Home again

Despite a luxurious 8 hours of sleep on Saturday night (and the bonus two hours I got on Saturday afternoon) I was in no way ready for the 4am wake-up call on Sunday morning. The subdued elation I felt at having completed my first SS1600k was further tempered by the knowledge that having ‘finished’, I had to now get back on the bike and do another 800kms to return home. *sigh*

It was time to pony up, start heading south, and get some good Butt Lite IX practice in. It was nice to see some IBA faces around the car park as we left. Ox came past to say farewell and we gave Frans a wave as we pulled out of the hotel parking lot. Dalby was pumping on Sunday morning with all the contractors out doing some major roadworks but we made our way through the traffic, past the local bobby on point duty and out to the Newell Highway. The ride to breakfast was uneventful. A few stray roos but they were all quite small and stayed out of our way. There were some seriously big cotton trucks on the way into Moonee and we passed some other crazy riders (not the IBA kind) who then overtook us when we paused for me to take my brace off.

The bike looks so small next to the trucks!!

Next stop was Goondiwindi for brekkie and I was seriously ready for it. The sun was up, my tummy was rumbling and the local bakery looked like the place to be! We stopped and were treated to some delicious B&E rolls and surprisingly good coffee as well as a few locals looking a bit dusty after the previous day’s picnic races! Life was beautiful!

We fuelled up at the local servo and Kiwi went looking for the loos. It turned out a few hangovers weren’t the only results of the picnic races – the cashier informed us that someone in their inebriated wisdom must have thought it would be fun to shove a few toilet rolls down the bog… The toilet stop was going to have to wait!

I don’t know about Kiwi but I was feeling a lot more relaxed now the only deadline we had was getting back to work on Monday. Sure, I wanted to be home sooner rather than later, but it changes the ride completely when you know that if you want or need to stop at any time it’s not a big deal.

We crossed our first state border for the day and received the compulsory ‘biosecurity warning’ about carrying cane toads with us…

We went through Boggabilla, Moree, Narrabri (where we paused for a snack and a drink) and a few other spots along the open road before hitting our first roadworks…

… then came the hardest right-hand turn we made all day. Kiwi’s favourite road in Australia is the Oxley Highway, but it runs east out to the coast from Coonabarabran, rather than south-west towards Canberra. So we trundled on a bit further down the Newell and past the astronomy capital of Australia then turned off onto Mendooran Rd, cutting the corner to Wellington and avoiding Dubbo.

That was a great plan as far as Mendooran. We took some time out in the shade, refilled the camelback, ate some milk bottles and teeth and kept going – Google was telling us to be on the lookout for Cobbora Rd. We found it, made our turn and then about 5kms in it turned to dirt. Kiwi is well known for his ability to find dirt roads and this trip had so far been a bit of a disappointment in that respect. Kiwi asked if I was happy to keep going and figuring there couldn’t be that much dirt I said sure, of course, what could possibly go wrong??

This is the only photo. What started as a reasonable dirt road with a few floodways became gravel after about 4kms, and then rocks after 6kms. I wasn’t going to risk wriggling around on the back trying to take photos. The problem was we didn’t know how far ahead it would turn back to sealed road… We didn’t want to turn around and head back if there was only couple more kms of dirt ahead – it would be a much longer trip on the ‘proper roads’ – but at the same time AME is not a dirt bike – and I could tell Kiwi was working hard to keep the bike under control. At one point we passed a couple in a car who looked as lost as we were and just as surprised to find someone else as clearly unprepared for the road. Google clearly has a lot to answer for.

Finally, after 20kms of very rough riding, we came out the other side. We both let out the breath we’d been holding for the past 45 minutes – we’d made it without overheating the engine, dropping the bike, or getting a flat tyre!!!! Woo hoo!!!

