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We Are Gar Gar Again

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					   Fleche Opperman All Day Trial


We Are Gar Gar Again
by Ray Stenhouse

  When I sent the invitation to last year’s     and found that the right price wasn’t too        up area the headwind was obvious. Oh well,
Oppy team members, Michael Frogley was          expensive. Keith just needed to be invited.      here we go again but at least it wasn’t a full
the first to reply. “Five hundred sounds like   So we now had a fourth member.                   on one, it was coming from the side a bit.
a nice round number”, the Frog wrote. This                                                       We settled in to our echelon, taking our
looked challenging, and this from a bloke          Peter and I actually were able to get         two-minute turns. As we passed through
that didn’t seem too keen last time I spoke     together for a training ride the weekend         Uranquinty, the Disposable Yobbos,
to him about it. And then I read further to     before the Oppy. Why is it that the weekend      another Wagga team, had just finished
discover “but I wont be there”. Okay, one       before always has the most suitable weather      their coffee at the Bakehouse, one of their
down, there’s still four of us I thought.       for an Oppy? There was a lovely tailwind         favourite training stops. Garry Skeers
                                                pushing towards Rochester. We went with          of that team had described Audax rides
  Bill Neyland wasn’t a starter either.         it initially and as we struggled back into       as “coffee shop touring” during the TV
Having been off the bike for a while and        Wagga into the headwind I made the               interview and it looked like the caffeine
with a change of job and a change in            comment to Peter that this is what it would      addiction had struck.
location Bill didn’t think he had the time to   be like. How right I was.
get himself up to the fitness level required                                                       Just before The Rock the Yobbos leap-
for an Oppy. Another one gone.                    George had time off work and decided           frogged us. They were having morning tea
                                                to ride up to Wagga as his last hit out.         at Henty when we passed through there.
  Well, there’s still the Dixon brothers,       The weather was extremely ordinary               Our routes parted slightly here with the
Peter and George. Peter advised that he         in Melbourne, however George had a               Yobbos heading across to Walbundrie
had been off the bike for a while. With         tailwind and missed the nasty stuff getting      while we headed to Culcairn before going
changes at work it might prove difficult        to Chiltern. The following day George            there. So we continued south and arrived at
getting in the training but Peter said he       completed the journey and arrived in time        Culcairn at about 11:45am.
needed a goal to work towards. Okay, now        to gather with the members of another team
there’s two. George had to pull out last year   from Wagga, the Disposable Yobbos, for a           Considering the wind I was pretty happy
and I wasn’t sure if this would leave him       TV interview. George made the comment            with the progress but was dreading the
never wanting to go again, or if it would       that he’d had to stand up in the pedals more     leg across to Walbundrie as we would be
be the opposite. According to Peter his         than he’d have liked but otherwise the trip      heading straight into the wind now. Before
brother was keener than ever but wouldn’t       had gone well.                                   I had got more than 50 metres I had a flat
be too keen on extending the distance.                                                           rear tyre so it was a quick return to the
Good, there’s three, we’re a goer.                 Keith came down from Goulburn on              support car, a not so quick tube change, and
                                                Friday evening and we all gathered together      we were on our way again. The leg proved
   I poured over the map and decided            for the traditional pre-Oppy dinner. The         to be better than I expected although the
to adopt the same 400 route that Craig,         final arrangements were made with the            evidence of how severe the wind could be
Narelle and I had done before. At one time      support team of Pauline Dixon and the            was abundant just out of Culcairn with an
or another, and probably more than once,        Dixon Dynamos (her daughters Emily and           avenue of poplars devastated with trees and
we have all been told that we are mad riding    Abbey) and Lyn Stenhouse. All that was           branches down everywhere.
long distances on bikes. So I came up with      left was to get some sleep and then front
the team name, We Are Gar Gar Again,            up at Kidsons Cycles ready to roll the next         We arrived at Walbundrie to be informed
the first letter of each word spelling Wagga.   morning.                                         that the Yobbos had just left. This was our
It seemed very appropriate because even I                                                        scheduled lunch stop so we settled in for
have begun wondering if perhaps we were           The day dawned and the necessary               that. I had noticed that George had been
all a bit Gar Gar doing this. Peter Dixon       preparations were made before riding to          standing up in the pedals a lot and I must
reinforced this when he stated that there       Kidsons. It had been arranged that the           admit to being a little annoyed because
was no logical reason for doing what we         owner would be there long before opening         it made his wheel difficult to follow. I
were doing.                                     time to stamp the brevets and he arrived         discovered here that the reason George
                                                just in the nick of time. So just after 9am we   kept standing up was that he had managed
  Keith McCulloch from Goulburn                 mounted the bikes and headed off.                to remove a fair bit of skin from his nether
mentioned in passing that for the right price                                                    region on his trip up to Wagga. Now
he might be available for the Oppy. Having         We got a good start by catching the traffic   there’s a very fine line between bravery and
piqued my interest I pursued this further       lights but as soon as we got out of the built    stupidity they say, and I think if it had been

