Your preparation

[Preparation and training is the key to success in an event like the Sydney to Surfers Ride.

In addition to our fundraising resources, we’ve also prepared some guidelines to help ensure you’re ready for the best week on two wheels you’ll ever have!

Please note that personal insurance is the riders responsibility – you are not covered by the Rotary Insurance Policy. The cycling membership bodies in most states offer insurance including Personal Accident and Injury Insurance.

All riders should also be aware of the established emergency procedures to be followed in the event of an adverse situation on the ride.

You know you hate it when you go on holiday and realise the thing you needed most was the one thing you forgot to pack. We’d like to help ensure you pack everything you need – for you and your bike.

Its also important that we take care of the luggage team volunteers – after all, they’ll be carrying your luggage to and fro for seven days straight and we don’t need any strained backs! For this reason, your luggage should weight no more than 18kgs – so pack light! Please also ensure that your luggage has your name on it and is tagged with your accomodation details. Luggage tags will be provided at registration on the start day.

To help you to ensure that you don’t leave any of the ‘must have’ items behind, below is an inventory for you to use as a checklist. In addition to your personal needs there are a number of ‘bike related’ items and spares you should  have with you as you won’t have much an opportunity to do ‘shopping’ along the way.

For you

  • Photo ID
  • Money – for drinks, snacks, fines, etc
  • Jerseys and knicks for the week – be prepared for all weather (Remember, you will be get your official ride kit on Day 1 and it is to be worn on Day 7)
  • Wet weather riding gear including spare gloves
  • Sun sleeves, arm warmers, leg warmers
  • Bike shoes, shoe covers, cleat covers, helmet
  • It can be chilly in the mornings so pack something warm
  • Socks, underwear, PJs etc for the week
  • Casual clothes for the dinners (including a warm jacket as it can get cold)
  • Casual shoes/trainers
  • Swimmers/towel (in case you get the chance to use them)
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries, hand wash
  • Personal medical needs, personal first aid kit, (butt cream or similar product)
  • Sunscreen (Keep this in your day pack)
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • A small power board if you have multiple gadgets to charge every night
  • Ear plugs if you are a light sleeper and sharing accommodation

For your bike

  • Garmin/speedo and charger
  • If you have electronic gearing, make sure you bring your charger and/ or back up battery
  • Spare tubes (x 3)
  • Spare tyre
  • Spare cleats
  • Chain oil and chain degreaser
  • Wipes/ cloths/latex gloves
  • Bike tools, spare parts (if you know how to use them)

For campers

  • Tent – don’t forget the poles and pegs!
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Torch

Your camping gear can be packed in a small, separate bag.

For your day pack

  • Wet weather gear
  • Bike tools and spares
  • Snacks if you wish (but there is plenty of food provided at morning tea and lunch)
  • A warm jacket
  • Sunscreen, hand wash/ sanitiser
  • A change of clothes in case of torrential rain

We suggest using a small backpack as your day pack. It should have your name and mobile phone number on it and will be carried in the support vehicle during the ride. It is each rider’s responsibility to retrieve their day pack at the end of each day.

You can download and print a copy of this checklist.

Training and preparation is key to successfully participating in an event like the Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Ride. With the help of David Heatley* at Cycling-Inform, we’ve gathered some tips to help you make the most of your efforts to get ready to cycle all the way from Sydney to Surfers Paradise in just 7 days.

Bike fit – It’s important to make sure that your bike is set up and fits you properly …. [read more]

Body maintenance – Keeping your body flexible and strong will help minimise your chance of injury … [read more]

Effective nutrition – When training, it’s important to feed your body the right type of food at the right time … [read more]

Effective training – It is important to train for the conditions you’ll experience on the ride … [read more]

Your training plan – Plan to spend at least 8-10 weeks immediately prior to  the event building your fitness … [read more]

* cycling-informDavid Heatley is an Accredited Cycling Australia Cycling Coach. His company, Cycling-Inform, provides cycle coaching services, runs training camps and has a website full of excellent advice to help you get the best out of your training and your cycling.

