Des Rides Solo on the 2019 Murray to Moyne
The 2019 Murray to Moyne appeared at one stage that it would not have a Bordertown “team” this year, but due to the amazing strength of character and generosity of time, Des Murray volunteered to ride the event solo to raise funds for the local Bordertown hospital. Riding solo meant Des didn’t even require a support vehicle. He rode at his own pace to complete the distance from Mildura to Port Fairy. Not satisfied with just completing the event, Des then volunteered to ride all the way back to Bordertown where he was met by appreciative board members who had closely followed his journey over several days.
Des penned this report outlining the highs and lows of his journey –
Murray to Moyne 2019 – A solo challenge this year.
The Foundation normally fields a team of 3 teams of 4 riders to ride the 550k relay of 25 – 30k’s per team, from Mildura to Port Fairy as the annual fund raiser to raise funds to grow the capital base of the Foundation which is currently sitting at $647,078 as at 30th June last year. 95% of the Foundation income is distributed to the Bordertown Memorial Hospital each year. The 2018 contribution to the hospital was $33,000 which will be paid when the Hospital identifies equipment needed..
However this year it proved to be difficult to organise a viable team. Our first participation in the event was in 1994 and teams have participated every year since then raising $564,000 over that time. The Board of the Foundation considered that it was important to maintain contact with our very loyal Donor base; otherwise in all probability the funds would disappear from the district to support other worthy causes.
Having some history of touring on a bike, and itching for an excuse, I put my hand up for a solo ride to keep the flame alive. In a moment of misguided optimism I also said that if someone paid me enough money, I would ride home from Port Fairy. No one offered, so I thought – may as well do it.
Denise took me to Mildura on Wednesday 3rd of April and at 11am I set off for Ouyen, just on a 100k ride, but there was no wind at the time, but with there was a wind later in the day and I had forgotten how many hills there were in that stretch. I very thankfully arrived at Ouyen at 6.30 daylight saving time – just as well. I rehydrated at the front Bar of the Victoria Hotel and as Denise was staying over we checked in.
Thursday’s journey was to Hopetoun, not a big day, 97k’s, but the hills reminded me that I was lacking in some fitness. Hopetoun has a pretty campground on the shores of a lake, so I set up camp and called on the Community Hotel for rehydration and sustenance.
The next day was to be my longest day to Horsham and so after an early start I set off and soon found that I had a strong tail wind and whereas I had been riding at below 20kph, I found myself flying along sometimes over 30kph. I arrived in Dooen, about 10k’s north of Horsham and gave myself an early minute and a pint to celebrate. As I was riding down the main street in Horsham, I heard this bugle on a street corner in front of a pub. I wondered if he was playing the Last Post for me, but I was still upright. Turned out he was letting the locals know that Happy Hour was now in session, great timing for a few cheap beers. Even had WIFI, so I was able to file a report back to the Foundation who might have wondered if I had gone missing.
Another long day on the Saturday which involved 130k’s to Hamilton, but my favourite wind had deserted me, perhaps I hadn’t suitably acknowledged the benevolence shown to me yesterday. A cold south-westerly was my companion all day which made for slow progress, so that by the time I reached Cavendish, my tank was empty. There is no accommodation in Cavendish so I started setting up my tent adjacent to the town loos when a chap approached me and invited me to camp on his front lawn, an offer gladly accepted. After I finished dinner at the local, I watched the Murray To Moyne cyclists pass through at 10pm on the way to Hamilton. I was quite glad that I had the comfort of a warm fire and a hot coffee as it was quite frosty outside.
Sunday was the grand finale for the event at Port Fairy when all the teams finished at noon after the morning’s start at Hamilton. I was leaving from Cavendish, riding to Hamilton and then to Port Fairy. During the day a vicious side wind blew up which made progress very slow for a while. I found out afterwards that a rider in the event got blown off his bike into the trees and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
I arrived in Port Fairy at 5pm after everyone had packed up and gone home. Still it was great to arrive after 550k’s of riding over the previous 5 days. It was too cold and looking like rain for camping, so I booked in to Beaumont House, a private hotel and camped in the garret for $80 a night.
The next day, Monday, I decreed that it be a rest day, which turned out to be a fortuitous decision as there were rain showers off and on. I had a coffee with some of the organisers of the Murray to Moyne who treated me well and introduced me around to Port Fairy locals. Apparently there were 800 riders taking part this year, similar to other years, but they said a number of teams are struggling to get numbers too. Some teams who had dropped out were starting to come back, so I hope that we can get a team next year, might save me another journey!
On Tuesday I started back to Bordertown, along the coast to Portland in mongrel weather conditions cold enough to fish out my balaclava and several additional layers of clothes to try and keep warm. I wished I had stayed in bed! Due to the head winds coming off the nearby sea, and showers of rain, I didn’t get to Heywood until nearly 4pm to have lunch a distance of only 72 k’s for the day. I think I nearly cleaned out all the stock the bakery had, it was certainly welcome. Minties can only take you so far!
The next stop was Casterton, quite a pretty ride through hilly (again!) farmlands and forests. The main traffic on the road were B double logging trucks which always gave me a wide berth as on this stretch there was very little in the way of verges to ride on so we all had to share the road. I have a good rear vision mirror on the bike so I always monitor the traffic coming behind me with the thought that I would head for the gravel if I needed to.
I was starting to feel fitter and my speed was picking up so it was a good ride to Apsley the next day. Most of the hills were now behind me with open farm lands and no traffic, so it was just me and the bike and with my music cranked up it was very pleasant riding. The sun was now out so it became a lot warmer.
At Apsley the Border Inn is community owned and it showed. The manageress really looked after me and so for $30 for a room and comfortable bed, I did not put up the tent. The cost for the night – a room, 2 course dinner, 4 beers, cappuccino, chocolate bar, breakfast and another cappuccino was $73.00. Beat that!!
The last run to Bordertown was a breeze arriving at 3.30pm to a welcome provided by board members of the Foundation and the Border Chronicle rep Taylor. The final tally of kilometres was seven short of 900. My kids suggested that I should get back on the bike and ride around a few blocks to even up the final distance!
Overall it was a great experience and I am glad that I did it. I had been thinking it was time I got back on the bike as it had been a while, so this scratched that itch – for the moment. I am hoping that it will inspire a few cyclists to get back on their bikes next year. Over the last 25 years there have been 134 locals who have ridden the M2M, including a number who have ridden it a number of times, Travis Hampton 14,Dale Beck 13, Bill Bainger 10, Nev Wiese,9, John Ballinger 8 etc. in 1993 the then CEO Trevor Moulds plus other hospital staff were part of the very first team. Two years ago I rode by myself but had Denise providing support, but it’s not much fun trailing after me riding a 100 clicks a day! So the decision was made to go solo – which is not unknown to me.
The event is now established in the fabric of the community and it is looking like at present that the funds raised this year will be around $18k. So a very big thank you to all the Donors who contributed to the result and to my support team back home.
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