Blacktown City, NSW (District 9690)
Mel Gray Bike Rides for Australian Rotary Health
The three original rides culminated in setting up a PhD Research Grant for Miriam Jackson over three years to look further in to Arthritis. The rides aims were to highlight awareness of arthritis and how exercise could assist with its maintenance and rehabilitation. At the commencement my left knee had been replaced.
BLACKTOWN TO BOURKE - 8th to 17th September 2005
The team consisted of Bob Bensley team leader and rear support vehicle driver, Bob Smith motivator, navigator and first aid Peter Price, lead driver and safety officer and Mel Gray bike rider.
Overnight stops were at Blackheath, Bathurst, Orange, Wellington, Dubbo, Narromine, Nyngan and Byrock, before arriving at Bourke.
The low was the incessant rain on the last day and the temperature fluctuated between 4 and 9 degrees virtually giving me hypothermia. We stopped at 30 and 60 kms and the team gave me tea to try and warm me up and placed a towel on my head to try and keep me warm.
There were two wonderful highs; Firstly meeting a girl and her two children at Orange, who had recently moved from Seven hills and the youngest daughter wanted to donate what were important coins to her; money that her grandmother had given her.
Secondly doing a make up at a club that had handed in its Charter but was still meeting, along with some prospective members awaiting their Charter being re-instated within a few months.
Ride a total of 792kms
Top speed of 61.9 kmp
Average speed of 20.05 kmp
39 hours and 39 minutes in the bike saddle
BROKEN HILL TO BLACKTOWN - 6th to 17th February 2007
The team this time consisted of Bob Bensley team leader and rear support vehicle driver, Bob Smith motivator, navigator and first aid, Bob Gardiner lead driver and safety officer and Mel Gray bike rider.
We had overnight stops at Coombah Roadhouse, Wentworth, Euston, Balranald, Hay, Goolgowie, West Wyalong, Orange, Bathurst and Blackheath.
There was quite a gap between the Bourke and the Broken Hill trip because I had to have my right knee replaced, also due to arthritis.
On leaving Broken Hill the weather was kind as the temperature had dropped to 17 degrees it warmed up considerably during the day but had been 42 degrees when we arrived the day before.
Lows were taking three layers of skin off my body attempting to break in a new saddle for the first three days. The horrendous head winds that could come up at times.
Underestimating the hills between Forbes and Orange only to suffer hitting what could only be described as THE WALL.
Highlights were having the chance to realise the solitude of riding across the Hay Plains and coming across an entrance to a property called HELLS GATE and seeing nothing as far as the eye could see for 360 degrees.
Doing a make up at Forbes with two Rotary clubs that at that stage had never met together before. We have since been out to visit the two clubs again as well as doing a joint project between our three clubs.
Struggling up but succeeding to ride over Mt Victoria. (A punch to the sky was warranted at the summit.)
Ride a total of 1386kms
Spent 69 hours and 10 minutes in the saddle.
Averaged 20.05 km per hour during the ride. (35 to 40 km per hour were able to be attained over the Hay Plains)
A top speed of 66 km per hour.
BIKE RIDE SOUTH - 2nd to March 9th 2008
The third and final episode of the trilogy of our Ph D research grant has been ridden and successfully completed. The dream came true.
The team here consisted of Team Leader and rear support vehicle driver Bob Bensley, Lead driver and video camera operator John Wilson, Navigator and photographer Bob Gardiner, First Aid Officer, nutritionist, masseur and motivator Bob Smith and Bike rider Mel Gray.
Overnight stops were at Bowral, Goulburn, Queanbeyan, Cooma, Bega, Narooma, Bateman’s Bay and finally Bomaderry.
From Blacktown to Bomaderry doesn’t sound all that far, the twist being it was the long way around, up and over the hills, and they threw in some tracks and ovals, to keep me on my toes (well pedals), to spice up the adventure.
