Let’s get this out of the way right up front. I’m no Audax rider. Typically, my average ride distance would be something in the vicinity of 50km, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Work and family commitments permitting, I also try to ride a few Sportifs and Opens of 100km+ each year. In four years of serious riding I’ve only completed one century ride (i.e. Imperial century); my longest journey to date being the 176km from Sydney to Newcastle. I did that with around 50 club-mates on Good Friday of this year, and am pleased to say could walk again by Easter Monday. The first beer in Newcastle was, without doubt, the sweetest of my life.
Without digging too deeply on Strava, I’m sure my weekly mileage places me squarely in the bunch of middle-aged Aussie road cyclists; essentially the same position I occupy on most rides and races. Like every rider, of course, my mind sometimes wanders off on tangents, as I dare to dream and entertain just how far I might be able to ride one day if I really put my mind, and body, to it. So when I happened upon the Zoo-2-Zoo website (http://www.zoo2zoo.com/) earlier this year, I was more than a little intrigued; especially when I saw that on top of being a great ride, it was raising funds for the important work of the Black Dog Institute (http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/).
At roughly 450km spread across three days, it’s no picnic. But it’s no masochistic painfest like some charity rides I’d heard of either. Capped at just 100 riders for safety reasons, the ride is also fully supported – all the way from Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney’s affluent lower north shore to Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo, via the Blue Mountains, Bathurst and Orange. Sure, there’d be some reasonably serious climbing to get over the Great Dividing Range, especially on Day One. But if ever there was a chance to dip my cleats into the world of long(ish)-distance cycling, this was it. I promptly paid my $500 entry fee and signed up on the spot.
That was back in March. It’s now August and the ride starts in less than two months. I’m a little nervous. But also excited. Really excited. So far I’ve had a good preparation with few injuries, plenty of time on the bike and several long, searching rides. Clearly I’ll be doing more and more of these as the date draws nearer, which is likely to be good news for my endurance but bad news for my sprint finishes. But, hey fast twitch muscles, it’s for a good cause, okay? I’ll be back blowing up in the final 10m of bunch sprints before you know it.
Next stop on the road to Dubbo is a 120km test ride over most of the Day One route from Sydney to Wentworth Falls at the end of the month. I expect it hurt, but no more than a usual return ride to Brooklyn, Mt White or West Head. Bring it on…!
To those who have already sponsored me, thank you so very much. To those who haven’t, please do by clicking the link below – even if it’s just $10, it all helps. The Black Dog Institute is a fantastic not-for-profit cause that’s close to the hearts of many Aussie families who are dealing, or have dealt, with the debilitating effects of depression and mental illness.