THE ICING ON THE CAKE

And that’s what today was really.  In so many respects we experienced the icing on the cake. There was only one thing the boys hadn't had the opportunity to complain about up until now and today they had that as well.  The rain.

After sitting around outside the motel in Morwell in balmy 20 something degree weather late into the evening listening to Charles’ story and dodging mozzies we arose from our rooms about 5.15am to pouring rain and a temperature drop of at least 20 degrees.

Actually I awoke at 3.43am to the smell of Deep Heat cream.  As I rolled over in bed there before my sleepy eyes was Fred Peacock in his undies rubbing down his aching legs.  I simply shook my head rolled over and went straight back to sleep. When I woke an hour later I had to ask Fred if I had indeed seen what I thought I’d seen. He confirmed that he had gotten up at about 3.00am and had a shower because he couldn’t sleep. Probably because he was flat out on his back snoring within about 15 minutes of arriving in Morwell last night.

Anyway we set off in the rain, dressed more like we were ready for a Himalayan Trek than a cycle ride into Melbourne.  Man was it cold, and wet, and windy.  Much like our first two days actually with the added inclusion of that wet stuff falling out of the sky. I have to say that Craig and Sebastian were absolute troopers today.  They took turns aiding Fred along much as I had done yesterday.  Not easy in the rain and up the hills.  (I am going to jointly award today’s Bear Grylls award to these two boys, truly worthy recipients – well done men. Sebastian has been a great coach all week, keeping us all inspired with his comments, “Arrrre we there yet? Are we therrre yet?” - “Steeaaady” – “Hey Terry, where d’you think you’re going? Come back here!” – “One more hill.”) I was very thankful for their efforts because there’s no way I could have done it today.  By far today was my weakest day on the bike.  Despite the relatively flat terrain, which generally suits me I struggled considerably more than at any other time on the journey.  Perhaps the efforts of pushing Fred along yesterday was taking it’s toll.  In fact I faced my first real battle in the mind after our stop at the 40km mark.  I was shivering uncontrollably and soaking wet from a mixture of perspiration and rain and started to hear that voice inside me head, “C’mon Rohan, don’t be stupid now, you’ll get sick, you’ve done enough.  Get in the bus as soon as you see a sign that even remotely indicates you’re within the generally vicinity of Melbourne.”  It took all the will power I could muster to push through but after about 20 minutes of that the body warmed and I felt OK again.  I think in one way or another we all faced an experience similar to that at some point along the road.  Mine lasted 20 minutes Fred probably experienced those thoughts for about 20 hours out of the 55 he spent in the saddle.  That’s why he’s my hero this week.

Drama at home
While the M3 boys and support crew were facing our own challenges on the ride this week many have had to face a variety of challenges on the home and work front as well.  Out of respect it would not be appropriate to discuss it in this context.  Suffice it to say that the week has been a challenge to not only the boys on the ride but to many of their families as well.  Your continued prayers for the M3 team beyond our return would be greatly appreciated as things get sorted through.  Perhaps we may even be able to share some of the stories in the eBook, “One More Hill” which we’re hoping to have ready within the next month or so.

Punctures
Well if you’ve been following our training progress throughout the year you’d know that we had challenges with punctures, particularly early on in the year.  Once we all switched to better tyres the punctures became considerably less.  For instance I was getting a puncture about every 60km early on.  Once I switched to better tyres I had done close to 2,500 km without a single puncture.  Until today our trip had been relatively free of punctures.  I had one on the unanticipated dirt roads of Day 1. Fred had one on Day 4 and Neil had one somewhere along the way too.  Today collectively we had no less than eight punctures among us. (Craig 2, Neil 1, Mario 2, Terry 1, Peter 1, and for the icing on the cake Matt experienced one less than 500m from the finish line! Now that was just too funny.) The reason for this is two fold.  There’s a lot more junk on the highways than on the country roads and when it’s raining it gets washed off the road into the shoulder.  By the end of the day we had tube changes down to about 7-8 minutes and were getting quite proficient at it. Despite the delays we still managed to arrive at our destination by 3.30pm clocking up exactly 1000km as we arrived at the font door of our motel.  This was by far the earliest arrival time for the entire week.  This gave us ample time to shower and relax before heading off to church at 6pm.

The ride to Paris
For those who may be unaware the last day of the Tour de France is regarded as a celebration day.  It’s tradition among the riders that no one overtakes and they ride into Paris in a celebratory mood sipping on French Champagne and sampling hors d’oeuvres.  In effect the race is finished on the penultimate day. Well I tried to suggest that Graeme stop by the Bottlo and pick up an couple of bottles of bubbly but he wasn’t sure if I was serious so didn’t do it.  Actually I’m not sure whether I was serious either.  Might not have been a bad idea.  As it turned out the rain would have watered it down anyway, unless we could have drank it straight from our drink bottles, might have helped Kenny with his sore knee and bum, who knows?  Anyway Matt was lamenting at the first break that he’d not had the opportunity to sample any French fare so Neil took it upon himself to rectify that. (But first today’s Roadkill Report needs to be inserted here.)

