MONDAY 25 NOVEMBER
Super long day today -a good day, but a long one. The riding was quite fun with nice rolling hills and views of native and plantation forests. There was almost no traffic as the GVBR officials did a great job negotiating the normal logging and truck traffic off our roads. We had a few spits of rain but overall, the weather was just fine. And yes, we got a bit of a tailwind.
As for our corner, well today we drew the short straw and got the last corner. That is, the corner that riders turned left at to enter the campsite. We were supposed to be at the corner by 11:30 and we lost 30 minutes at the state line with the time zone change. So that meant get a sag or get up early and put our heads down. We chose the latter. We left camp early, skipped both rest stops but did pull into the lunch stop for a quick bite and bio break. We rolled into Portland at 11:15 which gave us enough time to get a coffee and a pie before heading over to the finish line. We arrived there about 11:40.
Camp is supposed open at noon but they were way behind, first telling us that we’d have to hold the riders for 30 minutes. Well, 30 minutes turned into 45 minutes and finally a little over an hour. We had a good couple hundred riders all wanting to get to their tents and the first showers by the time the last fork lift cleared the site. All of the riders were very patient but we were actually running out of room for them on the little approach road into the camp site.
We had a steady flow of riders for the next 6 hours. I was given a 10 minute break by a fellow marshal so that I could hit the gents but Nancy was stuck on her part of the corner for 6 hours. Both of us were getting really stiff in the last couple hours as standing there in bike shoes was a bit much after 110k of riding. Still, it really doesn’t matter if you are the first rider or the last one, a hearty cheer is always most welcome after such a big effort in the saddle – so a big cheer is what we gave every single one.
We eventually called route control for some relief so that we could get a shower before our marshal meeting at 6PM. Had we not done that, we would have been out there will past 6:30. When we called route control, they told us that everything was going perfect, right on schedule and that we should be finished by 6:30. We gave our team lead some feedback about 7 hours being too many hours for a person to stand on a corner without a break but really, it was a long day for everyone. Some of the late arriving folks clearly had ridden as far and fast as they possibly could have. There lots of tired smiles and high-fives at the finish line. All is truly well that ends well.
Nancy got her shower but I missed out, and we just made the start of the rider meeting. I think that they are happy with Nancy’s progress as a marshal as tomorrow we are split up, on separate corners. Although, Nancy has been parried up with Bobby who happens to be one of the most experienced marshals on the ride. Perhaps they are thinking that she needs more expert tutoring and particularly, not from me!
We are heading towards Port Fairy where we get to have a day off. Best of all, we are getting an AirB&B house with a few of the Sydney marshals – we will have two nights in a real bed. We may actually have a chance to look around town on the rest day. We’ve enjoyed the ride so far but afternoon leisure time has been a bit limited. A rest day sounds dreamy, can’t wait…