Day 10 – Bendigo to Melbourne – To the finish line

Tour de Cure Route: Bendigo to Melbourne
Distance: 156km
Ascent: 884m
Total Distance So Far: 1400km
Total Ascent so far 12200m

Wow, what a day.

Everybody had a feeling of excitement, like we were finally going to reach a dream. A dream that we have held close to us for a long time. A dream that we had to work long and hard to achieve. Something that we had to plan and strive for. Dollar by dollar, kilometre by kilometre finally it was all coming to fruition.

There was a little apprehension when we went to bed last night as it was raining. Not a little rain but heavy. It would be a shame after such a great run with the weather if the last day was a bit wet and uncomfortable but it would not stop us fulfilling our dream to raise a lot of money and ride like we have never ridden before.

Let’s face it the ride wasn’t just any ride. It was a ride that made us all nervous when we thought about it. It was a ride that you wouldn’t think of doing by yourself. Even our riding buddies thought we were a bit crazy and as for the general public, well they were just in awe that someone could do such a ride.

As we rode out of our motel in Bendigo it was a bit cold and it was spitting very lightly. It was 5.30am as we rode through the beautiful old streets built from the gold rush so long ago.. An eerie quite fell over the group as we all reflected on what the last nine days had meant to us and what was to come when we reached Melbourne.

Our luck was in and the rain was staying away and as we rode along the sun started to rise the normal chatter within the group had returned and you could tell that everybody was starting to think about getting to Melbourne.

We were on a tight schedule today so we were changing the lead often and setting a great pace.. The terrain was quite undulating, but the rolling hills create a great feeling of achievement as you use your momentum to get to the top.

I was riding second wheel for the first 30km or so and when the front boys wheeled off we gave them a bit of stick because they had left the front just as we were climbing up a few hills. The bonus of that was that after the hills there were some wonderful downhill rolling bits.

Nick and I smashed this bit out and I felt as good as I had for the whole ride so I was really excited (but stuffed) as I relinquished the front.

As we neared Woodend Wayne Banks, with much amusement and heckling from the peloton, set a new Tour record for the quickest roll off from the front of the peloton holding it for a stunning 23 seconds.

As we stopped at a Woodend for a quick refuel the spirits were high. We were only a few hours from our destination and the sun had started to peak through the clouds. What we didn’t know was that the next bit of riding was going to be as good as it gets on the open road.

As we left Woodened we snaked around for a bit and ended up on the Calder Highway. The tarmac was smooth and there was a great downhill run for about 30 km. The guys on the front were hitting it hard and that meant that we were reaching speeds up to 65km/h along the highway!

It’s a wonderful feeling sitting in a peloton in a little balloon rolling along shielded by the guys in front of you, not peddling very much to keep on the wheel in front of you but doing a great speed.

We crested a rise and saw the skyscrapers of the Melbourne CBD at the same time as we saw the sign that said “Welcome to Melbourne” The cheers and yelps of the excited riders began and lasted a good minute as we rolled on. Now we were really excited.

Our support crew were really working overtime to protect us from the traffic. Putting themselves in front of the traffic and stopping the cars, protecting us from harm.

When we exited the highway we took to the back streets and through the suburbs for the last 30km. negotiating the tram tracks was something that most of us were not used to and we took it really carefully when the call came back “TRAM TRACKS”

Soon we were within sight of the MCG and when we arrived a roar went up from the riders and support staff alike. Everybody spontaneously started giving each other high fives and I have never seen so many man hugs in one place in a while!

Finally after 1400 km, and 10 gruelling days of riding we had achieved what we had set out to do, we had achieved what we had been training for for months and months. We had reached Melbourne.

After a brief appearance in the MCG by Mark Beretta, Gary Bertwistle and Dougie Walters we were off to meet our family and friends. As we arrived at the park where our loved ones were waiting everybody spontaneously broke into applause. Our ride was done but the celebration had just begun. What a great feeling to meet our families and share our excitement and feelings about the ride. It had been 10 long days since we had spent time with them and we were so happy to see their smiling faces again.

Soon the celebration had moved to the Crown Casino where David Lowe and Grant Evans presided over the festivities. With the humour that only Evo could get away with the night was a wonderful retrospective on the past 10 days and the history of the Tour de Cure.

Our board also awarded category jerseys for the entire Tour this year. They went to

Michael Hadj – Focus
Michael McAuliffe – Inspiraton
Reid Meldrum – Attitude
Grant Evans – Guts
Danny Moore / Dan Miles – Doer
Josh McBride –Thinker

Also awarded a special board award were Ian Salmon and Garrick Transell

Over the last 10 days I have told you about our ride, about our physical challenge. What I haven’t told you about is the emotional journey that the whole team has also taken.

I haven’t told you about how our collective hearts were broken when Michael McAuliffe told us about his son Conner and how cancer took him away from his family. How his daughter lifted our spirits when she gave an impromptu speech and urged us to “Never stop Tour de Cure”.I haven’t told you about our excitement when our dear support person Cora told us about how she had breast cancer and is beating it or how some of our riders were living with cancer and how others were overcoming it.

Our spirits were also lifted every day by a thousand other stories from the public. Stories about their bravery, their hopes and losses. They were stories about survival and loss, triumph and despair.

Some of these stories made our hearts break but most made our spirits soar.

Each of the riders and support staff has their own story about why they have completed this ride. As we have shared our stories with each other we have grown stronger and closer. Our sense of resolve has grown.

What is amazing is that a group of people have come together from all walks of life sharing a common purpose, sharing our stories and building a bond that can’t be broken. One of mateship, of working together on a common cause but also working with a sense hope that what we have done will mean less suffering and death and that what we have done will one day lead us to a cure for cancer.

Here is todays video

Here is todays Garmin readout. Its not quite all there as my battery run out !!

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