Hotham to Lakes Entrance – 185kms
And finally we're rolling! After a great night of laughter, drinks and food at the local Hotham pub, we hit the road for the official start of the 2017 Signature Tour.
Last night Daren Armstrong, spoke about his ongoing battle with cancer and his story gets me every time I hear it. He is a local Brisbane rider, training partner and good friend. To ride beside Darren is an absolute honour to me. He is a true inspiration and a perfect example of why I ride for Tour de Cure. It’s the money (like what Tour de Cure raise) that has kept Darren alive to this day and sadly his battle is not over.
The whole team was up early to start our epic first day. As usual, the queue for Vittoria coffee van was long and the mountain air was chilly, but our spirits were high. The team from Channel 7’s Sunrise filmed live as dawn broke over the stunning alpine scenery.
We crossed the highest mountain range in Australia to reach Hotham. Now the only way is down. With fresh legs, cycling through the twists and turns of this alpine scenery down to the green grazing fields of Omeo below was just awesome. It was 4 degrees at the top of Hotham and the air was thin from the altitude.
One of the highlights was stopping off at Omeo Public School and Swifts Creek, where one of our riders, Dave Hall is a teacher. The kids are always thrilled to see us roll into their school grounds and present to them the “Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy” message.
Former German professional cyclist, Jens Voigt, proudly wore the Tour de Cure Yellow Jersey, which he received last night for 'attitude' after completing a recent 26-hour Everest challenge to raise money for Tour de Cure. Jensie said it was much harder to win this jersey than the coveted yellow jersey in the Tour de France because he'd only had to ride 200km for that one! Hes one of the nicest guys on the planet and its always a pleasure to ride alongside him, even if he chews your ear off with chit chat whilst climbing a 16% hill…
It was a long 185km haul from Hotham to Lakes Entrance, but it was a memorable opening day on the bike and a good way to spin the legs out. Im pretty tired from a long day and its now 11:15pm and we have a 5:45 start tomorrow. Its sleep time!
The fight against cancer is deeply personal. We continue to ride and support Tour de Cure because we share the same dream: a world without cancer. Even though we have a long journey ahead of us, we're determined to fund the research, support and prevention projects that will have the biggest impact on this terrible disease.