As for many Australian roadies, the Tour Down Under is for me one of the defining experiences of the summer. For the third year in a row I made the pilgrimage to Adelaide. Unlike previous years my focus was less on the race itself and more on riding with friends, old and new. Perhaps for this reason this TDU was, for me, the best yet.
Having capitulated to Instagram recently, some of this seems like duplication of images I’ve shared there. But these image posts have become a bit of a tradition for me, and so it continues …
Stage 1 – Eltham to Prahran
I spent this day readying for the big drive, and dressing up my bike in Vittoria’s new graphene tyres. I might write about these soon, but the short review is they’re really nice!
My longest solo drive ever. After a lunch break on the banks of the Wimmera I hit Adelaide in time for the 6pm replay. Immediately that old feeling of road cycling being at the centre of the city’s energy was there.
Despite being a Peak Cycles customer, I’ve only turned up to a couple of their rides. This is largely due to the start time of the rides – there’s still enough musician in my blood to feel disorientated by morning light :) So here was a good opportunity for me to get to know the guys.
It was great to be with a bunch of Melbourne riders in the Adelaide Hills. We had a dig up Norton Summit, which left me wanting to go again, then had a long stop in Sterling where we saw the race come through:
I’d assumed we’d end up at the Corkscrew, but as it turned out it wasn’t a popular option. By the time we got to the turn-off only one rider was prepared to risk getting there after the race had passed (and as it turned out he got there in time). So we rode through the beautiful Basket Range and then took the fantastic descent down Greenhill Rd.
I realised I’d had a more satisfying time than if I’d stood about on the Corkscrew. In any case, after I left the Peak guys I enjoyed a comical roll with pros and fans back to the city.
Stage 4 – Seaside roll with Alex
I wanted to ride with Peak again on the day of the Queen Stage and anticipated needing my legs, so I asked Alex if I could join him for an easy ride. Alex took it so easy he forgot to wear his helmet!
What’s that line from Apocalypse Now! ? ‘I wanted a ride and for my sins they gave me one.’ This ride was a bit of a hit out.
I was determined to go faster up Norton than I had two days earlier. I emptied my bottles at the bottom and gassed it. My time up the first 500-1000 metres was solid but I couldn’t sustain it.
Although I was nudging best power figures for the first two thirds of the climb I really slowed towards the end. Some in the group had the good sense to forget about climbing times and pick figs instead, and I was grateful for the free carbohydrate!
A spell of cold temperatures and intermittent rain offered some respite over the top of Mt Lofty:
In Mclaren Vale we saw the race pass through, then we pressed on to Old Willunga Hill. It was crazy on the climb – thousands and thousands of people riding and walking up. I got to the top with some effort (and restraint) then realised I’d have to get back down a bit to find the guys. When I found them the scene looked a bit like something from Godard’s Weekend, with bikes in place of cars, and cyclists in place of revolutionary cannibal hippies.
Stage 6 – Adelaide to Melbourne
The drive back was nice. A stop at the Wimmera again, and the great sight of the Grampians that you can never tire of:
We know what we do is magic. It makes sense that an entire city should be given over to us at least once a year! :)