The journey…

On Friday the 5th of May, the Visionstream team of riders made their way to South Australia’s Barossa Valley for the JDRF One Ride. Brought together by a common passion for an important cause, they came from Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne to ride together. As the team geared up for the ride the next day, the feelings of unity and achievement were strong, having already engaged in fundraising activities to support Type 1 Diabetes research. With long hours of training, mental preparation and fundraising behind them, they were ready to face the challenge.

Saturday, the 7th of May: it was a cold morning in the Barossa Valley. The Visionstream crew, comprising of some seasoned riders and some having only recently discovered the sport, would ride in three groups. Team Rapid was made up of fast, experienced riders including CEO, Richard Kelleway and Executive Sponsor, Gareth Thomas, and would tackle the full 160km ride; Team Endeavour which brought together a determined group of riders also attempting the 160km ride, despite some having only taken up cycling in January; and Team Pioneer, an enthusiastic bunch, embarking on the 40km challenge.

Teams Rapid and Endeavour set off early as a united peloton towards Tanunda. Riding at a very brisk average pace of 30kph, both teams headed towards Menglers Hill to tackle the infamous climb. Team Pioneer set off a little later but with just as much resolve. As the rough road surface, cool winds and challenging terrain unfolded, the riders quickly realised that they were in for a physically and mentally gruelling journey.

After conquering Menglers Hill, around 15 minutes of solid climbing, Teams Rapid and Endeavour made their way down to Angaston where they fuelled up on bananas and pushed on towards Eden Valley, racing through the town at over 65kph. From there, they turned at Springton and commenced a second demanding climb, then raced through the forests to Williamstown. Team Rapid still travelling at an average pace of 30kph and Team Endeavour keeping a respectable 25kph average pace.  

Legs heavy and with a long distance still in front of them, Teams Rapid and Endeavor crossed paths and provided each other with some much-needed encouragement. Team Endeavour rode in a close-knit pack; a pro peloton. Both teams were feeling the burn but still full of willpower. Team Endeavour grew increasingly confident with every kilometre as they exceeded expectations and pushed the boundaries of their fitness and endurance.

Reaching the halfway point, it was decision time for Team Rapid. Do they push on for the 2nd loop or do they turn in? The realisation of the magnitude of the challenge, brought on by the early stages of fatigue and the prospect of a long climb, was enough to test confidence levels.  They made the bold choice to continue.

Meanwhile, it dawned on team Endeavour that time was slipping away and, to make it to the finishing line by the cut-off time of 4pm, they would need to maintain their 25kph pace. They prepared themselves for what would be an even harder test of their mental and physical strength the second time around.

By this stage, team Pioneer had made impressive ground. The beautiful countryside offering small distraction from the taxing riding conditions. It was about this time that all the riders had to start reminding themselves of why they were there, why they had signed up for such an incredible challenge. “Many of our people, including some of our riders, have been personally affected by Type 1 Diabetes and its complications. The passion of our riders and their dedication to training and fundraising in the lead up to the event was plain to see,” said Richard Kelleway. Tapping into this passion for the cause, the riders found the strength and determination to keep going.

Finally, they were on the home stretch, able to visualise the light at the end of the tunnel, and a last burst of energy came from within. All Visionstream teams completed the challenge safely and before the cut-off time, a solid effort from everyone involved.

“I was really unsure what to expect on a ride this long, I questioned whether my preparation, abilities and determination would be enough to get me through the day, all of which were tested. Riding alongside some riders with Type 1 diabetes really made me fight my inner demons and keep pedalling. The support I have been given in the lead up to the ride and knowing that what I was doing was for such a great cause, kept me pedalling,” said Darren Shannon, Project Director, Visionstream.

At the end of a very long but rewarding day, the riders debriefed, shared stories and congratulated one another, as they enjoyed a glass of red in the cellars of the Hemera Estate winery. With their heads held high, the teams bid farewell to new found friends and headed back to their respective states on the Sunday. Now, training begins so they can do it all over again next year!