While some of what I write might sound like a rant against the event and its organisers, I don't seriously want to suggest that people don't undertake the challenge. Being out on the open road with a bunch of fellow cyclists, in some beautiful landscape, is a thrill for which I have found no substitute; it's an event that I feel is rewarding in the senses of personal achievement and in getting to see more of the hidden beauty of the country than you might otherwise get to see. Do it if you feel you have the capability.
I've been asked, since I returned, about my training regime and how fit you need to be to participate, so I thought I'd write an answer here. Before the first ride, back in 2003, I wasn't sure what to expect, so I took the documentation that I had seen seriously, and trained a bit - or at least I tried to. My tactic was to head over to Centennial Park and ride several laps on a weekend and I think that got me 30 to 40 kilometers of exercise each time (although I didn't manage to do it very often). I also think that it's about this time that I was shown the ride out to Watson's Bay, which is almost a 40km round trip for me. Given that I had also done the 'Gong ride, I knew that I was capable of being on the road for a longer period.
After getting back from last year's ride, with the health scare, I was exercising quite regularly for a while, sometimes clocking up 200 kilometers in a week. Half of that consists of commuting to and from work, the only part that I have kept up for the whole year. The trip goes through Lilyfield, and is merely enough to keep up a base level of fitness; it doesn't push me beyond any limits.
The other half of the exercise, which I have only done intermittently consists of either a medium ride that is more for stretching my legs, or a longer ride which is more challenging. The first of these is a wander around the inner west of Sydney. It's more picturesque than challenging, but there are sections where I can step up the pace, and I might do that if I'm on the road bike.
When I was looking for a longer ride, I figured that I'd avoid the cliched route through the Royal National Park. I also remembered fondly the rides I used to do to West Head with an ex-collegue, but I didn't want to have a destination from which I'd have to return. Looking at a map, I figured that a loop around the northern beaches would be cool, so now I have a 90 kilometer route that goes through Church Point to finish where I start. It includes the ride up McCarrs's Creek road which, situated halfway, provides a psychological aiming point for me. Getting to the top without feeling overly tired is the way I know I'm having a good ride. That's not to say that you relax after that since you still have 40 kilometers to ride, of which most is on Mona Vale Road and the Pacific Highway.
In the last few months before the ride I'd done little beyond the daily commute. Once a month or so, I did the inner west wander, but that was about it. The following graph shows the distance travelled per week from last September to this February, as recorded on MotionBased. As you can see, the baseline of a weekly ride is about 100 kilometers. For various reasons, I might not ride the usual route to or from work on occasions and the distance travelled can quickly drop down towards 50 kilometers.
The summary, for which you've been patiently waiting, is that you know yourself capable of a longer ride, if you can do the 'Gong, and feel fine, you should be ok. Ride regularly; ride in various weathers; don't avoid climbing the small hills along the scenic route you'd like to use in preference to riding the traffic-choked city streets on the way to work. The Ride is a camping/cycling holiday. There might be days with rain and days with a strong wind and days that are hot. Unless the weather turns malevolent, you'll be riding. Get used to the idea.