La Velocita followed ‘Team Brevet’ on their 24 hour Audax Australia Fleche Opperman (Oppy) attempt.
Nothing could have prepared us for the display of emotion and determination that lay ahead.
Report – Mike Boudrie Images – Andrew Clifforth
Team Brevet’s plan, go for the record. To beat 770km in 24 hours.
Take a closer look at the numbers and you’ll find this works out to an average of 32kph… if you don’t stop. Realistically there’s going to be close to 2 hours of stops. The average required now is 35kph. That’s not hanging around. There’s a reason that the record has stood since 1993.
La Velocita met up with Team Brevet the afternoon before the ride. They’d been out for a spin to make sure the bikes had made the trip across ok and to keep the legs fresh.
We watched an observed. Cyclist’s rituals. For some it’s the checking, re-checking, counting, lights, water, food. Check, then repeat. Some were carefully studying the maps. Marking turns, checking the kilometers. Then re-checking.
The house is quiet. There’s energy in the air. A mix of anticipation and excitement. There’s a few nerves floating around. The conversation would sound odd to any outsider; you’d be forgiven for thinking you were sitting in a room with five meteorologists. Wind changes, speeds, weather patterns are discussed in fine detail. Estimated times to points and resulting wind directions.
Some try to sleep. All eat constantly. The energy intake required for something like this is amazing. I’ve quite simply never seen so many bananas, energy drinks or food packs.
Dinner is epic. Two huge lasagnas and an apple pie. Not a trace of food is left. Then it’s back to rechecking.
Then it’s rest. An early night for all, tomorrow is going to be big.
We awoke to a clear and cool morning in Bayport. Team Brevet are ready, full of smiles and nervous chatter. A pair of bib shorts put on inside out results in a nice break in the nerves and settles the team.
The guys headed north out of Bayport, through some of the most amazing costal landscapes we’ve seen in a while. The pace was strong, 10-minute turns were the plan but as the wind strengthens turns get shorter. The day quickly starts to heat up. Before long we saw 36 degrees on the gauge.
Then at the 80km marker came a sharp right turn… Team Brevet now had the wind working with them. They were flying, by the time they reached 400km the average speed was close to 40kph. The record was there for the taking.
At 400km we started to see the bodies looking tired. That looks in the eyes, staring into space. The constant shifting on the bike to try and get comfortable. Spirits remained high though. The bond between the five riders was building.
Evening and Night
A half hour stop for dinner accompanied by an amazing country sunset, pasta, cake and a fresh set of kit had the team ready to tackle the final 400km.
As the sun disappeared Alistair Tubb started to shut down. His body would not take any food or liquid. In a true show of determination he managed another 100km. It brings a new perspective when you see someone being physically sick while riding, but keeping on going. It’s something we will not forget.
Into the darkness they headed before a run of punctures broke Team Brevet’s momentum, followed by a very close call with a Kangaroo. I’m sure Glen and the Kangaroo where almost able to touch. It was that close.
At this point Team Brevet lost rider number two. Scott Thomas was being hit with terrible back spasms and pain. The decision was made that he should retire, determination is one thing, but causing long-term injury is not what the ride was about.
A long, cold and windy night followed. At 570km Team Brevet’s captain Glen O’Rourke declared he was close to the end. Nothing left in the tank. Tiredness was too much. Fatigue and pain were at new levels. But in an almost unbelievable show of strength Glen resettled and continued.
As the sun came up, the remaining three riders were battling a stiff headwind and were moving along at less then 30kph. The record was not going to fall, but they kept going.
As our odometer clicked over 700km and 23 hours 30 minutes, Glen rolled slowly to a stop, sat in the grass by the side of the road and looked toward to sunrise. I’ve never seen a face so full of emotion. Suffering, determination, thought, spirit, fatigue. It was all there. It was a moment in time that will stay with me.
Drew Ginn and Glen Landers decided to ride the final 10km into Rochester, to the finishing post – the Oppy statue. Family friends and supporters watched Team Brevet embrace.
Only they could know the true feeling of what they had just achieved. Five guys that were ‘mates’ just 24 hours ago were now lifelong friends.
- Glen O’Rourke – Captain
- Glenn Landers
- Scott Thomas
- Drew Ginn
- Alistair Tubb
- Craig Lawrence
- Troy O’Callaghan and Marina, and Troy’s parents
- Guy Begley, Matt Belford, Simon Spence
- Mike Boudrie (La Velocita)
- Andrew Clifforth (photography)
- Tristan Parker (photography)
- Bike Force Australia
- Team Brevet’s Families