Local Hero: James Hackney

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If you live within a 50km radius of Sydney or Melbourne you’ll know exactly what a sharebike is. You’ll probably recognise them scattered around the streets, next to iconic landmarks, or maybe even peculiarly balanced 10 feet up unsuspecting eucalyptus trees. Bet you haven’t seen anything of the sort heading up towards the summit of Mount Kosciuszko though, but that’s exactly what a group of three friends did on the City2Summit for charity.

The plan

3 commandeering, pioneering, incompetent cyclists ventured out on a 24 hour mission. Armed with 6 Mobikes, 5 support members and 1 camera operator, the team planned to leave Clovelly at 00:00 with the ambition of driving the 459km down to Jindabyne, (in the thick of Kosciuszko National Park) cycling the 100km route to the summit of Mount Kosciusko, riding back down, then jumping back in the vehicles and driving back to Sydney within the 24 hour time frame.

The reason

The whole idea was excessive, and whole-heartedly aggressive, but it was all in the name of a fantastic cause. My connection to the charity came through a community mentoring program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Australia. I was matched with a young boy with a love of getting outside and getting stuck in. It was through this connection that I was introduced to his sister, who suffers from Mitochondria Disease (a progressive disease – with most cases proving fatal) and had done for a number of years.

The charity we’re supporting is the Australia Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (AMDF) who do a fantastic job at supporting sufferers and families that are affected by this tragic disease. I am lucky enough to have seen first-hand the support that they have provided, and the momentous effect that a bit of extra support can give. To be healthy in today’s world provides us all an opportunity to support our communities where we can.

Preparation is key

Pre-event training totalled one 80km training ride through the Royal National Park, with the ride giving us just shy of 1/3rd of the event day elevation we would need to cover. In addition we had numerous 4.00am starts, riding around Centennial Park. Making friends and providing humour to the many triathlon groups using the park, we joined in with a few hill sprints (not too hilly, as it was 4.00am) The young, spritely and naive City2Summit team felt as prepared as one would expect for such a ridiculous undertaking.

D-Day

Starting on time for a bunch of millennials we said goodbye to the sound of the rolling waves in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and began the 6 hour journey down to the Snowy Mountains. All was going to plan when, just south of Canberra, nature decided to send a few of its finest obstacles our way in the shape and patriotically large form of two kangaroos.

One found a warm spot lodged between the Ford Transit’s grill and radiator, while the other took a nasty glancing knock. He certainly had the last laugh, taking half of the van’s headlights with him. Almost a game changer, if we had any sense.

Plodding on, we arrived in Jindabyne at 5.30am. Just enough time to get the bikes out, inspect for damage, realise there was nothing we could do about the damage, and have some breakfast.

Setting off at 7.00am, it’s safe to say that after 4 pit stops and the 3.5 hours that it took us to grind out the initial 20km, we were all subconsciously wondering who came up with this utterly stupid idea and how on earth were we going to make it all the way up to the summit with the cartilage in our knees still remotely attached to our bones.

When I realised that the culprit for the idea was actually me, and that I still had a packet of Co-codomol in my pocket from the previous weekend’s fast way out of a hangover, we had no option but to continue.

With donations flooding in, and nothing but loyal support from the support crew (after they ditched us to find a breakfast spot) we made it to the summit of Mount Kosciusko after a total of 7.5 hours of blood, sweat and 3 lousy gears.

Unfortunately, due to National Park rulings, we were not allowed to ride the final 2km up to the summit. This ended up providing a fantastic moment to celebrate our huge achievement, with the riders, support team and fantastic cameraman Mark reaching the top together.

Unfortunately for the riders however, this was only halfway.

After consuming an inadvisable amount of any novice endurance athlete’s staple — tuna pasta bake — we embarked back down to Jindabyne across the undulating plateau from the summit. We enjoyed the 20km home stretch of no pedalling, wind-in-your-hair cycling, through the sunset hours and golden light, in a beautiful and renowned landscape.

It was a very proud moment when all 3 riders blew their dynamo lights by reaching the monumental, Tour de France-esque, top trip speed of 59.6 km/h and making light work of our average trip speed of 12.9 km/h. We pulled into the 100km point, and finish line, 12.5 hours after heading out.

Alas, the work was not done yet. After a sniff of Kosciuszko’s finest pale ale, and a face-full of Grainwaves (always the athletes choice), we bundled back into our sorry-looking Transit van to travel back to Sydney within the allotted time frame.

With emotions drained and minds tiring, we made several necessary stops at everyone’s favourite and filthy, fast food stop in order to replenish calories and keep ourselves wide-eyed. Safe to say it worked, with the whole team returning to Sydney within the allocated 24 hour time target.

Celebrations came in the form of a high five and a hug, whilst we put the pale ales on pause until the morning came around and opted to rest up after a monumental 24 hour effort from everyone involved.

To the view the video of the whole adventure by Mark Crampton, click here.

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