The ride of a lifetime

The ride of a lifetime - Intech Credit Union

Graduating school is a massive part of anybody’s coming of age journey, usually followed by a week of raucous celebration affectionately known as “Schoolies”. Instead, the girls decided on the idea with more character: cycling from Melbourne to Sydney, camping as they go.

The team is made up of Intech member Alicja Gibert, Elizabeth Riaikkenen, Seii Chen and Bethan Myhre and on completion of 13 years inside of classrooms, the girls wanted to give back to the world which has served them with enviable upbringings and happy childhoods.

Recognizing that not everybody’s journey has been like theirs, they are raising charity for the Lighthouse Foundation, in support of homeless youth.

Throughout their expedition, the girls faced many joys, great highlights and some strange experiences. During their journey, the girls raised over $3,000 from their sponsors, school, library and local cafes. We sat down with the girls to learn what they loved and learnt about their bike ride from Melbourne to Sydney.

What are some memorable sights you have seen?

AG: We saw the best sight on our way to Narooma. We were riding in the mid morning and as we crested a hill, we saw the picturesque meeting of a paddock of cows and dams as it joined seamlessly with the sea over some cliffs. This was so beautiful and the light, misty air highlighted how perfect the image was. In addition, we have loved seeing the lovely blue/green colours of the sea and the oceans on the coast. Now we see where the Sapphire Coast got its name. The colours always take our breath away! We visited the Jenolan Caves just the other day and they were truly breathtaking!

Have you experienced anything strange in your travels?

AG: Yes! Kayaking down the Towamba river in the afternoon of one of our rest days. We found access to the river through the kindness of 'Bob the Farmer' who allowed us through his paddock to get to the river. We were on the river until the sun set and didn't end up making it the whole way. Instead we sought help and directions from a stranger to find our way back was night fell. It was one of our favourite experiences as it was beautiful (but it was very cold).

How are your bodies holding up with riding such a long distance?

AG: – We do get sore legs sometimes but mostly they have gotten used to the exercise of riding long distances every other day. However, we do activities that help our muscles through swimming in cold oceans, creeks and lakes to ease the soreness (plus it's fun!) At the start though, some of us suffered some painful bottom bruising which a real challenge each morning to get back on the bike! However, our legs aren’t really the source of the problems with the ride, it's more about having the mental capacity to believe in yourself to do it.

Being away from home and a kitchen, how are you fuelling your bodies to keep riding?

AG: We eat healthily and cook our own dinner every night on rotation. Our food mostly centres around vegetables and carbs for the next day's riding but sometime we might treat ourselves with some of the notable local cuisines (e.g. oysters).

What was your biggest challenge?

AG: Our biggest challenge was on day 2 a(AKA The Day That We Do Not Speak Of). This day was the hardest. Since it was early in the trip, our bodies hadn’t adapted to the rigorous riding schedule yet and we encountered massive hills as we climbed up an unexpected mountain on the way to Cann River. Added to that, it was a hot day. Thus, it was our hardest day of riding!

While riding, have you missed anything from normal life?

AG: We have come to realise the value of the little things that we normally take for granted in suburban life - hot showers, warm food, a kind smile and meeting kind people who take in interest in what we do and support us. These are the kinds of day–to-day luxuries that we usually take for granted.

After such an enormous effort, will you be jumping back on a bike anytime soon?

AG: We have varied feelings about riding now that the trip has ended - some of us want to take a break from riding for a few months but will come back to it eventually whereas others are already contemplating what marvellous challenge they can undertake next.

Will you miss anything about the journey now you’re back in Melbourne?

AG: Of all the things that we might miss, I think it’s being around friends and forming closer and better relationships that we're all going to miss. It was wonderful - not only undertaking this massive ride to help others but also doing it with people you value which makes it all the more special!