Quest for David fulfilled.

I really didnt know what I would make as my last post.

The journey has come to an end, and I want to finish this blog on the right note. Not that dissimilar to when an author writes an amazing book, and then stuffs up the final chapter.

Ive been racking my brain, and then last night I received an email from my parents written by my Dad, and I found it quite touching. Dad has a rare gift with the written word, nothing learnt through formal education, just time and experience.

To frame the below, I never had the priveledge to meet my grandfather.

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I have read your hurt and great loss and can only state you were lucky to know him.  You will find as you progress through your 80 to 90 years of life people you love and cherish will move to the other side of the curtain. Rejoice in the knowledge you knew them and from that time on you will without effort carry a small part of them in your soul.

Looking at you and reading your thoughts I was struck with how much like my father you are.  You look like him and you have the same quiet thoughtfulness of purpose. You like him are a very gentle person who’s word is their bond.  I am immensely pleased that my father lives in you  yet you are and indivual you are Deryck our much loved and valued son

Stage 5 – Mclarenvale to Willunga.

As I write this it is 12:30 on saturday night. I dont think ive the energy for a detailed post (sorry!), the physical fatigue is something, but the daily schedule outside of riding has also been quite relentless.

Today we rode as a true team. David was in my mind all day. Some riders were well and truly in the hurt box, so I tried to help as much as I could. Working on the front in to the wind, and physically pushing other riders up old willunga hill. I take my hat off to my team mates who pushed themselves to their limits, we all rode for different reasons,  and I have found my mind opened and refreshed after meeting many great people who have faced great adversity, and have come out on top.

Support out on the road was amazing, and it really feels like many of the spectators now see us coming and say ‘here comes the beat cancer team!’. I think that for a regular group of people to complete such an epic physical feat is a great source of inspiration. To be cheered by so many people was a real experience.

It was very windy all day, and due to the nature of the course, we copped the wind from every direction. Three laps to aldinga beach, and then two climbs of willunga.

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Windy at Aldinga!

The ride up willunga hill was amazing, it was absolutely jam packed! A bit of an emotional day, but good friends in the bunch kept spirits high.

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Old Willunga Hill finishing line.

I know I sound like a broken record, but again I want to thank everyone for their support for this worthy cause.

Tomorrow we do a brief lap around the city race course, we are hoping for some good support from the crowd. For the final stage the orche jersey has been awarded to Brayden, a 14 year old who over two years has raised a huge amount for the cancer council (i heard someone say $18,000). A very worthy wearer of the jersey for our final ride.

Since arriving in Adelaide, I have ridden 928kms, including 11,500 meters of vertical climbing. The distance astounds me, and I am very proud. To put the vertical climbing in perspective, Mt Everest is 8,848 meters from sea level.

A few more kms tomorrow to finish everything off. 1am, bed time for me!

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The long road

It seems a long time since I wrote David a letter.

He had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, out of hopelessness I had been racking my brain to find a way I could help. It struck me that lifting Davids spirits was the most effective thing I could do to help.

The letter explained my feeling of hopelessness, also offering to complete some kind of challenging bike ride to raise money for a cancer foundation in his name.

David came in to visit me, and accepted my offer. Now.. how to go about this??

I had never done a fundraiser before. Initially I had thoughts of organising my own event, but it proved too much for me, permits, insurances, logistics, I just couldn’t do it. Time was frittering away, as it does for many of us. Hours become days, days to weeks, weeks to months, and before I could blink, David was gone.

Every time I write something like ‘david was gone’, it makes me so sad. Ive touched on it before, but life is so bloody hectic these days, we arent given true time for reflection and contemplation.

I kept looking for a suitable event, and finally found the beat cancer tour. The event was well timed (in relation to fitting in with my work and life), it was raising money for the Cancer Council, the course was bloody hard, and it seemed like an amazing experience. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Writing this blog has given me true and purposeful pause for thought. I have loved this whole experience. To reflect on Davids life, and hopefully give some friends and family a small positive to reflect on has been amazing.

The generosity of every person that has donated has blown me away, every, single, day. Thank you.

Tomorrow, for me, is the finale for this story. I realise there is a small stage on sunday, but for me, this epic journey ends at the top of old willunga hill.

A small legacy has been built for David which will be living here online for as long as the internet exists.

