt Lofty Ranges leading up to Cycle 4 Sam was paying off!

We stopped at a café atop Lavers Hill for a well earned break, with lattes, and topped up on a variety of high energy foods. We considered that we had conquered the hardest section of this ride. We were looking forward to the downhill section of the Otways, and then following the flatter coastline section towards Warrnambool. We still had 125km to go, but we were confident that we had the fitness to complete the distance.

As we departed Lavers Hill the temperature plummeted and the rain became torrential. We had to wear polar fleece windcheaters underneath our jackets to prevent our bodies from freezing. Whilst cycling downhill from Lavers Hill was less taxing physically, our concentration was intense. We were cycling downhill on a wet, slippery road into torrential rain and at times hail. At one point we had to stop to put on our sunglasses to stop our eyes from hurting from the rain.

As we hit the coastline again we encountered another challenge, a fierce south westerly headwind. Our speed slowed considerably to 18kmh, and we continued to be battered by torrential rain and hail. At times the wind gusts were so strong I felt they were going to knock me off my bike.

We stumbled into the visitors centre of the “12 Apostles National Park” to be greeted by all our families and support crew. Tourists at the visitors centre were amazed that we were riding in such terrible conditions, and many chatted with us about our reasons for the ride.

This day truly symbolized the reasons we were doing the ride. We were doing this ride in memory of our incredibly courageous son Sam, who battled bravely for much of his short life with Niemann-Pick disease Type C. Sam persevered with his illness for such a long time and lived much longer than his medical staff had predicted. With Sam as our inspiration, and the knowledge that this ride was going to help provide greater awareness and support for other children with life limiting illnesses, we persevered on into this winter blast!

The weather was so foul that as we rode past the Bay of Islands, just before Peterborough, we observed that waves were crashing over the top of the coastal cliffs which must have been at least 15m above sea level!

40km from Warnnambool the weather got even worse and the wind and rain were getting the better of us. Team leader Richard Fuller, who had led at the front of the pack for most of the day, got a flat tyre!  Richard had to change this tyre as the rain pelted down on him! The rest of us took shelter in the trailer of the support vehicle.

Richard was an inspiration to all on this day. Not only did he change all our flat tyres, he rode for most of this horrendous day at the front of the pack. He insisted that the rest of us huddle behind him to protect ourselves from the vicious head wind.

Jaimie Holland also demonstrated extreme courage on this day. He had battled painful sinus throughout the day, and was riding on the little adrenalin he had left. We offered him several times over the last 60km the opportunity to jump on the bus. He refused. Jamie was going to finish no matter what.

The last 40km was a pure slog and our pace was a dreadfully slow 18kmh. We crawled into the Fig Tree Holiday Village in Warrnambool at 5.30pm, 10 hours and 30 minutes after departing Apollo Bay.

On arrival we were greeted with warm applause from all our family and friends. It was a special moment, a real achievement to have made this distance in the worst cycling conditions you could imagine. The local Warnnambool newspaper even came out, interviewed us and took a photo. The story made page 3 of their paper the next day. Page 1 was headlined “Winter Blast” and described the savage conditions of the previous day!

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the efforts of our support vehicle drivers, Warren Jones and Kristie Gallio. They followed us in the support vehicle all through this horrendous day traveling for the most part at a speed of less than 20kmh. All the cyclists would agree that having the support vehicle behind us brought us great comfort knowing we had protection and support behind us if we needed it. Most importantly this vehicle and trailer brought awareness to traffic behind the peleton that there was a cycling event in progress and to take caution when passing.

The evening of Thursday April 20 was spent with much eating, a bit of celebratory drinking, massage, and then a good nights sleep in preparation for another 168km ride from Warnnambool to Nelson the next day.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 

TOTAL TIME

DAY 3

Warnambool 
to Nelson

6hrs 20

167.17km

26.4kmh

127bpm

56.2kmh

 8hrs 41


Friday April 21 commenced in adversity again. Not only was it still raining but our support vehicles trailer had a flat tyre!

