Silo stop at Francis
It all began with a conversation
After riding back to St Kilda on the Rapha Southside ride with a few riders, Andrew Yaw and Greg Berry were planing a trip to Adelaide. Everything had been organised, but 'we need to find a driver' said Greg. Also on the ride was Roy Majoe who volunteered to drive as he had never been to Adelaide and after Covid he thought it was time to get out and do something different.
Time to give back
Having been on many bike adventures with the group, such as day trips to Donna Buang or the Dandenong Ranges, Andrew and Greg had always given Roy a lift to wherever they were heading as Roy didn’t own a car. Roy felt that it was time to give back a bit and he was 'more than happy to help out'.
The forth ride to Adelaide
It all began in mid 2018 when Leeten Chin was chatting to Greg Berry about Everesting and the idea of riding across to Adelaide from Melbourne.
In 2019 Greg Berry, Leeten Chin, Andrew Yaw, Phil Giese had organised to ride across to Adelaide but Leeten had a crash just before they left in December and spent the next 12 weeks recovering (from a major accident with a car) in Hospital while Greg and Phil rode unsupported.
In 2020 was a substantial group, Leeten Chin, Nick Carter, Cindy Magro, Lisa Pomeroy, Greg, Boby Subagyo, Phil Giese, Dean Turner, Cindy Magro and car support was Phil's wife Bronwyn.
In 2021 Leeten and Greg rode with support from Michael Phuong who drove the car to Adelaide and joined them partially by driving the car up the road, quickly unpacking his bike and riding back to the group.
From the experience in these three rides, they knew that having a group ride size somewhere between 4 - 8 riders was the optimum number. The 2022 pilgrimage had a total of 6 with Roy driving the support vehicle.
No egos on the team
Left to right: Boby Subagyo, Andrew Yaw, and Leeten Chin, Roy Majoe, Steffi Ngua, Phil Giese & Greg Berry
For Leeten it was more than just being able to complete the ride, it was about how you managed those difficult times, understanding that nobody is perfect and respecting each person for who they are. Each rider had spent time riding together determining how their personality blended in with the chemistry of the group, and ensuring everyone was a team player not an individualist.
Andrew Yaw before reaching Elmhurst
'Andrew Yaw is a happy-go-lucky rider, always smiling and nothing can bend him out of shape. He gets along with everyone and is neutral – the Switzerland of the group.
Boby leading the group closely supported by Steffi
Boby Subagyo is the young kid, always cracking jokes and the most animated. He keeps the mood and spirit of the group up throughout, When everyone is happy, I'm happy’ says Boby. Phil is the gentle giant of the group, the quieter and steady one, and Greg is Greg.'
Steffi chiing out in Goroke
Steffi Ngua was new to the group having been invited by Leeten. She's humble, confident and outgoing, and she has a lot to say once she gains her confidence in the group and comes out of her shell. Her fellow riders reckon she has so much potential but is still new to the sport and still learning new things.
They all trusted Roy as the driver and gave him the responsibility to ensure the ride went smoothly and everyone was safe.
The guys took me on as one of their own
Dukes Hwy from Minimay to Francis with Bobby
Stefi felt nervous at the start being the only girl in the group, but the rest of the group didn't care and she was pretty much one of the boys. Everyone had the freedom to say what ever they wanted in a welcoming and friendly environment.
Just show up
Greg, Leeten and Phil are seasoned riders who already had a spreadsheet mapping out where the rest stops were, had already booked the motels, knew where they were having lunch, places they need to get water and even booked a space at the pub, so every detail was already planned and organised really well.
While Roy took his bike along for the journey, after looking at the entire course, he felt that he would have to jump ahead a lot and ride back frequently and would only ride 20 - 30kms. He decided, 'I'll just drive there and ride in Adelaide'... there wasn't much to do except show up on the day and support them along the 680km journey' in Andrew's car, says Roy.
The best laid plans
The journey was planned to start at Melbourne's Southern Cross Station where the group was meant to take the 5:51am train to the ride's starting point in Ballarat, while Roy drove Andrew's car to meet them.
However, the best laid plans can easily fall apart. After Roy's alarm didn't go off and he woke at 6:20am, he rang Andrew who informed him that everyone was onboard the train except Leeten who had also missed his alarm and Phil who got the times mixed up. Phil initially boarded the 5:51am train and disembarked after not seeing anyone else, thinking they were catching the 6:30am train.
Fortunately It all worked out well in the end as Leeten managed to join Phil on the 6:30am train and Roy got to the departure point in Ballarat just as the group were about to leave, so it all came together miraculously.
Cheery and excited
A general air of excitement was amongst the group, except for Phil who was working his way back from an accident he had during Covid.