The Rotary Club has a keen interest in ensuring that the community and authorities are happy for the ride to occur so that we can continue to run this great event.

Our Agreement with the NSW Police Force is that we must at all times manage and reduce the risk to Riders and support personnel as fully as we can so that we can continue to hold the ride each year with the number of riders that we do.

Please keep in mind that, there are no road closures for this event and we travel on a variety of local streets, freeways and country roads. Please be polite and courteous to all members of the public and other road users at all times regardless of their disposition.

Obey the Road Rules

Riders participating in the Sydney to Surfers Ride must obey the road rules, stop at traffic lights, stop at stop signs, give way to traffic when appropriate.

Single or Double File

In order to reduce concern and frustration that might be caused to other road users, unless directed to do otherwise by your Pack Captain (eg where there are dual lanes, on the Freeway etc) all riders should ride single file at all times.

When in single file formation you need to keep up with the riders in front so that the Pack is not strung out too far. Although the Pack needs to be tight, keep a distance that is comfortable for you and for the rider directly in front of you, generally about 500mm from the front wheel (each rider’s comfort zone will be a little different).

Keep a constant watch to maintain your spacing – increase the distance when going downhill and in adverse weather conditions.

If you are in the middle of the Pack and the tail end has dropped off, call that up the line so that the Pack Captain is aware and can take action to lower the speed while the rest of the Pack catch up.

When riding over hills whether in single or dual file formation, the lead riders should slow over the crest to allow others to catch up. On big or steep hills where the Pack becomes strung out, lead riders should stop at the top of the hill where safe to do so and wait for the Pack to regroup.

When riding in double file formation riders pair off shoulder to shoulder. When braking, apply your brakes gently and call out “slowing” when you do so. Avoid hard braking which can cause accidents for those behind.

If you bump into the rider alongside you or touch a wheel in front, ‘do not panic’. Gently recover. In the majority of situations where riders touch wheels there is no problem unless you panic and hit the brakes and/or make another sudden manoeuvre.

Leading the Pack at the front requires a good deal of concentration and care. You need to keep abreast of your fellow leader (if riding in double file), obey the road rules, call the pot holes and obstacles and watch for traffic light changes. Also, lead rider(s) have the responsibility to maintain a good even pace for the Pack – the pace that has been agreed on by the Pack Captain – and make sure the group stays together.

In most cases the pace will be a bit slower uphill and a bit faster downhill so it is not simply a case of looking at the bike computer. The idea is to make sure that you maintain approximately the same effort without allowing the ride to develop into a race resulting in the Pack splitting.

Be predictable

Being predictable is the key to pack riding. This means no sudden movements in any direction. Keep it smooth.

It is most likely that you will be riding with people whom you haven’t ridden with before, so assess your level in the Pack and the level of those around you. If you are one of the more experienced riders, give the less experienced riders the room they need and encourage them along the way.

Keep your line

Don’t weave across the road, keep your relative position from the edges of the road even when cornering. When riding past someone and moving in front of them, be sure not to cut them off.

Gaps

There should be no gaps in the Pack. As soon as you see a gap, move up and fill it by riding into the space in a steady and controlled manner. There is no need to sprint into the space and then slam on the brakes, just gradually fill in any gaps as soon as you see them.

No sudden braking

Any changes in speed become increasingly more difficult to deal with the further back you are in the Pack. If there is a reason for the Pack to stop, keep your relative position and don’t use it as an opportunity to overtake riders that have slowed or stopped in front of you.

Communications and signals

Your Pack Captain will brief the Pack on the ‘calls’ and hand signals to be used during the ride. Where there are situations that need pointing out such as turning, stopping, slowing, potholes, glass, etc you can do by signaling, usually either calling or pointing to a hazard.

The main calls will include ‘stopping‘, ‘slowing‘, ‘rolling‘, ‘car back‘, ‘car up‘. All riders have a responsibility to pass on the calls and signals right through the Pack to the last rider and Sweep.

