This time last year, I under­took a huge chal­lenge that I’d nev­er even dreamt of before, let alone attempt­ed: I rode my bicy­cle from Mel­bourne to Ade­laide, wear­ing a school dress for the char­i­ty One Girl’s 2019 Do It In A Dress cam­paign, rais­ing mon­ey for the edu­ca­tion of girls in Africa.

The char­i­ty runs this cam­paign every year as their major fundrais­er, and the idea is that par­tic­i­pants come up with fun and/or chal­leng­ing activ­i­ties whilst wear­ing a school uni­form dress (in hon­our of many African school-aged girls who can’t) and their respec­tive friends and fam­i­ly spon­sor them and donate to the over­all cause. I had the idea in Feb­ru­ary 2019 to do some­thing a bit hard, a bit dif­fer­ent, and came up with Bike It In A Dress, my effort towards the cam­paign. In June, I became an offi­cial Ambas­sador for the One Girl team, and set out plan­ning and train­ing for the big ride.

I raised $3,482.93 for the char­i­ty, who col­lec­tive­ly raised about half a mil­lion dol­lars to help edu­cate girls. It was so reward­ing, know­ing that I’d per­son­al­ly helped 11 girls go to school for the year, as well as being a fan­tas­tic phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenge that a year lat­er, I’m still buzzing about.

I cre­at­ed a blog at bikeitinadress.org (since retired) to help me track and post about my own jour­ney. I’ve dupli­cat­ed some of those blog posts on this site as well so you can still read about my journey…

Some relevant Bike It In A Dress posts

Climbing into the Adelaide Hills from Kanmantoo
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Day 10: Pushing beyond the limit, and arriving in Adelaide

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Today’s ride was by far the tough­est, most gru­elling bicy­cle ride I’d ever under­tak­en, and pushed my body to lim­its I had­n’t exceed­ed for more than ten years… I rode along the city streets down Glen Osmond Road and then Pul­teney Street like a con­quer­ing Roman cae­sar as I beamed with pride, appre­ci­a­tion and sat­is­fac­tion, stop­ping at Run­dle Mall and achiev­ing what I’d set out to do six months ear­li­er, with noth­ing more than a rough sketch of a plan and a crazy idea to ride to Ade­laide in a school dress.

Pelicans on the Murray River at Murray Bridge
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Day 9: Resting in Murray Bridge

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Today was sched­uled as a rest and recov­ery day, to allow me to a) recov­er from the past eight day’s jour­ney, and b) rest in prepa­ra­tion for tomor­row, which might turn out to be the hard­est day’s ride yet. So I stayed anoth­er day at the Mur­ray Bridge Mari­na & Car­a­van Park on Rop­er Road, Mur­ray Bridge.

The mighty and beautiful Murray River at sunset
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Day 8: The Mighty Murray!

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I left Coon­alpyn this morn­ing feel­ing pret­ty awe­some. I’ve got­ten a large por­tion of my jour­ney out of the way, I’ve stayed at some great places, met some love­ly peo­ple, and seen some beau­ti­ful sights.

Coonalpyn Silo Mural
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Day 7: A hangover to Coonalpyn

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I woke up this morn­ing with a bit of a hang­over, but noth­ing too bad, and got my laun­dry done pret­ty ear­ly. I wan­dered around town for a while, check­ing out the Bor­der­town train sta­tion, a stop for the Over­land Train I’ll be tak­ing back to Mel­bourne this com­ing Fri­day, and was sad­dened at how run-down and in need of main­te­nance the neglect­ed but beau­ti­ful her­itage sta­tion was.

Toby Greene looking like a sad sack
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Day 6: Watching GWS get shat out by a Tiger

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After the hard day yes­ter­day, today was bril­liant! Awoke refreshed, with not a lot of dis­tance to cov­er to fin­ish off Leg 4 — about 40 km to Bor­der­town, SA. I left Kani­va ear­ly and head­ed out for the bor­der between Vic­to­ria and South Aus­tralia at Ser­vice­ton. I was soooo hap­py to final­ly reach the bor­der. Although I’ve already cov­ered half the dis­tance of my jour­ney, in my mind the bor­der has always been the ‘halfway’ milestone.