A coffee stop in Beaufort with the bikes relaxing
With the first schedule stop at Beaufort, Roy headed to the supermarket and purchased 3 cases of water (1.5lt x 8), Coke and ice for the group. Roy decided to take the rural route to make up time and they all met up in Beaufort, as they didn't take much time to cover 50kms with the help of a strong tailwind.
Phil at this stage was suffering a bit but continued on to the next town of Elmhurst before jumping into the car to have a bit of a break until Stawell. Greg was suffering, and Boby, like a true Domestique dropped back to the car and grabbed a Coke off Roy and then did the 'Sticky bottle' until he re-joined the group with Greg receiving a much needed energy boost.
A well earnt rest stop in Elmhurst
Thanks to Phil & Greg's palnning, the group enjoyed sealed roads between Beaufort & Elmhurst
Each day was meticulously planned out by Greg and Phil on WhatsApp. From the route, timings, where they were staying, even how many kilometres to each stopping point and where we stop for water. They even had Phil and Greg driving the roads between Beaufort and Elmhurst to scout the road conditions as Google Maps was showing a gravel road.
Leeten out the front – the world felt right again
Leeten out the front riding through the Raglan Plantations
Most of the time Leeten was out the front by himself. The group knows him well and lets him do whatever he wants as the first rider of the group. 'He is super hyperactive with so much energy. I don't know where he gets the energy from', says Roy, 'you can just be sitting down and he is raring to go'.
The group trails behind Leeten at Raglan Plantations
'I know I have that reputation,' says Leeten, 'but sometimes it's easier not to follow someone's cadence, there were no cars plus,' as he quotes Dorothea Mackellar's poem, My Country, '"I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains," as you see the golden grasses, mountains and the blue skies – this country is so vast."
For Steffi, she felt that the world felt right again in seeing Leeten 500m up the front in his 'happy place' after having an accident a month before the ride.
Starting to feel heat exhaustion
The heat taking it's toll - leaving the town of Raglan
As the temperatures rose during the morning, the impacts of the heat were beginning to be felt but they were doing okay en route with the tail wind assisting until their lunch stop in Stawell where they enjoyed some Greek food.
Enjoying lunch in Stawell
Lost in Glenorchy
Boby and Andrew - Glenorchy to Horsham
The heat had melted their ice so Roy decided to head to a petrol station to refill their supply while the group set off to Glenorchy. After Roy started driving again he couldn't find them, so using his cycling calculations he figured that after 'being away for 20 - 30 minutes, travelling somewhere between 30-40km/h – I'm sure I could meet up with them' said Roy.
Rest stop in Wal Wal after Glenorchy
Roy called Andrew to check where they were and it turned out they had already reached Old Glenorchy Rd as they were riding fast. It turned out that Roy had been wasting time driving backwards and forth searching for them.
Staying close to the group
After losing them once, Roy didn't want this to happen again. The technology wasn't always the answer as Andrew's AirTag needed access to a mobile network for the tracking to work, and the lack of a stable mobile reception in rural areas made it seem like the group was still at Stawell and WhatsApp tracking drained their battery.
Roy's solution ended up alternating between driving behind the group and driving ahead and finding a shady spot until the group turned up and either stopped to grab water or keep riding.
Motor pacing to Horsham
As it started getting really windy and hot with strong crosswinds and gravelly roads Roy sat behind them 90% of the time except when he would occasionally drive ahead to take photos of the group.
Boby punctured his tyre, Roy quickly patched it up, then Boby being a Time Trailist sat behind Roy and motor paced him back to the group at 50km/h until they reached Andrew and Steffi who also had flat tyres. While Andrew applied some extra effort to remove the GP5000 tyre off, Roy again motor paced Andrew, Steffi and Boby to Horsham.
While being super strong, Steffi tended to hold back. She was usually never off kilter and never suffering, but the others said that during the motor pacing you actually saw her panting for the first time.
The rock - Mount Arapiles
A sunburnt country, getting closer to Mount Arapiles after an early start from Horsham
Lunch at Francis with time to kill
A little more relaxed - Horsham to Goroke enroute to Francis
It was a pretty laid back morning, the pub supposedly didn't open until 12:30pm and with the group ahead of schedule everyone just lounged around eating some donuts at Goreke, a couple of hours away from the pub in Francis.
The salt stains says it all - stopping in Goroke
After crossing the South Australian border they arrived in Francis. Leeten was too busy looking for his Garmin because he wanted to film the time change.
The hardest stage - Francis to Bordertown
With the temperatures reaching 38ºC, the heat radiating off the road topping 40º- 41ºC on the bike and a crosswind, the conditions took its toll on Phil who couldn't manage and he sensibly hopped in the car.
There was silent support amongst the group, everyone being quiet and conserving enough energy to spend time up the front.
The heat also got to Leeten, who rode not far behind the group. The day proved to be a real struggle for everyone.
