I've put together some videos from our Cycling For MND ride, taken from my car dashcam. As you might gather from viewing, I didn't follow them km after km which would have a) been dangerous for them on some of the twisting roads b) been boring for me and c) cost me a fortune in petrol.
They always wanted to be underway before 9am, which as many of you know is when I'm normally still well and truly in bed , but I did get up just after them. However, because it takes me so long to do everything I'd usually end up leaving wherever we stayed 30 - 60 minutes after them, pass them somewhere en route and keep going and wait for them at the coffee/lunch spot. Then do similar again in the afternoon meeting them at whatever motel they'd decided to head for or going and checking out the motels in the area to see which looked best. It was only towards the end of the trip as I became more familiar with their progress that I got more video.
In reality I compiled these mainly so Jacqui, Wendy and Rod could look back in the future and say "Hey, we really did that!" and revive some memories from their huge accomplishment. They probably won't appeal much to others apart from family and friends who want a feel for what they achieved and maybe any other cyclist contemplating similar.
However, hopefully for those who are interested they'll give you a feel for their trip. I'm still working on the last few days. If you're only likely to have time to watch one can I suggest Day 7 (with Jacqui vs the trucks) if you haven't already seen it.
BACKGROUND. (See below for PROGRESS)
Late last year my wife Jacqui’s sister Wendy and brother-in-law Rod set themselves the huge personal challenge of cycling from Adelaide back to Melbourne and invited Jacqui along to join them.
As someone with motor neurone disease (MND) and given the enormity of their undertaking I saw it also as a great opportunity to raise much needed funds for MND Victoria who have helped me so much over the years.
For those who aren't aware, the usual form of MND (ALS) is a disease in which eventually all muscles are affected. The motor neurones in the brain and spine which control them die for as yet unknown reasons. There is no treatment recognised to even slow progression, let alone stop or reverse it, which is why money is desperately needed for research. There is one expensive treatment (Rilutek/Riluzole) but results over a number of years have been very disappointing, barely better than placebo.
Sufferers lose the ability to move and their muscles atrophy, plus they lose the ability to breathe as muscles in the diaphragm and chest wall cease to function. They also lose the ability to swallow and to speak, speech being a surprisingly complex process involving many muscles. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within only 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms, fully aware mentally but trapped in their own bodies.
Professor Stephen Hawking is one ALS sufferer most people are aware of. He has far exceeded the usual prognosis as he is among the small percentage of people whose initial progression was unusually slow and he now has the finances to afford full time mechanical ventilation and other medical support.
The form of MND I suffer from is PLS, a very rare form of MND. My two girls were still in primary school when I was diagnosed when only 38 years old. Fortunately PLS typically progresses more slowly than ALS. Even so, for over 15 years I’ve had to use an electronic device to communicate as my speech became too poor to understand. I haven’t been able to take a single unaided step for over 15 years but can still manage to very slowly walk/shuffle 100m or so on smooth, level surfaces using my walking frame. However, for longer distances or in busy places where the slightest accidental bump can put me flat on my face I need a wheelchair. Due to the fact I can no longer put my arms out quickly enough to save me, even a simple fall from a standstill can do enormous damage eg. I’ve had a broken hip amongst other breaks plus suffered numerous bruises and cuts, some requiring stitches.
For many years I have greatly appreciated the free use of equipment such as my wheelchair from MND Vic’s equipment library and more recently an expensive hoist so Jacqui doesn't hurt herself trying to lift me back up when I fall. For over 7 years I’ve been closely associated with MND Vic helping them maintain their website (www.mnd.asn.au) and doing other website related work for different MND organisations, all as a volunteer, so know any funds we can raise will definitely be put to good use!
The aim of the ride is to cycle all the way from Adelaide back to Melbourne via Mt Gambier. The total trip is well over 1000km and they aim to start riding on 27th April.
Wendy and Rod have done a lot of cycling both overseas and locally and all three have completed the big (210km) Around The Bay In A Day Ride. They're all just recently retired or semi-retired high school teachers with no background in competitive sport or fitness, so it will therefore be a huge challenge for them, but one they've been preparing towards as time permits.
I am still medically approved to drive so am driving the SAG wagon (my ute). We have no sponsors so are totally paying our own way on food, petrol, accommodation etc.. Therefore we greatly appreciate anything you can spare for MND Vic (not one cent will come to us!!).
Day 1: 27/4 Glenelg to Strathalbyn (65km inc. huge climb out of Adelaide).
Day 2: 28/4 Strathalbyn to Meningie (95km).
Day 3: 29/4 Meningie to Kingston SE (147km - longest day of riding for the trip).
Day 4: 30/4 Kingston SE to Robe (45km).
Day 5: 1/5 Was meant to be Robe to Millicent but they were feeling so good they pushed on to Mt Gambier (127km total).
We had an enforced 2 day break in Mt Gambier Fri and Sat as it was extremely cold (top of 12c) and wet (25+mm of non stop rain Saturday, torrential at times) and they would have faced 40+kmh headwinds on the way to Portland.
Day 6: 4/5 Mt. Gambier to Portland back into Victoria (107km).
Day 7: 5/5 Portland to Port Fairy (72km)
Day 8: 6/5 Port Fairy to Port Campbell (94km)
Day 9: 7/5 Port Campbell to Apollo Bay (99km)
Day 10: 8/5 Apollo Bay to Aireys Inlet (98km)
Day 11: 9/5 Aireys Inlet to Queenscliff, ferry across to Sorrento then Sorrento home (Pearcedale 136km) to a hero’s welcome!! (Not). The two dogs at least were pleased to see us. :)
They were all feeling amazingly good all the way except for the day after we got back when Jacqui at least was stiff and tired, but only because with the adrenalin and excitement of having completed such a monumental challenge she didn’t do her usual warm down. Wendy and Rod had already driven the 250km back to their home in East Gippsland.
1060km in 11 riding days!! Not bad for three people who've never played sport and are aged 60, 59 and 58 (soon to be 59!). I'm amazed at what they've achieved and very proud of them all, especially my wife Jacqui who just kept on going, often riding by herself as she wasn't quite as fast up the hills as Wendy and Rod.
A total of almost 3200km between the three of them with no falls, no accidents and even no punctures!!
PS Just to show it wasn’t all fun and games. On day 6 I'd pulled up a few hundred metres ahead of Jacqui to get some video on my dash cam and got this. Bit of a worry watching someone riding in those conditions.....
(Apologies for the music but I’m a child of the 60s and 70s. LOL)
More photos and maps of route to come soon.