We stopped to regroup, then it was back on the road and next stop Wellington for fuel and for me, a loo break including wetting my undershirt to try to keep cool. Thankfully it was a dry heat, but even so 35 degrees is pretty warm when you’re not getting the airflow from the front of the bike. From here we were on the home run to Canberra – via Cudal, Canowindra, Cowra and Yass…

We stopped in Cowra for a final leg stretch and snack and now I was feeling fatigue of a different kind – not so much sleepy but definitely lethargic. And my legs were feeling pretty heavy – the compression socks had been working hard all weekend but the lack of movement was definitely making for some swollen calves. I decided the way to deal with this was by finding somewhere I could lie down and lean my legs on something up in the air. IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

Then home time! The rest of the trip was spent with me squealing into Kiwi’s ear every 15 minutes as we went past a field with baby lambs in it. Kiwi insisted they were ‘out of season’ and even more cruelly refused to slow down so that I could take photos of them, pat them, and take them home to hang out with me and Hettie! They were only small! There was space on the bike!!! We have lawn and our lawnmower is broken at the moment – what’s not to love???

Anyway, I made him pay by squealing constantly in his ear and then he paid me back by getting St Elmo’s Fire stuck in my head for the rest of the afternoon!

The rest of the ride home as the sun set was divine. Yeah, my ass hurt more than I thought was possible. Yeah, I was hot and sweaty and helmet hair felt like it was going to become a permanent state of being. Yeah, the last two hours of any trip are the always the hardest. But the roads were smooth, the sky was clear, and the sights were beautiful.

The other advantage of having a pillion? She can order take away from the back of the bike for delivery on arrival at home. Thai food here we come!!!

We were welcomed home by a very excited puppy dog and I finally felt like we’d done it! I didn’t just get there, I got home again, and after three pretty big days on the bike I figure Butt Lite can only be three or four times as hard as that right??? Lisa?? Bart?? Help me out here!

So what did I learn?

  1. Be patient – taking a few extra minutes right now will probably save time!
  2. Wear the padded bicycle shorts on top of leggings, not underneath – the seams are not designed for a motorcycle seat
  3. Don’t start down a dirt road on a road bike if you don’t know how long the dirt goes for – it ended well for us this time, but it could just as easily have ended really badly (like the buckled rim we got doing the Far Ride but much worse)
  4. Not drinking alcohol in the lead up definitely helps with fatigue – and having a reason not to drink makes it much easier to resist a glass of wine at the end of a long day
  5. We work pretty well together as a team – I still have to learn that not everything Kiwi says out loud is directed at me but we didn’t get cross or cranky with each other. And despite different schedules for bodily functions, we managed to make our stops work well.
  6. I deal better with a schedule that has a shower at the end of the day and then getting myself ready that night – I can relax faster, sleep better, and there’s less risk I’ll leave something behind. Rushing in the morning doesn’t work for me.
  7. I can do it and while I wouldn’t exactly say it was fun, it is rewarding knowing that I can do it!

After 2700 and something kms we’re home, safe and with a good 10 hours of sleep ahead before work starts again on Monday.

I can only say again how grateful I am that I have a wonderful man, Kiwi, to share these adventures with! It was a pretty special way to spend a weekend together. Other thanks have to go to Lara – our magnificent dog sitter – who took great care of Hettie, sent regular ‘proof of life’ photos and whom Hettie clearly loves. And of course to everyone who helped along the way – with encouragement, kind words and hugs!

More adventures to come!!

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Mustering from Coffs to Dalby

That freaking alarm!!! I swear I’d only just gotten to sleep when the thing went off and woke me up. All I can say is thank goodness I know myself well enough that I’d organised my clothes and our food when we arrived at midnight otherwise I’d have ended up wearing two pairs of undies and no bra or something equally awkward. Lesson 2 for the weekend was that the padded bicycle shorts I purchased to help with comfort had seams down the back of my legs and should therefore go on top of my leggings rather than underneath. So with that change to my most attractive attire, I shovelled some muesli into my tummy, brushed my teeth and packed my gear to get going again. There are no photos of this. I repeat that I am not a morning person. It’s a long time since I have voluntarily been vertical at anything even close to resembling 3.15am. Saturdays are meant to be for sleeping in! What on earth was I thinking????

