Oct 31st Wallaroo - Gawler via the rest of the world!
Total Time 7hrs 47 mins 06.62 secs approx
Total Distance 218Km's yes thats right a 200km ride to cap it off.
Average speed 28 kmh into a ferocious head wind when the maillot jaune Blew up
Total Gain 1070 metres Total Descent 842 metres
Max speed 61.4kph as Mr Lucas rolled into the Novotel Barossa
Total calories burnt 3436 Total sugar intake 4000 calories
How to spend one's birthday, or not?
I looked over, sucking in what little oxygen I could from the hot October air, sitting on the nose of the peleton into a 70 kmh (approx only) cross/head wind, I could all but think 'Bloody Kiwi's', as Jaws gleefully replied on my behalf, that there was no need to roll early as we were doing fine!!!
This was how the day was to be as legs started to pop down the line and we darted for what little protection there was when we were only 85 km's into our longest stretch of 218 km's.
The day began quite leisurly at 4.30 am for a 5.30 am briefing and a dark start, albeit the headlight that had been stolen from the truck and attached to the Bladders bike overnight. (maybe sneaky Pete's last helping hand as we waved goodbye to the Honey badger, or was he too busy elsewhere??), and down to Kadina at the very suprising and luxurious Bellagio. Not only a great Brekky and the Owners had graciously come in and opened 3 hrs earlier than normal for us, but a chance for me to complete some artwork on the wall, that I had neglected overtime. After a brief interlude with the static chef out the front, we rolled out with nervous energy as the long day in the saddle had begun.
A beautiful rolling ascent over the Hummocks and down the other side into Lochiel, was without too much drama, until..............Kitty Kat at the head of the pack had endured a nasty little nose bleed. This incident itself had no impact on the peleton as Kitty Kat just kept on pedaling as the women in the peleton kept showing how strong they are. The drama unfolded as the Fruedian slip award was handed out to Sturmy!! This parapraxis, was completely oblivious to Sturmy until moments after, he re thought his previous comment through his head, and the realization that he had made a monumental balls up quickly dawned, as the peleton broke down in rapturous laughter! (the graphic nature of his comment has to remain within the peleton sorry, or you may ask Sturmy to explain when you see him next). A quick 55km's checked off. The bunch were feeling confident and were itching to get on the bikes.
We had a short stretch in an Easterly direction towards Clare, when the North/Easterly we had enjoyed so much getting to Wallaroo had turned against us and the six at the front where going to endure a harrowing next 35km's, with it not much better down the line. Starting six, Sturmy, Ben/Bernadette, Button, Diesel, Mr Lucas (Maillot Jaune) and Jaws. For the first 15 mins all was good and Sturmy was looking forward to a roll and sitting in third wheel, when Bernadette, true to form, peeled off the front and gently rolled to the rear of the peleton, and signalled for the Bladder to come forward. The ever willing deputy came forward with much vigour abd took his place on the nose next to the now not so delighted Sturmy, only to turn to him and say "right maate, fifteen minutes till rolling"! As the rest of the rolling six breathed a sigh of relief, knowing full well that our turn was to be delayed, the sinking feeling in Sturmy's stomach was mainly due to an ill devised plan from Jaws and Sturmy, they had planned to ride the entire leg (218kms) in the front six, and now after 40 mins into a gale force wind, their plan was showing its first cracks.
We eventually rolled, and Jack and Diesel took their place and belted out an average pace into the wind at race pace and the popping began, one can only imagine what was happening in the bunch and with Stifler at the back as he worked tirelessly to keep the peleton together. There was an eerie hush over us all as we peered down to our Garmins and Fi 2's new 800 wasnt showing her any joy. We were 75 kms into a massive day and the previous 700kms under our legs were starting to take there toll. As we each went into our own cavenous black hole and dug deep to keep things rolling.
I hung onto Diesels wheel knowing full well that the next fifteen minutess were to bring little reprieve and the countdown to rolling was not music to my ears. With the yellow jersey on, and "Rolling" belted out by the Bladder, Jaws and I headed out into the abyss to push through the wind.
