Final day of riding my bike on tour had arrived. Jindabyne to Canberra, 187kms with 1720m of elevation. We had a big day ahead of us and there were plenty of sore bodies around from the previous 2 days. Spirits were high and we had all the motivation in the world to push through the pain and get everyone to the finish line.
Breakfast was at 5:30am for the first peloton to leave by 6:00am with the second peloton leaving 15mins later. This was the earliest start for the tour to make sure we arrived in Canberra by 3pm. This would allow us plenty of time to spend with friends and family who had come to see us finish our journey.
It was -4 degrees at Lake Jindabyne when we left. We were all wearing our red tour "snow" jackets with plenty of layers underneath. Once we started moving it got even colder. Our toes, fingers and faces soon lost all feeling. The short climbs on the way out were a relief and the descents were horrible! I don't think I have ever been colder in my life... Our Garmin computers were reading -6 degrees about 15kms from the start and that didn't take into account the wind chill factor. It was so cold that we had small pieces of ice forming in our water bottles that was originally tap water from our hotels...
I don't ever plan on riding in those conditions again.
We stopped for morning tea about 60km out of Jindabyne and we were still cold. I tucked into some muffins and a coffee from our barrister boys. I am really going to miss that coffee van following me around all day! Stephanie, Mum and Dad were waiting for us to arrive and gave us all some encouraging words to keep us going.
We refueled and got back on our bikes before we got any colder. With our jackets still on, we left morning tea and headed for our lunch stop. The sun was trying to come out from behind the cloud filled sky, and we couldn't wait to start thawing out.
We stopped about 20kms from lunch for a comfort stop and at this point most of us decided to ditch our red jackets. It was still pretty cold, but the sun was out and the temperature was on the rise. We had a chat to a few locals while we were stopped and handed out some of our cancer awareness packs to the kids.
It didn't take us too long to get to our lunch meeting point. We rolled into a country fair! It was amazing. There were people everywhere and they lined the entrance to the fair to see us arrive. We had our own designated area for lunch where the catering truck was set up with an awesome selection of chicken dishes. Chocolate brownie and locally made chocolate cakes were for desert.
We had plenty of attention from the local fair goers and we really stood out in out hot pink jerseys.
It was time to leave the fair and start our final leg to the finish of or trip. Our exit was lined with bag pipe players who sent us on our way with their tunes. We climbed the dirt road to leave the fair grounds and entered the motorway once more. Everyone's spirit was flying high and we couldn't wait to see the signs to Canberra.
Most of our riding from here was on very busy highways. The lead and rear tour cars did a fantastic job of keeping us safe by managing the traffic around us. We rode in single file a lot of the time and were forever calling caution to broken glass etc. on the road side.
We stopped for our last comfort stop on the side of the road with about 23kms to go. We had a team gathering to make sure we stayed focused for there final kms and to reflect back on our journey up to this point. We were rejoined by 2 riders who had dropped out a couple of days earlier due to health problems and it was nice to have them back on the bike to finish the ride with us.
"Welcome to Canberra" was the sign that made us all cheer!
We were here! We had made it! We met with the other peloton and hugs and congratulations were given to all. We sorted out the 60 riders into the number of years on tour and made our way as one massive peloton to Parliament House. We had one final task from the sunrise film crew as we rolled past the great building before taking some of our own photos of our team.
One final roll out to the Finnish line about 2kms away and we would be amongst family and friends again. It was a slow ride through the busy city traffic, but we made it. We rode up through the crowds, giving high fives to as many people as possible.
We dismounted out bikes, threw our helmets off and searched for loved ones to give much needed hugs to.
Paul Egan from Brisbane has been a massive inspiration during the last couple of years I have been involved with TdC. This was Pauls 4th tour and he backed me all the way! Thanks for a great tour Paul, I cant wait for our next adventure.
We were done! Our journey of 1600kms crossing 3 states with 15,300ms of climbing is over. Its a happy and sad feeling. Over the last 10 days, I have ridden with some amazing and incredible people and made new friends for life. The memories of this Tour will last a lifetime and there will no doubt be many more memories to be made in the future.
Thank you all for your very generous support over the last 6 months. I could not have achieved my Tour de Cure goals without you.