Today the gory ruptured guts of mangled wallabies and wombats were conspicuous in their absence.  (Much to the dismay, I’m sure of Mrs Pope’s Mount Annan Christian College 4P class who had sent us words of encouragement along our journey.  Thanks kids your support means a lot to us.  In fact many of their comments were about the roadkill, “I wish I could see the roadkill,” “It’s cool that you saw a Commodore run over a snake,” “try not to step in any roadkill,” etc.)  Instead of large marsupials we witnessed an indescribable number of worms and snails. Some of these probably came to their untimely death as we took it upon ourselves to try our hand at creating roadkill by running over them. Additionally we saw a high number of birds and frogs.  And that’s where we return to the story of Matt and his French food.

Well clearly Neil was feeling sorry for Matt that he missed out on the hors d’oeuvres because he took it upon himself to serve some up for Matt.  Matt was riding behind Neil at the time as Neil ran over a dead frog and some of its guts flew off his back tyre right in front of Matt and landed on his lip!  Matt was so thankful to Neil for his thoughtfulness and continued to ‘thank’ him for his kindness for the next few kilometres.

C3 Bayside Church
Special thanks to Pastor Rob Buckingham and his entire staff and team for making us feel welcome at church tonight.  We were treated well and ushered into two front rows before being introduced to the congregation.  The people were extremely encouraging of our efforts.  Following the service we were served a fine spread of finger food in their visitor’s lounge before setting off for a celebration dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  By the time we got there we were already pretty full and struggled our way through the banquet.  I think they made their money out of us tonight because we certainly didn’t eat anywhere near as much food as you’d expect from a bunch of guys who’d just ridden 1000 km.  When we asked what was for dessert the waitress told us that they had banana splits.  This led to a long groan from the boys followed by a roar of laughter.  Bananas are an essential part of any cyclist’s diet due to being quick and easy to eat while delivering a rapid energy boost. (You may recall that Kenny had the opportunity to present Tony Abbot with a banana holder earlier in the week.  I was a little disappointed that Kenny didn’t make some remark containing the phrase “Banana Republic’ as he presented it but then again, he’s only been in Australia for about seven years and may not have had a clue what I’m talking about.)  Anyway during the course of the week the boys consumed just over 30kg of bananas (that’s right 30kg!) so you can see why the thought of another banana made us quiver with excitement.

Well folks, it’s over.  All that remains is the trip home tomorrow. Our numbers will be depleted somewhat as Charles is staying in Melbourne to celebrate his 30th Wedding Anniversary with his wife, Peter is staying on with Donna and the kids who came to meet him and Neil, Sebastian and Sam have arranged to fly back.  We’re sure to have some more adventures on the way back though as we reminisce on the week’s exploits.

Let me end by saying that we are deeply humbled and so grateful for the amazing words of encouragement and support that we’ve received from literally dozens of people throughout the week via text, Facebook and Twitter etc.  It’s been a delight to have been able to share the journey to some small degree with you all.

Cheers,

Rohan

M3 RIDERS DEVELOP A SERIOUS DRUG PROBLEM


If you had a chance to catch the nightly news you likely heard that shares in Pharmaceutical companies have sky rocketed today.  Apparently a dozen middle aged many riding through Gippsland in Victoria have cleaned out every chemist from Bairnsdale to Morwell.


I commented at our lunch break that we were all in danger of becoming drug addicts.  You name it, it's likely been consumed by one of the M3 Riders at some stage today.  Panadol, Panadiene, Nurofen, Voltaren Tablets, Voltaren Cream, insect repellant, sun cream, Deep Heat, Sorbolene, Vaseline, Butt Cream, knee bandages, and the list goes on and on.  The way that some of the boys were behaving in the front pack makes me think that perhaps at lunch some other drugs that you can't buy over the counter at your local pharmacy may have been consumed as well! (I'll leave it up to you to guess who among us would be likely to misbehave - but check out YouTube there's likely to be a video go up later this evening that could go viral among M3 supporters).

We awoke to a beautiful morning in Bairnsdale.  The sun was shining and it was quite mild.  Easily the warmest morning we've experienced to date. It would seem however that our Saturday morning winter training rides and the previous days of this trip have conditioned us to the fact that you must start your ride with about 14 layers of clothing.  It wasn't long before one by one like scheduled Pit Stops the M3 boys started to pull over to the side of the road and remove their clothing layer by layer.  There were also lots of toilet stops.  It seemed that every time we passed a tree someone would stop to relieve himself!  Terry must have stopped about five times within the first two hours. Each time another layer of clothing would come off and another tree would be marked as his territory.  Think maybe he was inventing a new game called Strip Cycling or something. Perhaps it was that the Peleton (which is the French word used to describe the main pack of riders.  Hereafter referred to as 'The Mob') was moving too slow for Terry so he decided to fall back and practice his sprinting to catch us up all them time.

Well this went on for a couple of hours until everyone was basically wearing their OCF jerseys and a pair of cycling knicks. (in some cases two pairs - apparently this helps if you have a sore bum.  Think I'll be giving it a go tomorrow)  Graeme and Sam in Support Car 2 must have a huge pile of sweaty clothes in there somewhere.  Would have been a smelly drive for them today I'd say.

