The second annual BOQ Its Possible Cycle Tour took place in the NSW hinterlands 7-9 October 2016. The ride was 300kms over 3 days and raised $147k for the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

It was a little less than a year ago that we were in Noosa for the first BOQ It’s Possible Ride, and Mexia returned this year with a team of 3.  However, this time it was different, firstly, we were at Coolangatta and the course has been toughened up to offset the cooler conditions that were expected in early October as compared to November last year.  This year’s Mexia team had Cam Taylor and I backing up from last year and a new recruit from Lang O’Rourke, John Rich.

This year we also had a new peloton to complement the “Pro’s” (which John, Cam and I had all been put in) and the “Love” – the third peloton went by the moniker of “Bravehearts”, which is a none to subtle reference to the fact that you have to be brave to set out on a 3 day 300km ride with little or no training (and in some cases the wrong bike, turning up on a 13kg hybrid bike to ride 300km is analogous to bringing a knife to a gun fight in the Wild West).

Day One

The 3 pelotons set off at 30 minute intervals with the Pro’s leaving at 8am in perfect conditions with a 80km ride and 1000 meters of climbing ahead of us – a nice warm up day.  As always with a big group it takes a while to settle in to a rhyme and Day One was not any different.  Within 1 km of the start we managed to lose our follow car and had to have our first stop of the day.  When we finally got rolling within the next 5 minutes we had our closest near miss of the weekend when one of the Hutchie’s riders zigged when he should of zagged and rode directly over some serious road furniture that should have caused him to fall off – miraculously all he lost was his water bottle and a little dignity.

The first hour and a half continued to be stop start but the ominous sign was when we found our rhythm and the peloton was rolling at 40k’s an hour – it was looking like a tough weekend.  First 90 minutes 31 kilometres were covered but we had passed the Bravehearts as they took a break.

Once we had passed the Braveheart peloton it was like the lead riders were on the hunt for the Love peloton, or maybe it was the “excitement” of getting to The Tomewin (the first real climb of the weekend 5 kilometres at an average grade of 6.2%).  Whatever the reason the average speed jumped 33km/h on the approach of The Tomewin. The Pro Peloton strung out up the climb catching the Love on the way (not that there was much love). Jack Elkins was the unofficial King of the Mountain cruising up in 17 minutes and 13 seconds – a full 3 minutes a head of John and I with Cam in between.

We rolled back to the hotel at a comfortable pace after regrouping at the bottom of the Tomewin descent.  Day One down in 4 hours, all in all a harder course than last year but far cooler conditions.

The stand out performance of the Day was undoubtedly the Bravehearts – all them completed the full course in just under 7 hours.  Not bad considering the longest previous ride for two of them was 10 Kilometres.

Day Two

Day Two was set to be a testing day; 2,200 meters of climbing and 155 kilometres, and the temperature was forecast to be in the 30s.  The Braveheart’s made a 5:30am start with the Love peloton rolling out around 7am and the Pro’s leaving at the very civil time of 8am.  Today the Pro got straight into the rhythm that was so hard to find on Day One and knocked over the first 40km, and got to the foot of Springbrook climb (11km at an average of 3.8%) in 90 minutes.  Today was going to be a long one and the strategy was to ride at a comfortable pace and save the legs, as it turned out my comfortable pace was also John’s and we rode together and went over the top mid pack.  One hill down 2 to go.

The Peloton regrouped at the bottom of the fast and step decent.  The 5.4k descent took me 7 minutes, but only took Jack Elkin 5 minutes and 20 seconds, Jack averaged 58.5kph and hit a top speed of 84kph – for the record Jack is an amazing bike handler and you shouldn’t try this at home. See: https://youtu.be/DJ5rJSKFfek?t=112.

The next 30k to lunch where the toughest of the weekend for me, we had done 100 miles in two days, it was getting hot, and the road was either going up or down.  The lure of lunch at Chillingham must have been good incentive as it only took an hour to do the 30 kilometres and we managed to catch the Love Pelton on the climb up to Natural Bridge.  We all made it to lunch safely, save for one very angry magpie who had it in for cyclists, and Cam’s brake lever coming loose on a pretty steep descent.

We had a great lunch and 50-minute rest in Chillingham before heading for home via Tyalgum, except for the Love peloton who turned left and took 20 kilometres off the course.  So it was up to the Bravehearts and Pro pelotons to lead by example.

The 10k to from Chillingham to Tyalgum are tough especially on a full belly and the temperature sitting on 34 degrees.  Unsurprisingly the peloton spread out over the two pinch climbs before reaching Tyalgum and therefore another stop was required to regroup.  When we finally got rolling after a check of all the carbon wheels due to the mechanic finding one had delaminated.  At the restart there was a renewed keenest to get home and the pace lifted noticeably, with good roads, a tail wind and Jack Elkin and Chris White on the front we got to the last climb of the day, 40km from Tyalgum, in an hour and a quarter including a 10 minute drink stop in Murwillumbah.

At over 6 hours in the short last climb (2.2k at 5%) was unpleasant but gladly in was soon over and we got a nice roll back to the hotel and a well-deserved beer.  Team Mexia came in all together with everyone in really good shape and in good sprits happy with the ride.

The Love Peloton were first back due to their short-cutting antics and the Bravehearts completed the full course in an elapsed time of 10 hours 13 minutes and 44 seconds – that is a big day in anyone’s terms, particularly after over 7 hours the day before, kudos to them!

Day Three

Day 3 is always the hardest in terms of getting started – and a wet and rainy Sunday morning did not help.  The rollout time was set for 8am with everyone leaving together.  On the agenda today was Team Time Trial in the Tallebudgera Valley.

The rain cleared and the tired legs were assisted by a strong tail wind, so the roll out to the starting point was nice and relaxed.  The Time Trial however was neither nice nor relaxed.  We split into our 4 teams and quickly discussed tactics (which went straight out the door when the starter said go) for the 5.7 kilometre race against the clock.  The hot favourites were MOCO (the ring-ins of the tour who had been invariably at the front on the Pro Peloton all weekend).  The BOQ, Mexia, Accenture team was in with a chance with Jack and Cam as our not so secret weapons.   The moment the starters hand dropped it was clear that I was in trouble, I was foolishly at the back and Cam lead out at a ferocious pace and gaps opened up between riders in front of me.  The effort to pass and catch up was too much to me and after about 2k I was done and could only watch as the team rode away, the only saving grace was that I was in good company as about 5 or 6 of us could not hold on.  Pride kept me going and I finished the course in 9.52, 52 second behind the fastest of the day and 41 seconds behind the team.   The results for TTT were as expected with MOCO coming in at 9.01, BOQ 1 second at 9.05 and us (the rest of the team) third at 9.10.

That was the competitive side of the weekend done; we just had the 28-kilometre ride home in to the howling headwind.  With the help of the lead-car the ride back to the home was not as bad as expected and everyone was back in time for a delicious lunch and time to reminisce about the adventures over the past 3 days.

It was another fantastic 3-day event with lots of old and new friends and I will definitely be back next year if they will have me, and I recommend that you all start training so you can join me!