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November 11, 2010

MS Sydney to Wollongong ride – a big thanks

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 3:31 pm

Thanks to all who donated their money to the Multiple Schlerosis Foundation in support of my ride from Sydney to Wollongong.

All up, it was about 88km in 2 hours and 55 minutes. The weather held out for a beautiful day, albeit a bit chilly in the morning. The event was very well organised and I was impressed with the level of enthusiasm shown by so many volunteers, it really lifted the spirits to be cheered on by many whom were living or supporting people with the disease.

The starting line opened at around 6am, probably 500 or so people left at the same time, of which I was towards the end of the bunch. It was a bit tricky at first trying to find space to ride with so many people around so I took it pretty easy. After we hit the main roads things started to spread out a bit and I was getting to a comfortable pace. Things continued on that way through to the Royal National Park, which took all the riders down a steep, wet winding descent through some low lying cloud, it was pretty surreal. Coming back up was not quite as difficult as the way down. I was quite surprised, you might be riding uphill for a couple of hundred metres, then down a little, then up again. It was relatively easy to maintain a good pace.

Heading towards coalcliff the pace picked up, I found myself doing around 42 km/h for a while until I reached a group of cyclists who had stopped. I prepared myself for the worst – thinking that perhaps a rider had fallen off or gotten hit by a car I was reasonably relieved to see that it was just a ute that had rolled into a ditch holding the traffic up. Once we got the clear-all from the police it was back on the saddle again and I tagged along with the bunch until Coalcliff.

Another big descent, albeit a dry one this time, led to the Seacliff bridge – this was an awesome spot to slow down a little and soak in the view, then it was a matter of going back up again. This time the hills were a bit longer, aggravated moreso by the fact that the road was still open to traffic, which made it difficult to pass some other cyclists.

After that it was a cruisy trip. All the turns were signposted, the more difficult ones were manned by volunteers. We had to stop to let some traffic pass before another winding descent down to Wollongong. The police did a great job of directing traffic. One even commented on the bandanna I had wore beneath my helmet, “Bogans don’t need helmets do they?” Confused and sort of offended at being called a bogan, I asked him what he meant, but soon figured it was a joke and moved on. Can’t afford to offend the police.

Getting towards to finish line led us down a shared cycleway following the beach and some new housing developments – Wollongong is looking pretty nice these days. Decided to take it easy to the finish line, reaching the end was a mixed feeling of relief and bewilderment – like, is that it?

I had pre-ordered a bike lift back to Sydney, that was probably a mistake. I had arrived in Wollongong at just before 9:00am, however the buses did not start until 11:15. The first bus left around 11:30 and didn’t arrive in Sydney until 12:45, then we had to wait about half an hour for the bikes, which meant I wasn’t on my way back home until around 1:30, giving time for the bikes to get off the truck. This is probably a good option for someone who leaves a little later, but I think in the future I’ll be catching the train. Or, perhaps just ride back, after all it did take around 5 hours for me to get home and only 3 hours to get there.

Anyway, I’ll stop complaining. The ride was overall good and something I’ll definitely do again. Here’s some photos:

The starting line, around 5:50am

The starting line, around 5:50am

Temperature at the starting line: 14.5 degrees celsius

Temperature at the starting line: 14.5 degrees celsius

The view coming out of the Royal NP

The view coming out of the Royal NP

The finish line

The finish line

Wollongong beach (north)

Wollongong beach (north)

View from Stuart park

View from Stuart park

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