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Harry is having a beer, please form an orderly queue

Time for a quick happy snap before setting off. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

The cyclists had loaded up on porridge and bananas; enjoyed lingering farewell hugs with children, partners and parents; and adjusted the spandex around the crevices one final time.

And then they were off.

Well, they were ready for off.

But where was Gus? Anyone seen Gus? We can't leave without Gus.

Gus, as it happened, had made the controversial yet entirely understandable call to go in search of coffee, but soon returned to the friendly jibes of his fellow riders.

And then they were off, the pack moving towards Kite Street.

Final preparations. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Fifteen people from Orange and Newcastle headed out from The Hive on McNamara Lane on Tuesday morning under grey skies. The weather was cool and ideal for riding.

Their destination is Newcastle, and the map says the route they're taking will cover nearly 500km.

You don't do this sort of thing for fun, and this Spinning for Spinal Support ride is aimed at raising funds for, and awareness of, Stronger Together.

In August 2021 Katherine Swain dived into a pool and sustained a C4/5 spinal cord injury, leaving her without use of her legs and partial use of her arms.

Despite the devastation and the isolation due to Covid restrictions, within weeks Katherine was asking what could be done for others in the same situation. Stronger Together was born.

"The road to recovery following a spinal cord injury is long and hard, and irrespective of the support systems around you, can be a lonely path," the group states.

"We can't begin to understand the effects that a spinal cord injury has on a loved one, but one thing that we can say for certain is that we are better to learn as a collective and more powerful to create change as a community. We are stronger together."

Harry Fardell on Tuesday morning. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Orange Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic's Harry Fardell was among the riders.

"I feel really excited and I'm just glad the day has arrived," he told The Orange News Examiner, shortly before the riders pushed off.

"This will be the easy bit, the training was the toughest, particularly after the 24-hour [warm-up] spin - everyone's bums were really, really sore.

"Cyclists will tell you that's the toughest thing - just getting your bum used to sitting on a seat for so long."

When mapping out the journey the organisers chose a slightly longer route in order to avoid Sofala "and going over the mountains", said Fardell.

"The way we're going is relatively flat," he said. "The third day we're riding 162km from Mudgee to Denman and that's through the Bylong Valley and the Upper Hunter, so that will be hilly.

"I drove it a few weeks ago and it will probably be the most picturesque, but the longest day by far.

"The roads are tarred the whole way and there's nothing that's steeper than [Orange's] the Pinnacle; the Orange crew has all gone up and down the Pinnacle a few times as part of training."

The average ride will be about 100km a day, and the adventure will conclude with a sold out black tie ball in Newcastle on Saturday night.

The fundraising target is $100,000, of which $81,000 has already been pledged.

Two support vehicles - one in front of the riders and one behind - will be well-stocked with supplies.

"We'll probably ride for an hour, get off and stretch the legs, have a muesli bar, and then every 50km have a decent feed," Fardell said.

"The support crew will be making sandwiches. We'll eat healthy but with lots of carbs. We had a nutritionist speak to the group and [she said] at the end of the day nearly the best thing for you is a beer, because it's full of sugar and carbs."

Just the one?

"Well, I'm going to make sure I'm really well nourished."

Aside from the rump, Fardell said quads and calves will become sore, as will necks and upper trapezius muscles "because you're looking up all day".

As a physio, Fardell will no doubt be leant on for massages at the conclusion of each day's ride, but it won't be easy for him to work with a beer in one hand.

"There's an expectation [of massages], and then there's actually what's going to happen," he said, half-joking.

You can donate and read more about the ride here.

Orange Team Angus McKerchar Sophie Fardell Harry Fardell James McMillian Peter Bell Andrew Swain Al Hattersley Jenna Hattersley

Newcastle Team

John Williams Luke Sherwood Adam Lewis Eddie Fisher Nathan Sherwood Mark Sherwood Jack Clinton


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