The first hour of riding towards Port Fairy was in constant rain. Rainbows appeared throughout this first hour and kept our spirits up. On arrival at Port Fairy the sun appeared for the first time in 2 days, and we decided to enjoy a latte in one of Port Fairy’s cafes. It was in Port Fairy that we read the article in the Warnnambool paper about our cycling triumph in yesterdays savage weather.

This article, combined with the sunshine, and the lattes lifted our spirits no end and we journeyed to Nelson with renewed energy and vigour.

We ate our lunch along the side of the road 25km from Portland in beautiful sunshine, most of us choosing to “ditch” the leggings and the jackets and cycle onto Nelson in our knicks and jerseys.

The last 30km into Nelson was simply stunning; we cycled past endless pine plantations and saw numerous emus and kangaroos. 15km from Nelson we were joined by another member of the orange army, Jane Fuller, who had set up camp at Nelson and then rode out to meet us.

We arrived into Nelson earlier than expected, and our spirits were high. Today’s 168km cycle seemed effortless in comparison with yesterday’s slog!

That evening we welcomed three new cyclists into camp. Matthew Ward, Sarah Fitton, and Michael Cox drove 500km from Adelaide to join us in the peleton.
We all ate together at the Nelson Hotel before returning to their cabins for a well earned sleep. Tomorrow we were to cross the border into South Australia, ride through Mt Gambier, and finish at Beachport.


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 

TOTAL TIME

DAY 4

Nelson 
to Beachport

4hrs51

122.9km

25.3kmh

117bpm

44.8kmh

6hrs22


We commenced today’s ride in high spirits. The addition of Mats, Sarah, and Michael added renewed energy to the peleton. Richard Fuller donned a rustafarian wig and matching hat for the first hour of the ride, adding a sense of humour to the ride!

Crossing over the South Australian border only a few kilometers out of Nelson we were joined by another cyclist Shane O’Brien and his family. Our peleton number was now 10 cyclists and we cruised into Mt Gambier with the fastest average speed for 4 days.

Our families and support crew joined us for morning tea and lattes in Mt Gambier in a café opposite the majestic cave gardens. There were dozens of other cyclists in Mt Gambier this morning in town to compete in the Mt Gambier 100km Classic. The professional cyclists passed us at top speed as we cycled towards Millicent.

The road towards Millicent was undulating and tranquil, surrounded on both sides by more pine plantations. The peleton was traveling at a high average speed, yet we used considerably less energy because of the momentum and drag caused by cycling in a large peleton. It was a wonderful feeling to travel at this speed using much less energy.

We had lunch at Millicent before heading off to Beachport, arriving there by mid afternoon. At Beachport we were greeted by cyclists Richard Anderson and Matt Cross and their families who had driven from Adelaide to cycle the last 400km with us.

After cyclists ate and had their massage the whole group ventured to the Beachport Hotel for dinner. Being a Saturday night the pub was packed, and some of our children approached pub patrons for donations to the Sam Roberts Family Fund. Michelle and I were in awe at the beautiful manner in which the children spoke about Sam to members of the public, and the patrons of the hotel were very generous in return.

Tomorrow was to be the easiest day of the week, a “brief” 100km ride to the home of the “Big Lobster”, Kingston



Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 TOTAL TIME

DAY 5

Beachport 
to Kingston

3hrs40

100.59km

27.4kmh

120bpm 

45kmh

5hrs40


Today’s ride to Kingston had a total of 13 cyclists, including new comers Matt Cross and Richard Anderson.

The kids enjoyed a quick ride around Beachport with the peleton before it headed off.
The pace was even faster than the previous day and the peleton made it to Robe by mid morning. We had a relaxed morning tea on the lawns of a café in Robe with all our families and support crew, our numbers now totaling 45! We enjoyed cappuccinos with the delicious baguettes our chefs Julia and Michael had made before heading off to Kingston.

