Day 1: Lane Cove to Karuah
The Grand Depart from "the crossing" at Lane Cove Shops at 6am sharp was quite a gathering with well wishers and a large group of local cyclists who kindly rode the first 40 kms in support of the Cycle4LifeTeam. As the peloton snaked its way up the Pacific Highway the Warnabool boys became increasingly excited as they counted the traffic lights. The local boys peeled off at Pie in the Sky at the top of the Brooklyn descent. We bid the group farewell, grateful for their company and jibber, as the day was scheduled to be 192kms all up.
The next section before morning tea at Mt White was spectacular as was the riding of Leigh who scaled the HC climb with Quintana like - ease. John Palamara provided the first of many sumptuous nourishments at the top of the mountain.
The rest of the day was characterized by hills - a total of 2700 metres climbed by the end of the day. Navigating our way through Newcastle proved the greatest challenge with Jon and Leigh making excellent time with a strong tail wind - all the way to Maitland! In their enthusiasm they missed a right hand turn, which had a sign of some prominence to Brisbane.
As the kilometres rolled on those with speedometers became quite anxious as the destination of Karuah was in fact 30 kms further than the planned ride for the day. We all arrived at the Motel in one piece after 220 kms!
Why Xavier wants us all to ask RUOK?
Warrnambool dinner a huge success - $22,000 raised and still counting!
Day 4: Corindi Beach to Byron Bay 206 kms
The day commenced with breakfast and a spectacular sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. With a 200 + ride ahead and 30 km headwinds forecast for the afternoon, everyone was eager to get on the road. Road works greeted us for much the way today, interspersed with newly laid very coarse grade bitumen which, shredded three tyres, seven bottoms and caused 6 punctures. The wind never rose above a breeze, and a few drops of rain and overcast skies kept the temperature reasonably cool.
The Warnaboolians became very excited at the first sight of a paddock of sugar cane and immediately stopped to take photos. Similar opportunities presented for the next five hours.
Everyone arrived safe and sound in Byron, in donated accommodation at Glen Villa Holiday Park. Rain forecast for tomorrow!!! (Hopefully with a tail wind!!)
Lane Cove dads to ride 1200km for mental health charity
Barnaby Howarth – Giving Life a Crack
Day 6: Brisbane to Noosa
The morning greeted us with clear blue skies and we set off from Mt Gravatt and headed as a bunch through the city of Brisbane without incident in some tricky traffic conditions. From the northern outskirts of Brisbane to Mooloolabah on the Sunshine Coast various unintended routes were taken by different riders and a strengthening southerly was a most welcome tail wind. We rode up the beautiful coastline and into to Noosa at about 4 pm to a very warm welcome from family and friends as well as the chair of Headspace Wendy McCarthy AO. Our Captain Derek Borg presented the giant cheque for $72000 dollars before the assembled media and Headspace officers.
We finished the day with a big celebration generously hosted by the Surf Club in Noosa. Awards and presentations were made and it was with a strong sense of satisfaction and friendship that we bid farewell to one another in the wee hours of Day 7.
The support from our friends and donors has been way beyond our expectations. Thank you.
Day 5: Byron to Brisbane
The day commenced with a smooth ride up to the Queensland border. Leigh and Jon used the excellent road conditions to chew up some kms in very quick time. Once we hit the Gold Coast, the pace slowed and we made our way carefully through the traffic for a lunch break at Surfers. The forecast rain had started to fall and with John Palamara's constant vigilance we mapped a complicated route to Brisbane.
The rain intensified as the afternoon went on and our progress was thwarted by frequent punctures - the 50 kms took almost 5 hours. Spare tubes were nearly exhausted and all spare tyres were used. Despite the horrendous conditions, the riders remained in good spirits but anxiety was growing as the Brisbane peak hour approached and the conditions were becoming increasingly treacherous. At around 6 pm, still 40 kms shy of our intended destination on the north side of Brisbane, a team meeting was held to discuss options. The rain pelted down and lightning sheeted across the sky. The call was made to end the ride for the day and we were settled in the Travel Lodge at Mt Gravatt by 7.00 pm, appreciative of the generous hospitality and kindness extended to us by the staff there for 8 drenched and dirty last minute guests.
At the end of day 5 the total number of punctures for the trip was 25. (Leigh's tyres were the only ones to remain intact for the whole ride - which he often pointed out was due to his judicious choice of rubber.)