The ride had been publicised before we started with one of our members Otto von Schomburg being able to talk to Alan Jones on radio 2GB who had shown a personal interest in the event. Newspapers in the towns we visited had run stories and we were to find that follow up stories were to follow.
Lows were stopping on the side of the road at the highest point between Cooma and Bega and holding our own remembrance ceremony for one of our members whose funeral it was at that time. Doing constant laps of velodromes or a cycle track to make up required distances at towns were we had to uplift the bike for a while.
Highs were being stopped on the side of the road outside of Goulburn by a couple who had heard of the ride on 2GB and made a donation. Witnessing the most beautiful scenery both mountain and coastal and being able to do so with the solitude of being on a bike. The outstanding fellowship at the clubs we were able to do make ups at, including the ones that held unofficial meetings to celebrate us arriving at their town.
Ride a total of 780kms
Spent 34 hours in the saddle.
Averaged 22.9 km per hour during the ride.
A top speed of 68 km per hour.
DISTRICT 9690 RIDE in conjunction with the GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIKE RIDE - 18th to 19th April 2009
The team consisted of Team Leader and support driver Bob Bensley, navigator and safety officer Bob Gardiner, Dave Humphry and Mel Gray Bike riders with support from other riders representing clubs along the way. This was to represent Australian Rotary Heath and the Great Australian Bike Ride whilst it had its holdover at Parramatta.
Friday saw us Depart Parramatta Daybreak and then visit Concord, Breakfast Point, Burwood, Strathfield, Bankstown, Cabramatta and the Liverpool Clubs, Chester Hill, Granville, Holroyd, Wetherill Park and Walacia / Mulgoa.
Saturday saw us depart the Blue Mountains and visit Katoomba, Upper Blue Mountains Sunrise, Central Blue Mountains, Springwood, Lower Blue mountains, the Penrith Clubs, Windsor, Richmond, Nth Richmond / Kurrajong and Hawkesbury together, Mount Druitt and St Mary’s together, Blacktown and Prospect and finally to Parramatta Park to complete the ride to the support of Australian Rotary Health CEO Joy Gillett, GABR Chairman PDG Dick White, DGE Paul Reid and Julia (as they were then).
Distance Travelled 192 kms
10 hours were spent in the saddle
Averaged 19.2 hours
Clocked a top speed of 75 kph (realising how stupid I was after)
BLACKTOWN TO FORBES - 27th to Saturday 30th May 2009
The team consisted of Team Leader and rear support vehicle Bob Bensley, Lead Driver John Wilson, Navigator and photographer Bob Gardiner, motivator, masseur, nutritionist and safety officer Bob Smith and Mel Gray Bike Rider.
We had overnight stops at Blackheath, Bathurst, Cudal and then Forbes. This ride was also in recognition of the GABR and taking the City to the Country, culminating in a fellowship weekend with the two Forbes Rotary Clubs.
Lows were the incessant rain and cold on the Wednesday all the way to Blackheath.
Having to leave the bike on the car until just past Little Hartley because of severely poor visibility. Highs were the wonderful fellowship and kindness and support from Bob Reid and Norm Hill from Upper Blue Mountains.
The opportunity of staying at probably the smallest population town but with a big heart, Cudal. The opportunity of sharing fellowship with two wonderful clubs at Forbes and presenting one of their members a Paul Harris Fellow. Being part of building a garden for handicapped young people at Forbes TAFE.
Distance travelled 400 kms
Total time in the saddle 18 hours
Average speed of 22.2 kph
A top speed of 78kph (it must be the adrenalin over stupidity)
This is the last ride for a few months as I have to be re-operated on 3rd September and have an artificial replacement of my wrist, hopefully as long as there is enough to work with, if not then it will be completely fused. Who knows I may have to attempt to alter handle bars and gearing but I promise myself as well as Australian Rotary Health I will be “back on my bike.
My sincerest thanks for being allowed to undertake these adventures.
Melvin Gray (Mel)
Rotary Club of Blacktown City