Kingston is the home of the “Big Lobster” and we had a photo with this amazing architectural wonder before checking in at the caravan park.

Shane O’Brien had an idea that we should “wade” in the cold ocean water to help in our post ride recovery, and so we did. The beach was across the road from the caravan park and we waded in the freezing water for 20 minutes, before returning to our cabins to warm up again.

Two new cyclists arrived in Kingston later that afternoon, Mike Ebert and “Big Kev” Robinson. They had driven from Adelaide to ride the last 300km with us. Tomorrow our peleton was to total 15 cyclists.

Tea that night was at the Kingston Hotel where the 47 of us filled up the entire dining room.


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 TOTAL TIME

DAY 6

Kingston 
to Meningie

5hrs14

148.77km

28.4kmh

120bpm

40.6kmh

7hrs03


Today’s peleton had a total of 15 cyclists. The ride commenced again in jovial fashion with a rose presented to Richard Anderson. Rumour has it that in his younger S.A.N.F.L football days at Norwood Richard’s young female fans would run onto the ground after the match and give him roses!
 
The pace was fast from the start, averaging over 30kmh to our lunch spot at Salt Creek on the Coorong. At Salt Creek the “Cycle 4 Sam” peleton had photos taken with the Paradise Motors Mazda Bravo dual cab ute. We were extremely fortunate to have this vehicle as one of our support vehicles, and we thank Paradise Mazda for their generosity.
 
The scenery along the Coorong was simply breathtaking. The sky was blue, there was no wind, and the waters of the Coorong were covered with a wide variety of birds wading and feeding in the shallow waters. Most of all, conditions for cycling were PERFECT! It was the best day of cycling so far, with everyone completing this 148km section in very high spirits.
 
We were welcomed into Meningie by a large group of friends and family, as well as our own support crew. This group had travelled up from Adelaide to greet us and would spend the remaining 24 hours of “Cycle 4 Sam” with us.
The Lake Albert Caravan Park at Meningie was simply stunning. It is located on the green grassy banks of Lake Albert. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking, wading, getting massaged, and fishing with our kids. It couldn’t get any better! Chefs Julia and Michael once again excelled themselves providing the cyclists and support crew with fruit platters and tacos. 
That evening we dined at the Meningie Hotel. Once again we took over the entire dining room as our numbers now exceeded 60 people! During dinner members of the Meningie Ladies Auxillary presented a cheque for $400 to the Sam Roberts Family Fund. Tomorrow was to be our last day with an emotional 153km ride into Adelaide. All we had to do was “stay on the bike”!     

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

 

RIDE TIME

DISTANCE

AVERAGE SPEED

AVERAGE HEART RATE

MAXIMUM SPEED

 

TOTAL TIME

DAY 7

Meningie 
to Adelaide

6hrs11

157.23km

25.4kmh

127bpm

57kmh

7hrs50

We woke to the most amazing sunrise over Lake Albert. Two riders had driven up from Adelaide arriving at Meningie at 6am. These two riders, Ben Tkalec and Rohan Dennis are two students at Blackfriars Priory School. Both lads are elite junior cyclists, with Rohan recently winning both the time trial and road race events at the Australian Junior Cycling Championships on the Sunshine Coast.

We departed Meningie at 6.45am, catching the last part of the Anzac Day dawn service at the Meningie RSL. Although the temperature at this time of the day was only 4 degrees, conditions were perfect. Arriving at Wellington 90 minutes later we then crossed the mighty Murray River on a ferry.

A few kilometers out of Wellington the Mt Lofty Ranges came into sight, and we were nearing home. Ben and Rohan led from the front keeping the peleton together at a speed of 30kmh.