Thankfully the sum total of the requirements for me were to get off the bike at the servo and purchase something to get us another receipt. I bought gum. Kiwi insisted this would help me stay awake. Knowing what I know now I think it was a waste of $2.50. Nothing was going to keep me awake after only 3 hours sleep. We did collect our second ‘big thing’ confirming this as a true blue Aussie road trip: The Big Banana. I didn’t manage to get a photo. Turns out it’s big for a banana but not so big you get lots of warning that it’s coming and we were past it before I realised. Oh well. You’ll just have to believe me.

I don’t remember much of the trip between leaving the hotel at 4am and getting close to Byron Bay just before 6am. I was conscious but mostly my eyes weren’t open. I feel like a bad pillion admitting this. I don’t know what the consensus on this one is, but I feel like the really hard part is the riding of the bike and that the least I can do is stay awake when Kiwi is required to be awake if for no other reason than to help him stay awake. In that task I failed. Only once did I drift off so much that my helmet knocked against Kiwi’s, but I think there was a good 45 minutes to an hour where I was at least dozing.

By 6 the sun was starting to rise on our right and I managed to emerge from my dozy haze to do some actual navigating. We had planned a rough route but needed some extra distance before Dalby to make sure we hit the 1600kms required and our thinking was to get them by detouring to Byron Bay. We still had about 90 minutes of ‘spare time’ available and Google suggested we could get to Byron in about 20 minutes, giving us a 20-30 minute breakfast stop and still some wiggle room to get to Dalby.

That was all well and good until we turned off the highway the road conditions deteriorated rapidly. What was supposed to be a detour, it took us 25 minutes to get to the lighthouse at Byron Bay because it turns out that the alternative lifestyle capital of Australia has some very relaxed drivers on its roads, even at 6.30am on a Saturday! The final part of the road to the lighthouse was closed, but we took our photos and got back on the bike.

We paused briefly in town to scarf down some food (beef, bacon, egg and cheese pies!! Delicious!!) and a much required coffee, fuel up the bike and collect our corner receipt. By this stage I think we were both feeling pretty time pressured. Our ’45 minutes total’ detour was now looking like an hour and we still needed time to get a couple more corner receipts north of Dalby. With that in mind, we were back on the bike fairly quickly and had the wheels turning soon after 7. If I got out of bed at 3.15am after only 3 hours of sleep and then it was all for nothing I’m going to be seriously cranky!

I am still amazed at how many people were up swimming, surfing, running and walking at 6.30 on a Saturday! There were people everywhere, including some with some very questionable dress sense, but nonetheless running up and down hills around town. Clearly Byron Bay’s reputation as a very health conscious community is not just about yoga and growing your own crops…

Back on the highway we were making decent time again. Crossing the Queensland border we skirted around the Gold Coast, staying away from the Commonwealth Games traffic, and headed for Esk.

I was awake, but the scenery was pretty average and the time passed with me and Kiwi exchanging judgemental comments about the various drivers and passengers of the cars sharing the road with us and laughing about what awful people we are. I’m so grateful I have a partner (in life and in riding) who doesn’t take life too seriously!

From Esk we went through Blackbutt and hit Yarraman for our final corner receipt – then it was time for our final dash to the finish line on some beautiful country roads. The weather was warm but not unbearable in riding gear, the sun was shining, and the GPS was still saying we were going to arrive at 11.35 – well within our time window! Yippee!

What’s that? Someone’s moving house? Their whole house?? Seriously??? Yep. Seriously…

Talk about a double wide load! Vehicles coming the other way were on the verge and there was grass flying everywhere as they went past. Thankfully we got past without too many dramas, had 1600kms on the odometer at 11.25am and we hit Dalby to fuel up and claim our finishers receipt at 11.45 with either 1623km or 1662km under our belts depending on whether you believe the GPS or the odo. Phew!

Then it was time to make our way to the Dalby Leagues Club, register and confirm we really were finishers. I don’t have any more photos from Saturday. But I have loads of great memories. I was welcomed with open arms into the IBA community – some familiar faces and a few new ones to boot. Lynne ‘The Pillion’ and Fatman, TableDrain and Colleen, TJ, PhilMor, Tele, Brookester, Ox, Cuddles, Frans and Jeannie, and many others gave me hugs and congratulations and made me feel very special – thank you all! I suspect I wasn’t as gracious and elegant as I would have liked to have been. Despite the success, my overwhelming feeling was one of fatigue. I wanted a shower and I wanted to return to a horizontal position.

