So when I went home I decided to do some research on Indigenous Health as I really had little knowledge on specific issues they face and if I was going to do this ride I felt I really needed to first have a better understanding of the issues I was riding in support of. As different sources gave figures of between 10 and 20 years difference in the life expectancy of an Indigenous Australian compared to the rest of the population it was this from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that really put it into perspective for me.
Indigenous Australians born in the period 1996-2001 are estimated to have a life expectancy at birth of 59.4 years for males
Or in other words, on average an Indigenous male isn't expected to live to retiring age. This on it's own was enough to consider Indigenous health a worthwhile cause to be riding for. Further investigation showed that a major contributing factor in this reduced life expectancy was that Indigenous Australians are significantly more likely to suffer from lifestyle diseases than the rest of the population. This aspect is where the Tour da Country has some real potential to have an impact. At the end of each day's ride there is a Gala health day where the local Indigenous community can get free health checks, some information and education on healthy diet and living and hear some of the riders share their message on living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy a healthy lunch. So the ride doesn't only raise awareness of the issues, it also aims to make a difference in the communities it visits.
The tour relies on sponsorship for funding so if you or a person or company you know may be interested in sponsoring the event then please pm me and I'll get you/them in contact with the organisers.
Now onto the details of the ride itself. The ride will be leaving Wollongong on the 28th of October, stopping in Nowra, Ulladulla, Moruya, Bermagui, Bega, Cooma, Adaminaby, Tumut, Wagga Wagga and Culcairn before finishing in Albury. Frequent readers of the 6k thread may be aware that my riding consists of an Audax ride every month or two but so far has been limited to single day rides so while no single stage of the tour is beyond my normal riding the backing up day after day will be a new test for me. Riding with a support vehicle is also a new to me and riding as a team is something I don't have a great deal of experience with either. I thought I'd start this thread as a place to share my experience as I prepare and do the tour.
In that regard it was just under two weeks ago that a few of us got together for the first training ride. Starting early I met Dale on his recently acquired single speed, a purchase off gum tree for specifically for training for the tour. Dale is not a regular rider but is a very active and athletic person and one of the four riders who completed the first tour last year as it made it's way from Wollongong to Sydney, over the Blue Mountains, accross to Dubbo then on to Walgett. We headed from Albion Park to Dapto feeling the cold of the low lying areas and wondering if warmer clothing would have been a better option. In particular I was really wishing I'd managed to find a pair of long fingered gloves as my searching the night before only found a couple of right hand gloves from old pairs.
In Dapto it was time for me to meet a couple more team members for the first time. The other organiser, Ben, was also one of the four from the previous year and had kept up with some regular cycling since. The other person to meet was Layne who was new to cycling having recently purchased a nice white Masi which he had taken on his longest ride to date of 10km. By the time we headed off the sun had risen and as we climbed out of the shadows at the top of the first gentle climb we were greated with it's pleasant warmth. Then we'd descend back into the cool mistiness of the rural morning on our way down the other side before repeating again on the undulating road out to Avondale and on to Marshall Mount.
Heading towards Albion Park Dale said he had to get moving to be home in time so I accompanied back to Albion Park at a fairly solid pace before saying farewell and rolling gently back to meet the other two again. By now the sun had risen properly and conditions where quite pleasant for the remainder of the ride. The setting wasn't as nice though as the rural back roads gave way to the highway for the return leg.
By the time we'd returned to Dapto Layne had more than tripled his longest ride having just done a 36km loop. He was certainly feeling it more than Ben and I but had really done well being so new to cycling. From there I was left to head for a solo run back home. A good workout into a slight headwind made for a good finish to the first training ride. Our next one is scheduled for this Saturday and so far it's looking like a few more of the team will be able to make it this time. Looking forward to meeting them and continuing what I'm sure is going to be quite an adventure.