As the sun started to rise, the thick fog became visible over the roads ahead. We ate breakfast as normal prepared by our wonderful traveling cooks before our team briefing for what lay ahead of us for the day. This was going to be our longest day on tour and it meant another very hot, exhausting day in the sun. We had 5kms to warm the legs up before we reached the start line for the TTT (Team Time Trial). 20kms of mostly flat road with a "small" bump in the middle was the TTT course we would be tackling. All teams lined up ready to be released at 30sec. intervals. Team Officeworks (thats mine and Stephanie's team) got ready for our run. There are 3 riders in our cosy team of 5. We new we had our work cut our for us against the bigger teams on tour. We left the line with Paul out front who set a nice steady pace to get us moving. Paul and I shared the front, switching between the 2 of us, with Jodi doing her fair share of work also. We caught the team in front and powered by them just before the climb. At the climb the 2 teams merged and became 1 for a minute until we sorted it out over the other side of the hill. We were all soon caught by the stronger Lexus team and we tried to hang onto them to the finish line, but they were too strong. Im very proud of the Officeworks guys, we gave it a really good crack and did a great job for a 3 member team. Well done guys!
From here we still had about 135kms to go for the day. It was going to be a long day in the saddle. We stopped to refuel and take off the no longer needed wind vests etc. The sun was almost out and it was going to be a beautiful day.
There is a group of people on the TdC tour team that we could not be without! Its the support crew.
Without this fantastic group of dedicated people, we would not be riding. Behind the scenes, this group works tirelessly to make sure the riders have everything they need to get them through the day. They fill our water bottles at stops, they offer us lollies and sunscreen, they set-up the school visits before we roll in to see the kids and much, much, much more. One day I will join this team on a tour and find out just how hard the job is. Im sure it can be just as hard, if not harder than what the riders have to do day after day. A massive thank you to the support crew!
We had a very special school visit today at a primary school in Grantham. This school was heavily effected by the recent floods in damage and in loss of life. This school is still in the process of rebuilding itself. We had the great privilege of meeting the children who attend this school and giving one of the most rewarding presentations yet. (Sadly my phone didnt allow me to take photos at this point, but ill get some TdC ones and post them up here.) We sat amongst the kids and helped to spread our Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy message. This very generous school had done some fundraising for Tour de Cure in the lead-up to us arriving and presented it to the team. TdC in return gave the school and iPad and each child received the usual "TdC Kids Pack" and a TdC handball each. It was great to see the smiles on the faces of the students, teachers and parents. You couldn't imagine that this school was going through such a tough time. (Another memory banked, as to why I am driven to ride for TdC.)
Lunch time! I also tried to take a snap of the meal I had for lunch, it was delicious! Carbonara pasta, slow cooked lamb roast, roast potatoes, salad and fresh warm bread. Just when we thought it couldnt get better, out came a tray of chocolate/banana pudding with cream and chocolate sauce. Twas very, very tasty! I was very, very full...
From lunch, there was about 60kms to go until we hit our final destination for the day in Esk. I sat up in the front 6 for most of the morning and was shattered by this stage. I had a great time on the front today and battled some pretty fierce headwinds... I really enjoyed sharing the front with our very talented mechanic, Alex. Hes and amazing cyclist and I got to share some great sections of road with him on the bike. (Alex pictured eating pudding above)
After lunch, my strategy changed slightly... My legs were telling me to ease up (or maybe even "why are you doing this?") so snuck myself into the middle of the peleton for the run home. There were many sore bodies towards the end of the ride, but we looked after each other and got everyone home safe. 160kms with an average of 28kms/hr. Everyone was very happy with the results considering how much the wind was trying to hold us back.
We stopped at a local school to say hi to some of the students, parents and teachers. The P&C from the school and prepared a massive spread of sandwiches, cheese and crackers, cakes, slices, biscuits and more. It was just what we needed to finish the afternoon off. We then made our way to the hotel to clean up and get ready for dinner.
Tonights dinner was very special in many ways. We got to hear some very personal and touching stories from some the team members on tour with us. These stories really hit home why we are doing what we are doing and also shows that the support TdC give is having a massive positive effect many people and communities. I am very honoured to be a part of such an amazing organisation. Another reason tonights dinner was very special for me, was the fact that I was awarded a 'category jersey'. On country tour, we have 3 category jerseys that are awarded to team members (or even local community members) for portraying one of the 3 TdC qualities these jersey represent.
Tonight I was awarded the Green Jersey. This jersey represents "Awareness". The colour green goes along with the green ribbons we have been wearing all tour in remembrance for Conor. This blog has been a great way for me to help create some awareness and without my followers it wouldn't serve much purpose. So, thank you for reading and passing it onto others to do the same. It is really inspiring to know that I have a group of family and friends who are backing me on my journey. I will wear the green kit with pride tomorrow, knowing you are all there with me for my run home.
Tomorrow we ride 118kms into Brisbane to see family and friends for our final day of tour.
Pictured above is Geoff (a founder of TdC) and myself climbing Cunninghams Gap yesterday. Great memories from tour that will last forever. (Photo taken by Stephanie from the window of her support vehicle.)