State of Origin Tour Day 4 – Casino to Broadbeach - 153km


It was another early morning again today. We got ready and had a quick
breakfast before rolling out at 5:45. We rode our first 30km to a park
where we stopped for a proper breakfast. Heading off from here there
were quite a few clouds around. The forecast was for rain today and
everyone had their fingers crossed that it would hold off. We had a
couple of reasonably long climbs today. Thankfully they weren’t nearly
as steep as what we rode on day 2. Once we had ridden up, we got to go
down the other side and this was the fun part.  We made a quick
comfort stop for everyone to fill bottles and take off some of the
warm gear we had been wearing.

Zac, Cory and Rob climbing

Zac, Cory and Rob climbing


Zac descending

Zac descending

Our lunch stop was 100km in at Budd Park overlooking the water. We
enjoyed some great steak sandwiches, sausages and salad before getting
back on the bike for our final 53km stretch into Broadbeach. Not far
out from lunch we hit a patch of rain. Luckily it didn’t last too long
and we dried out quickly. There were a lot of downhill sections into
the finish, which made the last push much easier. We stopped on the
side of the road to get a photo of the cyclists overlooking the Gold
Coast.

I got to ride into the finish side by side with Cory. He was a great
support and was constantly looking out for me on tour. It wasn’t just
me, I know he helped out a lot of the cyclists throughout tour ~ he
even gave a few of us a gentle push to get back onto the group when we
needed it.

I’m so proud to be part of such a great and close family and that I
got to share this tour with all of them. As well as having Cory on the
bike, Dad and my sister Jacinta did a terrific job as part of the
support crew. Amongst many other things they were the drivers for the
lead and rear vehicles. We also had Mum on the side of the road in
many spots cheering all the riders and team on. This was especially
motivating on some of the soul-destroying climbs. It was also very
nice to have my other brother Luke and his wife Kirstie join us at one
of the dinners and Luke and my other sister-in-law Stephanie at the
finish, even though they couldn’t be on tour. Special mention to the
newest member of our family, Alex Dahdah. He was the only non-Morris
on the Huawei team but he became part of the family overnight and fit
in very well. It was a pleasure to get to know and share the tour
experience with him.



The whole tour team really became a close family over the four days
and after we all rolled in and got off our bikes it was hugs and
congratulations all around. It was a great feeling to have everyone
make it in safely. We had our final team function and the overall
category jerseys were awarded. I had the chance to get to know the
three guys who won them quite well over tour and they were very
deserving recipients. Sadly it’s back to real life now but I’m
positive that I will be back for another tour in the future.

A few stats from tour if you are interested:
I rode 520km, climbed 6440m elevation, spent 21 hours in the saddle, burnt just under 12000 calories and presented the TdC message to over 2000 Children over the four days.

State of Origin Tour - Day 3 – Kilarney to Casino – 146km

Today was an early and cold start. I was up at 4:45 for a 5:30
breakfast, around an open fire, before a 6:15 role out. Our starting
temperature was around 2 degrees. In this temperature the group
started in our nice warm jackets. Wearing a jacket on the bike was a
first for me. Due to being so cold it took a little longer for us to
warm up.

Our first school visit for the day was at Woodenbong Central State
School. Alex Dahdah and I sat down the front with the youngest kids
for the school presentation. The students at the schools are always
very excited to have you there and always want to talk to you about
everything. Alex and I both passed our sunnies around for the kids to
wear. It’s funny how the littlest thing can make the kids so happy.
The school visits are probably the most rewarding part of tour. It is
a huge part of what TdC is all about and it is so important to get the
awareness out to the young kids.


We then rode out heading for our next presentation. With only 18
students this was the smallest school visit this tour. As it was such
a small group we did our presentation a little differently, all
sitting around in a circle amongst the kids. We were all blown away
with some of the great answers we got from the students. They were all
so intelligent and switched on.

We then rode to our final school for tour. At this school my team,
Huawei, joined with team Lexus to do the presentation to the students.
This was my favourite presentation on tour as everyone on both teams
got really involved and worked together to put on the best
presentation we could. The words of encouragement from one of our tour
veterans were great for some of us that weren’t as confident talking
in front of a crowd. “If you get nervous just pretend that you are 1
Direction”.

