Regular LoveCycling blogger and friend of Rutland Cycling Frank Burns recently finished his epic journey from End-to-End of New Zealand. The fun didn't end there though as Frank set out to cycle from Sydney to Melbourne! Here Frank details his ride across Australia...
The end-to-end of New Zealand was under the belt (3000km completed) and I estimated I had collected over $1000NZ (600GBP) en route, most of it in cash, but some of it as donations on www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1. It had all been an exhilarating and challenging experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone who already has some experience of long distance cycling. But what lay in wait in Australia?
When I landed in Sydney, I was hosted by the mother of children I had taught at Kimbolton School in England, and that gave me a day to be the tourist and have lunch with a blogging friend, before I headed south "to Mexico" (what they call going south to Melbourne!). Coming from the cool fresh south of NZ, the climate change for me was considerable. Once again, the temperatures were above 30C, and this meant climbing out of the sleeping bag in the morning while it was still dark, wrapping up the (usually) damp tent, from dew-fall, heading off at first light and, to avoid frying in the midday sun, most of the ride had to be wrapped up by noon...otherwise, I would be reduced to a shrivelled pork scratching by the end of the day (and that happened to me a couple of times).
Following the Princes Highway includes long stretches of endurance riding on the shoulder of the road, but occasionally you can veer off to take in coastal routes of great scenic beauty.
But BEWARE...when a sign points to a 'scenic route', that means only one thing to the cyclist...hills, hills and more hills. You have to remember, the good things in life sometimes come at a price; but those good things can include memorable mountain-top views along the coastline, stretches through National Park forest, rocketing descents that can top 50mph, rare sightings of kangaroos, koalas, wombats and emus and avenues of termite mounds.
I also encountered a porcupine (whose spines could shred your tyres), and views of a crystal clear ocean. stretching out towards NZ.
On the people side, you are going to meet a lot of curious and kind people, many who want to donate to your cause (the children in Syria, in my case). Drive-by donations have continued. People at campsites at lookout viewing points, outside cafes, even by the roadside....will come up to me and ask "Can I donate to your cause". If ever you do a charity bike ride, do put a sign on the back of your bike that advertises your cause. It works wonders.
Yesterday, unwittingly I left my bike outside a cafe, parked right next to an ATM. When I came out, two people (who had just taken money out of the ATM) made donations directly.
I am only 100km(63 miles) from my destination of Melbourne, hanging out with some friends for a few days to recover from the stresses of riding so many days in 34C of heat, and will make my final assault in a few days time.
If you have an inclination to do a charity bike ride...just do it. You will not be disappointed with the cycling experience, and your charity will be eternally grateful.
See you up the road!
Although Frank's End-to-End of New Zealand and Sydney to Melbourne rides are for charity he has funded the rides from his own back pocket.
Frank's chosen charity is the Children in Syria appeal. You can donate to this excellent cause by visiting www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1