What an incredible week I have had and it hasn’t even finished! The week I am talking about started last Friday when I headed up to Bright for the St. Kilda Cycling Club’s Women’s weekend. I was looking forward to some amazing riding and hoping to tackle part of my ‘Bucket List’ by climbing Mt. Hotham on my trike.
After arriving in Bright on Friday I met up with a couple of the girls Melissa and Linda and we decided we needed to go out for a short spin just to get the legs out of the “sitting in the car for 3 hours” mode. So we just had an easy spin and then headed back to the Bright Alps where we were staying to meet with everyone to head to dinner.
Saturday morning was beautiful and it was time to tackle that ‘Bucket List’ item…Mt Hotham. I knew that this was going to be a tough ask because my trike weighs 14kg’s and the climb to the village of Hotham is 32.4km with a peak of 1347 meters, an average gradient of 4% but with a maximum gradient of 18% and to be honest I didn’t know if I would be able to do it. But it is amazing what you can accomplish when you have a great group of people around you and you just try and push beyond your own perceived limits. I wasn’t however going to ride from Bright to Harrietville like the rest of them tackling the mountain as I do know my limitations and I figured that a 100km ride with 32 of it uphill was a bit beyond what I really wanted to do. So I drove to Harrietville earlier than the rest were leaving and gave myself a head start. I knew that they would eventually catch me so I wanted to see how much of the mountain I could tackle before they all passed me!
I was told to break the climb into 3 parts. Number 1 was 10km’s of pretty hard climbing, 2 was very undulating (which I must say was a joy after the first 10km) and the last 3rd had some enormous climbs, some big and fast downhill’s then the last 2km was the killer! That 18% I was talking about!!! But then it rewards you with about a 1km downhill into the village.
From Harrietville I did a small warm up just riding up and down the main road and then started the climb. In hindsight I would have liked a bit longer warm up because everyone was right the first 10km was tough! It made me start questioning whether I would be able to go right up if I was finding this tough. But as I said earlier it is fantastic to be out riding with like minded people as I received so much support from every rider going up. Most people I didn’t know who as they were passing me just congratulated me and spurred me on. I must say that the middle 10km were lovely and it took my mind into a positive place so that by the time I started the last 10km of so I was feeling a bit more like I was definitely going to make it to the top!
Then I hit the last 2km…Oh My God!!! I have to say that this climb was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life to this point! I really had to play some head games with myself and the first thing I decided to do was not look up to see how far I had to go and to not look at my Garmin for the same reason. It was all about looking at the ground in front of me and the beautiful scenery to the left of me. It was all about keeping my legs moving no matter how slow I went. When I finally saw this tunnel with the Hotham sign on the other side of it I let off a silent “Hurray” in my head. I think if I had a finish line and wasn’t so tired I would have thrown my hands in the air!
I made my way to the General Store to validate that I had made it to the top with a stamp in my 7 Peaks Passport. I had attained my ‘Bucket List’ item and I couldn’t have been happier. I was so excited that I had actually made it that I forgot that there would be some climbing on the way back down the mountain! To me that doesn’t make sense that I am going “DOWN” a mountain but have to climb “UP” it to go down! But the rest of the downhill certainly made up for those climbs. In the end it took me 2:56 hours to climb from Harrietville and 1:10 hours to come down.
But my weekend wasn’t over and after a splash in the river in Bright, an amazing meal cooked by Gaelene Snelling from the club and a good nights sleep I was ready to tackle the next mountain on Sunday morning…Mt Buffalo. I had done Buffalo the previous year but I had done it on fairly fresh legs, so it was going to be interesting. But I was able to conquer it as well taking 2:11 hours to climb it and 48 minutes to come back down! The Orica Greenedge guys were training on Buffalo as well and as I was heading back down the mountain, Simon Gerrans was on his way up. To be able to say that I as a 3 wheeled Para Cyclist was training on the same mountain as them was pretty cool! So it was an amazing weekend with some incredible women and I really look forward to doing it all again next year. But this year I still have a few other mountains to climb!
But that was just the start of an incredible week. Yesterday I flew up to Sydney to take part in an ICAP Charity Day. Now ICAP is a UK-based voice and electronic dealer broker and provider of post trade risk services, the largest in the world carrying out transactions for financial institutions rather than private individuals and they have offices all over the world, with Sydney being one of them. One day every year they donate 100% of their profits and commissions to charity. They have been doing this since 1993 and have raised in excess of 111 million pounds! To top it off each trading team dresses up and this year they had the ‘Surfers’, the ‘Waking Dead’, ‘Spice Girls’, ‘Tribute to Robin Williams’, ‘Braveheart’ and a couple of others. They certainly know how to have fun, even having a red carpet arrival out front of the building!
This year MS was one of their chosen charities in Australia, one of only 15. So people from the charities and celebrities who support those charities were invited to attend the trading floor! WOW it is certainly intense there. So noisy and fast paced that it is hard to really understand what they are doing. I was one of the ‘Celebrities’ there and took my Paralympic medal and World Champs medals up for people to have a look. What I didn’t know was who I would be meeting! I must say I was a bit star struck!
I did have a fascinating day with Matt one of the traders trying to explain to me what they actually did….this was funny as I kept nodding my head, but I think the info flew right over me!!! But it was exciting to be a part of it and it is amazing to see how passionate the staff were about raising money for the charities. It is wonderful to see a large corporate giving back to charities in such a public way. This day is held simultaneously through all their offices around the world! In January they will be presenting cheques to all the charities and I can’t wait to find out how much they have raised in just one day!
So what an incredible week and still have a couple of days left….Wonder what other AWESOMENESS can happen!