Ice and Stockings - Preparing something special
Roy looked at the weather forecast and knew it was going to be a super hot day and while he was buying ice at Horsham, he bought some stockings to fill with ice for when the group really needed it.
Phil and Roy sped ahead of the group and waited with the ice and stockings to cool the group off. As they approached, Boby's eyes lit up and he sprinted forward, followed by Greg, grabbing a stocking filled with ice. They were elated, giving much enjoyment to Roy.
The day proved to be a real struggle for everyone including Leeten, who rode not far behind the group.
For the group, Roy's cooling technique saved their day and was the difference between stopping and staying an extra night or continuing on to Tintinara. Roy's contributions and support could not be understated enough.
Intuition & connection
Highway Team car support - Ki Ki to Tailem Bend
The group then entered the Dukes Highway with the traffic to Bordertown. Roy then decided to stay behind the group as the cars were travelling fast.
He came up with a system to communicate to the group. Intuitively the group immediately understood the code without Roy needing to explain, everyone was on the same wave length.
Horn morse code
Roy would flash his indicators and beep:
- 1 x light beep meant a car was coming
- 2 x beeps meant 2 cars
- Holding onto the horn for a long time - an 18 wheeler semi-trailer
During the whole ride, no driver ever honked at Roy while driving slowly behind the group. No one ever questioned why, they just got on with their day and everyone else just drove around the group.
Bordertown – Keeping the group safe
After completing the 45km stretch they arrived in Bordertown and they stopped for an hour. Not long after they got rolling again Andrew started to feel dizzy and drowsy, his legs felt fine but he was worried he might faint on the bike, 'thank god for Roy,' Said Andrew, 'I stopped right away as I didn't want to risk hitting anyone or their wheel.'
Sensibly he hopped in the car and skipped 20-30kms which was enough to physically and mentally recover while not placing the group and himself in a dangerous situation.
Double lines equals single file
Phil up the front powering the group while Andrew takes a break
Early on they prioritised road safety. They decided whenever there were double lines, the group would go into a single file to help the cars and trucks get around the group safely.
A real struggle - the arrival at Keith
For Boby and Greg the dining hall in Keith offered some temprary relief
Roy could see in the group's faces that the day had taken a toll on everyone.
Boby, 'I just need to lay down'
Dinner in Keith
Not over yet – Another 38kms to Tintinara
After dinner in Keith it was back on the bike to the day's rest stop. It was a long day but fortunately, it had cooled down so the group took it easy and successfully completed the 260kms stage.
Silo Art at Coonalpyn, SA
Waking up on Sunday morning they started heading out towards Coonalpyn with rising optimism in the group as they were getting closer to Adelaide and that a good portion of the ride was done.
With renewed energy they joked around, giving each other a bit of stick when the person up the front would complain about being tired. The group cheekily responded by highlighting that they're tired because they are at the front pushing the pace.
Nearly there – Lets get this done!
Dowe to business - lets get this done as head towards Tailem Bend
Although it was super wet you could start to see more determination. 'You could see these guys are getting down to business,' said Roy.
Then the rain started - feeling invigorated and blessed
Leaving Tailem Bend
From Tallem Bend, the rain started and it got harder and harder yet for the group. After days of heat it was invigorating and was the best thing ever, says Leeten as it cooled everyone down.
Crossing Murray Bridge
Steffi doesn't hold back
Andrew commented that over the 3 days whether he was observing from the bike or the car, the group's body language indicated that they were suffering. There was lots of slouching and changing positions on the bike except for Steffi who was always solid on the bike, just tapping along.
Everyone was amazed at Steffi's riding, especially Boby who spent a great deal of time up the front with Steffi. While he kept changing his own position to get comfortable, Steffi was like a robot, the upper body was still but the legs just kept rotating.
The group really wanted to see Steffi do a good effort and push herself hard when they reached the hills they said to Steffi 'Don't hold back, go,' and then she dropped everyone and was motor-like going up the hill.
Andrew was trying to keep up with her and eventually caught up but she was so strong. For Steffi, towards the end of the ride she learnt what it's like to actually crack and tire, which was good experience for her.
The group knew that she had so much more to offer as they had never seen her panting and flaking on the bike. She had plenty of reserves, but Steffi needed to find out for herself and build her confidence.
The long descent into Adelaide
Roy drove ahead for the last section to have time to check in for the group. After going through the check in process, Roy turns around and they are all finally there.
They were all emotional, so happy to finally arrive, hugging everyone including Roy who was hugged while trying to check in. 'Adelaide became a representation of their achievement,' said Roy, 'it does something to you – It's good for them.'
Relaxing in Adelaide
After showering it was off to a Vietnamese restaurant. 'Everyone was elated, knocking them back big lagers.'
