Port Wakefield to Adelaide – 98km

It was hard to sleep last night knowing today was the day we would cycle in to Adelaide to see family, friends and be welcomed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

My day started with a 6:15am radio interview with ABC Adelaide. It was then the usual procedure of packing vehicles, breakfast, then onto bikes.

We were soon on a smooth dual lane highway with a flying tailwind. In no time at all we had knocked off 30km and were enjoying our first BLT at Windsor. Our second leg to Two Wells was equally as fast, averaging 30km/hour and we arrived there well ahead of the scheduled meeting time with two local cycling groups – Smudge Monkeys and Gawler Wheelers.

This gave us plenty of time to enjoy coffee/hot choc from the local bakery and chat to the lovely Red Cross volunteers out the front selling their wares. It was not long before our new cycling friends rolled into town and our peloton immediately swelled from 11 to around 40. We were also joined by Dr Marcus Wagstaff, my RAH surgeon for the 40km roll in to Adelaide. Marcus met his namesake – Wagstaff the tandem, and I met his new bike – Harvey! It was fantastic to see him and chat with him somewhere other than in a hospital.

The 40km roll into Adelaide was slow and measured with traffic increasing and plenty of lights. We stopped for lunch in Prospect, then moved onto a park around 1km for RAH. We were required to wait here until just before 2pm, the time we were due to arrive at the hospital. To say we were all emotionally charged is an understatement. There were plenty of hugs, and pats on the back. We were totally pumped for our arrival.

The police arrived to escort us in the last km with a green light corridor. Renee and I led the peloton on Wagstaff with the START team close behind, followed by the local cycling groups. I felt so proud and my eyes were filled with tears of joy.

Janette and John greeted us at the emergency entrance with the usual pink pom pom dance and we rolled into the carpark to thunderous applause from family, friends, and hospital staff. We had made it!

After plenty of tears, tightly squeezed hugs and lots of photo’s, the formalities began with the Deputy CEO Paul Lambert introducing both Michelle and I. Michelle gave an emotional speech that finished with us presenting a giant cheque to Paul. We were delighted to advise the amount printed on the cheque was to be increased due to the overwhelming number of donations START had received. START’s donation to RAH was $40,000! In return Michelle and I were presented with a plaque to recognize the contribution START has made to the RAH Research Fund.

A lovely afternoon tea produced by the ICU Lavender Ladies followed, with RAH staff, cyclists, friends, and family, then it was off to our accommodation at the Ibis.

The day finished with a celebration dinner at a local Thai Restaurant. Our Ride For The RAH group was joined by family and friends for a fantastic night of laughter and fun.

We now have two days off the bike in Adelaide for some R&R, and stage 2 is officially completed.

Today is a day I will always remember with pride. START foundation has achieved its first goal. I am very, very proud!

Richard Cooke