In 2011, my friend Trish came to me with a crazy idea. She said “next year, we’re going to do The Gibb River Challenge.” Having both lived in the Kimberley, we had heard of this event; we were not however, prepared for this gruelling 700km push bike ride. Trish recruited our third peddler in the nursing tea room at work with a conversation that went something like this “do you wanna come on this epic camping trip with us through the Kimberley? Oh, and do you have a bike?”
Step one: Buy Bikes.
And that was about as much as preparation went until about 4 weeks before the ride.
I wouldn’t recommend our preparation, or lack thereof. The three of us had never driven a 4 wheel drive before. Our training consisted of riding up Kalamunda Hill and then sinking a few beers at the pub. Ironically, this turned out to be very appropriate training.
At the last minute, we secured a car and driver. A friend in Broome kindly offered, but stressed she had no interest in riding! It’s only now that I understand her reasoning.
So that was it, a few hiccups later; sourcing bike racks, camping equipment, harassing friends for donations and finding room for the ridiculous amount of gear the peddlers took on their first journey cycling the Gibb, and we were off.
2012 Gibb River Challenge, our first. I’d like to say that 2012 Gibb Challenge was unlike other years, but I’ve come to realise that no 2 years are the same. 2012 bought literally freezing nights and dry, dusty days. We went to bed on the first night, teeth chattering, and woke with ice on the tents. Nobody imagined the Kimberley would be so cold!
On the second night, we huddled for warmth around an inappropriately large bonfire our camping neighbours had built and sunk way too many beverages in an attempt to warm up; well that’s our excuse anyway. It was here we met the foul mouthed, middle aged men, which became known as “the boy’s team.” It was a strange meeting of people from different worlds. Here we were a team of 20-something year old nurses from Perth, drinking with men old enough to be our fathers, that were IT nerds from the other side of the country! At the time, we thought it was a case of, “well they had the biggest fire” but it turned into an amalgamation of teams, now known as “The Tight Posse.” And that to me sums up the Gibb really, hundreds of riders and volunteers from all walks of life that become best of friends over the space of a few days.
It was a bit of a wakeup call for the Peddlers, our body’s certainly weren’t physically prepared, nor were our camping skills. Luckily, “the boy’s team” stepped in to change the tyres, start the fires and challenge our drinking abilities. The days were hot, and did I mention dusty? We coughed up orange dirt and our bodies were left at a point of utter exhaustion. But boy it was fun!
2013 and our team changed a little, as did the weather. We thought we knew it all, we were experienced Gibbers! We came prepared with the thermals, beanies and gloves, only to face wet season humidity and rain! Suddenly a team of girls, who had never been behind the wheel of a 4-wheel drive, were driving in treacherous conditions after 100ml of rain overnight! And it wasn’t just the driving that was the challenge, cycling in mud is not a lot of fun! Again, the ‘boys’ team’ helped out making shelters and makeshift showers in the rain.
Sadly, in 2014 I was out with illness, but the amalgamated teams; the tight posse, carried on and had a few drinks on my behalf! I spent the year learning how to ride again, after a diagnosis of a neurological disease left me with a weakness to one side of my body, and struggling with balance and coordination (rather important aspects of cycling).
2015 saw me back on the bike, so to speak and bought with it the best Gibb Challenge yet. The Tight Posse all back together again, in near perfect conditions.
2016, the 10th anniversary of the Gibb! Who knows what it will bring? It is The PC Peddlers 5th Gibb! We are now seasoned Gibbers! I’ve learnt that you can’t predict what the Gibb will bring each year, but being amongst hundreds of riders and volunteers that share the same positivity despite often challenging conditions, always brings good times!
At the end of the day, The Gibb Challenge is about raising money for charity. As much as we talk about the great times, its Hard yakka and our bottoms certainly suffer! So 2016… We are fundraising for Sirens of Silence, an incredible charity supporting the mental health of our first responders. At an awful time, such as now, with deadly bush fires ravishing our south west, what better time to consider our first responders. These men and women are literally saving lives and homes, but who is supporting them? I have 2 family members fighting these bush fires at the moment. It scares me to death. One of them, my brother, is actually coming on the gibb this year!
To support our cause please click on the link. Alternatively, if you have any sports memorabilia or items you would like to donate, they will be auctioned off with all monies going to Sirens of Silence.
to read about our amazing cause…