Somehow, Ben and I let Jason talk us into participating in this year’s Brisbane to Gold Coast ride. Ben had admittedly done it twice before, and Jason had the Ride to Conquor Cancer under his belt. But not me – I was a “long ride” newbie, and with my prior history of suffering migraines after intensive bouts of exercise, I was understandably a bit nervous about it all!
Thankfully, it seems that the surgery I had earlier this year is really paying off, and I’m finding that even during strenuous exercise, its much easier to breath through my nose. This also results in a much clearer head, so much so that since the surgery, I’m yet to suffer another migraine. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference this has made to life in general, and I’m supremely hopeful that the migraines are now gone for good (though I still pop a nurofen or two sometimes before exercise, just in case).
We were quite sensible about our preparation for the marathon ride, arranging a number of “training” rides before the event. The standard weekend route for me started from our home in Everton Hills, down to the beginning of the Kedron Brook Bike Path at Osbourne Road at Mitchelton, then all the way along it to Nudgee. From there, we’d hook a left through the Boondall Wetlands, eventually ending up Sandgate, where we’d stop for a mid-point coffee and banana bread at Cafe on the Park (the banana bread is exceptional, by the way). Once we turned around and made the return journey, it was about a 70 kilometre round trip, with a good mix of hills and flat sections to boot.
So, finally the big day arrived, with a very early start seeing us at the starting line before 6 AM. We had planned to ride the event with Jason’s team from the Ride to Conquor Cancer, but given that nearly every rider was wearing the same jersey, it was impossible to keep track of everyone.
Probably the part I was most looking forward to was the first 40 KM leg, as a large chunk of it was straight along the South East Busway. By far, this was the best part of the ride – very smooth roads, uninhabited by cars, the bulk of the riders still together, the wind generally behind us, and for the most part – downhill. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and I’d encourage anyone who can ride a bike to enter the event next year, even just to do the first leg.
I can’t help but feel as if the location for the first checkpoint was tactfully selected to be at the exact point where the road turns from wonderful to nasty. The second 40 KM leg was consequently very different – the roads were far less smooth, degrading at one point to a dirt/gravel road for a few kilometres out the back of Stapylton.
As if that wasn’t hard enough, after having ridden about 60 KM, we noticed the first set of riders on their way back from the coast. They had effectively travelled 140 KM in the time it had taken us to do only 60 KM! I watched them fly past in the opposite direction feeling a mixture of admiration and scorn.
20 KM later, we were very pleased to reach the second checkpoint somewhere behind Dreamworld.
We were pretty pumped to be close to the finish, and its a good thing because the final 20 KM was straight into a head-wind! But it was a pretty amazing feeling to come around the last few corners towards the finish. I couldn’t help but to fist-pump the air as I rode over the line!
Overall, it was a really, really fantastic experience, one that I was not only glad to be part of, but that I’ll happily sign up for again. In fact, we’ve got some big things planned for the 2015 ride! Stay tuned!