27th May, 2024
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Not the way I wanted it to end.

Cycle Against the Beast – 2019

Days 5 & 6 – 9th & 10th October, 2019

Day 5
Eglinton (09:18)
28.96 km
13.8 km/h
Fitzgerald Mount (14:42)
209.15 km

Last night, I had to make some very difficult decisions. The original plan was to head out west to a little town called Cudal, before heading on to Forbes, and Ungarie. Due to already running behind time (now by two days), I’d come to the conclusion that there was no way I was going to make the planned distance to Melbourne in time. So, I decided to change course.

I’d also decided that I was going to lighten the load a bit, and post some of my stuff back to Sydney. So, I left just after 09:00, and made my way to the post office in Bathurst. While I was posting of some of my gear (ie: tent, sleeping bag – I’d decided to do ‘credit card touring’ by this point, and a copy of the Western Advocate), someone had read about me in the paper, and heard me on the radio yesterday. She kindly offered a donation.

With the posting done, I set course for Blayney (about 50 km away). It was a lumpy old morning – up and down, which was making my knee protest more than it had a couple of days ago. I’d made plenty of rest stops along the side of the road, but I still thought I could make it through to Blayney. Then I came up against Fitzgerald Mount – a very steep ascent indeed. Being about 12% in gradient, I knew I wouldn’t be able to cycle up it – not with my knee complaining like it was. So, I proceeded to push the bike up. I’d made it most of the way up, when someone offered to give me a lift. I threw in the towel, and accepted the lift the rest of the way to Blayney, and booked myself into a motel.

Later in afternoon, after chatting to a couple of friends, and my sister, I made the difficult decision to abandon the rest of my ride. There was no way I was going to be able to complete it – not with the state my knee was in. As a bit of a backstory, back in 1990, I was hit by a car on a zebra crossing, which hurt my knee. Every few years, the knee plays up. Unfortunately, it chose this time to do that. As I was on a time limit, having a certain number of days before I had to make it to Melbourne, I didn’t have the luxury of just spending a week somewhere, waiting for it to recover. I made a train booking back to Sydney, and then went to a local pub for dinner and a pint (or two!).

Day 6

Due to NSW Trainlink’s policies regarding bicycles, I had to go find a bicycle box. Unfortunately, you can’t just roll it on – space is very limited. So, I walked up to the station – thankfully they had one there. So I started to try and dismantle the bike. However, the pedals refused to budge. Unless I got the pedals off, there was no way it was going to fit it in the box. I carted my bike, and the box, down to a local tyre shop, but they couldn’t help me. But they did let me borrow some of their tools. The pedal still refused to budge.

I went back to the station, resigned to the fact that I may have to leave my bike behind, and come back for it another time. The station manager told me she’d see what she could do. So, she made a couple of calls. She came back, stating that the train manager had agreed to take my bike on, without it being boxed. 🙂 A great relief! I went to another pub, had lunch and a pint (or two!). before returning to the station for the train back to Sydney.

Waiting for the train to Sydney.
Wrap up

I was very upset that I couldn’t finish my ride, as I wanted to. I love cycling, and FightMND is a charity that means a lot to me. Is this the end of me cycling for FightMND? Definitely not! I still have a round the world bicycle trip in the works. However, I have decided to delay that for a year – now starting at the beginning of 2022. Though, this isn’t due to my knee – it’s more to do with the value of the Australian dollar! In the meantime, I hope to do some shorter rides, over the next couple of years – so stay tuned! Cycle Against the Beast is only just getting started!

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