IntroductionThis was the 16th edition of the Big Ride. Unlike Previous years it was no longer called the RTA Big Ride and just the NSW Big Ride. At first I though it was because the RTA was no longer prepared to pay for the naming rights. It turned out that the NSW Government no longer wanted individual departments to sponser events. So it is still sponsered, but not by a specific department.
The ride like last year was in the south end of NSW, we shadowed the Hume Highway for most of the way between Holbrook and Binalong (pronounced Bine-a-long). Having seen the profile I was expecting a fairly testing ride, but the distance was down from some previous years. I had also riden some of the Day 8 route in reverse in the 2003 ride so I had a rough idea of what to expect.
|Day 0 - February 24th 2006||Sydney||Holbrook||0.00 km|
|Day 1 - February 25th 2006||Holbrook||Jingellic||54.95 km|
|Day 2 - February 26th 2006||Jingellic||Tumbarumba||77.30 km|
|Day 3 - February 27th 2006||Tumbaruma||Tumut||71.95 km|
|Day 4 - February 28th 2006||Rest Day||108.29 km|
|Day 5 - March 1st 2006||Tumut||Gundagai||62.40 km|
|Day 6 - March 2nd 2006||Gundagai||Junee||66.03 km|
|Day 7 - March 3rd 2006||Junee||Cootamundra||84.22 km|
|Day 8 - March 4th 2006||Cootamundra||Boorowa||98.53 km|
|Day 9 - March 5th 2006||Boorowa||Binalong||31.19 km|
ConclusionI did enjoy myself on this ride, some of the days were unexpectedly hard. Day 2, 7 and 8 really stick in my mind as tough. Some of this was the weather, which couldn't be helped, but some sections like the terrain from Harden to the highway on Day 8 was brutal.
This year I had no contact with anyone off the ride. I read no newspapers, listened to no radio, and watched no television. I basically detached from the world for the week. To me, this is one of the really great things of the ride. The world will keep turning while the event is on, but your only concern is with where you are ending up tomorrow, and where the pub is in town.
There were a lot of organisational problems on this years ride. The organisation team were all pretty much new, and they had problems trying to get volunteers probably due to the Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. A lot of people also thought that the ride was too early in the year as it was pretty hot on a lot of days. I also felt that there was a significant lack of entertainment in the towns as well as at camp. In the past the MS Society organised the entertainment and I think that no one has told the Heart Foundation (who have been the charity since last year) what is expected of them.
Next years ride is still an unknown route, I have heard south coast, as well as north coast. They are pushing to get a coastal route, but as someone said, they should do one north of Sydney next year. Of the 4 rides I have done now, 3 have been south of Sydney. There are a lot of new ideas that they want to try out for next year, so it is these, as well as the route choice that is going to sway my decision for next years ride. I did think at one time that I may stop doing the NSW Rides, and just stick to Cycle Queensland.