Day 5 - Armidale to Coffs Harbor (203kms)
This was always going to be the toughest day in my book. From looking at the route and the climbing statistics, it really didn’t look like much fun on paper…
Not only have we done some serious distance in the last 4 days, but day 5 is another 200+ kilometer day with over 3000 meters of climbing to add to the challenge.
Although I had a pretty good nights sleep and my energy intake and hydration has been great, my day really started quite average. I felt drained of power and low on energy. I got on the bike with a positive attitude, but I dug myself into a hole reasonably fast. There was not really one big, long climb for the day, just lots of ups and downs, we call these “rollers”. The whole day was full of them. When riding this style of terrain, its sucks a lot of energy out of you. The idea is to try and get a good rolling speed down the hill and carry that momentum up the other side without using too much power and energy. This becomes a hard task in a peloton of 40 riders of varying riding ability. This was not really my major problem, I was just having a bad day. Everyone on tour goes through a ‘flat’ spot during this time and mine just happened to come on one of the biggest days we have had. I was certainly hurting and my head was not in a good place.
Day 5 was also Connors birthday. If you watched the video from my day 1 blog with the speech from Sally, you would know who Connor is.
I urge you to go back and watch this video if you haven’t already.
Connors favorite colour was green and we all green today in different forms in his memory. I (along with the other riders) wore a green armband.
Connor used to love riding his bike. Sally always says that when he would ride around, he had a phrase that he would always shout out. “Go little legs”. While we were on the bike and we found ourselves having to dig that little bit deeper up the climbs, you would hear “go little legs” being repeated through the peloton. It’s the small things like this that really keep the motivation alive through those really tough times on a very hard day.
Unfortunately, one of the riders in my peloton ran into the back of my bike whilst climbing. Nine times out of ten when two bikes make contact like this, it’s the rider behind who ends up crashing. This was no exception. I felt a bump and then some rubbing on my rear wheel before the rider behind me hit the deck. He was ok. He took a bit of skin off his elbow, but otherwise he got back on the bike and finished the day. What I didn’t know at the time was, that when he had run into me, he had run his front wheel directly into my rear derailleur (gear shift mechanism). This had caused some damage to the derailleur itself and bent the hanger also. I had to stop twice and try and tune the gears enough to make it to the next stop. This also meant that I had to chase back onto the group with the mechanic both times. Not something I wanted to do when having a bad day already. We tried to fix the issues last night but it seems the derailleur has too much damage. One of the mechanics got it to a point that I can finish the tour on, but when I get home, ill have to replace it. Our mechanics work tirelessly to make sure that our bikes are running in top shop for each day. They really don’t get enough credit for the work they do. Thanks Mechanics!
After lunch I had some great help from a multiple time tour rider. He basically positioned me behind him for the trip to Coffs and controlled the way we rolled down and up the hills for these sections. This basically saved my day. Without this help, I may not have finished the stage. Its amazing how small things within such a big group of cyclists can make such a massive difference to what the body can endure. Don’t get me wrong, I was still in the ‘hurt locker’, but my chances of making it to the finish line for the day had been hugely increased. This was my ‘hump day’ for this years tour and I am glad that I got through it.
We did have a first for Tour de Cure as we got within 10kms of our final destination in Coffs. My peloton, along with 3 others were all pulled over by the police. A very long story cut short and without getting into the nitty-gritty, we had a police escort the whole way in from this point. This took a long time to organise and were beginning to get vey hungry! Dinner started at 7pm and we didn’t get to sit down at a table until 8:30pm… This is why I didn’t get to write a blog post last night. A monster of a day and then a very, very late finish to the night after trying to fix my bike at midnight. To add to the good news, my team (Bisley) was on Sunrise duty the next morning. This meant we had to be down with Mark Beretta and the film crew at 5:30am to help out with their live crosses to the studio. So off to bed I went… J
Day 6 - Coffs Harbor to Crescent Head (167kms)
Sunrise duty in the morning was down by the beach. What a magnificent spot and view! These guys really know how to set a scene and backdrop.
After having my time in the limelight and getting my face on the morning Sunrise show, I needed to see one of the masseuses that we have on tour with us. This lady is amazing and has helped so many people with their muscle issues day in, day out. There have been a lot of very, very rough roads on the route this year and I have been having some horrible numbness and tingling in my hands. After todays treatment, I have some very tender skin but my numbness was not as bad. Ill be inline again tomorrow for another dose of forearm deep tissue massaging… Im not looking forward to it very much, but it has to happen.
In short, todays stage was never going to a “cruisy ride”. Yes, it should be considerably less elevation to climb, but there were many sore bodies from the brutal last couple of days. We set off down the road within the first kilometer, we had a very steep/sharp climb to go over. It was at this point I thought my day was going to go the same as the previous. After 5-10kms, our legs had warmed up and we were holding pace quite nicely. The guys on the front were tapping out a great temp to keep us all together. We were making such good time that we had caught the peloton in front of us as we approached our first school stop for the day. It was team Bisley’s turn to do the presentation of the TdC ‘Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy’ message. We rocked!!! J It was one of the loudest schools we have been too. We get the kids, riders and teachers to have a bit of a shouting match to see if the kids are worthy of winning some Flipman packs that we give to all the students as something to take away from their Tour de Cure experience. I know I have said it before, but these school visits are fantastic to be part of.
Along with Jens Voigt, we have had a couple of bike riders with (Matt Formston and his pilot Nick) us for 3 days of the tour. These two riders are amazing! They are riding a tandem road bike within one of the pelotons for the full 3 days. To make this story more interesting, the guy on the back of the bike is blind. They are also in training for the next Paralympics to compete for Australia in the track and road race events. We wish them all the best for this achievement. They are awesome guys, great riders and very inspirational people. GO AUSSIES!!! We will be watching.
So all up, I had a great day on the bike. My legs were feeling strong and I was mentally in a good place. It was a world of difference to the day before. The human body is pretty impressive and it knows when it wants you to have a break. Unfortunately, you just don’t get one on tour… L
Ill leave you with a pick that was taken just before we left Armidale. This is Tim and Raelene who were my billets for the night we spent in Armidale. They were the most lovely people and helped make our Armidale visit even better! Thanks guys.