To put so much energy in to one thing, I cant help but feel a little emotional.

Together we have raised $16,000 for the cancer council, what an amazing result.

I realise this post is all over the shop, I blame this on a mix of fatigue and emotion, but I would like to finish the post as follows.

———–

24th Jan 2014

Dear David

Thankyou for accepting my offer to complete a fundraiser in your name. I am sorry I took so long to get around to it.

I just thought I would send you a note to let you know that the fundraiser has been a huge success. A total of $16k raised, and every dollar was donated for you. The ride itself has gone really well, but not without its fair share of challenges. As I write this I have two stages to go, and have already this week clocked 700kms and 9.5kms of vertical climbing(!) in 5 days.

I would have liked to have you around for a cup of tea next week so I can tell you about how the ride went, but I dont think you’ll have time to make it. So ill have to leave our catchup for another time.

As this will be my last letter to you, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a very important part of my life, and for letting me be a small part of yours.

Kind Regards

Deryck

Ps, the ride has been great, but geez my bum is sore!

Stage 4 – Unley to Victor Harbour

I write this from the team bus as we roll back to Adelaide.

Todays fourth stage was also the mass partitipation stage, with the public chosing from 4 distances, and 7000 entrants.

To avoid the masses we left early, so up around 4am and on the road at 5:30am. When I got up, I felt horrid, heavy limbs, achy all over, and very tired. It had been raining over night, and when we rolled out it was dark, wet, warm and humid.

We rolled up the freeway climb, which was surprisingly long, and took around half an hour. We were very lucky to have a police escort up the freeway which was a fun experience.

I found that as the day went on, I went from feeling really bad, to slowly improving as the day went on  until by the emd I felt great.

We ended up being clocking something like 155kms (tbc), the team worked well, in fact I think it was our best ride as a team.

I am shattered so will end the post here, thank you for reading.

Nearly there!

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Stage 3 – Norwood to Campbelltown

Things have been going very well. The stages are flying by, and (touch wood) everything has been going our way so far.

Todays official stage distance was 145km, but like most days, there were some extra kms getting to the start, and then home, making the day 170kms with 2100 meters of climbing.

The fatigue is really starting to rack up, im even noticing that I am walking far slower than normal, and when I called my wifey tonight she commented on how tired I sound, but I shouldn’t be suprised, having racked up 620kms since I arrived in SA. My previous weekly distance record was 470km, I have already smashed that, with 541kms since monday, and two huge stages (and one small one) to go.

I did find today quite challenging, my neck shoulders and back aching, and everything in general hurting, but I expected this to be the case. It was also hot today,  which adds to the challenge, but we are all thankful it isnt 45 degrees!

Again I played ‘domestique’ duties early on, helping some riders up the early climbs where I could, but I also had to be wary of burning too many matches. I am eating and drinking as much as my body will let me (so many bars and gels!) as I am concerned I am getting to the point where my body is starting to object to the daily abuse!

The most challenging part of our day was corkscrew hill, which is a sharp climb just off gorge road for those who know adelaide, 136kms in to the stage, nit that the run to this point was easy, with long (beautiful) rolling roads. Once again huge crowds, and similarly huge amounts of support from the general public. Channel 9 is currently showing the stages daily in tv, so for those watching, corkscrew hill is where today Cadel attacked and won the stage.

Tomorrow is a day that the general public can be involved in and ride, and I believe 7000 people have entered. The stage is 148km from Unley to Victor Harbour with 2100 meters of climbing, most of that climbing being at the start. As a result of the crowds, we are leaving super early (up at 4:15am) to beat the masses out on the road. Heading to the coast, there is a good chance it will be windy, and with firm southerlys, and riding south, we are destined for 148kms of headwinds.

I feel a sense of anticipation building as we head towards the penultimate stage, which is saturday around willunga hill. Today I was thinking of David out on the road, and how this huge journey started. It really occured to me that this isnt isnt just a fundraiser and ride in Davids name, but it is for his wife and daughters, extended family and friends. I sincerely hope this whole process can give everyone something positive to focus on.  I have had many people congratulate me on the fundraising, but those thanks should really be directed to all those people who have been supporting me along the way.

My legs and back are screaming at me to go to bed, so I think I will.

Thankyou for reading, and we will catch up again tomorrow!

Ps, apologies I must have pushed a button in my phone camera as some images have come out a bit weird!

