Nov 1st Barossa Novotel - Mt Lofty - Ronald McDonald House (The Finish Line)
Today would have 5 catergorised climbs and two KOM's (Cudlee Creek to Lobethal & Mt Lofty Summit)
Total Time 4 hrs 43 mins & 35.62 secs approx.
Total Distance 105 kms (7th day in a row over 100 kms, average daily distance 148 kms!)
Maximum Speed 55.1 kph (up deviation Rd if I recall?)
Total Gain 1414 metres (nothing nice to see here thanks Ben!) Total Descent 1619 metres
Total calories spent 2379 (Total calories to give 0!)
Average Speed 22.1 kph (was a long couple of climbs for tired legs)The morning mist rolled over the green hills surrounding the picturesque setting of the Barossa Novotel, and the November Spring day was not far off an English Summers day, about -3 c it felt like as the arm warmers, jackets and ink arms of Fi 2 made their way back into the peloton.
After a more casual briefing time and no girls running on time, with last minute preening before the vehicles were aligned and models and bikes or no bikes made their way for the final group photo shoot. Grant had been up early to meticuously clean all vehicles by hand, after a brief trip to the Gawler carwash the previous night, was found to be closed! Well done Grantly.
We waved goodbye to the school girl (sorry Journo) that had arrived to take our photo, and were glad to roll down the 18% hill with heavy legs and the emotional thought of riding out the last 100 kms in mind, the pace was not held back.
The undulating terrain as we headed through some home turf for some was slowly taking its toll, but all dug deep and we pushed onto our first nature break in more civilised amenities for Fi 1 and Blads to leave their marks!
As the machine and Bronte rolled in and out to make it to Lobethal before us, we regrouped to slowly tick off the k's as we went. I had now stumbled across the old Footy room ointment, thanks to Jaws, and liberally applied the dencorub to appreciating thighs. As Jaws thanked me for this gesture, I applied to myself also, and we rolled out to our next point of Cudlee Creek. We snaked our way through chain of ponds and stopped outside the Cudlee Creek caravan and a wildlife park that many of the Peleton would feel quite at home in, prior to the first KOM at your own pace was on.
This is a long climb that winds its way up to Stinky's adopted hamlet of Fairyland Lobethal.
With the bunch split, and the lead pack of Sturmy, Jaws, Billy Goat Ben, the Africaaaaan connection of Spike & Sammy, Fi 2, & Toddly, went to an early lead. With Kitty Kat, Button, Mr Lucas & Fi 2 having missed the jump, a desperate attempt to close the gap was on, and with 100 metres closing on some of the early leaders, I dropped off the wheel of Button, who had given me a great ride in, but in the large ring still and the prospect of many more climbs to come, I eased off and thought better to finish than not finish at all, regardless of time. A wise man had once said to me, "Neil, there is ambition, and there is ability, wise not to get them confused", thanks Blads for your words of wisdom, and with this in mind, saw me spin a nice pace that would get me to Lobethal well before the coffee was cold.
The rest of the crowd, had huge support from Murada, Diesel, and Blads himself, as their words of encouragement saw all of us make it to Lobethal safely, with something still in the tank to get us home. Amazingly, Machine and Bronte had actually beaten us all to Lobethal with their small head start, and a slight tilt of the head to the machine, to offer our congratulations to a massive effort was given.
To the victors go the spoils and the International flavour of this event was evident, by the lack of home grown Aussies on the dias.
The Africaaaaaan connection of father and daughter duo, saw them take gold and silver respectively with the Kiwi spinning like mad chasing the fluffly wool prize he had been promised, took out a credible Bronze. The Billy Goat had removed himself from the race and had instead perched himself on the top of the climb like a proud father watching his flock parade in as we ticked off another challenge for the week. After the last week and in typical Aussie fashion, we were all Aussies now anyway!
