It's not Mount Everest, but Jamberoo Mountain became my obsession for a few months last year.
With 30 or so ‘pioneers’, I rode in the first 145classic in 2015 – a bike ride from Sydney to the youth rehab program at Triple Care Farm in the Southern Highlands. Having driven the route I knew Jamberoo Mountain pass was a steep and long climb. So I trained for a few months around the hills of the northern beaches. I didn’t think a bike ride would be such a big deal!
Then the day of the event arrived. I had done a few training rides with Mildren Events and knew I could climb OK even if I wasn’t as strong as some of the others riders. So, I sat on the shoulder of the leaders through the glorious coastal ride south, enjoying the views and the discipline of riding with much more experienced cyclists. For much of the time we had the ocean on our left and then in the distance to the right, the intimidating Illawarra escarpment, looming large and very steep!
Apart from the hot weather, we arrived at Kiama (120km mark) pretty uneventfully. Then the tension rose as the more experienced riders braced themselves for the last 25km leg, including the daunting climb up that escarpment via the Jamberoo Mountain pass. Gels were eaten, rehydrating drinks were gulped and stories of tough climbs did little to settle the nerves.
And so off we went. 15kms of undulating countryside ended as a ‘ramp’ hit us like a brick wall. At a 20% incline, every push of the pedal was a test of strength and stamina. Within 200 metres, I was already exhausted. As my pace slowed and gravity won I toppled over, my hopes of climbing the mountain dashed. Determined to still get to the top under my own steam, I dusted myself off and pushed the bike up the hill, riding only the flattest sections. Jamberoo Mountain had beaten me. Finally I got into Triple Care Farm but I felt so disappointed in myself.
But I remember one of the experienced riders saying to me after the ride that “an experience like that affects people in one of two ways. Either they say ‘never again’ or they say ‘I’m going to beat this next time’”. I decided I was going to be one of the latter.
And so I trained hard. For the 2016 ride I prepared better than the year before. I worked out a training plan – having sought advice from some helpful people and I found the steepest hills around and rode up them time and time again.
Come ride day 2016 I felt so much stronger. The first 120kms were again beautiful, but this time I felt more confident as I glanced to the right and saw that hill looming. I refuelled at the Kiama rest stop and knew that whilst that climb would be tough, I was prepared. And so I rode it. A friend had said climbing is as simple as this: “just keep peddling”. That mantra ‘…just keep peddling, just keep peddling…” kept running through my head as the hill stretched out ahead.
It was long, and steep and beautiful as we wound through rain forest. I passed a few first time riders who, like me the previous year, had got off and pushed. But I got to the top, and eventually to the finish line at Triple Care Farm. I had conquered this one small challenge and it felt great!
I don’t want to stretch the analogy here, but there is something that connects this experience with the challenges that young people go through at Triple Care Farm. Gabriella Holmes, the Farm Manager, often talks about how some young people will ‘stumble’ on weekend visits back home, or in the first few weeks after Graduating, but, with the right support, they will get back up, and be stronger for the experience. And that next time when presented with temptation, stress or challenges, they will be wiser and better able to deal with it without resorting to drugs.
The 145classic is a gorgeous ride with breathtaking scenery followed by a (literally) breathtaking climb. Beauty and the beast as someone called it.
Finishing at Triple Care Farm and getting to see where and who benefits from the modest fundraising element of the ride is something quite unique. Something that will stay with riders for a long time to come. Knowing your little bit of sweat and effort has helped a young person with addiction is very rewarding.
So - if you know of any riders, encourage them to sign up. Even experienced riders say this is a very special ride.
And if you’re not a lycra lover, there is a flatter less strenuous version of the ride, finishing at Kiama, which anyone can train for in a couple of months. The ride is professionally supported, and even novices will be amazed what they can achieve.
An unforgettable day out, a very modest fundraising target, and a special challenge that you can overcome, and in doing so, help young people overcome challenges like addiction. Why not? Sign up here www.145classic.com