The Pink Lake, near Dimboola, known for its pink algae
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Day 5: The silent ‘h’ in Nhill

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I set out from Dim­boola and before long reached Loch Iel, more com­mon­ly known as the Pink Lake. This salt pan is home to a type of algae that reacts to the sun by show­ing a pink hue, mak­ing the entire lake vary­ing shades of pink depend­ing on time of year, sun posi­tion, etc. It was very beautiful…

Freight train passing on the Western Highway between Horsham and Pimpinio
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Day 4: Dimboola

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I start­ed this morn­ing in the worst pos­si­ble way — dis­as­ter struck my rear axle. I snapped the ‘Bur­ley Balls’ rear axle bolt, which was made out of cheap Chi­ne­sium, as I went to depart the Dar­lot Motor Inn! I was dev­as­tat­ed — this could eas­i­ly have been the end of the adven­ture right there. I was com­plete­ly immo­bilised. With­out a rear axle I couldn’t even walk the bike to the local bike shop. I rang my part­ner Danielle in despair.

The Grampians
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Day 3: Horsham

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I awoke ear­ly this morn­ing to the sound of kook­abur­ras laugh­ing, and then cock­a­toos hav­ing a scream­ing match, so much bet­ter than an alarm clock! I love the bush!! Enjoyed a beau­ti­ful sun­rise through the gum trees as I packed up camp and had a mues­li break­fast. The fam­i­ly I’d met, the two lit­tle fel­lows were up bright and ear­ly like me, so we enjoyed break­fast togeth­er before I head­ed back down the grav­el track to the high­way. Love­ly people!

Ready to go at the Royal Exhibition Centre Gardens, Carlton
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Day 1: Up the hills!

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I arrived at the Roy­al Exhi­bi­tion Cen­tre in Carl­ton this morn­ing with no small amount of ner­vous trep­i­da­tion, as well as some weary eyes, after catch­ing the 0520 train with my part­ner, Danielle. We said good­bye with a big hug at South­ern Cross Sta­tion, and I rode from there to Carl­ton, and parked at the big foun­tain to the south of the Exhi­bi­tion Centre.

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Setting up the bike for cargo

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When sit­ting down to plan out the Ride in Sep­tem­ber, one of the first require­ments to come to mind was car­riage space on the bike — how would I allow enough stor­age for food, water, shel­ter, changes of clothes, etc? Being a new­com­er to the world of bike tour­ing, I quick­ly found a num­ber of dif­fer­ent options and styles of trav­el, that when com­pared to the gear I already had, left me with three main choic­es to make: A set­up involv­ing lots of pan­niers and frame bags; a sup­port vehi­cle to accom­pa­ny me and car­ry all my gear; or attach­ing a car­go trail­er to the rear.

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Saturday morning Creswick run

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I made anoth­er run out to Creswick today, tak­ing a slight­ly dif­fer­ent route to avoid a long grav­el sec­tion of road­work, and tak­ing in a bit more of Pootil­la and Wat­tle Flat. It was also the first chance I’ve had to field-test the Jakroo cycling bibs that arrived on Friday!

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Sleeping arrangements

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Not want­i­ng to ‘waste’ mon­ey on prop­er accom­mo­da­tion that could be far bet­ter spent on the cause, and being an enthu­si­ast of the out­doors any­way, the obvi­ous answer for me has always been to camp rough in, or near, each town/stop on the jour­ney. It’s with this in mind that I first start­ed con­tem­plat­ing a sim­ple ham­mock and tarp set­up. The Snug­pak Jun­gle Ham­mock and All Weath­er Shel­ter fit­ted almost every require­ment that I had…

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First century achieved

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On 29 Decem­ber 1928, Don Brad­man, Australia’s, and some say the world’s, great­est crick­eter, scored his first inter­na­tion­al test cen­tu­ry. It was against Eng­land at the Mel­bourne Crick­et Ground (MCG) in the third test of the 1928–29 Ash­es series. Today, the annals of Aus­tralian sport­ing his­to­ry just saw anoth­er defin­ing first century.

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Ballarat–Skipton Rail Trail

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Smashed out 60 kilo­me­tres and had an absolute­ly beau­ti­ful time doing it, rid­ing up the Ballarat–Skipton Rail Trail, a dis­used rail­way that’s had its tracks uproot­ed and fine grav­el laid down to pro­vide a pret­ty wicked lit­tle biking/walking/horse trail.

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First half-century in the bag!

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I achieved my first half-cen­­tu­ry today, log­ging 50 kilo­me­tres on my way out to Creswick and back to Bal­larat. The ride was very scenic, and the smell of euca­lypts made for a stren­u­ous but alto­geth­er very enjoy­able day out.This was­n’t just the longest bike ride I’ve ever under­tak­en (so far) in terms of dis­tance, but also time in the sad­dle, hit­ting almost three hours’ rid­ing time.

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