A stop at the cycling friendly Lobethal Bakery for a feed and Hot Coffee, and we were diving for bags in the truck to find enough clothes to keep us warm as we were approaching what was surely to be a snow covered Mt Lofty in this weather. As Karl 'Che' Hardy attempted to surreptitiously sell some more Schnells to those among us that had not enjoyed the smooth ride they had given 3 of us through out this ride, by being a gentleman and offering jackets to Fi 1 & Kitty Kat in the vain hope of a sale! Nice one Karl. On reflrction, it would appear that CheHardy was being none other than the chivalrous man he has been all along, and his thoughts were much appreciated by the damsel's in distress.
The marquee and food packed away by the ever hard working support crew and we were off, with our last challenge in mind and a Lunch with Kaarle McCulloch on the menu awaiting.
On making our way to the summit of Mt Lofty, every conceivable ascent had been located by Ben on hes recon, with the exception of Checkers Hill (largely due to the fact that the road was closed!), and it had turned into a day of attrition with Fi 2, Diesel, Spike, Ben, Sam and Sturmy all doing an outstanding job in the front six, (im not completely sure that this six is correct as I was concentrating on breathing and pedaling as the two things that were keeping me alive!).
As the sight of the towers on the summit of Mt Lofty were breifly in sight with the parting of some menacing clouds, we decided that deviation road would be a fun way to finish us off before the final 3 km ascent. It was at this moment (actually it was as I left the abolutions block on the previous stop), I had said to Fi 1, that in future, a phone call from Ben, would be vetted to the voicemail to ensure that I couldnt say yes to anything!).
After rueing the fact that an Ultegra 11-28 had been delivered to my house only 239 kms away, and that the 25 had no more reprieve for me, I took some solace in the heavy breathing around me (not unlike the previous night hey Stinky?), and the ever reliable Kiwi Jaws, openly admitting he to was completely spent!, and the moment of madness he had had, to take the front into a block headwind upon leaving the Novotel, was now a thought he had wished he had not had. (if only a little more time applying his make up in the morning, there may have been something left in the tank).
Jaws pushed and pulled on his pedals and said "you know that moment when the light on the fuel guage in the car finally goes out?, thats where I am!).
Over the rise and a stop for our last challenge and the Party Pies that awaited. The friendly and generous Blue rinse brigade that were lining up for a coffee (or the pearly gates to open), were a lot further away from those gates than some of us felt, as we made a last ditch effort to finish this ride in a fashion that would do us justice.
We assembled at the base and had three kilometeres between us and our reward, having now just clicked over 1000 kms in the previous 6 1/2 days, we organised where in the group we would go from. The supportive guys rolled back to help some of us over this last hurdle, and a few took off to race to the top.............this was not a race so much as an emotional climb and as each pedal represented the toil we had endured and the fun we had had along the way as we edged forward to the summit.
As the group split into their seperate worlds with a line that reminded me of scenes from the climbing of Hillary's step on Everest by mountaineers, only I had no oxygen to offer either them or myself.
I rolled next to Kitty Kat, in the hope of being supportive to the top, only to find that it was soon to be her support I required. As a slow motion call of debris middle was called with the rest of the peloton in iminent danger, a muffled and distant laugh was heard, that made the next 100 metres that little less hard. Down past the Lofty House and the last little push from the 53-25 (thanks Curtis, stroke of genius had been had yesterday with this change, also had by Diesel! "Great minds think alike, Fools seldom differ" you can make the call there) and the car park was there. With Sturmy urging on Fi 1, Kitty Kat and myself to make it through the car park, the realisation of this acclompishment was overwhelming, and the spectacular sight of Adelaide was a sight to behold.
As each rider made their way round the side of the Lofty Complex, a raucous applause welcomed them in and the party pies, pizza and sandwiches were laid on.
We sat down to lunch with Kaarle & Nathan (who incidently had used two sets of legs to make the ascent, or at least that is what his quads looked like), there was an air of glowing achievement around the tables as we walked around with chests out, beaming smiles and glassy eyes, we knew only a descent, a visit to a school and the bike society shop for some much needed retail therapy and the House, family and friends, Ronald McDonald and His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR Governor of South Australia and his wife Mrs Liz Scarce awaited us. What a proud moment for us all.
