Day 8: Forbes to Ungarie. When the going gets tough…

by Stephen

Pedal Cure 4 FightMND – 2020

6th March, 2020

Forbes (07:26)
121.80 km
15.8 km/h
Ungarie (17:30)
7 hr 43 min
412.02 km

There was no denying that today was going to be a tough day. It would involve a 120 km day. And over half of that will be on some very, very bad road. It will also be my longest distance cycled in a day. My previous record was 101 km, ridden on sealed cycle paths with the rest on good sealed roads – and that was on an unloaded bike. So, this was going to be something altogether different. But, of course, I was up for the challenge! I expect I’d be worn out by the end of the day, but I will have a rest day tomorrow.

I left just before 07:30, making a stop at the local Macca’s to grab some breakfast. Once fueled, I started cycling down the Newell Highway. This road is generally a rather busy road. But, today, it seemed relatively quiet. It also has a nice hard shoulder to ride along.

The Newell Highway, south of Forbes

Plenty of clouds in the sky kept the direct sunlight off me and the pace was quite good. Three hours after setting off, it was time to take my turnoff at West Plains Road. It was a sealed road, but I wonder for how long for.

West Plains Road turnoff.

The sealed road finished after about 12 km – a little further than I was expecting. This is where things started to get tough. I’ve had little experience cycling on unsealed roads. I did some of that back in 2017, between Benalla and Shepparton. That road wasn’t too bad. This, though, was another story altogether! Still, as always, I’m up for a challenge.

This is where the fun begins.

Over the next three and a half hours, it was mostly very bad unsealed road, broken up by short sections of sealed road. Despite the rough nature of it, I was quite enjoying it, even though it required a lot of concentration.

Bad road between Lake Cowal and Burcher.

At around 14:15, I arrived at the (very) small town of Burcher. There’s not that much here, apart from a few houses, a post office and, of course, a pub! I stopped off by the pub for a drink. Though, not alcohol. I still have another 35 km to go. Time for a pint or two later! Burcher was at the end of an old branch line from West Wyalong. There was a pretty cool display of old railway equipment, though. I wandered over and took a look.

Burcher – the end of the line
An old quadracycle, used for track inspection.
Quadracycle.
Burcher Pub.

Time was moving on, so it was time for me to move along also. I bid farewell to the publican, and set off. An hour down the road, I hit my 100 km for the day. Only about 20 km more to go!

100 km down, 20 km more to go.

6 km further down the road, it was my final turnoff to Ungarie, the home town of the Danihers. Bena Road is another rough, unsealed road. Almost another hour of bone shaking. 🙂 About 2 km along, I passed by Danihers Lane. At the end of this road is the farm of the Danihers.

Danihers Lane.

Neale Daniher, from a large family, is the reason why I’m doing this ride (as well as my other planned rides). Back in 2013, Neale was diagnosed with MND – Motor Neurone Disease. It is also known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a degenerative disease which attacks the neurones which control motor function. This includes limb movement, speech and, ultimately, breathing. It is a disease with no known cure and very few effective treatments. It is a terminal disease. Every day, two people in Australia are diagnosed with MND. Every day, two people die from MND. Neale is one of the founders of FightMND, the charity I’m cycling for.

Since its beginnings in 2015, it has become Australia’s largest independant charity in providing funding for research into finding a cure for MND. The group of people I’m joining in two days time are doing a charity ride called Pedal Cure 4 MND. I decided to join on the spur of the moment, which is why I’ve spent the last week cycling out to meet them. We will be cycling all the way to Windy Hill in Essendon, the original home of the Bombers – Essendon Football Club. This is the club that Neale, and three of his other brothers, played for.

The end of the day was almost done. Just another 12 km to go. Time to get them done. And, an hour later, they were. What a day! Exhausting, but equally satisfying. I stopped by the Big Sherrin and took a photograph. I then headed to the pub where I will be staying for the next two nights.

The Big Sherrin.

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