Stawell to Bendigo - Total riding: 168km, ascent 1,000m
I was lead car driver for the forth day in a row to come home with the tour team. With three days behind me and the joy of knowing that we had safely helped the team arrive at the finish line was a great feeling. Although we had no school visits to make today, we still needed to be in Bendigo on time to see the teams loved ones who were waiting.
No snoozing time this morning… at 5:00am it was time to get up, get dressed and be at breakfast by 6am. Daniel and I said goodbye to our billets who had welcomed us into their home for the night and we made our way to Central Park for breakfast. Danny gave the team brief for our day ahead and told everyone to make the most of the final day together. For some of us, it may be a whole a year before we see each other again on the next Victorian Country Tour. The final day is always a special day on tour, but its always got a sad side too. We would be leaving the tour “bubble” but we have all had an amazing Country Tour experience and made friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime.
After breakfast, we met some of the local riders who had ridden to Central Park for the community bike ride that had been setup as a fund raiser to ride alongside the Tour de Cure Peloton for a section of todays leg. With our 4 extra riders on board, we travelled past the Concongella Primary School, then started towards morning tea about 60kms out of town. We then farewelled our Stawell and Halls Gap riders who had joined us for a small taste of the tour and the TdC team stopped for a bite to eat for morning tea. We were trying to make out breaks as short as possible today so that time didn’t get ahead of us. As normal, the food from the Canadian Kitchens catering truck was divine! Thanks Chris Cosh and your team!
Lunch was another 60kms away. We pulled over at a cute little antique shop where Chris had setup a spread of laksa and pork buns for lunch.
The Sun had decided to really start beating down on us now and the temperature was starting to climb. We were two-thirds of our way home and the riders were also making really great time on the bike! Even though the legs were burning and we were all running on lack of sleep, spirits in the group were high. We played some funky tunes over the radios from the cars to keep the riders minds off the tough kms they had ahead. The dancing riders on bikes were very entertaining and they seemed to be having a great time.
With 48kms to go until we hit the beautiful town of Bendigo, we rolled out for one final time. The fourteen riders and the support crew in the Victorian Country tour team were second to none. It was amazing to see such a diverse group of people work so well together, especially on a four day tour as demanding as this has been. I have to say, its been a pleasure to be part of such a fantastic team of riders and support crew.
We were on the home stretch now and I was very much looking forward to congratulating the team on a massive effort and fantastic tour once they had crossed the finish line. I made the call on the radio from the lead car to the peloton, “Turning right, through the TdC flags”. The finish line flags were out and family and friends were waiting with open arms to greet us. As we stepped out of the cars and off the bikes, hugs and congratulations were all around us. The tour was done and we had all completed the 570km journey as one strong, dedicated, inspired and cancer fighting machine.
The afternoons finale celebration was held at the Bendigo Art Gallery. It was now time to unwind, have a drink and reflect on the time we have had together and the amazing work that Tour de Cure has done through this tour. It was announced that the Victorian Country Tour for 2014 had raised over $100,000 and still climbing. What a fantastic effort from the entire tour team!
For the final celebration, there were a few differences in the awards and proceedings. For our category jerseys, we had three overall "jersey of tour” winners. The recipients of these jerseys were a standout over the last four days and in the lead-up to tour.
The final category jerseys of tour were presented to:
Pink (inspiration) Sean Cunial - Yellow (attitude) Paul Egan - Green (awareness) Heidi Bramberger
The winner of the team time trial “race” from day three was still a mystery… So it was time to find out the results! Congratulations to Team CBA on their win. It was a very close contest with the other teams only seconds behind. It was a great little event and we all had lots of fun.
The final award was the “Team of Tour” award. It is worked out through an allocation of points awarded for all the things done both on and off the bike over our four days together. School presentations, jersey winners, overall fundraising, lending a helping hand at any time and many more categories are all taken into account. We also had a new category to ad to the field from this tour. Lawn Bowls!
And the winner is… Drum roll… … … Team Huawei!!! Well done and a well deserved win!!!
It has been and absolute pleasure to be a part of such an amazing country tour team. The journey we have taken together, the people we have met and touched along the way, the kids we have made smile, the pain we have endured and the friends we have made, has given us memories that will stay with us forever. It also gives us many more reasons to continue working with Tour de Cure to help find a cure for cancer.
Well, thats pretty much a wrap for the Tour de Cure, Victorian Country Tour for 2014. It has definitely been an emotional and inspirational tour for me. There are some amazing people that I had the pleasure to spend 4 days with and I heard some very inspirational stories along the way to keep me fuelled up until my next Tour de Cure Journey.
Ill leave you with this great photo of my lead car navigator, Chris Egan. We had a lot of fun in the car over the last four days! Thanks Chris!
Thanks for following my TdC journey.
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I look forward to taking you on my next Tour de Cure adventure.