Once we all settled down into a rhythm I remarked to Ian how 'mundane' things seemed to be in comparison to previous days of riding.  Instead of the majestic foothills of the lower NSW and Victorian Snowy Mountains we were looking out over seemingly endless miles of paddocks.  I likened it to a picture of life.  Sometimes the wind is blowing, sometimes the scenery's magnificent, sometimes you on the mountain top, sometimes you're in the valley and sometimes life is just mundane but you've gotta keep plodding along during those times that seem a bit of a trudge.  If you stay faithful in what you're doing and keep doing it day in day out you'll eventually reach you goal.  The scenery reminded me of Jill's home town Goolgowi out west of Griffith NSW.  The only difference was that here the dirt was brown, not red.  We made steady progress at about 23-24 km/hr along the 'flat as a pancake' roads and arrived at our half way point at Maffra (not Mafia, some of the boys misread the sign) by about 11.45am.  Things were fairly relaxed and everyone was in a good mood.  Come to think of it, that may have been from the amount of pain killing drugs that the boys had consumed during those Pit Stops I spoke of above.  After a relaxing hour's break where the boys consumed all manner of foods not generally recommended as part of a staple diet for long distance cyclists we set off again. I saw arrayed on the our dining tables hamburgers, battered fish, egg and bacon rolls, meat pies, sausage rolls and what seemed like the equivalent of a sack of spuds worth of chips.

After lunch things started to change.  Instead of the relatively smooth ride we experienced in the morning the effects of the heat started to set in.  As you know Pastor Fred has been putting in a mammoth performance each day and today was no different.  Previously he'd struggled with malnutrition, today it was the heat...

(An aside - These boys complain about everything, it's too cold, it's too windy, I don't like dirt roads, my bum hurts, my knees hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts, my neck hurts, I've got a headache, I've got heartburn, I've got sunburn, these mozzies are a menace, I can't hear you I have my headphones in (Terry) and now today they took to complaining that it's too hot!  Seriously you'd think they were on a 1000km ride or something. As Kenny put it so aptly on Facebook yesterday, "Every cloud has a silver lining.  Sometimes the pain in my knee takes my mind off the pain in my butt.  And sometimes the pain in my butt is so intense it takes my mind of the pain in my knee." Hahaha.  Incidentally if you're not a friend of Kenny on Facebook I'd suggest you request to become one.  He is one witty man and has an uncanny ability to sum up the everyday events of life in pithy statements.  I'm sure if you just mentioned in your request that you've been following the blog he'd be happy to accept your friend request. His Facebook address is http://www.facebook.com/ozonnell and his Twitter address is http://twitter.com/ozonnell)


Well back to Fred.  When it became clear that he was going to struggle to keep up with Mob 2 (Mob 1 abandoned us after lunch in search of greener pastures) I took it upon myself to push Fred most of the second half of the day.  I was ably assisted by Neil late in the day and the rest of the boys in Mob 2 that took turns at the front of the Mob to provide some wind resistance.  Now before you think that's cheating, you need to know that Pastor Fred rode his bike the entire way.  We just provided him with a bit more oomph for each rotation of the pedal.  Not really any different to having people ride in front of you in the Mob.  This wasn't my idea, I saw Sebastian do it for a few kilometres earlier in the day and it gave me the idea to try it once he .  Didn't think I'd be pushing him along for 77km though.  (Not sure if I'm allowed to award myself a prize but hey it's my blog so I can do what I want.  "I hereby award myself the Bear Grylls Award for Day 6.) Anyway I really enjoyed it.  Gave me a chance for a good workout and the flat terrain is more suited to my slender, handsome and fully muscular physique anyway!

(Speaking of physical attractiveness that leads me to another aside.  Last night over dinner Craig tells us that he doesn't really need Vicki around any more because his smooth, tanned and shapely legs are a turn on.  He said he looks at them in the morning, gives them a stroke and says "Hey Trautchy, you're a bit of all right." Too funny!)

Be right back.  I've been summoned to come and eat some of Mario's spaghetti Alfredo or Carbonara or whatever it is...

Right then, back again but about 2 1/2 hours after I thought I'd be.  We've just had the opportunity to hear from Charles about his own personal battle with aggressive bowel cancer five years ago in which he was given a 50/50 chance of survival. He went on to explain how he became involved with OCF as their Sales and Marketing Director.  Truly an inspiring story in so many ways and once again confirmed to us that what we are involved with on this ride is very significant.  There's far too much to write in my blog but I've had a couple of people suggest we write a book about our trip.  Suffice for now to say that the money you guys have donated to OCF is having significant impact on finding a cure for childhood cancers and as a bi-product of their funded research we may be on the way to curing Melanoma, one of Australia's most deadly cancers.

We've briefly discussed tonight the prospect of the book and are thinking of using my blog as the basis for and e-Book, include all the pictures, social networking comments and perhaps a chapter from each rider telling the story of from their own perspective.  I asked Charles to include a chapter covering the story that he's just told us and he said he'd love to. Very exciting. Watch this space.  As the ride has progressed we've seen that what seemed relatively menial, a dozen guys going on a cycling trip has become increasingly significant to many people and are now thinking big.  Who knows?  God willing we may be able to expand the concept of a charity ride across all the C3 churches in the country.  Pray that if it's the Lord's will that he would open the doors for us in the coming years.