There may be occasions where situations demand that you call out a hazard to avoid incidents. Keep in mind that there could be riders several metres behind you who cannot see the hazard. This could be anything from a dog running out in front of the bunch, to accidentally dropping a bottle in the middle of the bunch. If you drop a drink bottle, don’t stop.

Riders in the front can’t safely see whether any of the Pack has dropped back or the Pack has split or is too strung out. Riders at the back must communicate to the front and vice versa.

Getting out of the saddle

Even experienced riders slow when they stand to put more pressure on the pedals (eg to help on a steeper climb). The sensation of having the wheel slowing in front of you is very disconcerting and can lead to an accident. For the rider getting out of the saddle – try to come up slowly and maintain pressure on the pedals to eliminate/diminish the slowing movement of your back wheel.

For the following rider – make sure you leave sufficient room between you and the rider ahead to accommodate them if/when they ‘get out of the saddle’. This applies particularly when there is a climb approaching.

Descending

If you are on the front, you must keep pedalling. Lead riders should never freewheel downhill – this prevents having riders behind you having to ‘sit on their brakes’. Typically the front few riders keep pedalling and the riders behind will freewheel or soft tap.

Look Ahead

It is easy to find yourself constantly looking at the wheel of the bike ahead. Instead, try to keep your focus both between the rider ahead and the rider 3 or 4 places ahead. Also scan the road ahead for lights, road conditions, changing positions of riders and any of their hand signals. This allows you to anticipate problems and take corrective action early.

No Half-wheeling

Half-wheeling is the practice of having your front wheel overlap with the rear wheel of the rider ahead. Don’t let it happen – ever. It is very dangerous as you will be the one to crash and fall if you connect with the wheel in front. Worse still you could end up bringing the riders behind you down as well.

Passing on the Left

It is extremely unsafe, bad etiquette and foolhardy to pass a rider on his or her left. Always overtake on the right.

Passing other Packs

With between 40 and 50 riders merging when one Pack passes another it is important to call up the line that a Pack is passing. The passing Pack is to do so in single file and only when it is safe traffic wise and space wise to do so – otherwise the Pack seeking to pass should wait behind the support vehicle until it is safe to pass.

Once the passing decision has been made, all riders should accelerate and ride hard past the Pack, slowing slightly when well clear to allow the remainder of the Pack to catch up and for the Pack to reform before continuing.

Rolling – Rotating the Lead Riders

Once on the freeway your Pack Captain will most likely have the Pack form into double file (two columns of riders) and rotate the front leaders. This is referred to as ‘rolling’.

Rolling is done by ‘rolling forward’ from the front right hand column to the left column.

Rolling will either be initiated by the lead pair when they become fatigued – by calling out ‘rolling’ or by a signal from the Pack Captain. On the signal – the left hand lead rider keeps speed constant, the right hand lead rider accelerates slightly and overtakes. Once clear of the left hand lead rider’s front wheel the passing rider then pulls smoothly into the left hand lead rider position, slowing slightly to match the speed of the rider they have just passed. The right hand rider moves up by one position and takes the right hand lead position. All riders in the right hand column also moves up one position. The tail rider in the left column moves across to the right hand column.

For a huge bike adventure like the Sydney to Surfers your bike needs to be in tip-top condition before you start the ride. You will be riding an average of 140kms a day over 7 days through all types of terrain – local roads, freeways and country roads and you need to make sure that not only you, but your bike is going to make it.

Here is a simple checklist to review to ensure your bike is ready for the ride!

Tyres

  • Poorly maintained tyres (and tubes) increase the chance of getting a flat.
  • Regularly check your tyres for any cuts, splits, bald spots or sharp objects like glass, wire etc.
  • Ensure that you ride with your tyres pumped to the recommended pressure.
  • Always carry at least one spare tube with you and a pump or gas canister.
  • Each night of the ride build in a routine to check your tyres for cuts and nicks, small sharp objects like glass, wire etc. A small pair of tweezers in your ride kit or Day Pack will help with getting out any small bits of glass.

For the Sydney to Surfers it is recommended that you start with new tyres for the 1,000km ride and bring at least 3 spare tubes and 1 spare tyre – these should be put into your Day Pack so that they are easily accessible if needed. Your Day Pack is transported in the Support Vehicle every day.

