Today was the first day of the challenge of just over 1000km for our group of riders. But to send them off in style we rode to Torquay College where the children were all in their stadium waiting for us, 900 of them with teachers and some parents as well. It was fantastic to have these little kids all sitting there and clapping for us. I actually got to finally ride my new trike today the 4km to the school! (But my job for most of the rest of the day was as navigator in the lead vehicle.)
I was introduced to tell them a little bit about what we were doing and explain what MS is. I then introduced Shane Perkins our Celebrity for the day to them and he was great talking to them about exercise and London. The principal had made it a walk/ride to school day and when they were asked if they had done that, almost all hands went up. Bade was next on the microphone and told them that I too had been to the Paralympics and won a gold medal and then went on to talk to them about bicycle safety on the road. It was a really good interactive chat asking them questions and a lot were really wanting to be part of it.
About 2 weeks ago I had sent a colouring template to the school about bicycle safety and the children in years 1-4 took part in colouring them in. All 300 were then folded and put into a box which was then handed to Shane who picked one out to win a brand new shiny bicycle donated by one of our sponsors Hampton Cycles. The name was read out and it took a few moments for one tiny little 7 year old girl to come forward! We had pictures taken with Shane, myself and the winner and shortly after that the school assembly finished.
But it wasn’t the end of the send off as a few hundred year 5 students made their way to the front path of the school and the roadway to wave the riders off. Which was a great way to start our 1000km odessey!
The group stayed together fairly well with the exception of a few hills, but that was to be expected. It was going to be the second longest day of the ride with 160km to cover. We had a few stops, toilet, morning tea and then lunch and it was wonderful to be driving through country Victoria (even had a kangaroo run out in front of us…lucky for it we were going any faster! and saw a couple more at the side of the road). At our last stop I decided that it was time to get in the saddle and I rode the last 26km of the day. I sure that at first the riders were a bit concerned about riding with a trike but I was able to keep up with the group and to be honest it was great to be in amongst everyone as I got sucked along in the peleton at speeds of 37km/hr! Even kept up on the hill that we had coming up to the resort we are staying in.
The new trike is awesome, a little bit different to ride as the front end is much lighter, so it just takes a bit of getting used to especially turning, but I am looking forward to riding the first 2 hours of the day tomorrow. It is a shorter day of 122km, so I am hoping to do about half of it. The weather is looking fantastic for the next few days and hopefully just a little less wind!
It has been great getting to know the riders as we go along and I am sure that by the end of the week we will all be good friends! The nicknames have started today with the first one being “skinny quads Nick” and as you can see from the picture with Shane Perkins (in the centre) who the nickname is relating to.
Mind you anyone standing beside Perko would be seen to have skinny quads (oh the life of a track cyclist sprinter!)
Well it’s off to bed and looking forward to Day 2 tomorrow!