Just before we left a group of five girls performed a dance that they
had prepared for us. This was very special. We then rolled out from
the school, high-fiving a line of students as we went, to head for
Casino.

I was feeling really strong on the bike today and spent a lot of the
day at the front in the engine room. Just towards the end of the day I
started to get some knee pains. Once we got into Casino and had
stretched I went to visit a local physio. He said that he would try to
settle the inflammation down. The good news was riding wouldn’t do
more damage, might just hurt a bit…

This was the most relaxed I had been all day. Nearly fell asleep.

This was the most relaxed I had been all day. Nearly fell asleep.

Dinner tonight was at the Steak Barn at the Clydesdale Motel. It was a
huge meal and absolutely delicious. We also got to hear from David
Duff who has been in charge of the logistics truck on many tours. I
had the privilege of seeing just how hard he works when I was on
signature tour earlier this year, so it was really nice to hear why he
got involved with TdC.

My dinner

My dinner

I was very proud tonight to see Dad awarded the pink category jersey
for inspiration. He is without a doubt an inspiration to me and the
rest of my family. I think this was clear on tour and he definitely
deserved this jersey. I am sure he will look great in pink. Well
tomorrow is our biggest day and that means another early morning. I’d
better get some rest.

State of Origin Tour - Day 2 – Boonah to Kilarney – 86.5km

This morning we got up, had breakfast and then rolled out. We had a
10km ride as warm-up before we reached the start of our team time
trials. This was a 5km stretch where each team was timed from start to
finish. This was a good bit of fun. The riders in my team were Cory,
Alex and myself. It gave us a chance to push ourselves a little and
roll with some good pace. In the time trial we overtook the CommBank
team. It was a great feeling and definitely got our competitive side
going.

As we were heading towards the bottom of our big climb for the day we
had to ride through two floodway crossings. The first one we rolled
through was fine, but I was unlucky enough to be one of three riders
to hit the deck going through the second one. There was a moss build
up in this crossing, which made it very slippery. Thankfully no one
was badly hurt, just a couple of grazes. This also resulted in the
first scratches on my four-month-old bike, which was a little sad.

Throughout tour it is likely that a lot of the riders will have one
day where they struggle. Today was hands down the hardest day I have
ever had on the bike. We had two 3km climbs that were absolutely
brutal. Everyone took them at their own pace. It was in these climbs
that I began to hurt and it got my heart racing. There were a couple
of times that I had to stop and catch my breath before hopping back on
the bike, trying to ride up the next section of the climb. However, I
was very determined that no matter what, I was going to make it to the
top holding my bike. This did involve me walking some of the steepest
bits. I am proud to say that I did make it. I also have to say that
the whole TdC team are one big family when we are away on tours and it
is in sections of the ride like we had today that you really get to
see this. Throughout the climb everyone was encouraging each other and
trying to help everyone get through those tough bits. I also had my
brother Cory sit with me for a bit while I was hurting and he helped
to keep me going. The main thing that did push me to get through the
climbs though was our amazing mechanic Alex Malone. This did involve
him literally pushing me a couple of times so that I could get a start
on some of the hills after I had taken a breather. He also sat with me
giving me the words of encouragement I needed to hear to get me
through. On the second climb he rode up it at the front of the group
then rode back down to where there were a few of us at the back
struggling, to encourage us to keep pushing. There was no blood today
but there was plenty of sweat and tears. There were also plenty of
hugs from family and friends when I eventually made it to the top of
both climbs.

Top of first ascent

Top of first ascent

Despite the tough climbs, the scenery was just magical. At the top of
the two climbs was our lunch stop. Everyone was glad to have a bit of
a break from the bike and dig into some food. From lunch we had a 30km
stretch to a school presentation and our endpoint for the day.
Thankfully this was pretty much all downhill. We had our stretching
session and then had a little bit of downtime before the community
dinner for the night. Tonight my sister Jacinta and I were hosting the
dinner. This meant that we got to share with everyone how and why we
became involved with TdC. This was very emotional for me as our family
has a very strong connection with cancer. I did my best to try and get
through what I had to say. Once again I was given great support from
the rest of the TdC team. After dinner we enjoyed some time around the
fire and heard some great poems. That’s it for another day. I’m tired
and sore and have an early morning. Time to get to bed.

