I completed my eighth Gong Ride on Sunday after a three year absence, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The first time I rode it was only about a month after I’d started riding, and I thought it was really, really hard even though I did the 50 km course. Well I’m pleased to report that it gets easier and after ten constant years of road riding I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier the hills felt.
For those who aren’t Sydney riders, the Gong ride is an annual mass participation ride held on the first Sunday in November. It is a coastal course from Sydney (Tempe Reserve –near the Airport) to Wollongong south of Sydney. It is 82 km long and has a few hills, although the descents are steeper than the ascents.
I rode this year with three women from my cycling club – LACC and another friend from work. I find these types of events are always more fun with fellow riders, and we all enjoyed a great day out. If you’re thinking of completing the Gong ride here’s a few tips:
Train for hills and distance
Your training in the months and weeks leading up to it should include hills and a similar distance to the actual ride. The popular M7 bike path is a great training ground because it’s 40 km long and has some reasonable hills. Start with shorter distances and work your way up. The Gong ride website has some great training suggestions.
Have your bike serviced a few weeks before
You definitely don’t want your equipment letting you down on the big day so book your bike in for a service with your local bike shop a few weeks before. Don’t do it the day before in case something isn’t quite right. Allow enough time to take the bike for a few rides before the event.
Plan your day in advance
Plan everything in advance including transport to and from the event, food and drinks on the day, and your clothing, helmet and shoes. I actually rode to the start from my home which added an extra 14 km to my day, and caught the train home. And make sure you have at least one spare tube (I carried two on Sunday) that fits your bike, a pump or CO2 and tyre levers.
Be courteous and patient
There are thousands of other riders completing the same event so it’s important to be courteous to other riders and patient. Keep to the left unless you’re overtaking and be kind to your fellow participants. I had a few riders who overtook me came dangerously close to me when they swung back in, which I thought was entirely unnecessary.
Support the MS society
The Gong ride is actually the MS Gong ride and is run to raise funds for MS research so make sure you do some fundraising if you’re a participant. I confess I only raised a small amount for the event but am always in awe of the top fundraisers who collectively raised $2.7 million. And make sure you sign up early for 2019, because it sold out a few months before the event.