A couple of hours’ nap time and I was feeling almost human again. Human enough to keep going for the evening’s ceremonies and social activities at least. We had some food and then I dragged the Kiwi away again. Those signs of fatigue (bloodshot eyes, humming in your head) were all very present and as much as I wanted to stay and chat, Sunday morning was going to involve another alarm and I needed all the sleep I could get before then. Thank you to all those who said hello, had a chat and made me feel so welcome. I’m sorry I wasn’t more sociable!

So there you have it! The story of how we made it to Dalby… In one piece and within the necessary time frame. It was fun but not too fun if you know what I mean. But we still had to get home again… *eye roll*

Who’s bright idea was this again??

Canberra to Coffs and beyond

By now it’s likely general knowledge to all you readers out there that Kiwi and I made it from Canberra to Dalby on Saturday morning, covering 1600km (1000 miles) in less than the requisite 24 hours – thereby completing a SS1600 (my first) and (subject to final confirmation from the powers that be) earning me an Iron Butt Association number. Yay!!

What is not general knowledge are the madcap adventures we had getting there, in Dalby, and coming home. As they say on Law & Order ‘these are those stories’! I’m going to break it up into the three days and keep you all in suspense.

But first things first – I have to say huge thanks to Kiwi for being my pilot and for all his love, support and encouragement! I couldn’t have done it without him. It’s been a daunting journey but sharing it with him has made it loads of fun. He’s my Iron Butt Man! I’m also incredibly grateful for all the words of encouragement and support I’ve received from friends, acquaintances, family, and people I’ve never met! I’ve been sent tips and tricks to help make life on the bike more comfortable, old rally packs to help me prepare, and even special bonus locations for us to collect around Canberra. All that support has made the journey much easier. Thank you! It means the world to me.

Friday – Canberra to Coffs Harbour – midday to midnight…

Friday dawned bright and sunny in Canberra – for those of you who know Kiwi, you know he’s an early riser – so even though we skipped our usual Friday morning personal training session at the gym in light of the physical exertion to come, Kiwi was up soon after 5 taking the dog for a walk. I surfaced some time after 6 feeling entirely unprepared but managed to check my packing again, get dressed and score a lift to work with a visiting parental unit.

Unfortunately Friday morning was not a chilled out morning in the office. All hell broke loose pretty much as soon as I arrived and it took the combined efforts of 3 different alarms and reminders on my phone and sheer willpower to change from work gear into riding kit at 11.40am, fire hurried instructions at the team at 11.45 and then shut down my computer at 11.50. I headed down to the cafe to get our official start receipt and some sandwiches to throw in the tank bag and things started to fall apart.

First, the ATM in the cafe spat out a receipt, but one that said ‘coffers cafe’ as the location, not a suburb or locality. And the queue for sandwiches was making me think that if I waited we were going to be 5 minutes behind schedule even before we started. The adrenaline from the crazy morning at work was still pumping through me and added to the nerves about starting and worry that I was going to mess things up for the team, I was almost shaking by the time I left the building. Kiwi confirmed that we needed a receipt with a location on it and we figured the nearest place for that was Deakin, a couple of kms away. I wasn’t keen on doing the service station because it meant I’d have to take my helmet off, costing precious time so we headed for the ATM. Which was out of order. The cafe? They gave me two receipts – one that said Deakin but 12.59pm (they hadn’t adjusted the till for daylight savings) and the one from the credit card transaction that said Narrabunah (presumably the business admin address for the cafe) for 12.08pm… Seriously? This is how this works? Really? Is the whole ride going to be like this? Am I going to fail even before I start?!

Anyway, Kiwi assured me we were fine and we got moving. As we’re heading out of town I’m still thinking ‘will our receipt be ok? Maybe they won’t accept it. What then?

