Up early and ready to tackle the last day, i started with the usual routine of energising on high carb, athlete quality fuel. This morning featured Escape Cafe's finest pecan muffin.
I spent a good 20 minutes in the cafe sussing out the tyre/ inner tube situation so that the precious final tube didn't puncture on the last stretch. I played surgeon, carefully extracting shards of glass and rocks that had snuck through the thick rubber (?). I looked up to meet the stare of a leather-and-beard-clad biker crew...I'd like to think they were watching in awe but no doubt their looks were due to the oil and dirt smudged on my hands and face.
On the road finally, with a phantom-puncture scare, I cycled onto Wagstaffe. I soon realised that this ride was no walk in the park. The carefully selected 'scenic route' turned out to be the devil in disguise, with a trail of mini Mount Everests there to challenge me on every corner. Fortunately Joseph had leant me his phone so I had Spotify up and running, giving me some support up the hills.
Arriving in Wagstaffe in time for the 12.30 ferry to Palm Beach, Joseph and I emerged from the obligatory coffee shop stop- Jo with a shiny green apple and me armed with a good ol batch of chips drizzled in ketchup. Palm Beach to Manly was another beautiful stretch running along the coast. With each km, the realization that the end was in sight dawned more and more. At Manly, I jumped on the ferry - caramel McFlurry in hand- and watched as the 700 other people got on board. Got chatting to one of the deckhands who took me up to the top deck to meet the skipper and check out the views all the way into the harbour. I didn't even play the charity card. It was just by chance. It was a magnificent experience and one I won't be forgetting anytime soon, especially as the drizzle stopped and the sun appeared through the clouds as we arrived. I'm starting to think that the Lycra and helmet look has some merit to it after all...
Landing on circular quays to Joseph and two pals was great. I got the photo. I'd done the cycle. I was practically running down the Opera House Bar steps for the long awaited beer. However, this was not to be. The bouncer sidestepped me, Merida Speeder in hand, blocking our entry. No bikes allowed. I tried to tactfully argue 'but I just cycled here from Brisbane' but to no avail. After a cheeky chat with the Opera Bar manager, Dingo, he sympathised and locked up the Merida in a music room whilst we stormed the watering hole.
I'm now back in Brissy after a 16 hour night bus. I can't thank enough all the generous, kind people who hosted, accommodated and supported me throughout the journey. Also to all those who donated and sent messages of encouragement along the way, I really appreciate it. N.b. all expenses of the trip were funded by me and 100% of donations go to the respective charities.
Highlights: raising far more money than I had anticipated to support two important charities AND eating a celebratory ice cream the size of my head in a beautiful city
Lowlights: legs still cramping after stair- climbing. Any physiotherapists give me a shout!
Total distance: 1008km
Time spent in the saddle: 56 hours 40 minutes