Anyway it's getting pretty late and we're going to be riding out at 6.00am tomorrow morning to ensure that we have time to shower and show up for church at C3 Bayside by 6pm.  We've decided to alter our route in order to assume we all make it on time and are now going to follow the Princes Freeway all the way to Melbourne.  We've checked it out and it will cut about 35km off our trip and has far less hills. Truth is it looks like it will be even flatter than today.  You little ripper!  We've just been checking out the new route on Google Maps street view and it's a safe road with a shoulder wide enough to fit our support vehicles the whole way.  On top of that it should be relatively quiet being a Saturday.

Before I go to catch some zzzzzs...

The Day 6 Roadkill report. Very tame in comparison to our previous days.
  • New to the list
    • Fox (2)
    • Turtle (2)
  • Previously on the list
    • Snake (2)
I may not have a chance to bring you the final day's blog until I'm en route back to Sydney in the bus on Sunday.  I'll do my best to publish it tomorrow night but given the hectic day I may not have a chance.

Enjoy your Saturday, speak soon,

Rohan




THE PEACOCK FLIES LIKE AN EAGLE!

***Warning. Some scenes may upset small children and animal activists.***

Another incredibly inspiring and exciting day for the M3 team.

The Peacock
As you recall I mentioned last night that we were set for another 6.15am start to ensure that all riders arrived in Bairnsdale before dark. Well that didn't eventuate as Pastor Fred Peacock was quite unwell during the night.  His body appeared to be suffering from yesterday's ride and its lack of nutrition and he was up and down regularly all night long to the bathroom.  I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Anyway when my alarm went off at 5.15am Fred explained that he simply wasn't up to riding.  I assured him that it was totally fine and that he should just plan to sit in the bus for as long as he wanted, particularly given that we had 60km of significant climbing ahead of us.  Charles, Craig and myself delayed our start and decided to leave with the rest of the boys at 7.30am.  After a bowl of Wheat Bix I returned to my room to find Fred in his Lycra.  I asked him what he was doing and he said he'd decided to ride with us!  Remember an hour before the man was in the bathroom with significant problems down below if you catch my drift.  Incredible.  As I write this Fred has just arrived in Bairnsdale having completed 170km in 11 hours and 35 minutes.  Special mention goes to Mario, Terry and Neil who have ably supported throughout him all day and also to our awesome support crew of Graeme and Sam, who spent the first third of the day with Fred and Phil and Mark who followed along for the rest.  I have to say that Fred is positively glowing.  Janine Kuebler has been a source of great support to us throughout today for several reasons including her special words of encouragement that she sent to Pastor Fred. Janine your words we spot on.  Fred arrived in Bairnsdale looking fitter and stronger that he did when he left this morning. Clearly God has strengthened him as the day went on.  There's not a dry eye among us.  Kenny just remarked that he's truly humbled by the whole thing.  

The Hills.
The first third of today's ride was marked by difficult hills.  It was literally like riding up Razorback three of four times.  It was tough going but really enjoyable nonetheless.  We thought we'd negotiated the worst of it well before Orbost only to find that the steepest climb of the day was waiting to surprise us about 20km before Lakes Entrance.  As we passed this little roadside supermarket and were commenting on the antique bicycle on display out the front this guy emerges from inside the shop and exclaims, "Hey, bloody big hill up ahead!" And he was right about that one.  If I wasn't a pastor I'd probably have described it that way too. LOL

Bear Grylls Award
Today's Bear award goes to Peter Kennedy.  Peter rode the entire day with two bunged up knees!  He started getting yesterday but they really gave him some grief during our first 60kms of climbing this morning.  Just like Freddy the Eagle though our man Pete didn't give up.  At lunch Charles shouted him a box of Voltaren tablets and Voltaren cream.  I think he must have taken the whole packet because after lunch Peter came to life again.  Think we've found a new superhero, VOLTAREN MAN.

Personally
I enjoyed today's ride for totally different reasons to yesterday. Yesterday afforded me the opportunity to take in the scenery as I rolled along at a much slower pace.  This was really good for me and I believe that God was reminding me that it's not just the finish line that counts in life, you have to be able to enjoy the journey as well.  As a task driven person that's something that doesn't come all that naturally to me. Today I was focussed on riding as fast and as hard as I could and barely had time to take notice of the scenery. The end was my goal and that was rewarding too, although Kenny did nearly abuse me when we arrived for leading him on a mad 5km sprint to the motel at about 32 km/hr. He didn't insult me too badly though, mainly because he could hardly breathe by the time we arrived. Haha.

