Here’s something impressive to start your day off. Imagine spending over a fortnight peddling through the outback on only a unicycle. How about doing it on two wheels but this time you’re pregnant? Sound like a bit of challenge?
Well that’s exactly what two of our participants in last year’s Bike SA Outback Odyssey managed, making it all the way from the Adelaide CBD to Blinman in the Flinders Ranges in just 16 days riding.
This pair of genuine legends were good enough to talk to us about their experience.
Lindsey Colla, our man on the unicycle, has only been riding it for about two years, originally taking it up as a New Year’s resolution with the aim to make it to the local shops and back without crashing. He comes from a background in international bike trials, which he said provided him with a good set of skills to tap into as he learnt to ride the one-wheeled alternative.
Our pregnant odyssey hero, Amy Schwarz, is a long time rider with plenty of events under her belt. She approached the 16 days knowing that it was probably her last big ride for a while considering a baby was on the way, and really wanted to make the most of it.
We sat down for a Q&A with both of them, as they let us in on their preparation and time out on the tracks.
Q: What sort of special preparations did you have to make, knowing you were going to be on a unicycle the whole time?
LINDSEY: Lots of cross training, yoga and gym work. I’d already done a smaller, 300km event on the unicycle, so I had a bit of an idea of what I was in for. I made sure to do plenty of running to build up fitness, because I knew I’d have to do a fair bit of walking during the event in between stints on the unicycle. My method was to do about 5kms on the cycle and then walk for a minute, because there’s no way you could stay in the saddle for the entire ride.
Q: What was the weirdest thing you encountered out on the track?
AMY: Probably a man in his 80s overtaking me up a hill, he had legs of steel.
LINDSEY: I was probably the weirdest thing – so yeah, my reflection in car windows as I rode past.
Q: What was vibe like around camp, anything stand out?
AMY: Yeah it was a really good vibe around camp, everyone was really friendly and open. The best thing was getting into Lobethal on the first stop and getting out of the rain.
LINDSEY: It was really relaxed around camp each night, definitely a good atmosphere. One of the best moments was when my girlfriend came out to surprise me after one of the legs. Oh and also Melrose was a really good stop, it’s a great town to get to, really welcoming to cyclists.
Q: How were you feeling by day 16?
AMY: Pure relief. I knew being pregnant, that I wouldn’t be able to ride for a while afterwards, so it was a bit of last outing. There was also a real feeling of pride that I finished it and rode the entire distance without ever getting a lift.
LINDSEY: Ready to finish, but also a huge sense of achievement. But getting to Wilpena was a great feeling too, knowing you were only 60kms from the finish.
Q: What would be your practical tip for first timers?
AMY: Make sure you bring some sort of cream or lotion to help with the seat soreness. And wear practical clothing that you can get on and off easily.
LINDSEY: Definitely training, making sure you’re physically ready for the ride.
Q: What was the best thing that you took along with you?
AMY: Probably the GPS to show off all my riding stats to people. Nuts and fruit were a good snack for the long days. Also my headphones and music to keep me going when it was getting tough.
LINDSEY: The iPod was the device getting the most use for sure, it wasn’t a good feeling when it ran out of battery for the day. Energy bars were my go to snack. But I think I probably ate the most food I’ve ever eaten over those two weeks.
Q: What was the best thing about the event, if you had to inspire someone to get out there and give it a go?
AMY: Getting into the Flinders Ranges for the first time and knowing that the finish was so close by was an amazing feeling. Also some of the food along the way, especially the lasagne in Burra. But I think the real draw of the event is being out there with other riders and connecting. Having a talk when you’re riding a long side somebody and finding out where they’re from and what they do.
LINDSEY: The community amongst everyone. Everyone was really into in it, people with a real buzz for life just out there soaking it all in.
Q:Will you be out there in 2017? Or is it too early to tell.
AMY: It’s unlikely, now that I’ve had the baby it’s a little bit more difficult.
LINDSEY: It’s certainly on the cards, but I’ll probably stick to two wheels next time. The unicycle was a great experience though.
The Bike SA Outback Odyssey will be taking place again in 2017, running from 6th to the 17th of May. Riders can opt to ride the whole Mawson trail route (900kms+), or take part in shorter legs of the journey over a few days. Click here for further information about the event.