By the time we hit Goulburn Kiwi suggested a break for some food which was just what we both needed. I raised the issue of the receipt again but Kiwi confirmed that we had the Spot going and also the GPS calibration to confirm time and distance and so we had other ways to prove we were where we said we were at the time we said we were there. After a sandwich and some chocolate milk things all started to look and feel better. And we’d already collected our first requisite ‘big thing’ that makes a road trip in Australia legit: the big Merino

But it was Lesson 1 for the weekend: patience is everything. If I’d just taken the extra 5 or 10 minutes at the cafe at work to get sandwiches we’d have had a start receipt and some food to keep us going and it would have saved time and stress compared with what we did instead.

So onward and upward. Goulburn to Oberon was pretty cruisy riding. A few nice corners, some new roads for me, and pretty scenery to look at.

It’s amazing how much better life is with food in your tummy! At Oberon it was time for me to put lesson 1 learnt into practice. We found an ATM to get a receipt but the lady at the front of the queue was trying to deposit a cheque and the ATM was having none of it. After a few minutes I hear Kiwi through my headset saying ‘there’s a queue? Nope, let’s try somewhere else’. Nope. Not this time. I’m waiting here until I get my receipt. It will take less time than riding around trying to find another ATM in town (I checked from the back of the bike and I know there aren’t very many). In the end it was only another couple of minutes and we had our first corner receipt! Woo hoo!

The ride from Oberon to Richmond through the Blue Mountains was incredible. And this is where being pillion shits all over being the pilot. I was turning around every which way taking in the incredible views, while Kiwi had to watch the road. I suspect I made life harder for him but to be honest I was having a ball…

To be honest the photos don’t do it justice – we were moving too fast for me to really capture things well. But it was a great hour’s ride and I was feeling pretty good about life. I checked a few work emails and things had all happened swimmingly in my absence. I was starting to relax!

Richmond to Windsor was a bit slow with a fair amount of traffic and we stopped on the outside of Windsor for a banana and a leg stretch. We were doing pretty well for time still – 6 hours up our sleeves according to the GPS – and with only a couple of hours to go in the fading light before we hit the highway again things were going according to plan.

The Putty Road is renowned as a good motorcycling road and it didn’t disappoint on the way to Bulga. It’s a familiar road for me (in the car) as Dad had a property along here for a while and I used to stay at Grandpa’s place in Bulga during school holidays. There was the slightly disturbing incident that involved a stray white horse grazing on the verge! But otherwise it was pretty good riding. The sunset was lovely and the stars were coming out. Another short stop at Bulga for some photos at what used to be the Cockfighter Creek Tavern and we headed for the Hunter Expressway.

Next stop was Beresfield for fuel. For the bike and for us. I was pretty happy to get off the bike for an extended period. We hadn’t even done 600kms but 8 hours on the bike is a long time, even with occasional pauses. We agreed 30 minutes for this stop and I jumped off and headed into the servo to pay for the fuel. Kiwi finished filling the tanks, I handed over the cash and then found a table in the attached truck stop. 5 minutes later I was starting to wonder where Kiwi was… Surely it doesn’t take that long to park the bike? Dude, I need to pee and I need you to look after my helmet while I do!!! Where are you?????????

Turns out he was being very responsible and cleaning the headlights. Personally, I was less concerned about this than I was about the fact that I hadn’t had a bathroom break since Goulburn at 1pm, it was now 8pm and to repeat an earlier post I cannot pee on the side of the road!! Thankfully he did appear and I made my dash to the ladies room, we got some dinner (some fairly average sandwiches but food is food) and we were back on the bike in about 27 minutes!

In short order we were on the Pacific Highway and heading north. We were in the dark, on a motorway and there was very little I can tell you that is in any way interesting from this part of the trip. My ass was starting to hurt and I was starting to feel the beginnings of some fatigue, but otherwise things weren’t too bad. I listened to an episode of my favourite podcast: No Such Thing As A Fish and giggled away inside my helmet. We stopped at a rest area that could have qualified as one of the darkest places on earth – I’m still unsure whether the guys in hi-vis vests had disabled the lights so they could deal drugs on the side of the road or if the local council is just too hard up to provide electricity there – but the chance to stretch in the dark was welcome nonetheless.

