The Trans Oceania 2014 Cycling Expedition and Tour ended with a final Dinner for all riders and staff members in the dining room on the 25th floor of the Sydney Bayview / Boulevard Hotel.
Here Andreas and Team awarded the full tour riders with Finisher Medals and surprised almost everyone on the tour with a personalized gift, characterizing her or his special appearance during the tour. A great event to complete this fantastic trip after 4 months. Even Sponge Bob ‘reincarnated’ after being missing since the blast in the Bromo Crater on Java back in September.
A fantastic end of a long and exhausting cycling tour.
It was a fantastic ride in the morning, along the Great Pacific Road, partially built on pillars into the ocean, and through a very scenic Forest National Park, before descending down to the first ferry. Later the ride continued on endless bike paths along the ocean and rivers into the city and the ferry port. We were not taken the direct and shorter route, to avoid the busy rush hour traffic on this Friday morning. On the first half of todays distance there were two short, but partially steep climbs, but very scenic in dense forest. Two ferry rides were injected to avoid highways and shorten the remaining riding distance a bit, as we wanted everybody to arrive at the Opera House on a bicycle at 3pm. Eric decided to be the ‘sweep’ today. Unlike all other days of the tour, when he wanted to be first to camp, competing with all the other racers, the last day is his ‘I want to finish last’ day. However, he immediately failed his ‘sweeping’ task, when Lydia and I fell far behind him after leaving camp, without him to notice. Only when we eventually closed up at a scenic lookout, where fellow riders were taking photos, he became last again. For me it was a ‘camera day’. I went ahead on the climbs to take photos and videos of the ‘struggling’ riders and fell back again until the last in the group passed me.
The first stunning view of the city skyline opened shortly before lunch stop. It looked so close, but was still 45km away. Chelsea was waiting in a park with a special lunch setup. No car and no canopy anymore, just she, her bicycle and a few plastic containers and plates with food and sweets. I was leading the final 45 kilometer to the port, from where we will have to take the ferry to the Circular Quay, right at the Opera House. I ‘challenged’ my group (Terrie, Bryon, Matthew and Lydia) twice, when ‘intentionally’ taking a wrong turn, just to see, if they are not sleeping or daydreaming behind me. They immediate corrected me proofing their attention and trust in me. The bike path was quite ‘tricky’ and led us in a big loop around the busy city center. We arrived at the ferry at about 1am and soon enjoyed the long ferry ride in the inner harbor. Happiness increased, when the first view of the Harbour Bridge was visible and revealed the unique shape of the Opera House in the back. A few more turns and landings, before we finally reached the Quay and departed the ferry, to PUSH our bikes the final 700m to the Opera – no I understand, why Australians call a bicycle ‘push bike’. At the Opera we were greeted with bright sunshine. Here we are, the end of the tour! 4 months of cycling for the full tour riders ended here; or a bit less cycling, for those who joined the tour at later stage. With still plenty of time the few of us took some quick photos and headed for a Café to refresh and prepare for the group meeting, at around 3pm, when the ‘sweep’ and the final riders are expected to arrive. And with a bright smile, Eric swept everybody shortly after the hour onto the Opera areal. Even ‘Sponge Bob’ who disappeared after the mishap in the Bromo crater / Java made it to Sydney and was happily welcomed by the cyclists.
After congratulations, hugs, some tears and kisses we posed for some group photos, before everyone disappeared to our hotel to get ready for the final tour dinner, at 7pm.
Unfortunately it was not a ‘parade’ style of arrival. Almost unrecognized we made our way from the ferry to the Opera. Only our new tour jerseys made us a bit ‘special’. No group/convoy riding into the city celebrating our trip. No tour banner, no champagne reception, no music, no local cyclists to welcome us, no press; only a very small number of relatives or friends waiting for individuals, where around, as well as our two Australian riders, Stirling and Daryl, who rode with us in Indonesia.
Soon, everyone will leave for home to rejoin with family and friends for the Christmas Season.
I’ll stay in Sydney and around for another 12 days to enjoy a restful and hopefully dry and warm yearend in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer time. Winter in Germany must wait for me …
Note: The tour dinner and post tour updates, as well as more photos and videos from the tour will follow in the days to come.
Cloudy and cold in the morning, getting warmer in the afternoon, getting back to the sea.