Where the Heck (or words to that effect) is that turn off? We all thought, and after a what I thought was a reasonable effort and my head saying he will call rolling soon wont he? I looked down to see only 3mins 30 secs had passed! On to 8 mins called and the sound of my legs popping were heard in Equatorial Guinea, along with the laughter from The Bladder! Only Jaws was mysteriously oblivious to this fact and as previously said, quite happily answered for the now speechless Mr Lucas that everything was fine! Thanks Jiz!
With a call from the earpiece and the knowledge that the turnoff was infact only 400 metres until there was a tailwind like no other, the crafty Bladder called "Rolling" and moved forward to take his place.
Radio Duties Call......I will be back. Sorry that was quite some interview.
As the flickering hazard lights of Karl's lead vehicle turned to one single right indicator, a communal sigh of releif was heard from the peleton in unison, and we turned South for a much appreciated tail wind at our backs. A quick stop for a refuel and Bladder, we quickly moved on for fear of a change in weather conditions onwards towards balaklava and lunch at the Royal Hotel. Having made it this far today, even the thought of our 53rd Chicken Parmy was still appealing.
Much delight fell over the group as we sat down to a Pasta bake, Chicken Honey stir fry and a curry cassserole that I stayed away from for fear of renal repercussions down the road. By the sound of Sturmy and Jaws thundering down the road they had not made the same wise decision! Following a great feed at the Royal we headed off from Balaklava to Gawler for the now famous McFlurry moment, it had appeared that Blads (formerly known as Bladder, but now i was so spent that names needed to be shortened in the peleton venacular), had consumed only McFlurries as his source of sustanance for the previous 850 kms!
The Kouta KOM of the much loved Dave 'I have another one liner' Murada, suffered another mechanical and the now spent Machine cautiously used Curtis the cage man to time trial back to the group that was enjoying a spell from the pace against the crosswind.
We finally made it to the turn off towards Gawler and the rolling downhill and speed had everyones spirits lifted as we got closer to enjoying a bevvy and celebrating a milestone 200 km day for most of us. (not sure if I would be encouraged to do this on one's Birthday!).
A stop at the Gawler McDonald's and a reprieve before the final push home to the luxurious Novotel in the Barossa and some were feeling like they had reached their backyard.
This final 20-30km was not an easy roll, and as the pressure was on to make it back for the most anticipated celebrations of Mr Lucas' Birthday, there was no letting up. There was either a grin or grimace from Jaws & Sturmy as they pushed towards finishing the day from the front and they kept the pace all the way to the Novotel turn off, well done lads for a tough day in the saddle and leading the way. To Stinky, Twinkle Toes & Bronte saurus, well done for one of the toughest days we had endured, with Blads and the Machine doing everything in their power to encourage and inspire us to all get home safely, what an effort!
The Novotel turn off finally arrived and as we gently turned left, we were all salivating the sweet taste of victory and an iced cold Bevvy. Those that are not aware of the area, the Barossa Novotel sits perched ontop of a hill that has an 18% gradient road and driveway into it, just what we were all looking forward to at the end of 7hrs in the saddle.
Saddle sores aside and thoughts of 'maybe I should have bidded on the Aussie Butt cream', the Maillot Jaune was called forward to lead the peloton home. Unfortunately this was short lived, as I gave it a punch on the downhill leading in reaching 61.7 kph, this was only enough to give billy goat Ben a good run in as he saunterd past me. I sat back down and filtered down through the gears of my 53-23 and rued that the 25 was not on the back, as the rest of the group made their way past, from Fi 2 to Jaws on his 45 chasing the 'son of' down, we finally crested and rolled down to the reception area all having grown that little bit more. As the congratulations were passed around, the dawning of the conclusion of this charity ride was iminent, and some introspective thoughts had us recalling memorable moments that we would be taking home with us. The group had somehow become one, and a feeling of family and belonging was one that I will not forget. It was odd, looking for individuals to thank and hug, that was each and everyone, and knowing that this would be our last night spent together was starting to pull on the heart strings.
It was around 5.30pm and enough time only to have a shower & shave and make our way back for another nigh of fun & frivolity and suck down some much deserved cold ones.
Another great night had and some good auction bidding had us raise another $5000 plus for the charity and some time to reminisce over the past 6 days riding with a slide show by Karl, Bade and Curtis, that showed just how much fun we had had as a group of stangers travelling these country roads of SA.