                                                                                                                       Checkpoint Summer 2004/05   7
me in the same position I’m very doubtful       extremely pleasant this section was quite        down the road there was a lone cyclist
that I’d have lined up for the start.           cold. Watto sprung a secret control on us        standing dejectedly by the roadside having
                                                about 10km short of Nathalia. The snakes         had to abandon so close yet so far.
   Having lunched and rested our nether         were good but the butterscotch was better.
regions we remounted and headed south.          We heard from Watto about the terrible             Mount Scobie loomed and George
The wind was still unfriendly but the           conditions that some of the other teams          took an extra turn to take the King of the
darkening sky was looking pretty ominous.       had been subject to and were very thankful       Mountain title. The sun managed to peek
We could see the rain falling in the distance   that all we had had to deal with was the         out every now and then and the shadows of
but so far we were dry. As we rolled through    persistent wind.                                 the riders lined up in the familiar pattern
Holbrook the Yobbos were finishing their                                                         from last year. It was still not very warm
lunch. Seeing the Howlong Bakery was              We arrived at the motel in Nathalia about      but we were making fairly good progress,
open we took the opportunity to have a          11:15pm. At the urging of the support crew       and we rolled up with George once again
wee break and enjoy some of the fine fare       to be considerate of other guests we tried       in the lead to the Oppy Statue at about 8:
on offer. We waved to the Yobbos from           to quietly get about the business of eating,     20am. When I suggested to the rest of the
the verandah as they passed by heading          washing and stretching, then eventually got      team that we could extend the distance,
off into the wind. The RTA had recently         to sleep a little after midnight. At around 2:   they didn’t seem very interested, especially
completed tar sealing of the road just west     15 the neighbouring guests arrived back at       George.
of Howlong. If it had been a hot day this       the motel and proceeded to have deep and
would have been atrocious – but as it wasn’t    meaningful discussions outside their room.          The photos were taken and we waited
it was only extremely bad. As we moved          After an hour or so it was tactfully suggested   for a while to watch some of the other
slowly westward we could see the weather        they could take their conversation inside        teams finish. Finally the hot showers and
deteriorating in front of us and every now      which they apologetically did. The noise         the thought of the hot breakfast proved
and then we could see where it had poured       subdued for a while but they couldn’t stay       too strong and we headed for the football
just before we got there. We experienced a      inside it seemed. When we gathered for           ground. When we turned the bikes in the
few drops of rain but not enough to make us     breakfast at around 4:30 they were outside       opposite direction to the way we came and
put the raincoats on.                           again and when we left a little after 5am        felt the wind at our backs we were a little
                                                they were still there. When the support          jealous. But then we remembered that we
  Upon arriving at Corowa the support           crew departed a little after 6am they were       had managed to get there without being
crew were amazed to see us riding high          outside watering the plants.                     rained or hailed on, so we didn’t feel too
and dry. There had just been a hailstorm                                                         bad. In contrast, the Yobbos had been
pass through town. The Yobbos had been             An interesting spectacle encountered          caught in the weather and their fun level
caught in it but we had missed out. We          near Wyuna was that of a young man riding        was severely depleted.
placed our dinner orders with the support       a mountain bike in the opposite direction
crew and headed towards Mulwala and             to us. This young man didn’t display the            But this ride is a challenge. Each team
Yarrawonga. This section last year was a        same high standards of visibility that Audax     will have its own challenges. It is working
horror one for George with him making the       riders do. He was wearing dark clothing,         together as a team to overcome these
hard decision to withdraw at Yarrawonga.        and had no lights or any reflective gear at      challenges that is one of the attractions for
Despite his discomfort there was no way         all. When he spotted us he veered across         me. Everyone that participated hopefully
George would be pulling out this time. As       the road in front of traffic, screamed to a      finds something in themselves that they
we settled in for dinner at Yarrawonga the      halt, which was pretty good seeing he had no     weren’t aware of beforehand.
rain started falling. We moved under the        brakes, and proceeded to question us about
shelter as the Yobbos rode past headed          the local area. He wasn’t happy with the           My thanks goes to my team members for
towards Shepparton. After eating we             directions we gave him. Unable to help him       being there, supporting me and each other.
donned our wet weather gear and reflective      find his destination we departed wondering       Our support crew of Pauline and the Dixon
vests, turned on our lights and headed off.     how many brain cells had been killed by his      Dynamos and Lyn Stenhouse provided
About 10km out we pulled over to remove         over indulgence in the alcoholic beverages.      every assistance as and when required
the rainwear and then continued on our          There would have had to have been a lot          at controls. I’ve never contemplated an
way to Cobram.                                  because he didn’t need a helmet.                 unsupported ride. Having been spoiled I
                                                                                                 doubt I ever will.
  From Cobram we headed through                    We found Wyuna, which was in the
Yarroweyah and then Strathmerton before         direction we told the young bloke to go,            Sue Taylor did a fantastic job in her first
turning south to Numurkah. I’ve always          and then headed to Kyabram. The sun was          year. The brass band was an example of
been amazed how well traffic treats us at       trying its best to get up but with the low       Sue’s attention to detail. It would seem that
night with most motorists taking the right      cloud there was only a short glimpse of it.      you don’t have any better control over the
lane whereas during the day they will try       The support crew had the hot drinks ready        weather than Phil did though. Thank you
to squeeze past you without deviating if        as we arrived in Kyabram. It was good. We        Sue and thank you too to your assistants.
they can. Perhaps it’s the reflective gear      stayed until 7:00 and then took to the bikes     Without participants there would be no
that scares them, or possibly it is fear of     for the last leg.                                event but the same is true of the organisers
the unknown – but whatever it is it makes a                                                      and their assistants. See you next year, that
pleasant change.                                  As we left there was a team heading into       is, if We Are Gar Gar Again.
                                                Kyabram. We tried to point them towards
 From Numurkah we headed west again.            Rochester but they seemed certain they           The 2005 Fleche Opperman All Day Trial will be
Unlike last year when the night riding was      knew where they were going. A bit further        held on Saturday 5 November in all states.

8   Checkpoint Summer 2004/05

				
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