MS Sydney to Gong
MS Sydney to the Gong ride.
Members of FFI Racing headed to Sydney on Saturday 6th of November to take part in the MS Sydney to the Gong ride, raising money for the MS society.
The ride started at 6am on the 7th of November. FFi member Owen MacPhillamy took part with his little brother Callum and NSW Fire rider Ross Clauge. This was to be Callum’s first ride with a large amount of riders.
The morning started early with the three riders meeting at the NSW Fire fighters Communications centre at 6am. Callum had been up since 4am and Ross had just come off a night shift on the phones.
The three rolled out under the guidance of Ross as he was the most experienced “Gong” rider. It was a short roll over to the start and with some handy short cuts the trio where able to cut through the crowed and line up with the second group to roll out. While standing in line Callum was quoting a line from the IT crowd “look an iPhone, I can live the dream and have an iPhone and not give any money to Apple” both Ross and Owen took a second to catch on to what he was on about. There was an iPhone lying in the grass. Of course they handed it in.
It was a slow shuffle to the start as the organisers were sending groups off with 5min gaps. Finally they were away.
The start is on grass and then through car parks and footpaths before hitting the road. There were riders everywhere, cutting corners speeding up, stopping suddenly it was chaotic.
Once the trio hit the open road, there was a lot more flow. The big obstacles now were the traffic lights and other riders. After the first set of lights and a pile up narrowly avoided Owen started calling the lights. This was then echoed by another rider, whatever Owen yelled the other rider repeated.
As the trio past by a park Callum was heard commenting on the smell, “hmm that smells like watermelon” This had both Ross and Owen stumped as it was not that nice a smell.
The day before Mason Manwaring had sms’ed Owen saying he might see Owen amongst the 10,000 riders. As the riders thinned out after the 15km mark Mason was seen passing Owen, Ross and Callum. He would not sit up as he had to beat Mick Cain and did not know if Mick was in front or behind. After a 15 to 20min gap Mick Cain rolled past with his head down, Owen yelled out to him that Mason was 20min up the road.
The road up to the first toilet rest stop was very civilised, as slower riders would stay to the left. This stop allowed the trio to regroup and have a nature brake.
As they rolled out of the toilet stop the amount of riders on the road had thinned out with many riders utilising the stop to refuel and recover. From this stop the next challenge was the decent into the national park and then out again.
The roll down was a challenge, as many riders would change lines many times through corners so everyone had to be paying attention. There was a nasty crash near the bottom that brought the bunch to a stand still.
Once through the crash sight the trio had been separated, with Ross up the road a bit and Callum behind Owen a kilometre or so.
The trio decided to ride the climb at their own pace. This meant that Owen caught Ross about half way up the climb. The climb was a strange place to be. It was so quiet. No noise from riders or from animals. The only noise that could be heard was Ross and Owen talking as they climbed.
Near the top Ross and Owen passed a couple on a tandem, Ross came up behind them and said “you have to pedal on the back” the response he got was a rude finger and a comment that “bloody fire fighters all they can do it turn water on and off”
The top was near, with the sight of the next rest stop. The view was fantastic with the ocean and Wollongong in the distance. Callum sighted whales blowing bubbles. After a few photos the trio set off again.
The next stretch could be argued as being harder than the national park, as the road goes up and down quiet sharply.
As the trio descended one of the last short steep decent, on this descent you could smell brake pads burning. About half way down Ross suffered a slow leak. So they had to stop at the bottom. Ross had managed to pick up a small staple. Once the flat was fixed they headed on their way. Ross decided to utilise the neutral pumping stations located along the course. This proved to be a fatal mistake for his second tube as it meant it turtle necked through the tyre and punctured again. Luckily Ross was prepared with a second tube.
The last 10km or so you could hear from the trio: Owen “are you right Callum; Callum “yeah”; Ross “why don’t you ask me”; Owen “Ross are you right”, Ross “NNNOOOO slow down” This could be heard for the rest of the roll into Wollongong.
As the trio rolled into the park in Wollongong they parted ways. Ross went and got a train back to Sydney and Owen and Callum hoped in a car for the trip back. Callum was asleep with in 10min of sitting in the car.
All up the ride was fun for the three and the MS society did a great job at managing everything they could and raised a lot of money.