Graciousness and Hospitality
You know how God sometimes shows up and proves that he knows just what you need and when you need it.  Well today was certainly one of those days.  We were blessed out of our cleats on three separate occasions throughout the day.
  1. We weren't planning on stopping at Orbost for lunch as the Princes Highway bypasses the town but it so happened that it was lunch time as we passed by there so in we went.  No sooner had we arrived then Colin who owns the local bakery came and introduced himself to Graeme.  He noticed the MACCS logo on the side of the trailer.  Colin explained that he and his wife 'looked after' the local Anglican church and offered to give us a good deal at his bakery.  As it turned out the good deal was everything at half price!  Charles asked Colin's wife if that meant that he could buy the bakery at half price as well!  See below for a photo of Charles getting his chicken sandwich with Colin's wife and staff.
  2. Now the story returns to the Kuebler family again.  Phil received a call from Janine saying that she'd arranged via a series of family connections that the local Baptist pastors at Lakes Entrance, Michael and Leanne wanted to meet us and offer their support.  As it turned out they had arranged to shout us afternoon tea at the local icecreamery.  Man did the boys take advantage of that, devouring an assortment of sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and coffees. Michael asked me to send a big hello out to John and Sharon Rush so guys, if you're following along Michael and Leanne say hi.  Maybe some of you bloggees could facebook someone from the Rush family let them know in case they're not following along.
  3. Lastly when we arrived in Bairnsdale we were greeted by cheering crowds on the side of the road with placards welcoming us to town.  Well actually it was the Lyle family, Rick Kuebler's sister and family. Not only did we get a Tour de France style finish line but they also presented us with two huge boxes of goodies.  Must be at least $150 worth of stuff in there.  Fruit, snacks etc.  This was a joint effort from the Lyle family and our friends back home in Mount Annan.  So whoever you are a very big thanks from all the boys here.  We are truly blessed and starting to get the feeling we are part of something very significant.
Road Kill
Today's road kill report is somewhat different to our previous day's report.  While we didn't see anywhere near as many dead animals beside the road everything except for one dried up bunch of feathers that appeared to have once been a magpie were fresh kills.  I've decided that Victoria must have little elves that run up and down the Princes highway each night dragging roadkill into the bushes out of sight.  I tell you every dead animal we saw had clearly come to its demise during the early hours of this morning. I've included some awesome photos of Fatso the wombat whose insides were scattered over about 10 metres and a wallaby severed in half (check out his little tongue).  As I came alongside Matt Lees soon after stopping to take a picture of our dead wallaby I felt like pulling out a wobble board and starting a Rolf Harris singalong. Heck, let's all do it together now, "Watch me wallaby splat Matt, watch me wallaby splat. (wobble wobble) Altogether now, (wobble wobble) watch me wallaby splat Matt, watch me wallaby splat. (wobble wobble) One more time. (wobble wobble) Watch me wallaby splat Matt, watch me wallaby splat!"
  • Wallaby (2)
  • Snake (1)
  • Wombat (2)
  • Magpie (1)
Tomorrow
We're all really looking forward to tomorrow's ride. It's only 152km and we've only got one categorised hill late in the day that reaches ascends a total of about 40m.  Considering that today we had several hills that with significantly greater net ascents than that it should be a good day.  That's if we can trust Mr. Google of course.  It's become a standard joke among the fellas that every time we see any kind of hill we say, "One more hill."  It seems that Google Maps has neglected to inform us of some hills that we've encountered along our journey.  Even if there's a couple of surprises in there I'm sure it will be a great day's riding.  Everyone's in good spirits tonight and not too sore, in fact I'd say they're more relaxed than at any other stage so far.

Whatever you're doing tomorrow enjoy your day and I'll speak to you from Morwell tomorrow night.

Rohan







 Oops, Upside down!

A GOOD DAY AT THE OFFICE

Greetings from Mexico!

What an enjoyable and scenic ride today.  Truly a great day at the office.  At one point as we negotiated our way up a climb I turned to Fred and said "Could be worse brother, you could be stuck in the office." Made that climb so much easier armed with that thought.  You may recall that I posted a Twitter video a couple days ago showing the canola fields south of Goulburn  As scenic as that was it had nothing on what we experienced today.

The day started bright and early in Cooma for Charles, Craig, Fred and myself as we set off for Cann River at 6.20am.  As I departed Ian stepped to the threshold of his room and called out "Have a good day at the office Honey."  I replied, "Will do Darling, see you tonight."  You can see we all must be really missing our wives hey?  Well I certainly am.  (Miss you sweetheart, looking forward to being home with you on Sunday night.) Gotta tell you one aside story here.  At one point Craig's iPod was stuck on repeat for 40km.  The song?  Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer.  Too funny! Hahaha. We rode out to a magnificent sunrise following a quick breakfast of jam sandwiches.  The other boys enjoyed hot bacon and egg rolls.  No real complaints though because Phil and Mark caught up to us in Support Car 1 just past Nimmatabel and furnished us with two cold bacon and egg rolls each.  You might say that sounds disgusting but when when you're cycling long distances any kind of food is welcomed.  One thing I've learned this week is that food takes on a whole new meaning when you have to use it as a source of fuel and not just for the sake of filling your stomach and satisfying your palate.  In fact even soft drink is good for you if you need an instant hit of energy before taking on a big hill.

Back to the scenery.  As we rode along at a gentle pace we were able to enjoy sights that you simply don't get to see careering along at 100 km/hr.  During the course of the day we passed massive sheep farms, a free range chook farm, majestic pine trees in the Bondi State Forest, views of the snow capped Snowy Mountains, mountain creeks, towering mountains and canyons and well, you get the picture.

