October 29, 2008

Day 10

The final leg seemed really easy compared to the rest of the trip. Although it was justifiably the hilliest day i seemed to take on the hills as if they were flat. Maybe it was because my mates joined in , or because i just wanted to get it finished. I could smell the finish line , and it smelt fantastic. The strangest part about the final leg was the amount of pain i was in. I was practically pain free with only mild Achilles pain. ( i wish i could say i felt that way now ).
With only several kms left as we rolled in close to Orange i had a strange feeling. My body felt numb and i had totally believed that the day was going to end just like every other day. It seemed like we were just going to finish and pack the bike up and that was going to be it. There seemed to be no closure.
Well that all changed as Craig and myself followed by Brad , Brendan and Steve turned the final corner and St Mary's Public School in Orange came into sight. It seemed as if there was a cast of thousands . There were children , parents and teachers lined down both sides of the entry screaming loudly. The noise was unbelievable . Everything appeared to be happening in slow motion. And there it was . The kids were holding a red ribbon stretched from one side to the other. As i rolled through and broke the ribbon amongst the deafening screams and the smiling faces i knew at that moment that we had made it and the closure i was seeking was absolutely how i had dreamed it would be. I came to a stop and jumped down from the bike feeling like my legs were not going to hold me up. I took a look around me discovering that the school children whilst still screaming and clapping , had put in a major effort . There were streamers and pom poms , and massive signs saying welcome Michael Cowan and every where i looked i found something they had made. I stood there for what seemed an eternity just taking it in .
Finally the roaring ceased and i was introduced to the school by there lovely principal and welcomed by the school captains and a councilor from Orange. The children from each class had made me a gift and presented them to me one by one as i shook there hands.
Then it was my turn to speak . As i called my great mate Craig over to stand with me and share the triumphant moment it happened....... The emotions just poured out..... Craig and held each other up and cried our eyes out . I was so proud of Craig and myself and of the fantastic machine i had hand built , i was proud of my crew and my mates for joining in and the emotions i felt were over whelming. I struggled to talk as the tears kept rolling. I looked across the crowd and saw my beautiful wife Amanda crying , along with the rest of the crew. We had all had an enormous week .
Craig and i talked to the crowed about the highs and Lows , about mate ship , over coming adversity , believing in yourself , following your dreams and i believe we sent a very strong and positive message to the children . I only wish my Parents and my three girls could have been there to share those moments.
I don't know were my life will go from here , but i do believe it will be different. You could not go through that much pain and dig as deep for as long and commit yourself so passionately for there not to be a positive change somewhere. I believe i will take many positive moments from the trip and utilise them for good somewhere.
I spoke to my great friend Rosie from the Asthma foundation before i left. I spoke about two different occasions where two different people who have insight told me the trip was going to be successful and somewhere along the journey i was going to meet a special man who is going to change my life. You were right Rosie...... That man is me........It took me a little while to figure that out . Its amazing how much thinking you can do eight feet up in the air , pushing your heart, out struggling with pain and exhaustion. But at some of the lowest moments my mind was actually as clear as a bell and my thoughts were precise and accurate.
Rosie called me on the phone about an hour after the finish yesterday. Not much was said. We didn't need to speak. We just cried to each other on the phone.
Rosie is one of those special people you meet who you know will always be there for you . My wife and i think she is fantastic, my kids love her and the Asthma Foundation of NSW should be extremely proud to have such a person on there team.
I could write for hours but i need to head home and see my other team mates ( my girls ).
A massive thank you to St Mary's public school in Orange for all of there fantastic support at the end ,from myself and my crew and the Asthma Foundation of NSW .

I will keep posting as there are some great photos and stories to tell.

Goodbye for today Michael Cowan

October 28, 2008

We made it and it was all worth it.

I cannot begin to tell you how good we all feel .The day was good to us all and there is simply to much to tell you all today.

We are safe

We have finished

The school in Orange was amazing

And we are going out for dinner. I will tell the happy ending in the morning.

Cheers Michael and the crew.

Last day and i am pumped

I am sitting here freezing with my feet once again in a bucket of ice water. Mal is fussing over me and complaining at the same time because i keep pulling my feet out. Sarah is making egg and bacon rolls and they smell delicious.

Not long to go now. we will meet the boys at Mount Panorama in half an hour where we will do a hot lap of the track. We have a school to attend at 9.00 am and then we hit the road for the final leg of the journey. We roll into orange at about 2.00pm and have the grand finale at a public school. I hope the kids are pumped and scream like crazy. Its going to be such a relief to get off the bike for the last time. The sores on my butt have now turned hard but they still sting like crazy. My achillies tendons burn like ash Wednesday and my lower back feels better when i walk like an eighty eight year old man. But i do not complain much to the crew. For some reason i continue to tell them that i am fine and everything is ok.

Wish us luck and send some good vibes our way. I would like to thank each and every one who has replied on the blog , sent messages via sms and called us on the phone wishing us luck and lifting our spirits.

Thank you to all who have donated both before the ride and whilst we have been on the road. Thank you to the Johnson Property group for their major sponsorship making the whole project financially viable.

Well i have to eat my breakfast and hit the road for the last time.

Chow babies..............I will update later tonight ........

