As I touched on in my previous post, like thousands of people around the world, I had been captivated by the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. Professional sports, inhabited by professionals, run by corporations, focused around revenue, dollars from sponsorship, product placement, has a place. It provides the best performance and competition possible, delivering it to the widest audience.
What has become known as the ‘peoples race’ – the Indi-Pac has no prize money. By and large the participants are ‘normal’ (well, sort of). What it does provide in comparison to professional sports is true inspiration for the average person. I’m sure I was not alone thinking, hell, perhaps I could do that. It created drama through the tactics and supreme endurance – in the truest sense of the word. Well, as you can obviously tell, it sucked me in.
My week was pretty average. Catching the train everyday has become a real grind, and my riding each night has become a chore. So with those few spare minutes I had, I followed the tracker of each rider, read their bio’s and fantasized. It re-energized me.
I was mesmerized, especially when I learned they were riding the ‘Back of Falls’ ride, which I have done many times. Its a beast of a ride, for 30 km its full of pain climbing from Anglers Rest to the very top of Falls Creek. This was after already thousands of kilometers being covered from Fremantle to the Victorian High Country. I’ve done this with 220 km in the tank, but nothing like they were attempting.
Then, just out of Canberra the worst thing happened. Piercing the dream, reality hit. The second placed rider Mike Hall had been killed. At 6:20 am he had been hit by a car.
Without knowing the circumstances, there is no judgement here. But every rider knows what it means to feel vulnerable. Every rider knows what it feels to be exposed.
Of course I never knew Mike. I had barely heard of him prior to the race. But during the race, I had learnt of his winning rides on the Tour Divide, and the TransAm. He had become a large part of my consciousness over the last couple of weeks. His loss has hit me as a cyclist. Vale Mike. My ride this morning, as short and prosaic as it was, was dedicated to you.
As I mentioned, my week was pretty average. I trained each night on the stationary trainer, except Monday as my rest day, and Thursday, because, well, I couldn’t get motivated. Friday was good though…I completed the training session I had failed at the previous week, and I completed two good longer rides this weekend. My plan was to ride to Lorne, but well, that didn’t happen. In Victoria, Daylight savings has ended (sad emoji), which will mean lighter mornings.
I had also hoped the extra hour on Sunday would be something I could make use of. But well, no. I’m happy I completed two 100 km rides. Not great times or huge distances, and they were pretty flat courses around the Bellarine. But still, I felt good, and the weather was nice…I was out, I was riding, and hey, I was able to do something I love.
On Saturday night, one really cool thing I did do, was go see ‘le Ride’, a film staring Phil Keoghan from the ‘Amazing Race’ fame. They reenacted the 1928 Tour de France, on 1928 era bikes, retracing the route around France, where a team of four Australasian’s (three Australians and one New Zealander) competed for the first time. This was when the Tour was a true endurance, covering hundreds of miles a day, over gravel. It was designed to maximize the drop out rate.
It was a really cool film. One of the 1928 racers involved in the story was Sir Hubert Opperman, who finished the highest place of the Australasian’s, gaining 17th overall (only 40 of the original 160 riders finished the race!). ‘Oppy’ later on went on to win the Paris – Brest – Paris, when it was truly a race, among many other endeavors.
Lastly, although a bit of a bleak week, my friend Byron arranged for me, what was to become the best present ever. Byron has just completed the ‘Tour de Cure’ to raise money for cancer research. Over the past few years, this ride (travelling this year from Mt Hotham to Hobart in Tasmania) has raised 30 million dollars for cancer research.
For the last few years Jens Voigt (famed 17 time Tour de France rider) has ridden, and he and Byron put together a short video wishing me all the best for the Ohio RAAM Challenge which Byron sent to me on Messenger.
Chapeau guys, this was a real treat.
Straight to Facebook and Instagram! If I had a more expensive WordPress account, I’d publish it here…but there is a link to my Instagram account where you can see it, from the main page.