Dunkeld to Stawell - Total riding: 127km, ascent 1,540m
After our first two days of riding, there were some pretty ore legs around. We knew that today was going to be a hard day on the bike and in the cars for support crew, but we were ready to take on anything. At the briefing this morning, our ride leader (Danny) gave everyone a break-down on what we had is store ahead. There were two big climbs in the first part of the day and the team time trial in the afternoon. It was a “fun” day to look forward to.
As we rolled out to start day three, the sun was just starting to peak through the cloud cover. It was foggy enough that the bikes needed their flashing lights for traffic to be able to see then. It didn’t take long before we were up above the clouds and looking out at some of the most amazing views we have had on tour so far. The nerves amongst the group were starting to appear as we approached the first big climb.
We stopped at the base and Danny read out the starting order that the riders were being releasing in up Mt William. This was a ten kilometer climb with an average grade of about 8%. The team did a fantastic job of working together and getting everyone to the top of the mountain. There were definitely some pained faces as Chris and I drove up and down the mountain cheering and blasting music to help keep their minds of the road ahead. At the carpark on the top of Mt William, there is a sealed road that takes you to the highest point of the Grampians. This a two kilometer section of around 11% and this part really hurt! Everyone dug deep and made it to the very top where the view was simply breathtaking. A couple of pushes from the support crew was needed for a couple of very sore bodies, but the determination was amazing from these riders! It was worth all the hard work, the pain and the sweat to get there. What a great spot to tuck into a well deserved lunch. Such an a beautiful part of our Country.
After lunch, it was time for our first school visit to Halls Gap primary School. This was a tiny school and team CBA made the presentation to the kids about being fit, being healthy and being happy. These small schools are really special to Tour de Cure. Its not very often they have an enthusiastic group of cyclists role into the school grounds and instantly triple the number of people who attend. They always amaze us with their intelligent answers and attention to our message.
After we left the Halls Gap Primary School, it was time for the Team Time Trial. This involves each team on tour to have a fun race over a 8km section of road. Our teams were let go in 30 second intervals and timed over the distance. The fastest team from this event would earn points towards the final “Team of Tour” award. This was a lot of fun! By this point, there really isn’t much energy in the legs to “race” against clock, but there is also no way these riders were going to step away from some good old fashioned team rivalry. It hurt, but they we all had a blast!
From the T.T.T. we were on our final run to Stawell. On the way, we stopped at a very special school to some of the riders from this tour. Paul and Chris Egan went to Concongella Primary School. Paul and Chris made our Flipman presentation and the kids had a great time hearing about the Egan’s stories from when they attended this beautiful country school. The original buildings and fixtures are still sanding and the memories came flooding to the boys as they remembered back all those years ago. This was a great school for Tour de Cure to stop at.
Before we arrived at our final destination, the Peloton split into two groups and made a corporate visit to a CBA branch in Stawell to help say thanks for their support of Tour de Cure. The second group (lead by my car) rode to the Stawell Oncology Unit at the Hospital to see where some of the funds raised have been helping out. We had a personal tour of the unit and got to see first hand where the money goes and how it is helping to treat patients. This was a first for my tour experience and it was a real eye opener to see the work that goes into running a unit such as this. These medical staff are for a fantastic job and deserve a massive thanks for what they do.
Tonight is a bit different to the normal routine. Instead of finding our room mate and heading to the hotel, we have kindly been invited to stay with local families in their homes. This is such a nice welcome to any town and we can’t thank Stawell enough for their generosity and support. Tonight I am staying int he old fire house that has been converted into a family home. The new fire house is just 50m up the road and I have been warned to stay calm if the alarms go off. Apparently it can be quite loud.
Dinner tonight in Stawell, was hosted by our two siblings on tour, Paul and Chris Egan. The dinner was provided by the Goldfields Restaurant in Stawell. We had a fantastic turn-out from the local community and some family members of the TdC team.
The category jerseys for tonight were presented to:
Pink (inspiration) Kevin Russel - Yellow (attitude) Daniel Rickhuss - Green (awareness) Paul Egan
The $5,000 cheque was presented to Liz McCourt from the Stawell Regional Health Hospital's Cancer Rehab Centre. This money is going to help them purchase two Vital Signs Monitors for the Oncology services unit to help make treatment a lot easier for the patients. This was the Oncology Unit that we visited before arriving at our final destination this afternoon.
Its the final day tomorrow and its going to be sad to see tour come to an end. We have a big day ahead, with a community fundraising bike ride with the locals from Stawell to kick us off. I can’t wait!
Talk to you tomorrow… Nighty night.