October 27, 2008

Day 8 Cowra to bathurst 116kms

Day 8 was meant to be easy but it was far from it.
I woke at 5.30am to cuddles and kisses from Amanda wishing me a happy birthday. I unwrapped my present and read a letter my wife had written the night before . I will extract some bits for you..........
To the most amazing man in my life. I am so very proud of your mammoth effort. You are so very strong as i watch you power up those huge hills and i could not imagine anyone else having the will power or strength to do it. You will make it to the end and i will be right there with a big smile on my face wiping off the tears. Your family and friends are also so proud and concerned and thank god there not here to see the pain and anguish you are going through. I want to tell you how much i love you, how amazing you are and how much you are doing for so many people. You are truly inspiring and you have a great story to tell your future grand children.
You are amazing and a little crazy and i love you 100 % . As you push hard each and every moment of your 10 plus hours a day on the penny, remember all of the sacrifices , training , preparation and fund raising you have done to make it here today. And remember one thing , it is all worth it.
Keep it up ...... You are my boulder ..... you are bigger than a rock........

Well at that point i lost it .... man ,does she know how to make a grown man cry on his birthday. I must remind her that behind every good man there is a better woman.....
I love her so much.

Well Today was my birthday and i felt pretty special. The best part of the day was going to Cowra public School. The reception was fantastic. Not only did the kids give me a cake and make a massive card and sing happy birthday , they also donated some money. There were a bunch of kids from the school circus who rode around me on unicycles . Talk about impressive. These kids were so talented . It was a beautiful school with extremely well behaved students who should be very proud of themselves. Thank you to every one from Cowra public school from making us feel welcome.

We finally got on the road and would you believe it , we were in to a 30 mile per hour head wind. Oh no ...... Not again..... i was devastated..... i hit my all time low.....! At times my speed was so low that Mal and Amanda thought i was just balancing. At one stage i came to a stop and due to the amount of fatigue i just fell off the bike and rolled on the gravel ! I thought i was on my mountain bike and just stepped off. What was i thinking ?????

Craig and i pushed on for 8 more hours. Everything was going ok until Sarah heard a major noise in her vehicle. It is now sitting at Nissan in Bathurst awaiting a prognosis. We have had to hire another car. We finally made it into Bathurst totally wrecked once again . Only 62kms to go and we are there.

After a nice shower and a thorough soaking in the tub of ice we headed out to a pasta place for dinner. It was just going to be a quiet night to celebrate my birthday when i got the biggest and best surprise i have had in a long time. Three of my best mates turned up and just walked in the door. I took two looks in disbelief and thought i was so tired i was seeing things. Steve Simmonds, Brad Sewell and Brendan Yell just walked in as if they had been with us for a week. They have also grabbed their bikes and going to ride the last day with us. It was a great feeling to have some good mates along with my crew to help celebrate my birthday. My spirits were lifted once again and i know tomorrow is going to be great.

Mal has just finished spoking the bike , Amanda has made the bed, Sarah is getting the food ready for the finish , Reg is finishing his last beer and Craig and i have just wrung out the washing.

Only 62kms to go . That does not seem like much ? But when you feel like we do and have done close to 1000kms in eight days, every extra km fells like your climbing mount Everest with one lung.

I would like to give a special thank you to Craig and Michelle Constable from Cowra Van Park. Their park is beautiful , the service was exceptional and they even made a generous donation. I would also like to thank a lovely lady called Hannah who out of the blue gave a generous donation to us as we called through Lyndorin.

Tomorrow is not just another day ....... It is the day.......goodnight until then _____

October 26, 2008

Day 7 Young to Cowra 72kms

I am sitting here in the van once again watching Craig getting a massage. And yes he is still complaining. Reg Mal and Sarah are also here having a few olives with some cheese and chatting about today's events. I feel like i have been to a 48 hour long party and all i want to do is sleep. I have an inner burning feeling that will not go away. It has been present for the past few days . I slur when i speak and i have also began to dribble when i ride. Nothing major is wrong but i am concerned about how much further i can push my body.

This morning we hit the road at 8.00 am with a massive grade three hill first up. My Achilles tendons on both feet were giving me pain like i have never felt. I had to walk up the first hill and my walking style was pathetic to say the least. Both Mal and Amanda begged me to get in the car and call the whole day off . I know my body and what it can do (at least i thought so ) and i made an executive decision to ride thought the pain and initiate a process called active recovery. I was screaming with agony grinding up several hills wondering if the pain was going cease when suddenly it did. The excruciating pain suddenly left and i was able to ride on with minimal pain. Craig and i actually rode 112kms today instead of 70. We rode the extra 42 today so we have an easier day tomorrow. One thing that did help today was Reg and Sarah fetching me two buckets and some ice. They gave my Achilles tendons an ice bath on the side of the road and man did it help.

Today Craig was a pillar of strength and impressed me substantially. You can't kill him with a stick. He plugged away hour after hour with minimal breaks.

The support car was very low on fuel which prompted them to race back to Young for a quick refill. Mal had a moment whilst filling her up. An air bubble developed and blew petrol all over him. Amanda laughed uncontrollably as Mal tied his clothes to the roof rack due to the smell of petrol.

I would like to thank the old man in the middle of nowhere who told me i was to stupid to be an idiot and the crew would like to thank Lewis & Missy Furner for directions when they were lost.

Don't forget everyone , its my birthday tomorrow so don't forget my presents!

Not only has Mal been my chief mechanic , driver , sun cream applier , and rock , he is now helping Amanda massage me. Can you believe that?

Well ! i am about to place my feet in a bucket of ice once again and settle in to bed.

We love you

Mum and i just wanted to say thank you for you kind wishes and we want you to know that we love you so, so, so, much. Jasmine , Hannah and Ruby, you are all missed tremendously by us. We love you all and can't wait to see you on Wednesday where we can squeeze and kiss you. We are sad that you cannot be here on my ( dads ) birthday. We promise to have a big party when we get back . Make sure you have got some presents for me.

Love you xxxxxxxxxxx mum and dad.