We descended at a leisurely pace with Ben leading us out in single file with Kaarle on his wheel. Apparently there was quite a view on this descent, but sitting on Triple World Champion & Olympic Bronze medallist, Kaarle's Wheel, I found it dificult to concentrate on anything else! I was concious of headlines that, inadvertently bringing down one of our brightest Sprint track cyclists in the country would appear, and I was desperate to avoid this. My nervousness was apparent with the smoke eminating from my brakes, and an early call of a road sign of an echidna, in which I mysteriously called "Wombats!", 3/4's of the way down.
Safely down, and the Peleton made its way along Greenhill Rd to Goodwood Primary school for our last talk and bike giveaway.
With the pleasure of giving our last talk and introducing Kaarle to the kids (although she was ready to take the mike from media man prematurely), our duties were nearly complete.
We rode to the now infamous Bike Society Store on the corner of Anzac Rd & South Road www.bikesociety.com.au where Curtis had been feverishly re pricing items in the shop for the vulnerable prey entering the shop, ready to trade up to something that would make the next 1000 km journey that much more comfortable, and the machine morphed from extreme cyclist to salesman with the consumate ease we had become accustomed to, and as each shiny knew frame set was taken from the box and paraded around the group and the frenzied bike buying Diesel was foaming at the mouth.
As we waited for the go ahead to mount for the final stretch home, we had a moment to all sign a yellow jersey, that will hang in the Bike Society store, knowing that we will be the only people to have the honour to do so. The machine obviously had got to know some of us well enough, that the opportunity to come back and view this one off piece of memorabilia, would have us back in the store and leaving with grin on the face and pain in pocket, when he had sold us a 6th bike that was not required!
Then it was here, on bikes and making our way through the middle of Adelaide, parading our Peacock like feathers like soldiers coming home (only in Lycra and on bikes), from an indescribable experience and ringing our pesky bells, thanks to young Sammy.
After catching every conceivable red light and the thought of anyone falling over at the last hurdle averted, we rounded the bend from the Women's & Children's hospital to be welcomed by all and sundry that had been eagerly awaiting the safe return of their Husbands, Wifes, Sons, Daughters and Mums and Dads. We rolled through the crowd proud as punch and down into the carpark to park our rides for the last time on this trip.
We had done it, Seven days ago we had started our journey from Port Linclon, with the insane idea of pedaling our way around the Gulf, through the Adelaide Hills and into Adelaide itself, and why wouldnt you?
With formalities out of the way, Thanks to Ben and His Excellency the Governor of South Australia (apologies are extended to his Excellency and Mrs Liz Scarce from the author, upon discovering that his Excellency had indeed been following our journey on the blog, for any reference that could have been deemed innapropiate, which may have been most of it sorry).
We were treated to celebrity like status with photos champagne and canapes and the warm hugs, kisses and congratulations from family and friends. Amidst the celebrations was the reason for the journey in the first place, sitting watching the ceremony was some children of the house, and these were the kids and families we had done this for, and yes, there was no pain for any of us as we set out and achieved for these families that were less fortunate than we currently were. I hope that in some small way we have contributed to making their lifes slightly better for the future and we thank the outstanding jobs that Jane Scotcher (House Manager) and the amazing volunteers do day in day out for the better of other people. This reward will stay with myself and the other riders and support crew forever and we thank you for the priveledge of this chance to be involved!
I had sent an email to Ben, referring to his statement at our first briefing in Port Lincoln that this would be a life changing experience. A cliche sometimes over used, but certainly not in this instance, between the individuals on this ride, from support crew to riders, to the families and communities met along the way. The excited school children on our visits, the exquisite hospitality and quisine along the way (special mention to the McDonald's Restaurants and crew along the way), and we have truly experienced a time in our lifes that will be hard for any of us to explain.
I hope that in some small way, albeit inhouse and sometimes difficult to follow, this blog has allowed families and friends an opportunity to join in on our unique experience and feel that they to were part of our journey and fun. I certainly have enjoyed the opportunity to journal our trials and tribulations along the way and hope that you have too.
Until next time, to a group of inspirational people that I will dearly miss, enjoy some time off the bike and recuperating from saddle sores and bruising, and time back with your families.
Thank you all and goodbye for now
The Blogger SA R4SK