A group of lifelong friends have started a tradition of cycling big distances together. Back in 2020 the same group cycled from the broader of NSW Albury to QLD boarder Tweed Heads. For 2023, the idea was to cycle from NSW boarder of Albury to Glenelg SA. We spoke with two of the riders and Catfish Athletes, Mandy and Nicole to hear about the cycle!
The group consists of lifelong friends who competed in Triathlon back in the 80’s and 90’s. Most have achieved completing Hawaii Ironman at Kona in their day. Some had cycled oversea in the USA and wanted to do similar here in Australia with friends. The group consisted of two females and nine males, with two support crew and vehicles.
Cycle route, distance and structure of the ride:
Mandy: We started on the NSW boarder of Albury. We cycled daily for 12 consecutive days of 100 - 150 km each day, a total of 1500km overall. We finished at Glenelg in South Australia.
Nicole: A lot of the riding was fairly flat but we did experience some days with headwinds which made it tough. We had four really strong riders which we put to good use on the front of the pack, they would rotate the lead about every 2km and that really helped the group stay together. If the group was on a quieter country road it broke up into two or three groups depending on the pace, however on busier roads we focussed on staying together. As we had a sweep vehicle with cycling signage on the back window it allowed the traffic to slow down and have a greater awareness of the riders. As the majority of the group live on the Central Coast and I’m living in Canberra I don’t the opportunity to ride with them so it was great to ride with different people and chat.
On Wednesday 8 March it was International Women’s Day so as being the only women on the cycle, Nicole and Mandy led the ride which we did for around 50km.
Favourite Part of the Cycle:
Mandy: It’s hard to pick one favourite day, each day had it own set of challenges, depending on weather conditions most day we had headwind or side wind. We experienced rain on and off, but we just had to roll with it. I felt so fortunate to be out there cycling in this part of Australia.
The friendship, camaraderie and memories is what I enjoyed the most. Not everyday was great with tired legs and sore butts, but you knew you weren’t the only one and you kept going.
Nicole: One of the great opportunities with this ride was visiting or staying in small regional towns that you wouldn’t normally visit, you also get to experience some of the incredible coastline of the country. One of the days I loved was riding from Beachport to Kingston SE, we rode through a town called Robe which was beautiful, a little similar to Beechworth which is always worth going to for some great riding. We toured the area on our bikes venturing out to the lighthouse and came back into a cafe for coffee and cake. Another great day was the last day of riding, we stayed in Strathalbyn and departed for a hilly ride, which I enjoyed and then we got to experience where the Tour Down Under is held including Willunga Hill. From there we rode through McLaren Vale which had a fantastic rail trail aptly named the Shiraz Trail, stopping at Wirra Wirra winery for morning tea. After we ventured off from there we rode towards Adelaide, it was a gorgeous sunny day and the blue ocean was shimmering as we overlooked it from the hills.
I have done an Ironman and five 70.3 but until the first B2B tour in 2021 I had never experienced an event of backing up each day and getting back on the bike. The amount of riding may seem overwhelming but it’s amazing how your body adapts, you have great days where you feel strong and some really hard days that you have to push through. Riding with a group made a massive difference on those hard days and I can assure you that chamois cream was my best friend!
Planning and Scheduling:
There are two main organisers who did all the hard work for the planning, one has the great ideas and the other does all the tedious work of mapping it out. They spend weeks planning the route, trying to locate quieter country roads. They also need to consider the size of the towns and if they have enough accommodation for the 13 of us to stay. They try to view all the roads on google maps to ensure they are sealed. There was one occasion that we were riding on a great road and came around the corner and it was unsealed and gravel. We continued to ride and there was plenty of whinging and the poor organiser got a flat tyre, so everybody was shouting out ‘Karma’. Each morning of the ride the organiser would inform us if there were towns we would ride through and we would generally decide as a group the stops for the day. There were section with little towns and our van would leapfrog ahead and set up a sag stop, which would have fruit, cookies, gels and drinks so we could refuel and top up anything we needed.
Nicole: This is the second ride that has been arranged by the group, the first was Albury to Tweed heads in 2021 and was also how the name came about B2B which was Border to Border. It was in the middle of Covid and a few of the guys had done tours in US and Europe and with the travel restrictions in place they decided to plan their own. The intention was to keep it within the NSW border in case the borders were locked down.
At the end of this tour the discussion started about another one and there are a few ideas floating around. I have no doubt another one will be planned for 2025.
Bucket list Cycle:
- Explore more of NSW and VIC
- New Zealand