Arduous journey takes a toll

March 09, 2018

Time to go again: the Hogs in Merimbula before departing for Jindabyne in New South Wales.

Time for a breather: Bernie Gillespie and Bruce Berg Von Lindhe make a pit stop.

Titanic all over again: Bernie Gillespie takes in the incredible view of the 12 Apostles.

Steep climb: Wayde Foster battling an incline in the Otways outside of Apollo Bay.

Scenery: the Hogs in front of a beautiful backdrop in Penola.

In they come: The boys arrive in Cobram after 5508km and 31 days abroad.

It’s Friday morning and the Wild Hogs in Lycra have convened at Bob Beggs’ home looking rather weary but in good spirits after pedalling 5508km from Perth to Merimbula and back to Cobram.

They have gathered to watch video footage Mr Beggs recorded of their trip and reminisce about a whirlwind 31-day trip of a lifetime.

The journey was a consistent test of physical and mental attrition for the keen cyclists. There were gruelling hill climbs on the majestic Great Ocean Road and arduous single file stretches along the Nullarbor in which the wind was so vicious they could not hear each other speak, making for a lonely leg of the trip.

They were cycling up to 240km a day across the Nullarbor and basically covered its entirety in six riding days with a head wind to deal with.

However, Gifford Crosthwaite argues the most strenuous part physically was in the mountains in East Gippsland, where they climbed 8000m in three days.

Their bodies are paying the price after the marathon effort across the country.

‘‘I woke up this morning and my legs were killing me,’’ Wayde Foster said.

Mr Crosthwaite agreed.

‘‘My legs are sorer than they have ever been,’’ he said.

It is no doubt a bi-product of breaking out of the repetitive cycle of riding more than 170km each day.

As to be expected with an exercise that involves such vigorous physical assertion, there was always bound to be some sort of physical carnage as well as emotional turmoil.

Ray Jarratt suffered a pinched nerve in the L5 part of his back towards the end of the trip. It saw him miss 10 days of cycling — something he found incredibly hard to deal with because this ride had been on his bucket list for a number of years.

The fact he cannot take anti-inflammatory tablets made his recovery all the more challenging and he saw about six physios, but unfortunately could not complete the trip.

Bernie Gillespie said Mr Jarratt’s positive outlook, despite his frustration at not being able to ride, had a profound impact on the group’s morale.

‘‘He found the willpower to still contribute and was still invested in what we were doing instead of being dejected, which can spread negatively through the group,’’ Mr Gillespie said.

The mental hurdles the Hogs faced were best summarised by Mr Gillespie, who modestly suggested he was there to perform a ‘‘cameo role’’, clearly underselling his enormous efforts.

He battled with severe heatstroke at one point.

‘‘One day I was on the bike and we had done 5km and I thought, ‘holy crap, I’ve got another 195km to go’,’’ he said.

‘‘I remember at one stage counting the white lines on the road which meant a kilometre had passed and that was the only way I could stay focused.’’

Mr Gillespie said falling behind the other Hogs was ‘‘pretty distressing’’ at times, but he thought the fact they rallied around each other made dealing with the mental and physical hurdles more bearable.

‘‘Despite how challenging we knew some of the rides were going to be, we didn’t get too down,’’ he said.

‘‘We actually got jovial about it. Sometimes the joviality did not quite hit the mark, but it did relieve some of the tension.’’

Throughout the adventure, it was as if the riders were feeding off each other’s strength, despite tiring physically, allowing them to finish the ride in four weeks instead of the pre-planned five.

‘‘Towards the end of the ride I found them saying things like ‘we’ve only got 120km to go today’,’’ Mr Beggs said.

‘‘Well, most people would die if they had to ride 120km.’’

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