Today's Bear Grylls award goes to Pastor Fred Peacock. Despite trying to survive the entire morning on a single jam sandwich when most of the guys had consumed multiple bananas, muesli bars, and a plethora of energy supplements (Kenny is really big on these, I think he keeps the health food shop in Narellan in business on his own) Pastor Fred continued to ride on.  By the time we came to the 120km mark Fred's energy tank was pretty much depleted.  Many would have quit at that point and refused to ride another metre.  But not our Fred.  Oh no, this man was determined to continue on.  It may have taken us a long time but let me tell you there was spirit in that man today.  When the going got tough Fred kept going.  I enjoyed my ride with him and towards the end the two of us had a great chance to chat.  After departing at 6.20am the two of us rode into Cann River to huge cheers from the boys at 6.00pm.  Well the cheers were for Fred anyway, no one seemed to care about the fact that I too had spent about 9 1/2 hours actually seated riding a bike today! No seriously you should have been there - his effort was inspiring.  I know what it's like to crack (a cycling term where you've got nothing left) and I can't imagine myself mustering the will power to ride a further 55 km after that.

Other notable events of the day include me being abused by the road worker at Bombala who clearly got out on the wrong side of his tractor this morning for proceeding 3 metres past the red light trailer as I slowed and de-cleated my pedals.  At the time I was chasing up to Fred, Charles and Craig who'd left me stranded in Bombala and gone on without me.  I figured they must have done something to upset him but it appears that he just didn't like me for some reason as they said it was all fine when they went through. Knowing Craig he probably put him up to it and pleaded ignorant.

Tomorrow we face another mammoth ride of 169km from Cann River to Bairnsdale.  It's sure to be an up and down day with 10 categorised hills, two of them roughly on a par with riding up the Razorback from Camden to Picton.  We'll be stopping mid-afternoon in Lakes Entrance, arguably one of the prettiest towns in Victoria and may even enjoy feeding some hot chips to the sea gulls if we have time.

Well that's about it for now folks.  Apologies for the lateness of this post but as you can imagine there's a lot to do once we arrive.  I had to consume three large bowls of Mario's Alfredo Spaghetti, take a 20 minute hot shower to stretch out every muscle in my body, take all my nutritional supplements and prepare my clothes for the morning ride.  Phew, no wonder I feel tired.  Doing all that's nearly as exhausting as riding 175 km.

Oh yeah one last thing.  Today's Road Kill report.


  • Wallabies (many)
  • Wombats (3)
  • Kangaroos (many)
  • Hare (1)
  • Rabbit (1)
  • Black crow (1)
  • Red belly black snakes (3) (Including one I got to watch first hand as the lady driving the white Commodore station wagon cleaned it up as she overtook Graeme and Sam in the bus.  Sounded awesome too - thuck, thuck, thuck. Loved it!)
Chat tomorrow evening from Bairnsdale,

Until then,

Rohan









AND ON THE THIRD DAY WE RODE AGAIN

Firstly let me start by thanking you for your words of encouragement about the blog.  It’s great for the guys to know that so many people are following our journey. Please spread the word about our Blog on Facebook and Twitter so more people can follow along.

The title of today’s blog really sums it up.  After feeling like we’d died and been buried in the proverbial tomb for cyclists by those winds on Days 1 and 2 we enjoyed a resurrection of sorts today. It’s amazing what a difference calm winds can make to a cycling road trip.  Our average speed increased by about 4 km/hr and we could actually hear each other as we chatted along the road without having to yell.

Let me start at the beginning of the day.  It was a true honour to be able to have some time with Mr. Abbot this morning.  Mr. Abbot is a avid cyclist and chatted with us at length about our ride.  When asked if he had a chance to ride this morning his answer was, “No not as much as usual just a couple of trips up and down Red Hill.”  For those not familiar with Canberra Red Hill would be the third tallest mountain in the city.  No doubt about it that man is fit.  He said that he would have loved to ride with us to Michelago but unfortunately was unable as Parliament was sitting today.  Sebastian had a chance to show him his bike and share the story of his daughter Melissa’s battle with cancer that took her life at age seven.

Kenny presented him with the essential cyclist’s accessory which Neil captured on his iPhone.  This has been posted to YouTube. Click here to see Mr Abbott receive his present from Kenny.

Once our meeting was finished we set off for Cooma.  The ride itself was largely uneventful, at least from the perspective of you Blog readers back home.  The weather was great and the steady inclines were balanced by the awe inspring descents.  I topped 69.4 km/hr at one stage.  Apparently Sebastian was closer to 80.  That may not seem fast to those used to driving but on a bike I can tell you it is such a rush.

The notable feature of the day would have to be the amount of road kill we encountered.  I tell you we’ve seen it all on this trip, dead kangaroos, dead wombats, dead echidnas, dead magpies, dead cats, dead koalas and other mutilated mashes of fur that were so decomposed one could only wonder at what native fauna it once was.

Oh yeah, just thought of one other point of mention.  We passed a heavily bearded guy riding solo heading in the other direction on a mountain bike.  As he passed us he raised both hands to the air and shouted “Woohoo Perth to Brisbane!”  The thing that struck us was that he didn’t have any luggage to speak of!  The guys started to speculate about how he was undertaking such an adventure.  Some posited that he wasn’t actually showering or changing his clothes the whole way which was quite possible from the looks of him I have to say.  Someone else suggested that it may in fact have been Jesus!

Anyway that’s it for now guys.  I realise that I’ve significantly gone over my self imposed 250 word limit on this evening’s blog but given that a few of us will be setting off at 6.15am in order to ensure that everyone traverses the 175km to Cann River before dark I’ll most likely not have time to post until tomorrow evening.

