To ‘Gong or Not to ‘Gong?

With registrations for the annual MS ‘Gong Ride now open for the 3rd November, 2019 ride, some Bike North members may be starting to think this over. To ‘Gong or not to ‘Gong, that is the question.

For 38 years, tens of thousands of cyclists have hit the road in this legendary ride from Sydney to Wollongong to raise funds for people living with multiple sclerosis. Well before I started riding, I saw this as an exercise in insanity. Why would anyone attempt this unachievable task? Having grown up in Wollongong I had frequently driven between the two cities but riding a bike that distance was only for the insanely, super-fit. This year I’ll be doing my fourth MS ‘Gong Ride, having already registered for the 82km ride, and I do not see myself as “insanely super-fit”. There is also a shorter 58km ride.

There are many reasons riders don’t do the MS ‘Gong Ride. It’s too crowded, there are too many idiots or why pay to ride a public road are some of them.

Yes there can be idiots, but I have found that by starting early, e.g. 5:45am to 6:00am, stronger riders can fall in with similarly experienced cyclists and the crowds are far smaller. Last year I  exceeded my average speed expectation on the ride as a result of the early start.

Yes you can ride the course any time for free, and I occasionally do so mid-week as a Bike North ride, but the atmosphere of the ride cannot be duplicated.

So why do I do it and why should you? These are my reasons:

Firstly, it is one of the most picturesque rides you can do, especially the second half. The Royal National Park is brilliant in the early morning light, Stanwell Tops presents a World class view and I never tire of the view down the coast road to Wollongong, including the Sea Cliff Bridge.

Secondly, it can be a challenging course, if you want to push for a PB, or it can be a cruisie Sunday morning ride. You chose which and use it to motivate your riding through winter and spring.

Thirdly, it is a well supported ride with drinks and food along the way. Bags can also be transported. There’s also lots of food and entertainment at the end and trains back to Sydney.

Finally, there are many people who live daily with MS. This includes an old school friend of mine, Pauline. Every time I pass our old school, Corrimal High School, shortly before the finish, I think of her and the fact that I am fortunate enough, and fit enough, to participate in this event.

There are plenty of individual reasons to ride this event, but frankly the feeling of doing something for someone else is more than enough.

I have set up a Bike North team with a fund-raising goal of $10,000. I am personally targeting $2,000. Why not join me on the team and even if you get support of $50 from friends and family, it will help someone with MS. Let’s see a whole lot of Bike North jerseys doing the ride this year.

Brian Lynne