A Truly Unforgetable Experience!
Early morning bakery visit and then the sealed road climb up to Thredbo , resupply then onwards to the Cascade Trail.
This is another awesome remote twisting trail that brings me into Victoria State , the end of the journey is near, but first there are more crazy steep hills to contend with ….and lots of Brumbies, the wild horses who charge off powerfully once they see a smelly human cyclist in their domain.
Camped about 50km before Swifts Creek , and rode down the super fast chilly descent. Morning breakfast at the small friendly Bakery. I love the places I pass through on this adventure, off the beaten track, seeing an Australia that a lot of people do not get to experience. Im Truly Grateful and privileged.
A steady easy gradient climb though Forestry roads took me away from Swifts Creek, next service town, Dargo, about 80kms away. This was a hot day, like many before, and the hills were steep, also like many before. I was pretty shattered on getting to Dargo that afternoon. Another great stop at the cafe/shop, friendly locals and I was revived and ready to tackle the last real climb or two of this Terra Australis Bike Epic ….Off the sealed road and onto the Freestone creek road, this was beautiful and flowy as the sun descended for another day. I got to Stratford close to midnight and camped in a children's Play area in the town park. My last night on the course!
I rode out out Stratford early and hit the Bakery not long after 6am with Goodies to propel me to Wilsons Prom. Generally Flat riding today, with a bit of sand, to remind me of Cape York a month ago. The Warm Sun was out and I was enjoying my last day of the Terra Australis Bike Epic.
Mary Jo, my amazing super supportive wife was flying into Melbourne today, hiring a car and driving to Wilsons Prom to meet me. It was shaping up that we would arrive there simultaneously, pretty cool as she had only booked the flights 3 or 4 days before .
I was looking forward to the finish but also I knew I would miss this simple life of cycling each day, finding food, water and and place to camp and absorbing this hugely vast fascinating country .
I rolled over the last few bumps on the sealed road from Foster, and there it was, the sign I was looking for. I had made it, I was at the end, I had won the race. Mary jo had not yet arrived, I sat and contemplated. I felt exhilarated, exhausted and proud to have ridden this truly epic route in 31 Days.
Within 5 minutes Mary jo arrived, amazing timing considering our different journeys. A beautiful reunion, Finish photos and an abundance of food that she picked up along the way. Thank you!
Bicycles are not allowed to be ridden in the National Park, so as I had always planned on getting to the southerly most point, this would involve a hike of about 20km from the Campground Area. We headed back to Foster and got a motel, planning on an early start in the morning.
We decided to walk via the beaches and come back a different way along Tracks and roads. The hike was really beautiful, and getting to the wild and rugged southern point was a nice completion. A couple of hours before getting back to our car, the heavens opened up with some heavy downpours, luckily we had our rain gear. We were both pretty tired by the end, a 40 km round trip. That evening my legs, especially my calves were seizing up, a combination of different muscles being used and the cold towards the end. Now the Terra Australis journey was complete!!!
A Lovely few days recovering and hanging out with Mary Jo in Melbourne was perfect before returning home to Vibrant Living Retreat , in Hanmer Springs , New Zealand .
For weeks and weeks and even now memories of this ride pop into my head, amazing memories imprinted forever, a truly unforgettable experience. This Blog really only gives a brief insight into the whole race, as each day brought a multitude of Happenings that i simply do not have time or space to share right now. I thank you for taking time to read this, i hope to have captured the essence of my journey and maybe inspired a few to create their own adventures.
If you are contemplating doing something like this, Thoughts that do not go away. You have got to do it . Just do it ! If you are new to this type of Bikepacking , start off with smaller events/ adventures, test your gear and be comfortable out there being fully sufficient. Do not underestimate something like Terra Australis, its huge, if you do not like sand, corrugations or Hike a bike sections, consider an event that stays on sealed roads.
These Ultra endurance races that I love to do are a real test . Physical strenght is of course important, but even more so is the mental aspect of these events. Its how you can handle the challenges, weather, mechanicals, injuries that will make or break you . Often in events like this 40 to 50 % do not finish .
”This too shall Pass”
I have learned so much over the last few years of doing this type of riding, Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually. Its the whole package. I use Mantras/affirmations every day, I work with my body, with my bike, With Nature and my surroundings, Not Against, I run Energy through my body, keep it moving, keep it fresh. One of my favourite Mantras is ”This too shall Pass”. This can be relevant to anything you encounter, like an injury, the weather etc . Because nothing is permanent. Use this and Believe it and you will realise it to be true!!!
Another very important thing for me personally is Gratitude. Everyday at Vibrant Living Retreat, before dinner we give Gratitude. I bring this with me on the Bike. Out there by myself i have plenty of time for Gratitude. Being Grateful for the opportunity to do this, my Body, my bike, the chance to ride through a country ….. everything that I can think of that plays an integral part to the whole.
Speaking of Gratitude ………
Also very important is looking after my body. I would stretch a lot, when i had a chance, even as i rode. I also relaxed in recovery mode, with my legs elevated up a tree or a wall, even for 10/15 minutes . Getting massage and self massage is also great for generally wellbeing.
It has to be FUN, have fun out there, enjoy it, enjoy the training enjoy been out in the great outdoors, in nature. I am competitive, i love the competitive edge of racing, but it all has to be fun and not too serious !! Or else whats the point, if you are out there flogging your body, been stressed and struggling. Don't get me wrong there are very tough moments, hours days …. Getting through these times in a positive mindset will make you stronger.
I'd like to Thank Steve Watson for putting Terra Australis Bike Epic together, hours and hours spent devising the route and bringing a race of this magnitude to the Southern Hemisphere. There was a few hiccups, a few disgruntled racers, but its not going to be perfect for the inaugural running of a race that covers over 6,000 kms of mixed terrain. I would not hesitate to do it again, if its meant to be!
I'd like to Thank my Wife Mary Jo, for unwavering support always. For her social media musings that keeps people informed about my adventure and for coming to meet me at the end, it was very special. Also like to Thank my main sponsor Vibrant Living Retreat, our Beautiful business in Hanmer Springs , NZ. For giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams and passions. Our Vibrant Living Team, all the amazing people who have come and stayed, helped and became part of our culture.
I'm Truly Grateful for my Family back in Ireland, Friends and all the Dot watchers, including the ones who came out to meet me on course. I feel the support all the time !!
Until the next Adventure …….
Out of my 31 days cycling i slept in a bed for 6 Nights, Gilberton Station, Muttaburra Exchange Hotel, Injune Campground Cabin, Byron Bay Campground Cabin, Jenolan Caves Hotel and Jindabyne. This in theory, meant I had 6 showers. Thats not many in 31 days of Hot , Cold, Dust , Mud , Sweat and all the rest. I was mainly by myself so it was just me and my Aussie outback Aroma!!
The rest of the nights I set up my Z Packs Hexamid solo Tent, or just rolled out my Sleeping mat and slept under the stars or under some type of shelter. I stealth camped at some schools, sports grounds etc but mostly it was out in the Bush. Often it worked out that I got to a town just in time to re stock , and I always enjoyed riding as the sun went down, stopping to camp around Midnight somewhere in the great Outback .
A Truly Unforgetable Experience
Steve Halligan's blog site for the full uninterrupted account of his Terra Australis race is at:
2019 Tour Divide
Commencing 8:00am on the second Friday in June Steve will make his second run for the Antelope Wells finish line in the 2019 Tour Divide.
Good luck Steve for a fast and successful ride!