Ride streak beats smoke and asthma

Nigel Long during the People's Ride on Saturday.

by Luke Voogt

Smoke, asthma and broken ribs are yet break Nigel Long’s streak of six consecutive People’s Rides.

The 57-year-old from Ocean Grove again completed the ride despite his hampered preparation this summer.

“My training leading into this year didn’t go as well because of all the smoke that we’ve had around,” he said.

“I have asthma, which makes (riding in smoke) more difficult.”

Poor weather on Saturday forced Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race organisers to reduce the 115km People’s Ride to 65km, which Long described as “unfortunate”.

“I intend to do the full 115km next week just to make up for that reprieve,” he said.

While he reckons he would completed the longer People’s Ride, he admits he “would have struggled” due to his lack of preparation.

But a tail wind on 13th Beach Rd, which “swung around” behind the cyclists on both Horseshoe Bend Rd and towards Geelong, was “perfect”, he said.

“That never happens, I usually have a headwind and then it turns and I have a headwind again. We couldn’t have asked for better wind conditions.”

The humidity also helped, despite a few showers, as cold dry air could create “problems” for asthma sufferers, Long explained.

“One of the many reasons I ride is for the fitness and health. The more I ride, the better my lungs are.”

His son Zack and daughter Katy waited at the finish line, while wife Julie “was just happy to get me home in one piece”, he said.

“My kids are always impressed that their old man can ride 115km pretty easily.”

He described the race on his “doorstep” as great exposure for Geelong, especially with the Corona Virus and bushfires affecting Australian tourism.

Long has yet to miss the People’s Ride despite sustaining numerous injuries including fractured ribs and, more recently, a concussion from a fall in 2018 while training for the event.

“I’ve rode all six,” he said.

“The intention is to keep going for as long as I can. Compared to what the pro cyclists go through it’s nothing.”

He and hundreds of other cyclists rode with Barwon Heads cycling legend Cadel Evans during the event.

Although he reckoned he might have finished a fair bit slower than the former Tour de France champion.

“I saw him at the start – he was right at the front,” he said.

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