TourXOz 2017 - The Final Push
KJR’s General Manager ACT, Andrew Hammond, is cycling 2,500km from Perth to Broome with TourXOz in support of the Black Dog Institute. For the second year running, KJR is sponsoring the event committed to raising awareness and much needed funds for research into mental illness and suicide prevention.
DAY 8 - The Final Push to Broome
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow; we made it to Broome! Travelling a distance of some 3,500 kms and cycling personally 917 kms in 8 days. With average speeds of over 30 kms/per hour over distances of 140 kms, it has certainly been some epic riding!
Like all but one day, we rose at 5am and prepared for 5:30am brekky however rising today wasn’t that difficult. We camped overnight in tents for the first time this trip and it was so snug that we couldn’t take our bags inside the tent. We had a restless night’s sleep, perhaps because it was our last night together, with some nervous about the following day's ride or just because tonight we slept in swags on the ground rather than in hotel beds.
After breakfast it was time to celebrate the tour with photos of the sponsors' kits just after the sun had risen. First up it was Jabra, followed by Telstra, Microsoft and finishing with AWS. We then chose our favourite jersey to construct “TourXOz” across the sand on 80 Mile Beach and this was my favourite shot after the KJR Yellow jersey shot. The KJR Yellow jumping shot is something to behold with a fantastic collection of riders recognised for excellence, persistence and determination.
After the formality of the photos we gathered our gear and jumped on the bus. Nerves were still high with anticipation of the final ride and the bus ride seemed to take forever, as if the go-slow button had been pushed. When we arrived out the meeting point, there were bikes scattered across the parking area but fortunately mine wasn’t far away from where the bus had stopped. We hustled to get sunscreen on, fill up the biddens with water and electrolytes and get moving.
We set of at a rapid pace, cruising along, and then we found "WTF Corner 2", the sequel, and our speed dropped by 15 kms per hour as we were smashed by a block side wind. It blew apart our peloton as if to say "37 kms per hour average and you thought today was going to be an easy day to finish? I’ll test your legs out!" The peloton struggled on and to be fair, we still had a 30 kms per hour average at the end of the day which wasn't too bad!
About 25kms out from Broome, we merged with the ScoobyDoo’s who we had been playing cat and mouse with all day. We formed into single file to allow the to overtake but they weren’t quite fast enough so we pulled into the parking bay to let them pass, only to catch them again a few kms later. As it was the last day and Pluto had the general classification all wrapped up, we merged and rode into Broome together. The merge itself was done with as much grace as a baby giraffe learning to walk! Before I knew it, I was surrounded by ScoobyDoos to the front, back and side of me.
Our entry into Broome was filled with high fives and cheering as we pulled into the Information Center. It was euphoric and the sense of achievement mixed with relief was overwhelming. We hugged, high-fived and back slapped as we grabbed some lunch and slumped to the ground for a well earned rest, waiting for the Snoopys to arrive. It was a bitter sweet moment as we reflected on the achievement of getting here in one piece and contemplated the reality of heading back to normal, everyday life.
Day 9 - Back to Perth
Today we started the return journey, from Broome to Perth, by car. Another 5.00am start but instead of my usual brekky of late (three eggs, a pile of bacon, three hash browns, mushrooms, juice and two pieces of toast) I had a simple cup of coffee and three boiled eggs; the rapid calorie consumption decrease has begun! During the ride we were consuming 5-6,000 calories per day and burning somewhere in the order of 4,000 per day riding and a few more afterwards that our technology didn't capture. I’ve also started to limit my water intake, mostly to match the massive reduction in activity. I calculated (roughly) that I've consumed approximately five litres of water and electrolytes a day while riding. Speaking of electrolytes, this photo was taken by one of my team mates at the end of one of the hottest days riding out of Carnarvon; we sure lost some salt that day!
As I’ve reflected back on the epic journey, now some 24 hours ago, the time has gone by in a flash but I am sure the bonds we’ve made will last for a long time yet. As we said our final farewells at the Celebration Dinner, there were six of us making up the exclusive club to have ridden from Perth to Sydney, Adelaide to Darwin and now Perth to Broome. It's pretty cool that the six of us; Gary, Neil, Frankie, Stefan, Paul and I, still see each other regularly in between rides, as do many of the group who have now finished two TourXOz rides.
To finish, a big shout out to my fellow Plutos, KJR Australia for their support and sponsorship, my parents for volunteering with the Tour and my wife and daughters for allowing me the chance to take part in this epic ride once again. We’ve collectively met all the goals we set out to achieve, raising over $300k, getting everyone to Broome in one piece and raising much needed awareness to fight the Black Dog by sharing our stories.
Click the photo below for a great video highlighting our 8 day adventure or check out the daily videos here.