The best they have done
Phil, Leeten, Bobby, Greg and Andrew are seasoned riders to Adelaide and while they agreed that it wasn't necessarily the easiest, it was the best Adelaide ride they have done, in terms of experience and getting through it.
Part of the ride
For Roy, even though he wasn't riding, the group made him feel like he was an integral part of the team. He felt that responsibility and took it seriously so the group would get to Adelaide and have the best experience.
Given me purpose
Being part of the team and helping with little things like enabling the group to safely ride on the highway rather than riding on the shoulder gave Roy much joy. This also had the added benefit of gaining 3-4km/h faster with the same amount of power by riding to the right of the line. Sadly many years ago Daryl Adams was the victim of a hit and run incident while riding to Adelaide with his mate Peter Little in 2019.
Even though Roy was by himself in the car, he felt connected by sharing in the experience with the other 6 riders. Even driving at 30km/h in the middle of nowhere was enjoyable.
Roy's car - the Pro Soigneur
Andrew's car affectionately became known as Roy's car
Even though the car belonged to Andrew, it affectionally became known as 'Roy's car'. The car became his domain as he started to manage where the bags and food and ice was placed, in effect Roy became a Pro Soigneur in learning how to manage these guys.
Every stop he got the water, the Coke and sunscreen out and instructed them to leave everything on the ground for Roy to clean up, enabling the group to focus on their riding and doing what they need to do.
Thought he would be bored to tears
Initially Roy was thinking he would need to bring a book to read while waiting for the group to arrive but in fact there was never a dull moment. Whether he was driving to his next stop, getting the water and drinks, taking photos, planning the next thing to do, or sitting behind the group and watching the scenery and what they are doing, there was plenty for him to do. It turned out to be much more fun than Roy initially expected.
'It's a small thing but I would get baggage tags as there are so many bags and everyone is trying to figure out where everything is,' says Roy. The minute they arrive at the car for the baggage drop-off, their bags would get tagged so Roy knows whose bag belongs to whom.
Initially when he picked up the car it was full and he didn't know who had what bag. Some people had a tool box, while some had shopping bags with food, so it would be better organised if Roy knew what people brought and even their preferences of what they like and don't like.
The better he knows each person, the better he can make the experience for them next time, ie Boby Likes chocolate milk so he can ensure there is chocolate milk if Boby needs it.
Focus on just riding
Roy felt that if he hadn't given the group this level of detail, he would be just driving around and would compromise the overall experience for the group.
Ultimately for the group having the car gave them the mental strength knowing that a backup was not far away. it also allowed them not to worry whether they had enough water in their bidon to get them to the next town.
This made the whole ride more enjoyable for the group while they just focused on just riding to the next destination.
Riding in Adelaide didn't make a difference
Day one was a recovery ride to Glenelg. For Roy he thought that because the group rode to Adelaide, they might slow down and he could keep up, but in fact they were all still pretty strong.
You Melbourne guys are soft
At a cafe stop during the Nort on Summit to Little Italy ride, Leeten started chatting to the person behind the counter. Leeton mentioned they were thinking of riding out to Mount Lofty, then down to Green Hill Rd before going back. The person at the counter then retorted, 'You Melbourne guys are soft'.
From that moment on, 'You Melbourne guys are soft' became the catchphrase for the group in moments of indecision.
No TDU but good food and drink
With the ride behind them it was time to let down their hair, starting with a French degustation menu at the d'Arenberg, a 4 star restaurant. It was time for the group to relax and enjoy the freedom to indulge without a care in the world.
A true holiday with super mates
Celebration beers shared with Allan (Alby) Iacuone in Adelaide
For Leeten it was more than just a holiday. It was not just about cycling, but it was about food, mateship and how cycling can bring people together, supporting one another and most importantly having fun together.
Being with one person 24/7 for 7 days can be challenging. Adding in another 6 could be a recipe for conflict and disagreements, but if you know how to resolve issues, deal with each other and work through it, ultimately friendships become stronger and as Leeten said they've become 'super mates'.
One of the moments that brought them closer together is the 'Sorry jar'. After each day's ride the group would have a few beers and throughout the ride, they noticed that Steffi would always apologise all the time when she didn't need to. They set up a 'sorry jar" so whenever Steffi apologised for no reason it would encourage her to be more confident and less apologetic.
Supporting and encouraging one another
The ride wasn't about who was the fastest, the strongest or the best in the group, it was about finishing the ride together. 'It's like a family,' says Boby.
The best part for Steffi was that when people were at their worst, the group encouraged them and helped them back up. This was the most important thing about the group.
We were close but got closer
For Andrew even though their 2018 trip was mentally and physically harder being unsupported, everyone from those earlier trips grew even closer during this trip. Their relationships grew to another level as there was more time and energy put in developing those bonds further compared to 2018.
He jokes that it was the suffering, the beers and the espresso martinis that brought everyone closer together.