Chinchilla to Roma
We woke to a magnificent sunrise this morning. The clouds stunning shades of pink, yellow and orange – a sign of the great day ahead of us. The team feeling prepared, but cautious for the long day ahead, one of the big 3 days of 200km + riding. There was plenty of hydration and carb loading at the breakfast station this morning.
As we leave Chinchilla, we remark on what a beautiful peaceful morning it is and how lovely to have no traffic on a Sunday, and then it hit 7am and the peak hour traffic of QCG and Origin cars started flowing out of town as they made their way to their worksites in Talinga and Windibri, putting our support vehicles and spotter drivers to the test. Traffic management is one of the most integral parts of keeping our crew safe on the ride.
We have the spotter vehicle with Carmel and Woolie sitting about 1km ahead of the riders calling the oncoming traffic and making sure we get to the destinations without getting lost! Then we’ve got Duge in the truck directly in front of the riders, holding them steady and providing that all important protection and buffer against the winds.
Directly behind the riders and acting as their shield is Evan and Erika, holding the traffic when required and making the critical decision of when to let the cars and trucks overtake our riding crew.
Behind that we have the remaining support crew vehicles including the medical car with Emma and Mel, our nurses. The mechanics car with Peter and Tanya. And the runner car including Petrea, Hannah and Heff.
Amongst this we can’t forget the role of our photographer and videographer – Mat and Dakota who constantly zipping in and out of the car and capturing all the incredible images and videos that document the story of each day.
This entire network of support vehicles all play such a critical part of keeping our team safe on this journey. The focus, precision and decision making of this team is inspiring
The first highlight of the day was the incredible morning tea spread put on by the beautiful community in Condamine. A huge thank you to the lovely Susie and James Milson, Roz Smith, the Miles IGA, Maureen Statham ‘Yarndalo’ Condamine, Margaretta Morgan Condamine and the Condamine Bell Hotel. The hospitality we receive from the communities we travel through is so humbling and we are so grateful for the support they provide us and smiles they bring to the team’s faces. A special treat as we departed the town and crossed over the Condamine River, was seeing Buddy on the side of the road with his whip cracking to rally the team as we headed out on the next leg of the journey.
Our support crew were doing the rounds this morning talking to media, trying to increase the awareness about the need to talk about mental health issues and the wonderful work that the Wellbeing Out West team from RFDS undertakes. Thanks to Harry from the Country Caller and Ian “Macca” McNamara from Australia All Over for taking the time to talk with us and supporting our message.
The immediate impact of these interviews was realised just 2 minutes down the road when we got chased down by a car, and the driver, Tony called out that he’d just heard about RideWest on the radio and wanted to give us a donation. Every minute we can spend talking about the cause, can turn into a conversation or a donation and all of it helps to save lives.
The rest of the afternoon went smoothly, as the team did the hard yards pedalling the remainder of the 220km, our biggest day. The traffic died off, the wind guided us, and we enjoyed some quality time in rural Queensland. It can’t go unspoken that our team are definitely starting to feel fatigued. Plenty of sore legs, bums, shoulders, and backs. The essential sugar kicks courtesy of our gold sponsor Lollies, Parties, Anything, to get through those long afternoons, particularly when we hit about 199km in the saddle, is just the little pick me up our riders need. And sometimes it’s just a little love from the team, and the gift of a sunflower to tuck into the saddle that keeps us all going. Nothing can match the elation as we pulled into the Roma Explorers Inn around 4pm. The sheer relief, the new PBs realised and the joy of meeting up with loved ones, colleagues, and clients.
A quick dip in the pool to cool off and refresh the bodies and some afternoon snacks is just what the Dr ordered. The team cherished the couple of hours to wind down, stretch and massage the sore muscles.
Our evening celebration in Roma is always cherished, as our key sponsors come together and welcome our clients from the area to share in a meal with the crew. This evening we heard from Jason from NAB and John on behalf of Hall Chadwick talk about what RideWest means to them and why their businesses are so proud to be involved and continue year after year to support this worthy cause.
As the night turned late, some impromptu sharing around the ‘campfire’ turned serious as we heard story after story of what it means to riders, locals, and support crew about why this ride means so much to them and we sit and appreciate, this is what it is all about. Not only raising funds, but raising awareness and making it ok, to say, I’m actually not ok. Making it normal to talk about what is going on in our lives and ask for help.
We celebrated today the 8 riders that yesterday achieved their PB of 174km, today smashing it out and achieving a new high of 220km in single day. Michael also shared with us that for many of the riders, including himself, they’ve never done more than 500km in 3 days, another set of PBs. Congratulations to all the riders on completing a massive day.
Highlights for Day 3:
· Kel – the easterly winds and the sunflower gift that guided him from 199 all the way into Roma
· Mads – the cod balls at Condamine
· Kathryn – the coconut cake at Condamine
· David – the rousing rendition of American Pie sung in the peloton between the 180km and 190km mark
· Al – the tail winds, that meant we could sit on 30km/hr for 220km.
· Heff – singing Charleville by Slim Dusty while hitching a ride in the nurse’s car
· Kate – managing the delicate balance of the bush wee and applying the chamois cream without falling (or falling down and bouncing right back up again).