DAY 1 – Tuesday 22 April 2014 (Sydney To Mittagong)
There was a lot of nervous energy amongst all the riders, in particular myself and Robbie. We had spent a lot of the morning in front of the media and both of us just wanted to get on our bikes.
At a little before 14:00 we finally rolled off onto the Hume Highway for the start of our three-day journey to Canberra. The first day’s ride was scheduled to end at Mittagong, a relatively short 70km away. The riding was slow and steady at first but we soon picked up the pace under the mentoring of Scott Sunderland.
After only an hour or so of riding, including a few small but taxing climbs, we stopped at the Frank Partridge VC Rest Area, for a quick rest stop. By now some of the sponsor riders were feeling the effects of the climbs and little to no lead up training; but still they persevered.
There was a little bit of bush mechanic work on a stubborn seat post clamp before the group headed off towards Mittagong once again.
As before the pace began to slow and our group was banding together to keep the others on pace and more importantly on their bikes.
A quick re-org of the riding order saw a few of the slower riders moved up front to set the group pace and stop the rubber-band effect that was tiring those that were at the back.
As the afternoon got a little colder and the shadows longer; concentration started to lapse among some riders. A few instances of half-wheeling began to occur when suddenly two riders hit the road at around 30km/hr. I was in the right lane and broke formation to avoid the carnage and quickly pulled over to the side of the road. Amazingly there were no serious injuries to downed rider (carbon bikes don’t like such spills!).
After some first aid work on the downed riders they were ushered into the support vehicles, the bikes strapped to the wagon’s roof and we resumed riding our final leg into Mittagong. We arrived a little after 17:00 and were greeted at the Mittagong RSL by the sub-branch representatives.
We checked into our rooms (apparently it’s funny to put two Chad’s in one room), showered and made our way over to the bar for some light refreshments and dinner at the bistro. We were joined by the Australian War Memorial’s Director, Dr Brendan Nelson, for dinner and after a quick recap of the days activities and a run down of timings for the next day, it was time for some bike prep and then bed.