Chain maintenance

  • Having a clean and well lubricated drive chain is one of the simplest ways to make your ride smoother and more enjoyable.
  • Prior to the ride (and regularly) you should spray bicycle specific degreaser onto your chain and gear cluster and using a disposable cloth, firmly hold the chain at the bottom of the derailleur and spin the pedals backwards. Continue to spin the pedals until you have removed all of the built up dirt and grime.
  • Allow 15-20mins for the degreasing agent to evaporate and fully dry.
  • Apply bicycle chain specific lubricant, in a similar fashion to the degreaser.
  • Be sure to wipe off any excess with a clean disposable cloth.
  • Regularly lube your chain particularly if you have been riding in the rain.

For the Sydney to Surfers you should pack your own chain lubricant, degreaser, wipes/cloths to do some regular cleaning and servicing.

Brakes

Having efficient, functional brakes is one of the most important things to check on your bike and is essential for a safe riding. Adjusting brakes can be difficult so if you are not sure what to do have your bike serviced at a bike shop.

  • Regularly check brake pads for wear and tear. Most pads will have a ‘wear-line’ that indicates remaining pad life.
  • Make sure that the wheel is fully seated in each dropout and aligned so there is even space between each pad and the wheel.
  • Make sure that the brake cable is the correct length so that the lever does not come back too close to the handlebar.

Gears

Once your chain is clean, check to see if your gears run smoothly.

  • Without a bike stand this is most easily checked by riding slowly on flat ground.
  • Shift through the gears, one at a time, while pedalling slowly and consistently.
  • Check that there is nothing interrupting the cable like a broken strand or dirt.

Steering, handlebars and stem

Proper adjustment of the front end of your bicycle will ensure a safe ride and will help increase your control of your bike.

  • Regularly check that the front wheel is in alignment with the handlebars and stem.
  • Ensure that all of the bolts on the stem and handlebar are evenly tightened.
  • Hold the front brake and slowly rock the bike backwards and forwards. There should be no movement in between any parts in the front end of the bike.

General cleaning on the ride

It’s likely that at some point on the ride you will experience rain! So pack in some wipes and dry cloths so you are able to give your bike a clean down if this occurs.

A final note

If you don’t feel confident about servicing your own bike, have your bike serviced at a local bike shop. Have your bike serviced regularly. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to have everything running smoothly.

A service doesn’t generally include cleaning your bike, but it should include a careful look over the whole bike for cracks in the frame or any safety issues. You should regularly check for this too.

If you do a lot of kms, don’t be suspicious if you’re told you need a new chain and cluster. The chain and cogs of the gear system, particularly the rear set, wear out and must be replaced – as often as every year on bikes that are ridden regularly.

Riding with a dry or rusty chain quickly wears out the system. It’s usually not possible to replace the chain and not the rear cogs – they are generally wear together. You may need new front cogs too. You’re likely to need new brake pads and might need new cables for your brakes and your gears.

Ask for a quote for the service beforehand – your bike mechanic should be able to tell what needs to be replaced after a quick scan over the bike – and also ask your bike mechanic to call you before replacing any parts in addition to the ones agreed in the quote.

Finally, the day has arrived. You’re bike is in good condition and you’re in even better shape! You’re excited; we’re excited.

So what can you expect at the start?

You’ll need to get yourself to start point early on Saturday morning. The ride begins from the Hornsby TAFE carpark at 5-19 Jersey Street, Hornsby. Timing will be advised to participants closer to the start of the ride.

If you’re being driven to the start, please park in the street – the carpark is reserved for support vehicles and luggage trucks. When you arrive, go to the registration desks to sign on, receive your ride kit and luggage tags. Tag your luggage and deliver it to the appropriate truck – trucks will be identified with signs for the accomodation sites they will serve.

For those staying in Hornsby the night before the ride, your luggage will be collected by the volunteer team and you should ride your bike to the start point. We recommend you stay at Ascot Motel Inn or Blue Gum Hotel as these are the only two locations serviced by the luggage pickup service.