Alex and Zac at the top of the ascent

Alex and Zac at the top of the ascent

State of Origin Tour - Day 1 - Tweed Heads to Boonah - 135kms

So it all started today. We began by rolling out from our
accommodation to the border for a team pic and then a few k’s up the
road for breakfast. Food was amazing as normal. It was a windy morning
but a pretty nice temperature. Once every one had eaten and our
wonderful mechanic had done some bike checks it was time to saddle up
and hit the road for the first leg of the day.

We rolled into our first school for tour where our team (Huawei) was

doing the presentation to the kids. This was an amazing thing to be a
part of. The way the kids get so hyped up to have a group of cyclist
come into their school and share a cancer awareness message is
incredible. After this we headed off to our lunch stop. This was in a
park in Canungra. Whilst we were there I met two ladies who were very
interested in hearing about where we had come from and where we were
heading. After I explained where tour was taking us one of the ladies
very generously gave me a donation. This is another one of those very
special moments that we get to experience throughout tours.

After everyone had refuelled we set off to head to our next school for
the day. For this leg of our trip today I got to sit in the engine
room. For those of you who don’t know, the engine room is made up of
the front six riders in the group who push against the wind and set
the pace. These six riders rotate amongst themselves so that the two
riders on the very front don’t get two worn out. This is in no way an
easy job but I enjoyed the chance to give it a crack today. The second
school we came to had 500 students. As we rode in they had lined both
sides of the path all the way to their school hall creating a tunnel
for us to ride through. They give you high-fives all the way along and
it really feels like a rock star welcome.


From there we were on our way to the final school for the day. This
leg was when a number of riders were starting to feel a bit of fatigue
and muscles tighten. It was a hot day on the bike and it was very
important to keep up hydration as well as food. We were running a bit
late arriving at this school and the support crew had already done the
presentation by the time we got there. There were still a few students
hanging around and we got to enjoy a great afternoon tea. We had less
than 10km to get to our accommodation for the night and we were
definitely glad when we did. We did our stretching showered and got
ready for dinner.

Once again we ate very well making sure we got enough food into us for
the energy we require on the bike. We heard some more great stories
from TdC team members and some that definitely gave me a few things to
think of in those moments on the bike that I’m really hurting. There
are so many people that you meet on tour that inspire you to get
through those barriers. The category jerseys for the day were awarded
and then it was time to pack down dinner and head back to our
accommodation. It is now 11:15 and time for bed. We get bit of a sleep
in tomorrow with breakfast at 7. There is also the team time trial to
look forward to. That’s all from me today.

Final Prep & Day 0

On Sunday, Cory and I participated in Kangaroo Point Cycling Club’s
annual Century ride. This was our last ride before Tour commences on
Wednesday. It was a nice flat 108km ride from Southbank out to
Redcliffe, then back to the cliffs at Kangaroo Point. It was nice to
spin the legs a bit on an easy pace ride before tour and get to meet
some more of the KP members. This ride also saw us take an unplanned
detour…

I’m pretty sure the stairs weren’t on the original route. At the end
of the ride we enjoyed a BBQ at the Kangaroo Point cliffs before heading off to give
our bikes a good wash down in preparation for tour. With this being
the State of Origin Country Tour, Cory and I decided that we could not
ride our bikes with the blue paint job they came with. After a
few hours of work our bikes were much more suitable for tour.

Today we travelled down to Tweed Heads for a team briefing and our
first tour dinner. It was nice to catch up with some of the great TdC
family and also meet some of those who are new to tour or that I have
not previously met. We had a great meal and heard stories from some of
our team. We have some truly amazing people with us on tour and I look
forward to getting to know them better throughout tour. I also had the
exciting news that I had reached my fundraising goal for tour. Yay!


I’m excited but slightly nervous now that tour is so close. Another
great TdC adventure has begun. With water bottles filled, lights
charged and kit laid out ready for the morning, it is now time to get
to bed for a good night of rest before we set off on this incredible
journey in the morning.