The only other thing of note from this part of the trip was the funky smells. From Newcastle all the way to Coffs there was this weird swampy rotting smell, but all this paled when we rocked up at Coffs alongside the local tip. Thankfully our hotel was suitably distant from that delightful attraction.

Arriving at midnight, I was very pleased that the key to our room was in the drop box as promised, we found our room and I had a shower and collapsed into bed. I don’t recall being that happy to be horizontal for a long time. No bedtime stories were required and I was dead to the world soon after 12.15am. Unfortunately there was an alarm set for 3.15am but that story is for the next instalment.

Best laid plans

What’s that saying about life is what happens while you’re busy making plans??

The next 15 hours are a prime example of that!! Martin’s plane home has been delayed by over an hour so where he was supposed to be waiting for me, I’m now waiting for him. And my quiet morning at work tomorrow has become a race against the clock to get some papers out the door!

On the bright side? I’m learning how to deal with feeling anxious and uncomfortable and doing it anyway… no, it’s not the perfect way to start my first SS1600k attempt, but if I wait until it’s perfect I’ll never do it.

Tonight will be a final pack to make sure we have the essentials (toothbrush, undies, phone chargers, helmet Comms chargers…) then tomorrow morning we’ll get the house ready for the dog sitter, check our paperwork and head off to work. Then it’s onwards and upwards!!!

See you on the other side of the weekend!

T minus 1.5 days

So I’m now seriously nervous about what’s ahead… but also excited…

I’m a bit of a worrier and there are lots of things to worry about (how sore will my butt get, how fast can I eat without getting indigestion, what if I get sleepy, where will we get coffee, what if we can’t get a hotel room) but I’m also reassured by the fact that Martin has done this loads of times before. He said it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done (holy crap, Batman!) but also that he thinks I can do it. So that’s pretty awesome.

For those who want to see how we’re travelling this is the Spot link

And I’ll take lots of photos from the back for the post-craziness post!!

What’s next…

The past couple of weeks have involved quite a lot of work, racking up lots of frequent flyer miles on flights to and from Melbourne and Sydney, and not very much riding. Which is not really ideal preparation for my first attempt at a SS1600 (kms that is!) but c’est la vie. To make up for it, the plan is to spend Easter Monday collecting a few bonus points around Canberra and working out what our routine is going to be now that we know the rules for pillions…

To claim any individual bonus, you must write the bonus code on your score sheet and correctly provide all documentation required (date, time, odometer mandatory; photo, receipt, answer to question or whatever is required for the bonus). Your rally flag must be clearly visible in all photos unless the bonus states otherwise. If you are a two-up entry, one of you must also be visible in all photos; if a bonus requires the rider to be in the photo, both members of a two-up entry must be in the photo along with the flag.

I say ‘we’ because Kiwi has a vivid memory of a Butt Lite VII bonus in 2014 (The Bubble, KY) involving John and Nadine Huval being incredibly efficient with their bonus collection. In short, Kiwi’s memory involved him overtaking the Huvals on the windy road into the bonus location, setting up his bike with he headlights on the bonus and then hearing team Huval appear while he was getting his rally flag and pack out. In his mind, Nadine jumped off the bike, walked past Martin, put their flag on the bonus using Kiwi’s headlights, took the photo and they were off… meanwhile, Kiwi was still reading the rally pack to work out what to do. Needless to say he was a bit miffed at this and it stayed in his mind as an example of the benefits of riding two up. It also serves as reminders both that our brains don’t always perfectly recall what actually happened in memories, and that you should ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! Unless the Huvals didn’t actually get the points for this bonus, John must have been the one taking the photo…

18) Tiptonville, KY 555 points 24 hours BUBBLE

Kentucky Bend, also known as Bubbleland, is an quirk of geography. The border between Kentucky and Tennessee was intended to end at the Mississippi River, which is the border with Missouri. Unbeknownst to the surveyors laying out the border, the Mississippi River dips south of the border line, turns back north near New Madrid, and then turns south again on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. This near 360 degree bend created a piece of Kentucky that is not connected to the rest of the state and can only be accessed by passing through another state.