We are leaving the hills of the Snowy Mountain region and eventually ‘dive’ back down to sea level again. However not before having a final short, but steep ascent through some stunning rock formations. Eric, didn’t want to ride with us again today, he needs to race again, to warm up for the final. So I was in charge to make the pace for myself and Lydia. Only a few kilometers into the day, Lydia spotted a baby Magpie next to the road in the grass and asked to stop. The poor creature had obviously fallen off its nest, but was unhurt. It would not survive so what todo? We can’t leave the little ‘cotton ball’ to its destiny. Another one was unfortunately already dead. So we emptied Lydia’s handle bar bag – you won’t believe how much chocolate it can hold! – to carry the fluffy bird until we find a place where it is being taken care of. With the bird in Lydia’s bag and me carrying additional ~5kg of her chocolate and energy bars in my backpack we continued the long ride. It was not before another 60 kilometers before we would ride into the next town, Norwa. The little one obviously enjoyed the ride in the bag. Like human babies, it fell asleep shortly after we were in motion. We only stopped once to take photos at a lookout with a waterfall going over a deep drop off. Reaching Norwa we went straight to look for the Wildlife Rescue Service, which we googled on the way. Unfortunately it was only a postal address, but on the phone they advised us to leave the bird with a Vet in town, for them to pick up. So we handed it over to a nice assistant. Thereafter we could join some of our fellow riders, who already had their second breakfast in a Café in town.
It was a long cycling day and because of the high and dangerously dense and fast traffic on the Princess Highway, we were to take a short train ride to skip the most busy part of the highway. We met Eric again at the train station. He was unlucky to find an alternative to riding the train. He should have listened to Andreas the night before at the riders meeting, when he explained, that it would mean to carry the bicycle along the beach and through swamps, which was not recommended by experienced local cyclists. After a short ride on a train five of us continued the final 45 kilometer to Bulli Beach, the others stayed on the train until to the camp. The continuation of the ride was most of the time on nice bike paths and along the coast line. After being delayed by fixing a hopefully the last puncture of the tour on Lydia’s bike, we reached camp past 5pm. It was probably the longest cycling day for Eric of the whole trip.
Today is the last camp night of the trip, with only Eric and myself being ENT (Every Night Tenting), all others preferred the comfort of a ‘cabin’ or hotel room, whenever possible . Our camp is located between the ocean and a huge cemetery! What an outlook!
The next day will lead us to Sydney, were we will finally end up in a hotel and real beds. Although time was short to dinner, I wanted to have a swim in the ocean. As a ‘gentlemen whom I am’ I helped Lydia with my tent and did not insist for her to fulfill her pool game loss duty on her own. The day faded out with Eric, Lydia and me sharing a bottle of wine at the beach. With only one short cycling day left we went to a final rest in our tents.
The final 3 riding days to Sydney have begun. Too sad, that Gerald had to leave the tour in Canberra and couldn’t continue to ride with us to Sydney.
It was windy this morning out of Canberra. The wind already picked up the day before and changed its direction. Instead of being pushed, we are heading a long time into it. Eric wanted to ride with us today. However, he was going a bit too fast for me, considering the amount of climbs and the very long distance to follow tomorrow. However, I could convince him to not push us to hard and ease the day for us. So he switched into a kind of hibernation mode, investing just enough energy to not fall asleep on his bike. We had a fabulous day together riding through the hilly country side. We left and reentered ACT twice to NSW before we finally remained in NSW. The route contained several steep climbs and beautiful rivers to cross on wooden bridges. Some take it slower with less risk, others ignore the warning to be careful and …
Nerringa is more or less only the local ‘hotel’, which does not have rooms to rent, but a good pub, beer garden and food. The shower was the usual ‘bottle shower’ that you will have to use in the bush. The campground was the lawn behind the beer garden, with chickens and a turkey running around – and there were still running around the next morning, and didn’t make it into one of Mark’s pots for the dinner!
The weather was nice during the day, but with the setting sun it turned really cold. Leaving the pub I felt very cold and tired and left seeking shelter in my tent, to avoid getting a cold. I fell asleep over reading my book and if Eric hadn’t missed me at dinner, I would have missed it, warmly cuddled into my sleeping back.
Today Lydia challenged me for a pool match while I was waiting for my devices to be charged in the pub. And she didn’t want to play just for fun. So it was decided that the loser of the match was due to pack the other’s tent the next morning. She was very confident in her pool skills, because winning would mean, that she wouldn’t have to struggle for 15 minutes as usual, to pack up. And she was quite good, or just lucky? The victory was hers and I had to set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier, to have enough time to pack tents for both of us. Nevertheless of my disastrous defeat, I asked for a second game. This time the winner would get tent pitching service in the next camp. I was soon 4 balls ahead of Lydia, when she started her hunt for the win. With a bit of luck I pocketed the black ball just in time when she had only one more of her colors left. Yeah, an unexpected victory, I would be able to ride straight into the pub in Bulli Beach the next day, as my tent will be made ready for me when I get to camp at night!