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Ready to roll

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Gorge Road

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Typical adelaide hills

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Regrouping at the top of corkscrew

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Stage 2 – Prospect to Stirling

An interesting start to the day, getting a late request to do a spot on the Today Show on Ch9. An early start, but a bit of fun to get on the tv. Just ignore the fact that the presenter got virtually every detail wrong about the ride!

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We were privileged to be joined by a pro for the stage, Greg Henderson, who is recovering from a big knee operation. Gregs family has recently been directly affected by cancer, so it is a cause close to home, as it is for many people.

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Hendo and the crew rolling out.

Stage 2 is the biggest day according to sources, and for me the most intimidating. Official stage distance 156kms, but we were destined to clock more as we rode to the start, and then also back to the hotel afterwards. First climb is at 36kms, and from that point, the hills dont stop, including a real nasty bugger called Checker Hill at 56kms.

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When we hit the first climb, I hung back in the bunch to try and help some of the riders who were struggling a little, I tried my best to help some riders, words of support, and catching the wind for them etc.

For a second consecutive day, the wind was blowing hard, it seems every climb was a headwind. Even a spectator yelled out ‘sorry about the wind’ as we rode past. On that note, the roadside support has been fantastic everywhere that we go. Ive seen some friends out on the road yelling out support which has been a real buzz.

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Checker Hill was everything it was made out to be. Not so long (600 meters) but super steep. To give you an idea, a similar length hill back home would take about 1 minute to climb, well, this took me 3 minutes, and even going verrry slow, I was on the rivet!

From this point, the team made a point of sticking together to protect the weaker riders as the course progressively got harder.

There was a very funny moment, when we passed through stirling, a security guard thinking Hendo (being in his team kit) was an ‘imposter’, nearly spear tackled him to the ground. Very embarrassing for the security guard to discover he just tackled one of the best cyclists in the pro peleton, who was lending his time for a cancer charity, whoops! Luckily no one was hurt,

Three hilly laps around stirling later, we brought it home as a team. My legs had come good and I was helping on the front as much as the support riders woukd ket me. The noise and energy coming from the crowd up the finishing straight was electric. A great and challenging day, with lots of teamwork and support.

So, tgere is a big day down, but still many to come. The legs are aching after clocking 387kms in two days, but that is to be expected.

Final note, The staff from the Cancer Council have been so warm and welcoming, and they have been working so bloody hard to make this all work. So to the wonderful Cancer Council staff, if you are reading this, a sincere thankyou for your support.

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It has been very hectic, with not much sleep, and always something happening. I am getting a bit tired, but driving-on for David.
Off to bed, its 11pm!

For the cycling geeks, here is todays file. Screenshot below.
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Stage 1 – Nurioopta to Angaston.

So I rolled up to the startline this morning, resplendent in the Ochre jersey I wear for David. Excited that our true challenge is about to commence. A 5am start got us in the bus and out to the startline. 

I was glad that, seeing as I was starting on the front of our 135km journey, we had  strong tailwind for the first stretch of road. Im sure David had a word to the big man upstairs and sorted this out for me, cheers for that David!

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On the start line in Nurioopta.

Today is the easiest of the six stages, but it still was by no means easy. We were buffeted by firm cross winds all day in the open valleys of the Barossa, and the roads had plenty of rolling hills (nearly 2kms of vertical climbing).

The team rode together really well, and tye support staff were our angels out on the road.

We are getting huge cheers from spectators on the side of the road, and it seems that day by day more and more people are recognizing us, which also means the message is getting out there about what we are trying to achieve.

We have a small bonus that we can pass our empty bidons (bottles) to people in the crowd to keep as souvenirs, and I was enjoying getting them out to some young kids on the course.

I was stoked to be able to lead the team over the finish line in angaston.  As we arrived only a short while before the pros, there was a huge crowd lining the finishing straight as we came through, cheering and hitting the side boards (which makes a thundering noise). One of the support riders (Nugget) gave me a gentle nudge forward as i approached  the finishline, which moved me forward in front of the team.

I am writing this from the mini bus as we drive back to adelaide.  The legs are a bit sore, but thats to he expected.

Tomorrows course is around Stirling, and its one of the hardest of the tour. So a big dinner and an early night.

Thanks for reading, and for the messages of support.

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