Last Sunday, April 29th, saw the first ever UniSA Ride for Pain. The day can only be described as a rip-roaring success. The stats were impressive – over 550 riders, 400 of whom took on the whole 100km and most of those conquering the mighty Corkscrew Challenge – but it was the terrific stories that capture the essence of what really was a terrific day. I will recount one here.
Two young lads – Ashleigh, 11, and Nick, 12 – set out at 7:30am, in oversize jerseys and on adequate bikes. The fog was lolling about in the hills and the soft post-dawn light was peaking over the summit. I had spoken with both of them beforehand and they were both keen on trying the 100km but not at all sure they would make it. I caught up with them at the 50km mark – they were travelling well and in good spirits although Ashleigh, who carries nothing but the essentials when it comes to body-fat, was positively blue-lipped and, as one onlooker remarked, ‘had goose-bumps on his goose-bumps’. A very kind boy scout who was lending a hand also lent a big woolly jacket. After a hot chocolate, Ash was pinky-brown-lipped and ready to ride.
I got an update on Ash and Nick a few hours later – some of my research team caught up with them at the top of Corkscrew Road – a 2.6 km ascent, reaching 20% gradient on the bends and averaging about 15% – a climb that is not for the faint-hearted. The boys were, by all reports, elated – completely chuffed with themselves. And so they should be – a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved when you have the ticker and the patience.
This is just one of the many stories of personal chuffedness (now there is a neologism worth repeating) – so many people surprised themselves by making the distance, conquering the Corkscrew or simply not falling off. Judging by the conversations afterwards and the tales tall and true that are already emerging – I reckon we achieved exactly what we aimed to – putting Chronic Pain on the community awareness map.
There was much talk about the signs we had put on the way up Corkscrew, for example ‘You think this hurts? Try feeling that every time you walk to the front door’, or ‘Pain cutting in? Sandra has felt that in her back for 25 years’. A good number of people reflected that it made them think in a new way about chronic pain and, by the looks of them, it made them refuse to get off their bike before the top!
So, well done Ashley Green and her team at UniSA – a superlative effort indeed, and to Russell Maitke and his team at BikeSA, and the terrific sponsors WorkCover SA and GIO worker’s compensation, and all the partners too. It was a fabulous event indeed. We are hoping it will happen again and we will get even more bums on saddles!