A quick ride into Canberra, or better a suburb of Canberra. Cold morning start turning into a very hot and dry day.
Again a very cold night in the Snowy River region. Fog in the morning, until the sun burnt it away. We were riding on the main Highway to Canberra and the ACT (Australian Capital Territory). It was quite busy, but had a wide shoulder to stay off the road for most of the distance. The traffic was fast, but mostly respectful with us. A bike lane was available for the last 10 kilometers to the campsite.
The campsite is basic and quite a distance outside of town. In my opinion far too basic for a rest day campsite. Rather unexpected for the very last rest day before the tour is over, and a caravan park in the countries capital city.
Today I was cycling again with Lydia. I was more or less staying behind her (not drafting) all morning. After lunch I took the lead. Obviously I was too fast for her and she started to drop all kind of ballast from her bike, to be able to keep pace with me. First she dropped her Garmin, then she started to leave more stuff behind her, littering the beautiful country. Time for me to slow down and stop this process. Other riders following us where also not amused about this and picked up her belongings and cleaned up behind her … (part of this is fiction, but losing the Garmin and searching for it, is the truth).
Very cold night and morning, hot day. Roads quiet on this Sunday morning.
It was very cold this morning. 3°C and the fog covered the valleys into a ‘winter’ dress. The sun quickly burnt it away and heated the air. I did a short (distance), long (time wise) detour to the Platypus Resort, a National Park at the river. I spent about 90 minutes in the park to get a view of these shy creatures. And my patience was awarded. I did not only see the Platypus swimming and diving in the river, but also a Cunningham Skink, sunbathing on the rocks. It was a long day for me, due to the stop at the park. The long climbs, hotter temperature and the tired legs from the previous day, made it a bit slower than usual. But there was more to see, like an Echidna and a fox in a large rock field.
What a beautiful morning in Delegate. Cold, but the rising sun will soon warm up our frozen bodies. The night was cold and the morning mist lays a white cover over the fields, as if it wants to show us, how the Snowy Mountains will look in winter …
A hundred and thirty five kilometers tidsy, but I turned into the Platypus Reserve at Bombola to get a slight chance to see these shy animals in their natural habitat.
Very scenic ride through the fern and eucalyptus forest. Only 13 cars and 4 motor cycles all day on the road. 20 km of gravel.
I must have left my climbing legs in Indonesia. It wasn’t an easy day, after 8 weeks of almost no climbs in Australia and more than 10000km done so far. However the route through a green forest, with almost no traffic, was so peace- and beautiful. Although a huge part of the forest was recently destroyed by an immense fire, it was already shining in 50 shades of green. Huge tree-ferns, giant eucalyptus trees and lower plants competed in who can produce more shades of green, like the tea plantations on Indonesia. The climbs were very gradual and with only 17 motorized vehicles passing us all day, it allowed a very relaxed cycling. The road was a 115 km roller-coaster, which means countless corners and curves, as well as ups and downs. The weather was fantastic. It started cold in the morning, but clear skies indicated that the sun will heat up the air quickly, allowing to ride short sleeved for the first time in weeks. Shortly before reaching delegate we crossed state boundaries from Victoria to New South Wales (NSW).
Delegate is a very small town. There was only one store open this Saturday afternoon to buy food and drinks. The camp ground is an unmanaged public camping space along the Snowy River. Lush green, but myriads of annoying flies. Tonight we will sleep with the sound of the running waters and the songs of the frogs instead of the engines of passing cars, passing by the former camps located next to the highway.
Tomorrow will be another long day, with 135km and 1750m up. The 5 remaining days to Sydney will by no means be a ‘Walk in the Park’!
Camping in Delegate. The sunshine is back! After about 1900m of climbs we set camp on a real basic campsite in Delegate, along the Snowy River. Only 1 shower & 1 toilet per gender. However power plugs for everyone and infinite space to setup tents.
It would be a great place, if there were NO FLIES!!
We left Victoria and entered New South Wales. The ride through the forest was stunning. After a big fire life is back and trees and ferns are in bright green colors.
The final 6 cycling days to Sydney don’t seem to be an easy ‘walk’. It is not an easy roll-in after 88 days of going through all forms of torture. Lots of climbs and always between 110 and 160 kilometers. A ‘Taste of Indonesia’ for our Australia cyclists. Nevertheless, we can’t be stopped. Sydney, keep the Champagne ready and cold, we are coming!