Day 2: Karuah to Port Macquarie
A 6 am start from Karuah in perfect conditions saw the group get the first 50 kms out of the way in very good time, despite a north east breeze which was stiffening. The Warnaboolians were eager for a Latte or Cappuccino and insisted we stop at Buladelah for a brew. The next 80 kms was hilly but we had a good shoulder all the way. After lunch we had about 70 kms to go to Port and the breeze was now a strong headwind. This persisted all afternoon and we were pleased to pull into Port mid afternoon, having ridden 192 kms.
Sydney Cocktail Party - another incredible evening!
On Friday, 4 September, the Sydney team hosted a cocktail party to raise money and awareness for headspace. We were honored to have headspace chair, Wendy McCarthy, and Jarrad Hickmott , a member of the headspace National Youth Reference Group and former headspace client (pictured with the team) as our special guests. We were absolutely stunned by the generosity of the 100 or so people who attended, raising more than $20,000. Equally as important, thanks to Wendy and Jarrad, we managed to spread the word. Jarrad’s brave story is inspirational and gives hope to many - we can’t thank you enough. Now, on to the minor task of riding 1100 km!
One of the guest speakers at the Warrnambool dinner was Barnaby Howarth, an ex-AFL footballer and Swans hall of fame inductee. Barnaby managed to have a successful AFL career with the Sydney Swans, despite being insulin dependent diabetic: a wonderful achievement in itself. However, after his football career was finished, Barnaby was the victim of a "king hit", leaving him with brain damage, leading to stroke and subsequent hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of his body). Barnaby took on this challenge and forged an inspirational story, by overcoming adversity and maintaining a focus on what can be achieved rather than what limits a person. Barnaby and his beautiful wife volunteered their time to come to Warrnambool and share the story of their truly rich and fulfilling life together, despite the adversity. Not only did he volunteer his time, but he also donated the proceeds from the sale of his book ‘Playing In The Puddles’, which is available on amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Puddles-Barnaby-Howarth/dp/192521981X/
We would encourage you all to have a look and consider booking this wonderful man for future speaking engagements.
More about Barnaby can be found at his website http://barnabyhowarth.com.au/
Can We Talk? How we can save our precious kids
Day 3: Port Macquarie to Corindi Beach
The day commenced with three Warnaboolians having a hit of coffee at a local cafe where the waitress indicated she was about to commence a work placement as a youth worker with HeadSpace. Her commitment to helping others with mental health issues was inspirational.
This euphoria lasted for about 17 minutes, the time it took to ride from Port back to the Pacific Highway. Roadworks from the Hastings River to Kempsey took its toll on the riders and bikes. Narrow shoulders and sometimes none at all made the riding tricky with a steady stream of traffic. By day's end we had experienced five punctures, replaced two tyres, had a minor collision between riders, a suspected crack in front forks, and a black snake strike, which Crocodile Leigh McCarthy defended with a flick of his pedal. There were some emotional moments today and one rider in particular needed comforting as he sat grizzling in the dust asking to go home. The wind was tough again in the afternoon and a quick stop at the Big Banana re-energized everyone. The mechanics at Rainbow Bikes Coffs Harbour provided excellent advice and service which kept us rolling. Some beers at the Amble Inn Corindi to finish the day was highlighted by a generous group of locals passing the hat around for $150 for HeadSpace. Today we passed the halfway point.
On Friday, 24 July, the Cycle4Life Warrnambool chapter hosted a fundraising dinner at the Lady Bay Resort, which is managed by one of our riders, Jon Watson. The event raised more than $22,000, with all guests touched by a moving speech from a young lady who has suffered from depression and now works as a mentor for headspace.
The night highlighted the incredible community spirit and generosity of the people of Warrnambool. In a venue that normally seats 170, we managed to squeeze in 206 guests and unfortunately had to turn away more than 70 others. While organising the event was very much a team effort by Jason Hill, Mark Powell, Leigh McCarthy, Jon Watson and their extremely tolerant and supportive families', we think that Jon needs to be singled out. Without him, his wife Mez, and the amazing staff at the Lady Bay Resort, all of whom donated their time, none of this would have been possible. Special thanks must also go to our guest speaker Barnaby Howarth and comedian CJ Fortuna, who also very generously donated their time.