Plenty of Muppet moments, with some near misses for some and Sturmy nearly clinching it, the award went to Craig (Stinky) for a Faux Pas that had Karl 'Che' Hardy woken from a peaceful sleep at 1am in the morning, to check if it was ok for young Craig to have a qiuck gaf? much to Karl's delight, these preceedings took place, and the Stink was quickly asleep and trumpeting out a Blue Whale melody that Karl struggled to get back to sleep with!
A public embarrasing moment at tea for Fi 1 as we recalled her calls to nature along the way. Although we had named Chris 'Blads', Fi 1 is the only person I know who can be undressed on the bike before we have stopped and in the bushes regardless of surroundings or spectators (as one little boy's holiday experience will be testament to!).
We had a touching talk from the famous young 19 yr old cyclist's, Shamus Liptrot's Father, Malcom, as they live in Balaklava and had made it down for our last community celebration night with a heartfelt story, had us all reaching for what napery we could to wipe away the tears and compose ourselves.
With the Muppet award done and some nervous moments in the Auction with Ben's proxy playing coy and the prospect of me arriving home with a 6th bike to explain to my wife Katherine, and the thought of the Tahitian Pearls coming earlier than i had anticipated, we finaly got Ben a new SL4 Roubaix and an additional birthday present avoided for me. We had some great bidding for the final nights opportunity to pick up some great gifts and the last opportunity to donate to the cause for many of us.
The time to hand over the coveted yellow jersey was among us and with the jersey comes the pressure. Part of me wanted to ride for another 13 days to give everyone on the ride an opportunity to receive the jersey, with all the work that everyone had accomplished. I could go through all that were deserving, but that would have been us all, from the tenacious and fearless Fi 1, the bleeding Kitty Kat forever with a smile on her face, Twinkle Toes and Stinky who had dug deeper than most people can go, for guys that are not on the bike for km after km on a normal weekly basis, lesser men would have bailed and been on the bus, but not these two (sneaky Pete fits in this catergory for his effort up the Pichi Richi pass, that few thought he would make it through, except the baby machine did have to "do some work" on the bus from Wilmington to Murray Town!). Jack Button, who was the quiet achiever and a very acclompished rider and was always a pleasure to ride alongside with a demeanour that just made you happy to be alive, Multple named Murada that rode with a pocketful of one liners that came from the depths of depravity at times, but none the less took the sting out of your legs as you were too busy laughing, Bronte Saurus, who at 68 yrs old and the dogged determination to make it to the end, the whole time enduring the ride with a 23 on the back, made us all hope we to would still be riding at his age. That leaves the lead riders Bade, the Machine and Blads along with the engine like Diesel who just keeps on keeping on & the machines protege Todd who gets a little enthusistic when the sprint line approaches, and both had been used effectively to provide cover on those days when crosswinds hit the group. As the rest of the bunch had deservedly received the opportunity to don the yellow jersy (present company excepted), the descision was once again made to break the rules, and all three lead riders were given the chance to wear the jersey for stages of the final day, with Blads to lead us out, the machine to ride into work with it on and Bade to ride us into the house. I think all of us would agree that these guys & girl, were the reason that all of us had made it this far, and we owed them a great deal of grattitude for giving each and everyone of us the enormous thrill of completing this adventure.
Lights out for most as the Murada and crew kicked on, and apologies for leaving my favorite birthday card ever in the bar overnight (has been recalimed by its rightful owner), and the dreamy thoughts of riding to the lofty heights of the Mount itself was upon us.
A quick spoon with the Stink, thanks to the pranksters Jaws and Sturmy, that had rearanged the apartment with beds and furniture that saw our our room turned into a private boudoir, and too tired to change back we tucked ourselves in for a final rest.
What an unbelievable way to spend a birthday, and after having a recording of my kids and wife singing Happy Birthday to me in the morning, it is a day I will never forget. With the knowledge that Sturmy had taken the Fruedian slip award instead of me and an acheivement of the ride itself. I had been spent during the day and strange as it sounds, this made me lay my weary head on the soft pillow and drift off to sleep with a grin like ronald himself. Mr Lucas was indeed a happy man, and thank you to all the support crew and riders that made the day so special and unforgettable!
Only the Mount to go!!!!!!!!!........or so we thought