SUNDAY 24 NOVEMBER
Two days down, all good so far. Today the Road Marshal team lead gave us a more difficult corner – today we got a chicane. Riders had to turn right, then immediately turn left. Nancy got to practice her hand signals for both right and left turns. I’m happy to report that she is doing very well with her marshaling duties. I think she’ll have it down in a few more days.
So far both of our corners have been before the lunch stop. We like this as you get released from your corner much earlier in the day. We were supposed to be released today at 12:45 but they let us go at 11:45. Today was another day of ripping tailwinds and mostly smiles from the riders. We averaged over 30 kph both today and yesterday. We feel pretty fit but really it’s down to the wind.
As noted, we were at a chicane where three roads merged. For the record, our corner today was at the junction of Kongorong Tantanoola Road, Carpenters Rocks Road, and Neechy Flat Road. Luckily, we had the distance noted and didn’t have to speed read the sign below as we rode past.
Our corner today was at 47k from the start so we had a nice ride out through the Limestone Coast roads in wonderful morning light. We hooked up with a fellow Sydney marshal named Roman. He is very fit this year and really made me earn my photo stops – I had to time-trail to catch up with him and Nancy every time I stopped for a photo. We have a new camera on this trip and I’m not sure that I’ve figured out how to make it work perfectly – more practice is required. It was just on 8AM when we reached our corner and cool enough still that we both donned raincoats and pants to ward off the cool wind.
Riders passing our point came in roughly of two big groups. The first group was the lickety split early riders, looking fast and loving the tailwind. They smiled and rolled past us typically without comment. The second group was the more relaxed riders, some of whom were clearly starting to flag. Many of them wanted to know how far it was to lunch (8K for the record). By the time we got into the second group, we started offering up the lunch distance just to encourage them. Most were happy – offering “only 8 more k.” Some were really tired – giving us resounding, “8k, wow, is it really that far?”. Best we can tell, they all did – not many in the sag wagons today really.
Once off our corner, we got into the tailwinds and flew to lunch. Lunch was at a nice oval (footy or cricket) out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Sitting on the grass in the sun, it would have been nice to have a nap right then and there. Not today however, as we had another 30k to ride still.
The last 30k town flew by with more strong tailwinds. We stopped at Little Blue Lake to watch all the young crazy kids jump off the cliffs into the water. Little Blue Lake depth ranges from 23 to 45 meters so jumping in off the cliff is “only” made dangerous by your landing skills. We watched a couple kids and at least one adult enter the water horizontally but still come up smiling – you gotta be hard if you’re an Aussie.
The last little part of the ride was up and around Big Blue Lake. It was nice but not as quirky as Little Blue Lake and nowhere near as amazing as Crater Lake. We didn’t stop for photos at the second lake as Nancy was flying and both of us were ready to be off the road. We know that we were lucky to have early corners on the first two days – but it’s still nice to get in early. We may pay with a late corner tomorrow.
Tonight we are in Mount Gambier, our last stop in South Australia. We would like to go into town but they’ve set us up at another oval that is a long ways from the town – it’s sometimes hard for these towns to find places big for all of us. There are shuttle busses to town but hanging out at “Camp Volley” is more relaxing. The sun is shining and the breeze is up and Roman is making fresh coffees for those who want it – life is good.
Tomorrow is the longest day of the ride at 104k – we are heading to Portland, Vic. We lose a half hour at the SA – VIC stateline. There is some rain in the forecast. Fingers crossed that we get an early corner, no rain and perhaps pushing the luck a little, maybe more tailwinds.