We’re going to enjoy some down time around a barbecue tonight, should be good.

Until tomorrow,

Rohan


DAY 3 - MORNING POST

Good morning everyone,


Here we are bright and early on this Tuesday morning.  Still very cold but no wind to speak of yet. We’ve another day of tiring hills in front of us but hey we could be at work like the rest of the world so “I no complain.”

I have to say our accommodation coordinator excelled himself with last night’s accommodation.  Very classy joint these Pinnacle Apartments. Way up on the rooms we’ll be resting our sore bums at over the next few nights. Only problem is that without six of us in this four bedroom apartment I'm sure my snoring kept some of the guys awake.  My only consolation is that I could hear Fred snoring as well so they other boys can't just blame it on me. Haha

Incidentally I took a few hours off last night to have dinner at my parent’s place.  She was kind enough to Carbo load me with two big plates of pasta.  Thanks mum, I really enjoyed spending time catching up with you all.

We’re about to ride up to Parliament House for our meeting with Tony Abbot.  A great opportunity to share the vision of OCF and CAP with him.  Hoping to get some coverage in the local paper and TV as well if all goes well.

On an entirely different note.  I think it would be remiss of me not to tell you the story of Charles Denis from OCF who is riding with us.  I know I awarded Ian Henderson the Bear Grylls title but I think I’ll have to remove the crown from his head and place it atop the head of Charles after his gargantuan effort yesterday.  You would have read last night of me complaining about being buffeted by the winds and the hills.  Well let me tell you about what Charles faced.  But first a lesson in cycling for the uninitiated.  You may have noticed in cycling road races how they race in a large group.  This is called a Peleton and it helps significantly with easing the energy expenditure by up to 30%. We spent much of yesterday riding in this fashion but not Charles.  Oh no, this man of steel was delayed in Sydney on Sunday due to an amazingly hectic schedule over the last week that there’s not room enough to tell now.  Anyway he set off from Campbelltown in the early hours of yesterday morning en route to Canberra in one day.  Charles got all the way to Tarago, approximately 200km on his own into the wind.  That is a Bear Grylls effort in my books.  Well done Charles.  Really looking forward to getting to know you and hearing your story over the next five days.

Anyway folks, that’s it for me this morning.  More news en route via Twitter and Facebook and then on my blog later this evening.

Enjoy your day,

Rohan

OH YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!

It’s 9.00pm and I reckon I’m about the last of the cyclists still awake.  All’s quiet at the Pinnacle Apartments in Canberra.  Except for the crazy teenagers swimming in the pool just below my room.  Man I hope that water’s heated.  Brrrr!

Everyone’s dog tired at the end of another windy and chilly day. Although today was our shortest day of riding covering just a tick over 103km it certainly didn’t seem like a walk in the park.  In fact I think we’re coming to realise that on a ride like this every day is going to be full of its own surprises.

Having studied the maps in the early hours of this morning when I couldn’t sleep I preceded to tell the boys about the two hilly sections that we were to encounter on our sojourn from Goulburn down to Canberra.  To which their comments were something like “I don’t think you been telling us the full story Rohan, you said it was going to be easy today.”

Anyway we toddled off at a leisurely 20km/hr into the wind.  Hard work yes, but not exhausting, until we reached Tarago that is.  And then things changed.  The wind picked up and so did the hills.  It was just at the rise of one of those hills as we encountered a blustering gust of wind that Ian exclaimed in the immortal words of John McEnroe, “OH YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!”  At that about summed up the day from that point on.

Oh yeah and then there was the semi-trailers coming the other way at 100km that nearly knocked us off our bikes as they passed.  Don’t worry wives we were never in any danger. We’ll be glad when the wind dies down tomorrow.  We’ll that’s what the forecast is telling us anyway.  Call me Thomas but the last two days have taught me to believe it when I see it!

Chat some more in the morning, before we set off to see Tony Abbot.

Sleep well, I know we will.

Rohan

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Day 2 Morning Post


Well it’s 7.45am on Day 2.  We’re due to depart Goulburn at 8.30 but the guys are all champing at the bit to get going so we may be underway ahead of schedule.

Thought I’d take a moment for the sake of Brother Ian who feels that I sanitised yesterday’s story far too much to set the record straight.  Hey what can I say, I’m an optimist! Always look on the bright side of life and all that.

What I failed to mention in my self imposed limit of 250 words yesterday was some of the finer details so here goes…

  • We passed several dead wombats and a dead Koala – I didn’t notice but the boys reckoned they could smell them a mile off.  My nose was so blocked up from the cold air I don’t reckon I’d have noticed if I rode through a pile of Roo Poo!
  • I was right in the middle of telling Ian that I’d suffered the first fall of the trip when down he went while trying to descend a -7% hill on dirt road.
  • My fall came from trying to hold a conversation with Get Smart Securites (I wish they would) about the Church alarm not working, ascending a steep hill and having my chain come off all at once.
  • Ian’s came because I was distracting him from concentrating on his descent with my personal tale of woe.  He’s far too much of an English gentlemen to acknowledge it but I’m sure it’s the case.  Actually he reminds me of that Pommy guy that Clark Griswald keeps running into in European Vacation.  I think we could run him over with the M3 team bus and he’d still get up and offer to give us his bent front wheel as a souvenir.  Full credit to the man though.  Despite the recurrence of a knee injury from months ago he got back on his bike, determined not to let it beat him.  Think I'll rename him Ian "Bear Grylls" Henderson.


