Tour de Transplant

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Posted on: 9th March 2016

Heart and Lung Transplant Tour

Tour de Transplant – 2016

I have completed a few tours in my time, real tours! 

There are plenty of charity events/tours, all have a message, many are extremely corporate, most are hard and then of course there is the Tour de Transplant. 

The Tour de Transplant was conceived in 2012, the inaugural event in 2014. We completed an 1100km journey representing the number of transplants performed at the Alfred Hospital. The latest episode was a 600km epic based loosely on the iconic Melbourne to Warrnambool, Australia’s oldest and longest one day classic and representing the number of recipients from regional Victoria who have needed accommodation close to the Alfred while undergoing transplant.

We had a great time – more of that in a moment but it was the journey by the four organ recipients who rode the route along, two more recipients who worked tirelessly as part of the support crew which is truly remarkable. 

The Melbourne to Warrnambool in reverse – has been an official race 32 times in its long history and after an early start from Southern Cross station we were on our way to Warrnambool.

34 riders, 4 of these transplant recipients, guest speakers, Grupetto Show and more staff and supporters than I could keep tabs on. We disembarked and were underway with a 700 metre ride to lunch.

Start together and finish together! The plan was to nurture our recipients and friends with a well designed handicap system in place. Our recipients threw caution to the wind and barreled into Port Campbell so far ahead of the long course riders that they had the undivided attention of the masseurs for a long time and were clamouring for more.

The Great Ocean Road is an amazing ride, the pre-requisite group pic London Bridge, the Twelve Apostles in the background. Some pics we didn’t get and stories of a 12 foot anaconda that shot between our wheels remain possibly fictitious.

Stage 2 was going to be a long day and with the weather expecting to warm up we stuck to the handicap despite the howls of resistance from novice riders trying to put new hearts through the hoop. The Hell of the South is not an excursion for the feint hearted even from half-way. With a PAC paceman in front and the occasional “hand of god” on the back the group made it to Turtons Track, down and up over the Otways and on to the Great Ocean road. At the end of a long day they were tired, not broken and so happy.

The main contingent broke up into two groups, fast and moderate. It’s always an interesting self assessment process that saw the fast group at around 12 of the 30,with regular regrouping. By day 3 we had a core 7 after some sticky bottle issues were resolved.

Stage 3- Gran Fondo Loop. 

The short course stayed on the GOR, confidence up they were keen for more. These guys are tough – they have been ill their whole lives, hearts and lungs from a donor – a medication program that most of us could not cope with and they wanted to ride further. The enthusiasm is for each day, backing up again tomorrow furthest from their minds. Life is go once you have a second chance and it was tough holding them back, saving a reserve for a longer day tomorrow.

The weather Gods blessed our tour, Lorne basked in warmth, the ocean was a brilliant azure and the beer – cold. The masseur’s worked hard and were joined a by local, Suzie to lend a hand after our Long course contingent were put under pressure to be back in time for lunch. A couple opted for lunch en-route but seemed to have their name on the massage list first! 

Stage 4

Lorne to Geelong and our longest stage. The troupes were weary, a touch of wheels, in the fast group, time for coffee. Just like in the Tour de France, the fast group kept their noses clean on the final run to the finish while the peloton skirmishes upended another in the final run home.

Our short course riders, recipients in the whole smacked it and we lengthened the course as they continued to improve, no skirmishes there – a quality field.

The best thing about touring these day’s for me is the recovery. Our team meetings over a few ales were great, the dinners and coffee stops even better. 

Our final fund raising dinner, in Geelong was a sellout, 200 guests in attendance meant for some aggressive auctioning raising the funds raised significantly.

Stage 5.

Geelong to Melbourne.

Home nearly with most of the day’s riding on the Federation trail, the pace was sedate in the bunch. The laughing group included a few band-aids and the odd stitch, the champagne was on ice and we had only to navigate the yarra punt before the homicide squad lead out the field for line honours in Fawkner park.

The recipients in the short course were continuing to kick goals and riding into form. It’s hard to describe how good it is to see such visible improvement in each of these individuals. 

They have enormous respect for life, even more so for the life that gave them the second chance.

Viva le Tour de Transplant. 

Written by Phil Anderson

Photo’s by Phil Anderson and Ian Stubber.

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