By Guest Writer and TeamKP Member Phil Peh.
On Sunday 19th May TeamKP was represented at the 3rd Annual GOA 7 Pillars Ride by climbing god Jon Hobson, demi god Daniel John (guest rider), agnostic Leo Priest and myself, climbing atheist Phil Peh. The event was staged to raise money for the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Foundation with all funds directed to Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Research. All teams entered had to raise at least $100 per rider in addition to their entry fee. TeamKP managed to raise $700.
The organisers set a deliberately very challenging course to honour the hardships faced by those with MND. Starting and finishing at RBWH, there were 7 pillars (checkpoints) to reach and a 5 hour time limit after which points were deducted. The pillars were located at Ken Fletcher Park, Kalinga Park, Gap Creek Reserve, Walkabout Creek Visitor Centre, Rocks Riverside Park, Bunyaville Conservation Park and Jollys Lookout. It promised to be a very lumpy day in the saddle.
There were 20 teams. Each team selected their own routes and would decide on which pillars they thought they could reach in the time limit. In a heroic display of positive thinking, despite being seriously mismatched in the climbing department, TeamKP decided all 7 pillars were the go as well as a shot at the win! Like several other teams we chose to attack the course starting to the north sweeping across the pillars in an anti clockwise direction. But our secret plan was to approach Nebo via The Goat Track on the Samford side. Despite being gravel and unrideable in one section half way up due to a landslip, the gradient proved more bearable for the the flat landers. We would conserve their strength over Nebo then use them to power home after the horror of Gap Creek!!!
To a point this was a most successful strategy. One team showed itself clearly superior to the rest and disappeared from view after the first checkpoint. But by the time we reached Jollys Lookout we had made up a considerable amount of time for we met this team again after they had come up the front way. Could we fight it out for 1st after all? Er...no! Alas, that was the last we saw of them till we crossed the line a couple of hours later to their polite applause as they lounged back with drinks in hand looking as fresh as if they'd just showered and chosen to wear cycling kit for the hell of it.
1st place was obviously sewn up and we to'd and fro'd with one other team as we fought it out for 2nd. But the headwinds through Samford followed by the ugliness of Nebo and Gap Creek had not been kind (I swear I will never ride there again!). Trying desperately to rally the troops, Jon buzzed back and forth on the climbs pestering us like an incessant blow fly dodging a swat. Despite his efforts, with Leo declaring he felt a little crampy and myself coming apart at the seams, 2nd place was lost. It was now a fight for 3rd.
The ride back through the south side was where Leo and I were to power home. But with 10km to go I had cracked. Not only would I never ride Nebo and Gap Creek again but I would never ride with the team again either because I hated them all, so there!!!
By South Bank we had been caught by another team and 3rd place was looking doubtful. While they put on a show of strength powering towards Gregory Terrace, we played our final ace. In a desperate but tactically brilliant move we made a hard right up Vulture Street and made for the KP cliff tops and the Story Bridge. Pride isn't all bad for I found I had one last effort in me as we surged home to beat that team in for 3rd place by several minutes. (Well I surged, anyhow, but the others may not have noticed.) How ironic (and somewhat poetic) that it was the Kangaroo Point cliffs that helped us secure a place.
The 7 Pillars Ride is a great event for a very worthy cause. Its on again next year and I can highly recommend it but be warned, next years course is slated to be even harder and longer.