Anyway we’re about to set sail for Canberra.  More news from the Nation’s Capital tonight.

Best regards until then,

Rohan

M3 BAPTISM OF FIRE - THINK WE'LL RENAME IT THE M3 OFFROAD CLASSIC

Well actually it was so cold today that a fire would have been nice, we even thought about building one in the back of the church trailer. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Firstly, on behalf of all the M3 team I want to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who came to see us off at church this morning.  That send off was incredibly touching and many of the boys commented on it once we got underway.

Back to the day’s events.  Things started well as we made fairly good time down the Hume Highway to Mittagong averaging 22km/h despite a strong head wind.

Then we reached the Southern Highlands and things changed.  The winds increased and the temperate dropped dramatically.  After a 30min stop at Moss Vale for lunch we set off en route to Goulburn with about half our journey remaining.  And that’s where things got interesting.  Not sure if you’ve noticed but Google Maps doesn’t tell us about dirt roads.  Our route took us over onto Canyonleigh Rd. 35km of dirt road complete with cattle fences and cattle grids!  Wow that was a windy and lonely 2 ½ hours as we spread out up the hills.

Regrouping on the Hume 10km from Goulburn we set sail for our motel. As dark approached we arrived at 8pm for Pizza and a long shower.

Looking forward to a much more comfortable 103km into Canberra tomorrow – hopefully it will be a bit warmer too.  Chat some more then.


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Rohan's M3 Weather Forecast

Just in case your interested this is an email I sent to the M3 team on Saturday morning 16th with my weather prediction's for the week.  When you're rinding a bike wind and rain takes on a whole new dimension...

Morning  gents,


I've just been checking out the weather and thought I'd bring you Rohan's forecast for the next week.  My Year 10 Geography and Year 10 work experience at the Bureau of Meteorology did pay off, I can read a weather map!

  • Ian texted me earlier this morning to say Charles has informed him on his way back that it is snowing in Cooma.  The 7.30 observation at Cooma airport showed 0.3 degrees with apparent temp of -7.7 degrees, sounds worse than our Saturday morning rides in June / July.
  • It appears that it will be cold across much of NSW and Victoria today in the wake of a low pressure system and resultant cold front that passed through last night but today should be the coldest we'll see for the next week.  It should warm back up to low to mid 20s for most of the trip.
  • I think that we'll miss most of the rain. We may encounter the odd shower or two but don't think we'll need to negotiate any significantly rainy days en route.
  • The bad news is that as a High Pressure system moves into the bight it will bring with it predominantly south westerly through to south easterly winds so we should expect to be riding largely into the wind at least until we get to Cooma.  I don't think they'll be as strong as today though around 15-25 km/hr. Although they may  not be excessively strong but when you are riding uphill any headwind is an inconvenience.  The gale force northerlies that we experienced yesterday ahead of the cold front would have been nice (they would have blown us up the hills without pedaling). Unfortunately they have now subsided and I wouldn't expect to see them again.
  • The good thing about the early starts and hopefully knocking of the majority of the ride by lunch time is that winds tend to increase in the afternoons and be calmer in the mornings.
  • The back half of next week is a little harder to predict (I'm certainly not a qualified meteorologist and so it's hard to predict this far out) but depending how fast the high pressure system moves through South Australia and Victoria we may end up riding the last day or two into a westerly headwind as well. At least most of that part of the journey is flat. Once again I can't imagine that they will be that strong. (High pressure systems tend to move slower than cold pressure systems and generally have lower accompanying wind speeds.  The good news is that it is likely to be mainly fine weather once we enter Victoria. The high pressure system is peaking at about 1030 hectopascals  which is quite high meaning that the weather should be quite pleasant as it passes directly over us mid-week. I expect a very pleasant lunch break at the picturesque Lakes Entrance on Thursday. 

OUR ITINERARY


Only 2 Weeks to Go

On Saturday we rode from Mt Annan to Glenbrook (Blue Mountains) and the weather was threatening all morning. We finally made it to Mash and sat down to coffee and banana bread; the best banana bread in the world. I know, a BIG call, but you have to try it for yourself. Anyway, as we sat down to enjoy our coffeee and (best in the world) banana bread, the heavens opened up. The rain eventually stopped and we left on our way, but that didn't stop us getting absolutely drenched on the way back along the Northern Road.


Breakfast in the Rain at Glenbrook from M3-Riders on Vimeo.

We were joined by Charles of OCF and Finny from Scotland.

Charlse is the Sales & Marketing Director at OCF and a seasoned cyclist. He just got back from the UK where he rode in an event from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England.

Finny is visiting from Scotland to meet his newborn grandson. He is one tough Scotsman. 3 years ago he visited Australia for the first time and while here decided to ride from Sydney to Perth, alone. On Saturday he had a crash and came off pretty bad. He rode all the way home, with the comment "I think I've broken my wrist". Sure enough, after getting it examined, he did crack his wrist.