Take a photo of the stone marker for the Madrid Bend Families’ Cemetery to prove you were one of the rare visitors to this isolated spot.

On the east side of Kentucky Bend Rd, 0.5 miles beyond the north end of TN 22. There’s nothing else out there, you can’t miss it. 36.50465, -089.49232

To finish the story, apparently the next bonus was something at the top of a toxic waste dump and Kiwi redeemed himself by getting to the top of the waste dump faster than John and Nadine… Though being the fastest person to climb a 75 foot pile of chemical and nuclear waste may say something about the triumph of a competitive spirit over prudence?

Aaaaanyway… that’s a very long-winded way of saying that tomorrow we will be out hunting bonuses (kindly provided by Simon Bell) around Canberra and the ‘no drinking on school nights’ rule is kicking in early this week ahead of next weekend’s shenanigans! I have to admit to feeling somewhat under-prepared for my first big hit out, but then I suspect that would be the case even if I hadn’t eaten somewhere in the vicinity of a dozen hot cross buns in the past week and spent a bit more time in the saddle. I’m also hoping the feeling is par for the course when doing something as blatantly insane as riding 1600km in 24 hours.

Which brings me to my next point “what was I thinking?” And the reactions to this blog from friends, family and acquaintances. On the one hand are the people we’ve met through Kiwi’s long distance riding who are all ‘yeah! This is great! So glad you’re getting into it and seeing how much fund this is!’ And on the other are my family and friends from other walks of life whose responses are probably best summed up by my this comment from my gorgeous big sis: “Where is my sister and what have you done with her?”

Most of the time, I, too wonder what on earth I’m thinking even contemplating next weekend’s ride – but then that competitive/stubborn streak that I’m pretty sure has some strong roots on Mum’s side of the family rears its head and I get all “If they can do it, I can do it” about the whole thing and know that I’ll be disappointed in myself if I don’t at least give it a try. If I hate it, then I’ll know for next time to let Kiwi go and enjoy it on his own but either way I’ll be able to say not just that I can do it, but that I did do it. Between now and then will be a few preparations to make it all go smoothly.

Kiwi checking out bonus points…

SaddleSore prep

So far, the longest day we’ve done is 14 hours and that was ‘only’ 1000kms. Even that challenged us as far as nutrition went, though it wasn’t too bad for fatigue and we agreed our hydration strategy worked well. A few things I’m changing to improve my personal comfort for next weekend:

  • I have purchased padded bicycle shorts to wear under my riding gear and hopefully reduce how much pain my butt is in and also new LD Comfort helmet liners for both of us and riding sleeves for me underneath my jacket.
  • I will take my back brace with me just in case
  • I’ve started doing strength and flexibility classes (combination of stretching and core strength exercises) on Tuesday evenings
  • I’m going sans alcohol all week
  • We’re going to pack more and better nutrition (protein balls, peanuts, probably some other trail mix, dried fruit and so on)

Other than that, the plan is to get good sleep and relax. Unfortunately I have a work trip to Sydney on Thursday but thankfully unlike previous weeks I don’t have to be on the first flight out and I’ll be back by 7pm. We’re also both working on Friday morning, so it will mean there’ll be some mental fatigue before we get on the bike on Friday at noon, but I think we’ll be fine. The weather has started to cool down, so there shouldn’t be a need to worry about vented riding gear and so on…

The biggest test of my self control though is going to be that we splashed out and bought new Sena 30K comms systems while we were at Phillip Island and have since bought Shoei Neotec II helmets to put them in… They’re due to arrive Tuesday (from Italy via France, India, China and Singapore according to FedEx) but apparently it would be a rookie mistake to wear the new helmets on a long ride without wearing them in first. Perhaps only the females out there will understand how I feel but it’s like buying a new outfit that would be perfect to wear for this one occasion but being told you should wait a while before you try it out… I’m the kid on Christmas morning who wants to get the remote controlled car out of the box now and what do you mean you didn’t buy batteries for it!?!?!?? The shops aren’t open today????

So instead I’ll have to be a grown up, wear my Shoei NXR with no flip top and change the visor over from tinted to clear when the sun goes down. Adulting is hard.