Six intrepid cyclists took on the challenge to complete the entire trip around Australia. They came from all walks of life and from a couple of different countries.
Annie was the first to commit and one of our youngest. Annie was from York, England and was coming to Australia for an extended period of time. She loves Oz so she may never go back home to live. Annie had never camped before and wasn't sure whether she would enjoy it. She was easily converted to the camping life (didn't like our bugs but loved the stars) although she did resort to the upgraded cabins more often than was ideal. Annie had only been riding for a few years but was a very strong rider, although I did find I had to boost her blood sugars most days in mid stride. She was a delight to have aboard and she always had a very positive attitude.
Theo came next. Theo is from Port Macquarie (via the Netherlands) and had ridden with us a couple of times before. Theo was one of our older gentlemen on the ride (not the oldest). Theo has a very distinctive riding style and I was able to identify him from a great distance. He has the best attitude and the best wave. It was always a delight driving past Theo. He brought along his professional camera on this trip and became our unofficial photographer, organising quite a few posed shots. He spent one night in hospital with some food poisoning, not caused by my cooking, and this kept him off the bike for a little over 24 hours but he was determined to get back in the saddle as soon as I would allow him. Theo was one of our poets and we loved his contributions. I must also say that he gives the best hugs.
Chris, who partnered up with Theo for most of the trip, was from Deepwater up in the NSW tablelands. Chris is another very strong rider with much experience in long distance cycling. Chris was my nursing side kick for most of the trip- if I had a problem (which there weren't many), I would ask Chris' opinion. She was a plodder and rarely complained about riding conditions. Poor Chris had an off bike mishap on the Broome to Perth leg and was ordered off the bike for the last couple of weeks of that leg. We all thought she would head home and meet us again in Perth but she decided to remain with the group and ride in the truck with us. She never complained but it was evident that she would prefer to be out on the bike. She was an inspiration to me with her determination.
Georg was from Germany. He spoke very good English but he really struggled with the Australian humour (or should I say Collis' humour). There were a few clashes between them until they worked each other out. Georg was another one with a distinctive riding style and he preferred to ride on his own. He told a few riders that he does not like to ride and talk, he just wants to ride. He liked to be one of the last to leave the camp each morning with the aim to be in the first couple arriving at our destination. Georg was known for his love of steak meals and cold beer. He went straight to the local hotel/roadhouse upon arriving every day at the destination for at least one beer. Everyone knew when Georg wasn't happy as he would not talk, so we just left him alone until he was ready. He had a fall on the Broome to Perth and unbeknown to us, he was considering pulling the plug. He plodded on and I'm pretty sure he is glad he did.
Ben, our youngest rider to do the whole trip was from Sydney and he was riding for Rabo Bank. Ben was a real surprise to everyone. He could outride all of our riders and then he would sit back quietly, riding beside me to protect me from the wind (although he was a skinny little thing, it still made a difference and I couldn't have ridden on one day without his assistance). He and I had a few clashes and I'm sure he didn't know how to take my humour but I'm sure by the end of the trip he had worked me out. Ben started off being all about riding the distances but by the end of the trip he had developed a love for taking every side trip available to him to see as much as he could. I feel the trip has changed his life in more ways than he could have dreamt of.
Woody, our oldest rider (only just) and a man who has ridden four other rides with us, is from South Carolina.Woody's original plan was to finish his circuit of Australia in Broome but in true Woody fashion decided to continue on to Melbourne. What's an extra 7,500 kms between friends! Keep out of his way first thing in the morning but once those legs warm up he is as good as gold. I've seen Woody mellow over the years, not as bitey as when he was a young man of 60! He has seen more of Australia from a bicycle seat than most Australians would see in a life time and is heading for 1,000,000 kms, if there is one bloke who could do it, Woody could.