Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tour Down Under 2014

We made it!

Me and Dad, about to head for the start at UnleyI'm glad to report that unlike last year, my back was behaving itself and yesterday I was able to take part in the Bupa Challenge Tour with my Dad. The Challenge Tour is a chance to ride the same route that the professionals do for one day of the Tour Down Under. Like previous years, we rode as part of the Mud, Sweat & Gears team.


Riders, Looking north up King William RdWe rode the full course of 154km from Unley to Victor Harbor. That's the longest distance I think I've ever ridden, and boy did my feet and my behind know about it – especially the last 30km or so! It took just under 8 hours (7:54 according to the Endomondo app I used on my phone), which included time at the rest stops.

The start of the ride took us up the South-Eastern Freeway through the Heysen Tunnels. Normally cyclists aren't allowed along here, so that was quite a novelty – though we agreed that the tunnels themselves are quite stuffy.

The weather this year was fantastic. It was a little drizzley early in the morning, but then remained comfortably cool for most of the day. It was overcast for most of the morning, which helped a lot. A gentle breeze earlier in the day became a little more blustery towards the end, but not as bad as some years.

We made three stops along the way – at Meadows, Mt Compass and Yankalilla. A chance to refill drink bottles with various colours of Powerade (each stop seemed to have a different colour) and grab a banana and fruit cake to refuel.

This year for the first time they scanned the RFID tags on our bikes as we progressed through the route. You could then log in to a website to obtain the results. Here are mine:

Split TOD Time
Unley 06:42 am 00:12:16
Unley Backup 07:09 am 00:39:30
Stirling 07:53 am 01:23:13
Meadows 09:03 am 02:33:57
Mt Compass 10:30 am 04:00:13
KOM 11:48 am 05:18:17
Yankalilla 01:13 pm 06:43:55
Finish 02:37 pm 08:07:25

Route map from Unley to Victor Harbor

The ride started at 6.30am, but you as can see it took us 12 minutes to pass through the start – not surprising as there were thousands of riders there.

Highlights:

  • Repeatedly being overtaken by former UniSA colleague Mandy (apparently I'm quite conspicuous on a bike, even amongst 6,600 other similarly attired cyclists)
  • Well run food and drink stops
  • Watching the pros finish in a blaze of colour
  • Finishing

Lowlights

  • They'd temporarily closed the lunch station as the pros were approaching the finish line and there just a few salad roles in a tray. I gather earlier finishers had a better selection. We didn't starve, but it didn't seem to be very organised.
  • I wonder if there's such thing as a saddle that's comfortable even after 100kms. I don't think I have one Smile

Oddlights:

  • Lemons as a choice of fruit at the food stops. Didn't seem to be a lot of takers.

Team work

After the ride – waiting for the Pros (photo by Fiona)

Keep your focus on the goal

Grimacing Greipel, 150m to go before he won the stage (photo by Fiona)

Special thanks to Narelle's parents Rick and Margaret, who drove us to the start very early in the morning, and then met us at the finish to take me and our bikes home again.