Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, Tour Down Under and more
I had planned for months to drive over to SA with a non-cycling friend who is a Tour de France tragic. With a week to go, his 4WD was smashed by a loose truck tyre (photo). Our transport was gone and his finances were hurting, so he pulled out and I went alone.
I managed to get a return flight to Adelaide for $210 and booked a hotel for the start/finish, packed a tent and camped the other days, and took my touring bike.
A lot, but nothing compared with the hundreds of people who rode to/from each stage AND seemed to follow the entire course behind the riders. It was bike porn central among those spectators.
I hired a car to get to/from the road stages (Tues-Sat), and based myself in Hahndorf and then McLaren Vale, which was an awesome area to ride around. Exploring Adelaide itself by bike is also a pleasure as it's really cycle-friendly. It was bloody hot all week, so I saved most of my riding for 4pm-9pm when the sun wasn't so strong. I had been out of condition due to moving house and starting a new job and missing my daily rides, but I've shaped up on this trip.
If I was going again, I'd go with a group of cyclists and take the new road bike I plan to buy - not the touring bike - and I'd arrange accommodation in central Adelaide. That's where the riders stay and that's where the Tour village is. Staying out at the stage locations was dead quiet until the day of their particular stage, but I'm a red wine buff so I enjoyed it
The people were great. I wasn't lonely because it was like the Sydney Olympics - everyone was chatty and friendly with each other, and enjoying themselves. I'm very glad I took my bike, because I would have felt left out otherwise, and my tourer was a talking point. Staff at the airport check-in and shops said everyone was telling them how good the atmosphere among the spectators was, and I agree.
Funny thing I just remembered - climbing Old Willunga Hill in 35 degrees to get a vantage point for stage 5, I was stuck among a group of riders from a cycling club (same shirts). We were going at a decent pace, but some superfit aggro guy came up behind and said "how about you all get out of the way?". The cycling club guys/gals yelled "you're a knob", "you're the biggest knob on the hill, we're renaming it Knob Hill". And when the guy went past, he was followed up the hill by chants of "you're a knob" from the side of the road
One of the cops on a mountain bike was a bit overweight, and he got huge cheers every time he climbed. Also huge cheers for a kid who couldn't have been more than 10 years old, who went up on a road bike among the adults. And then after him, a toddler on one of those kids' bikes that can be pushed like a pram, with dad behind. Good laughs.
I added two bike brands to my "wanna test ride" list, because their riders consistently looked fit and happy: Bianchi and Cannondale. Close behind would be Look. All other brands were well represented but had a mix of fit/happy/sad/dying riders.
Best feeling in the world to overtake some panting guy on a bling machine in front of a large crowd, on my steel tourer with a pannier on
He didn't enter...
Please forgive me - I am a bit slow this week in following up - I think it is fair to announce the winner who infact chose the fastest rider (from all submitted - rather than random).
The winner is Itsaghostcar with Stuart O'Grady with a lead of 13 seconds ... and to be noted, we had two other entries with Stuart O'grady that were roughly 30 seconds away from this time.
Congratulations - email on its way shortly!
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