So it’s been a day or two but we have finally dried out enough to sit down and reflect on what was a very damp but rewarding Second Annual Newcastle Overnight Ride.
The pre-ride dinner proved a smashing success, and our only concern was that having gathered in warm dry confines, the ride itself might prove grim. Yet riders assembled with remarkable cheer at Observatory Hill, many remarking that they hadn’t really expected anyone else to ride but were glad of the company. We handed out just over a hundred maps at the start, making a reasonable growth from last year but a remarkable turnout considering the weather.
As for the ride itself the overwhelming experience was of heavy rain, interspersed with variations of light, steady and torrential rain. Some riders noted that after a while the only thing that got their attention were the very occasional periods where it stopped raining entirely, moments that were few and far between. On a positive note the rain did keep traffic to a minimum, with many stretched being entirely car free for up to an hour at a time.
Approximately 60-70 riders finished the ride, with the first arriving at approximately 3am and the last at 10:30am. Many riders abandoned before Gosford, the rain rather than the distance proving their undoing. Some under dressed riders were even spotted in Asquith raiding the Coles Supermarket fashion section before jumping on a city bound train. Riding at all in those conditions is commendable, but those who finished showed particular perseverance.
As organisers our massive thanks goes to all those who rode on the night but most particularly to our wonderful tea stop volunteers. This year our Sydney stalwarts were joined by a Newcastle brigade who set up a much appreciated second stop at Budgewoi. In horrendous conditions of rain and wind they managed to erect tiny islands of warmth and cheer. Thank you again for your wonderful work.
Numerous stories were floating around of bravery and good cheer amongst riders. We thought three of these were worthy of particular prizes.
The award for Courage – to the rider on the most inappropriate bike-
This award goes clearly to Gareth (spelling?), nominated by Lyn at the Tea stop, as she puts it he ” turned up on a whim after hearing about it one week out. No pre-ride training, no fancy bike gear, no rain, no warm gear, no super-dooper energy food. Just a man, his shorts & t-shirt, some big ol’ knobbly tyres , an open-faced helmet, a pair of headphones fashioned on Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler video. After riding through terential rain & cold he trundled into the Budgewoi stop just before pack-up, looking surprisingly cheery & upbeat, in seemingly good shape…no shivering! His comment: “I feel OK actually. I’m from the UK so I’m used to this, but I’d love a cup of tea.Then when we stopped by on the drive home: “I’m not getting a lift now!”
If you can put us in touch with Gareth he has won a one year subscription to Treadlie Bike Magazine, courtesy of Treadlie.
The award for Perseverance – to the rider who is last to arrive in Newcastle Baths-
Gareth almost won this award too but was pipped at the post by Madeleine who arrived by herself shortly after even the organisers had jumped on the train home (much to our shame). Rocking an enormous fluro yellow jacket, some fetching mudguards and some very upright handlebars, Madeleine did an amazing job to keep riding in tough conditions for 13.5 hours to make it to the finish.
Madeleine wins a $80 voucher for parts and accessories from Cheeky Transport, Newtown.
The award for Camaraderie – to the rider who most graciously aids another in their hour of need-
We had a number of nominations for this award and it was actually really tough. Honorable mentions go to Andrew and Baz (Basil?)who both gave their own lights to help other riders who were lacking illumination.
But with only one prize on offer, we decided to give it to Jason, the stoker on the back of the hired tandem. Jason decided to ride this year on a tandem with his brother having ridden last year by himself. Not finding any tandems available to borrow, they hired one which proved in numerous ways to be rather ill suited to the task. Both riders showed remarkable courage to ride the ill fitting and distinctly weighty machine, further underlined by the fact that they had to hand change the front gears for each incline and constantly readjust their sliding seat posts. Being a stoker is no easy task, it requires utmost faith and commitment to the captain in charge of steering and braking the bike. When Jason’s brother crashed the tandem on perhaps the only straight, dry and illuminated section of the ride (the Fernleigh Tunnel), Jason kept riding with his injuries to finish the ride. While in the photo he may not look particularly happy, he bore the experience and his injuries with cheer. For this feat of graciousness he deserves an award of acomplete Shutter Precision/Alex Rim 700c Dynamo Wheel from Omafiets Dutch Bicycles, Marrickville.
To wrap things up, thank-you again everyone for an amazing ride. If you have photos, blogs, stories or questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will almost certainly be back again next year, for what we can only hope will be an even more exciting and wonderful ride.