Friday, May 3, 2013

The Tour de Cure Ride finally here.

Words are going to be hard to describe my recent time with the Tour de Cure Ride. Raising Money for Cancer research. For those of you who might not be sure but one of the dads, Dennis Gentilin from my school was involved in the Signature ride this year completing The Tour de Cure Signature ride, 1540km in total. I was invited as a guest rider for stages 6 and 7, 325km total.

My wonderful father, Michael Jones drove me up to Bendigo to meet the peloton for briefing and stay for the two nights to ride Stages 6/7 (Stage 6 = 190km). 
Officeworks team I rode with.
My wonderful dad who drove and supported me for the ride, superstar!
 As part of the tour each night the riders have a community dinner. On this night we had a dinner at a pub in Bendigo. At the dinner, category jerseys are handed out and a reflection of the day is shared with the group along with handing a $5000 cheque to the local Centre for Cancer treatment. This amazed me, at each town or city they stopped at this was done. Phenomenal!!!

Officeworks team member Martin Duffy was hosting the night and asked me to share my story and journey to date. This I did find easy, but at times emotional. The room was dead silent and I think I was accepted into the Tour Groups as a cyclist with Cancer, before a cancer patient who rides. Martin and Dennis gave me a lot of confidence and comfort in being apart of this tour.

What I experienced on this tour is as I said earlier, hard to explain in words. The group and Tour de Cure organization was a well-oiled machine from day one to the end. A Kitchen van follows the peloton each day to every town to cater supply food for the 60+ riders and support crew breakfast. A long with this the Vittoria coffee van follows us, we had at our disposal free coffee at each stop. Support vehicles rear and front for the two large pelotons. Radio mikes for two riders in each peloton.

I was riding the two days and had hit day 6 of the whole tour, I was riding with the Officeworks team and this was thanks to Martin Duffy at Officeworks.

Sean Young and his team at Peak Cycles in Heidelberg recently serviced my bike. Sean has been an amazing support for me with gathering generous donations from many walks of life. Whilst on this note thanks to those who donated! My target was $3500 for cancer research and I achieved $3850. So again thanks to all involved.

My journey on the bike was about to begin. Day 6 required us to be at Camp Hill Primary school for breakfast and be part of the back drop for Channel 7’s Sunrise live cross, as Mark Beretta was part of the ride and needed to fulfill his media duties for his sports report on Sunrise.

We had a wonderful breakfast and once this had ended we were required to host the Tour de Cure School presentation about; being healthy, being fit and being happy to prevent cancer. It was a  great presentation completed by all involved. We rolled out as part of peloton 1 for a 190km journey and a time trial (TT) at the 57km mark for 17km. This was fun more on this later.

Clear skies and very brisk air temperature, greeted us for the start of the ride. Perfect riding conditions really. We rolled out at 9am and headed north to Benalla. I was anxious, but very excited. I clipped in and high fived the students from Camp Hill Primary as I headed out of the school gates.
Team photo. 
Local Press photo taken at Camp Hill Primary. 
The lead car led us safely through Bendigo and got us rolling on the road. The pace was surprisingly a moderate pace of about an average around 30km/h. I was sitting middle of the peloton and feeling good. The weather was magic and the temperature was warming up, the only thing that gave us a challenge was the crosswind. I forgot to mention that on this ride we all were wearing pink jersey’s to commemorate hitting the $10million mark for the 6 years of the tour starting. AMAZING effort! As a father of three girls pink was a colour I am used to seeing and evening wearing. Photo below.
Rolling out of Camp Hill Primary in Bendigo 190km Day

Lovely in Pink. 

Rolling out and ready to go.
The 57km mark arrived very quickly and the teams TT were on. We singled up and rolled off the line, taking turns at the front. I was feeling great and this was evident when I hit the front for my turn, my fresh legs powered forward and the team called me back to slow the pace down. Not sure were we placed over all, but what I do know is that we (Officeworks) had an amazing time riding together and rotating turns on the front. At the end of the TT I had to pinch myself and see if this was all real, because again I was achieving things that I really shouldn’t be doing given my illness. Once again I felt like an athlete again and not a melanoma patient. The joys of riding and being fit again! My worries had seemed all gone.
Lunch followed the TT and then we hit the road again heading towards Benalla. The pace picked up once again at times hitting 38km/h, I felt very good still and my legs still fresh.

Our roll into Benalla was late, but I felt I had achieved half my goal of riding two big days. Dinner was at the Benalla Bowls club. Dad and I sat down and enjoyed the company of fellow riders sharing stories from the day. The banter and mate ship was very evident.
Don't be fooled by the blue skies, it was freezing. 
Day Two was 140km Benalla to Albury. Both stages were ridden in perfect weather conditions, a part from the brisk starts. Surprisingly my legs felt good. A little tender, but ready to hit the day. Each peloton ride I have ridden next to a variety of people sharing stories of their lives and this was a great way to meet people and share my journey with them.
Dennis Gentilin and I
This stage ride was well ridden by all and I wished I had more time to ride with people. What do I take from this amazing accomplishment and Tour ride? Well no matter how ill you are or what challenges you have things can be achieved. I didn’t think I’d be able to ride two days in a row at 30km/h for more than 100km each day. I don’t feel like I have cancer and I hope those who met me felt a sense of pride in what I had a achieved… I know I feel quietly proud in this recent accomplishment. I missed my wife and girls whilst away and thank them and workplace and fantastic father for driving and being my support for the two days. Thanks again to Martin Duffy and Dennis Gentilin, my short time on the tour was one of the best things  I have ever done. Thanks for the chance to do this. I wish the Tour riders a safe and enjoyable ride for the remainder of the Tour. 

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