I reckon I could do it!


With the 2016 edition of Around the Bay just over the horizon, here’s the not-at-all-exaggerated, true story of 16-year-old Sarah Maloney‘s words coming back to haunt her on Around the Bay 2015. 

Oh great, now it’s hailing! Typical Melbourne weather is far from appreciated at this point in time, so you can stop with the hail, no more constant curtains of rain, and wind, if you have to be around can you at least push from the behind! I mean gosh, wasn’t it like 30 degrees 20 kilometres ago? Or was that 50 kilometres ago? At this point I’ve lost all sense of time, distance, and direction… all I really know for sure is that dad is in front of me and moving forward, and therefore I must keep moving forward. My legs hurt, my butt hurts, my back hurts, my arms, hands, pride, dignity—it’s all just a constant throb pulsing through my body and all that is running through my mind is “mum, your idea of ‘not much further’ and mine are two very different things”.

As we slowly cruise into a small shelter I start contemplating how I got here. I trace it back to exactly 14 weeks and two days earlier, and the six words I so thoughtlessly tossed onto the table; “I reckon I could do it!”

Yep, those ill-considered words are the sole reason I’m standing here looking the spitting image of Niagara Falls, aching all over and feeling like I can’t even look at my bike, let alone get back onto it.

I become vaguely aware of the fact our little sanctuary has somehow gotten a hell of a lot more cramped and a teeny, tiny part of me is slightly curious on when our private preserve became so public. The rest of me is just ecstatic that we are not as far back in the pack as I thought. Mum and dad have jumped into the obligatory ‘bike commuting’ small talk: “so how long have you been riding? Oh wow! Well this is our third year but the first for the teenagers. Yes, teenagers! Ha, if you had told me 28 years ago…”.

I listen half-heartedly to the conversation, watching as the brave tackle the rain and hail, and feel marginally better hearing that not many actually followed the recommended 12 week training program. I mean, I don’t think there was a large number who ignored it completely, but at least they weren’t too far ahead of me.

The truth is I never believed those six words. Not after the first 20 kilometre training ride or the last 70 kilometre one. Not on the Friday afternoon drive into Melbourne, or during our Saturday night carb-heavy dinner, not even while eating a banana and sipping on an Up-and-Go at five o’clock that morning. Nope, no way! I kept telling myself I’d make it to Geelong and beg on my hands and knees for the SAG Wagon. I had accepted that as my dreaded future and was one hundred percent prepared to follow through, only I did make it to Geelong, and then past Geelong all the way to Queenscliff, onto the ferry to Sorrento. Much to my surprise, I got back onto my bike at Sorrento and rode my merry way over Mount Martha and down to Frankston.

It was there when everything started going downhill.

The pain was getting to me and my legs were begging for mercy. I was quickly learning that there are only so many ways you can position your butt on a bike saddle before it doesn’t matter where you rest it—a sharp stab of pain will be the outcome. And just when things really could not get any more pear-shaped, a drop of water appeared on my handle bars. Then another. More fell on my arms and legs as I slowly tilted my head upwards to see thick grey clouds charging in our direction.

So here I am. Wheeling my bike back into the (now slightly less torrential) rain, just about ready to fall apart into a pile of self pity and agony. “You can quit” is all I keep reminding myself—“you’ve done good, you can stop.” The thing is, I know it’s a lie. From the moment I said those six words all those weeks ago, through my sorry excuse for training, this morning when we hit the road, through the pain and two hundred kilometres of riding this godforsaken bike, I knew. Quitting is not an option and it never was. So I muster up all the energy I can possibly strain through my weary body, pull myself over the saddle, rest my feet on the pedals and ride on.

If you reckon you can do it too, then enter Around the Bay now. Sign up before 6 July and receive a free early bird jersey.

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