Now its time to find your Pack Captain and support vehicle, stow your day pack and get to know your riding buddies. We know you’ll be keen to hit the road but there’ll be a lot going on at the start, so please be patient. No doubt, your Pack Captain will have some final words for the Pack and will hand out your coloured ribbons which need to be attached to your seat post or saddle bag.

The Ride Marshal will coordinate the departure of packs. The Youth Off The Streets Pack will depart first, followed by the other packs in reverse order, with Pack 1 (the fastest) leaving last.

Special police arrangements are in place for the departure from Sydney. Packs will ride to a marshaling area at Cowan Rest Area Truck Stop – from here, all packs will ride out together with a police escort down to the Hawkesbury River and up Mt White. It is likely that packs will become disjointed over this leg – don’t worry, you can regroup at the morning tea stop at Calga.

After morning tea, normal arrangements apply, with packs riding off at intervals.

A typical day on the Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Ride will start early with riders cycling from their accommodation to the breakfast venue. Breakfast is always at the same location as the previous night’s dinner – if you’re not sure how to get there, just follow the scores of other cyclists heading in one direction!

Campers should leave luggage at the luggage truck in the campground while those staying at motels will leave their luggage in a designated area at their accommodation for collection.

After breakfast, the Ride Marshal will be responsible for coordinating staggered departure times for packs to ensure an orderly departure and an appropriate time gap between each pack. Unless otherwise approved by the Ride Marshal, packs must leave in strict reverse order. That is, the Youth Off The Streets Pack will leave first with the other packs following at intervals and Pack 1 (the fastest) leaving last.

Riders will be well fuelled from breakfast to attack the first 50 or so kilometres to the morning tea stop. Morning tea is usually in a local park or similar area and is provided by Rotary volunteers. You can choose from a range of fruit, cakes, bread and sandwich fillings on a self-serve basis. Water, tea and coffee is also provided at morning tea.

Another 50 or so kilometres will take riders to the lunch stop, manned by another team of Rotary volunteers. Lunch usually comprises a plentiful array of bread rolls/wraps and sandwich fillings, salads and cold meats on a self-serve basis. Soft drinks are also available at lunch.

At each stop, riders should ensure they know from the Pack Captain how long the break will be and when to be ready to leave.

After lunch, another 50 or so kilometres will see you into our destination for the day. All riders are expected to proceed to the camping area with their support vehicle. At the end of the ride, you should collect your day pack from the support vehicle and make your way to your accomodation with your bicycle. Campers should take their bikes to the designated luggage truck for safe keeping.

Riders and volunteers gather for dinner around 6.30 pm at a local club. From around 5.00-5.30pm each day mini buses will travel a circuit to collect participants from the campground and the designated hotels and motels to go to the club. Dinner is served at the club and is usually a self serve buffet. Riders generally sit with their Packs for dinner but everyone is encouraged to mingle and get to know other riders and the volunteers.

During dinner, the Ride Coordinator will provide important information for the following day, including breakfast arrangements and expected riding conditions. Riders should pay particular attention for any hazards foreshadowed for the ride.

Dinner usually concludes around 9.00-9.30pm and buses will run a number of circuits to return participants to their accomodation or the campground.

You’ve had seven days in the saddle and you’re on the final run to the end! This year will again see some changes to the end of the ride.

After lunch, packs will ride on and gather at Kurrawa Surf Club. From here, the Youth Off The Streets Pack will lead the entire group under police escort for the last few kilometres along the famous Surfers Paradise beaches and into the gala finish.

This finish is very special and something you won’t want to miss!

Its not every day you get to ride in a peleton of up to 200 cyclists but we need everyone to ride carefully and be alert to those around them. We’ll have more detailed instructions closer to the ride.

For those having their bike transported back to Sydney, you’ll need to pack and tag your bike and get it loaded onto the appropriate truck. For more information about transport of bikes back to Sydney, see the Your bike section of Your ride.

Now you’re free to celebrate the end of the ride, relax and look forward to the final dinner. See you there!