Nearing Langhorne Creek the scenery changed from salt bush to vine yards, and with the changing colours of the vine leaves we must have made a fine sight. The orange colours of the “Cycle 4 Sam” peleton mixed with the yellow of the autumn vine leaves. We had to pinch ourselves from thinking we were riding in the Tour De France!

At Langhorne Creek a dozen members of the “Lantern Rouge” cycling team from Adelaide joined us. They had ridden 70km from Adelaide that morning to join us for our last stretch home. “Lantern Rouge” is the cycling team that our team leader Richard Fuller is part of, and we were grateful they could join us. “Lantern Rouge” also raised some money and presented us with a cheque for $800 for the Sam Roberts Family Fund.

Lunch was at Strathalbyn where we gathered with all our support crew and families for our last lattes! 20 minutes later we were off again, now cycling on home territory through the Adelaide Hills. It was great to be back on our turf again and the peleton cruised effortlessly up and down the undulating hills.

As we approached Mylor the scenery changed again with the deciduous trees now in colours of red and orange. The Adelaide Hills offer some of the best cycling anywhere in the world I believe, and is the training ground for recreational cyclists and international stars alike.

It was at Crafers that Jaimie Holland offered me some very sound advice, “just stay on the bike” he said! How true these words are. We had ridden 930km without an incident, and we didn’t want an accident on the steep descent down the Old Freeway into Adelaide.

At the bottom of the Old Freeway, just past the Tollgate, another 6 cyclists were waiting for us including Michelle’s parents Russell and Judy, and Callum Thomas from Blackfriars. Callum is a Year 10 student and had spent much of his childhood at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. Before Sam had his gastrostomy button inserted I sought advice from Callum, who calmly reassured me that everything would be fine!

Also at the bottom of the Old Freeway were 2 police cars who were to escort us the last 10km to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

We departed Glen Osmond Road into the city with approximately 40 cyclists under police escort. The excitement was building for an emotional finale into the hospital.

At Adelaide University, only 1km from the hospital, another Blackfriars student joined us, Daniel Cox. Daniel has Cystic Fibrosis which requires him to spend 2 weeks in hospital every 2 months. When Sam was in hospital Daniel and his wonderful family were regular visitors, and they became a great support to us. It was indeed very special to have Daniel and Callum to ride in with us.

At the Adelaide Zoo, only 400m from the hospital, many of the support crew’s kids joined us on their bikes, proudly wearing their Cycle 4 Sam t-shirts.

Meanwhile, Michelle and representatives from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation were busy decorating the finish line with a sea of orange balloons. Little to our knowledge a crowd of around 200 were awaiting our arrival at the finish line.

We entered the parklands for the last 100m to the finish line with about 50 cyclists, including the children, who proudly crossed the finish line first, followed by the “starting 6”. As we crossed the line our supporters threw streamers and popped party poppers. It was a very emotional moment for all of us, and we all hugged and shed some tears.

Not long after we presented a cheque to Sarah Fleming from the Paediatric Palliative Care Service for $50,000. (this figure has now grown to $98,000)

“Cycle 4 Sam” was a great achievement, and we all had a wonderful time in memory of Sam. Michelle and I would like to express our sincere thanks to all the cyclists, support crew and their families, and our families and friends who joined us at various sections along the way. Together we have achieved so much to support the Paediatric Palliative Care Service of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

What started out as an idea to raise $20,000 to convert a couple of general ward rooms into a “Family Care Unit” for families with terminally ill children has grown to raising nearly $100,000.

With this money, we hope to achieve our goal of developing the “Family Care Unit”, and plans are currently being drawn up for the Fourth Floor Medical Ward at the hospital, with construction for this project hoping to take place next year. An Art Therapist has also been employed by the Paediatric Palliative Care Service. $10,000 has also been sent to the Sithand’izingane Care Project in Tsakane, South Africa to support children affected by the AIDS epidemic in South Africa.

In Sam’s memory you have helped to make a difference to families in Adelaide and in South Africa.

 

 

 

From little things big things grow.