Blake joined Youth Off The Streets’ EDEN College at the start of 2014 and immediately accepted the Sydney to Surfers bike ride challenge. Having zero cycling experience, Blake took on the massive 904km journey with just 10 weeks training and managed to finish the race, completing all possible stages.
An early error would cost him dearly though, as he abandoned a gel seat for his bike before the beginning of the race, which he would soon regret.
“I had this gel seat on my bike and I thought it was annoying, so I left it behind at Merrylands before we went to Hornsby. I kind of regretted that!” Blake says.
Being comfortable didn’t settle the nerves as Blake left North Sydney on day one of the ride.
“I was nervous at the start. Didn’t want to stack it in front of all of them (riders),” he says.
At the end of the first two days the Youth Off The Streets pack of cyclists swam in the pool to reduce inflammation and ease some tired muscles, but Blake had other ideas.
“It didn’t really make an impact (the race), ‘cause I’m used to it, I used to jog. So I just hopped in the spa,” he says.
At that point, the riders had done over 200km and many were feeling aches and pains in their tired joints. Blake remained positive, despite 700km left to ride, and that positive attitude would help him down the track.
“I just wanted to hurry up and do it, yea. I just wanted to get to the theme parks. I just tried to keep up with Lochlan. We were like the same sort of speed and we had started cycling at the same time. He was a strong rider. I found just riding on the highways and that to be the hardest part. ‘Cause it’s just flat and you’re riding for ages. And then we hit Banana Hill. That hill was a nightmare. The hill goes up and around and then you think it ends, but it goes up again,” he despairs.
A false dawn, but Blake stayed positive; after all he had enough ‘carbs’ and energy to get him through the day’s ride through his dinner of choice.
“My meal of choice at every stop was spaghetti bolognaise,” he says.
Finally after seven days of riding, Blake and the others crossed the line, in a moment of triumph that will live in their memories for a life time.
“My favourite day was probably the last day. All the ride packs were waiting for us at the end. So we all rode in together at the end and we (Youth Off The Streets’ pack) were leading. It was awesome, but at the same time I was just happy to make it,” he says.
Blake had survived the 904km journey had received a prestigious award along the way. Pack three awarded him with the Big COG award, which is given to an outstanding rider every day. Blake was the last recipient and was awarded the prize for his commitment to the ride, his positive attitude for the entire week and the fact that he never once complained or gave up.