How epic was your first epic?
I just love the word “epic”. It just sounds very epic! The great thing about epics are that each and every one of us would consider what is epic differently, and anyone can get out there to do one. An epic basically centers upon a hero who surpasses the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size. An epic can be a series of great achievements or events are completed and are impressive in their quality. For some it may mean a 50 km ride down a local bike track, for others an Everest.
Even though it was back in 2012 I remember my first epic quite vividly.
Sure I’d like to boast that I smashed out a double century around the Victorian Alps. Or raced around the 3 Peaks. The truth of the matter was that when I first started riding I was recovering from rupturing my Achilles tendon. At that time I was definitely no hill climber. My rides consisted of flat bike trails. My first epic was nothing to cry home about, but we’ve all got to start somewhere. The ride was 100 km in length through Gippsland on the Great Southern Rail Trail.
I had taken an Annual Leave day late January 2012, and set the alarm for 6:30 am. For me back then this was a really early start. I sucked it up and made the drive down to Leongatha on what was a perfect day for it. The Great Southern Rail Trail travels from Leongatha to Forster. I had never ridden anywhere near such a long distance before. I hoped that my trusty Mongoose would do the trick. The first 5 km’s of the trail is a joy to ride through, passing through rolling farmland.
I was blown away with the scenery.
From here the trail got quite boring with dead long straight sections. With lots of shrubs & bushes to either side of the trail there wasn’t much to see for much of the ride. I was riding really well and it was looking like I was going to breeze through it at one stage. When I came out to the lookout which offers the most amazing views of Wilsons Prom that I’ve ever seen. I stopped and sat there and no matter what else I was to experience. The trip was worth it just to see that.
I stopped in at Foster and was quite stuffed.
I had only been to Wilsons Prom once in my life. It seemed so far away and couldn’t believe that I was having lunch near the Prom on a bike ride. I had plenty of time to get back and headed off. There was a 2.5 km descent into Foster & hadn’t given any thought to how I was going to get back up it. I struggled right from the outset, and had to get off and walk most of it. Yes I can look back and laugh that an old guy on a bike flew past me. He seemed really concerned that I was walking my bike up what I considered at the time to be a massive hill. I recently looked it up, and its an easy 2.4 km climb with an average gradient of 4.3%.
My first 6 months were a struggle and I had to battle knee & Achilles problems. I was soon to discover what pain really meant. My knee started flaring up, and every pedal stroke sent a severe wave of pain. There was over 40 km’s to ride and I felt like I was screwed. I needed to pull over regularly to catch my breath & hope to get through this ordeal. The pain just progressively got worse. There was no phone reception, and no hope of calling someone to pick me up. I had no idea how I was going to get through with this without doing some serious injury to my knee. This was starting to feel like this had been a stupid idea to do.
With about 25 km’s to go I chanced upon an old guy riding a motorised bike. He seemed happy to slow down and ride with me & loved to chat. I was so fortunate as this helped to distract me from the pain in my knee. It also helped me to pace myself better. It turned out that he was a Jehovah witness, spreading the name of God. I was so thankful to have someone help me get through the ride I didn’t care what the conversation was. We rode about 15 km together and he pulled off in Koonwarra.
He mentioned to me that it could have been divine intervention that caused us to cross paths.
I kept silent at this news. He offered to drive me back to my car in Leongatha. Luckily I had gotten through the worst of it & thanked him profusely and continued on. That return trip was such a blur. Although I was in so much pain I was ecstatic when I got back to Leongatha. I was screaming in euphoria, and couldn’t believe that I had just ridden 100 km’s. The experience was hell and at the time honestly didn’t know if I could do it again…….
The drive home was a blur. When I got home I plonked straight onto the couch & did not move for a very long time. Every fibre of my body was hurting & I was awash with emotion. The euphoria was amazing and you could not take the smile off my face. Even though this hurt like a MF, I was hooked. Epics were to become the new Golf for me.
I would love to hear what your first epic was. Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.