A good yarn is only as good as the characters depicted. Before I post about the ride itself, I would like to introduce the riders. Seven ordinary blokes from different places, ranging from 17 to 68.
Obviously this is my impression of them. I can only speak from my experience. Spending six days with people I had only met for a few hours before the ride was a lot easier than I expected. As it turned out, it was a great group of blokes, all had their own individual character traits and out looks on life. I got to know some better than others, but I will try and give you a brief run down on each of them so as the reader you might be able to relate to them in later posts.
Tony “Ugg” Peach
Tony was the man, who, with the help of his lovely wife Wendy, put the whole thing together. A man that is experienced in endurance sports, this was his third time on the ride. He and a mate actually did the first one together. A tallish, gangly sort of guy who has a dad joke for any occasion. He was the patron of the peloton. He got the nickname Ugg on the trip for his habit of tearing a chunk of fruit cake off like a caveman. All the rest of us owe him a debt of gratitude for organising this great adventure. Oh, and if you want to make him smile, say sponge!
Ashley “Flash” Walsh
Ash is reasonably new to cycling, only really taking it up this year, if my memory serves me correctly. Another wirey bugger, but not quite as tall as Tony. Flash wasn’t a nickname I gave him, it was on the signs being held up proudly by his family when he rolled into Geelong. Ashley’s son, Jacob, is on the front of the jerseys we were wearing on the ride. Ash did more than his share at the back calling “Car back”. He also still holds his high school record for the high jump at 1.96m.
Gary “Big Man” Dester
On the first ride I did with the group, Big Gary ended up pushing his bike up the beast of a hill at Geelong that the Worlds rode up. I remember thinking at the time, “I wonder if he will get over the Adelaide Hills?” Pffft, not only did he get over them, by the end of the trip he was dropping me as soon as the road went up anymore than a driveway. The bloke is a brute. He made the sprints his own, beating the lighter and younger Matt more often than not. You knew it was on if he went zinging past you with his knicks rolled up.
John “Little Johnny” Brajkovic
John was the only one on the ride who rode a flatbar. It was heavier than a boat anchor, but he managed to pedal it over every hill the road threw at him. He did some good turns on the front, sitting up like a honeymooners bed flute, pushing plenty of air out of the way for those behind him. He shared the evenings with Gary and Ash, all crammed into some tiny caravans or cabins. A quite, but great bloke, he had his off days, but like the rest of us, pushed on and got stronger as the trip went on.
Dave, at 68 years of age, was the suprise packet of the trip. The fact that I can’t recall his last name would suggest he didn’t say much. This certainly wasn’t the case, but at no time did I find out his last name. He got the nickname Dangerous for his erratic riding style. He looked a bit like a crab that had had a stroke. Facing left on the saddle, left knee cocked out like a bird with a busted wing, left hand on the hood and right hand in the drops. But bugger me, he made it. An abalone diver with quite a history. Older than the rest, but as strong as an ox.
Matthew “Whippet” Mills
From the oldest to the youngest. I would have given my back teeth to have had an opportunity to ride with a bunch of crusty old buggers when I was 17. Matt and his family are just coming up on 1 year in Australia, having moved over from the UK. It must have been an adventure for him. He did the lions share of the work at the front, contested sprint after sprint and won the 2 big KOMs for the trip. He took plenty of flack for his accent, but kept backing up for more with the bravado only a 17 year old knows. He had his mum and brother and sister along for the trip and it was great getting to know them all.
Todd “norbs” Norbury
What can I say. Obviously the best looking bastard on the trip. The heart of a lion. Pfft! I had a crack, got to the end, made a few blokes laugh and didn’t let those saddle sores get the best of me. That is all.
So there you have it. The seven blokes who rode 823kms from Adelaide to Geelong. The story of the ride in detail over the next few days.
I would like to thank Wendy Peach for the photos. I asked her to take head shots when we were stopped at some god forsaken spot towards the end of the ride. I think you’ll agree, they are great photos.
As usual, all comments welcome below. Thanks for reading.