Sale to Traralgon – 134kms
What an amazing day! The RAAF Base in Sale let us ride on their runway!!!
From our hotel this morning, we rode to breakfast that was setup inside the Sale RAAF Base. We were under strict instructions on where we could go and what we could do.
A once in a lifetime opportunity only got better as the morning rolled on. We needed to do some filming on base for the channel 7 documentary with the bikes and planes together. We also had a Roulette pilot do an acrobatics demonstration for us. As the sun rose in the background, we admired the a plane display with a brand new (un-commissioned) jet in the line-up. What a way to farewell the Tour de Cure group before leaving Sale.
Once we had done all our duties and said our thanks, we were given the all clear by traffic control to roll down the runway as we left the base. The crew on base said that they had never in their life seen pushbikes allowed on the runway before. What a great highlight to the day!
With perfect temperature and no rain in sight, it was a cracking day on the open road. We had a little bit climbing, but not too much. Just enough to feel a small amount of burning in the muscles. Its starting to feel a bit more like home each day as the temperature rose to 30 degrees. The QLD's were feeling much more comfortable. Our finale destination for today is Traralgon. We finished at a family fun day fair, where we ate a late lunch. These locations are fantastic to pull into. The welcome we receive and people we talk to, really give you a lift for what we are doing with TdC.
Tomorrow is our first ‘stage rider’ day. Stage riders are people who ride with us for two consecutive days to get a taste for what tour is all about. Not that these riders aren't special (because they are a huge part of tour each year) but I'm going to talk about a stage rider who not only means a lot to my tour journey, but he is also very special to a lot of the TdC family.
Mike Jones is the father of Nathan Jones and he will be joining us on the bike for the next two days. I have spoken about Nathan before in both my blogs and at events, so I will be covering some old ground, please bare with me.
I first met Nathan in 2013 on my first Signature Tour. Nathan was a stage rider that year and I had the great privilege of riding beside him during his two days with us. As we rolled along together, Nathan and I chatted about our families, we talked about bikes, the weather, sport and I also heard his story and reason for why he was riding. I was blown away by the cancer battle that Nathan had faced and was still facing.
When I rode beside Nathan that year, he became a turning point in my personal Tour journey. Nathan was a great cyclist, but you could see it in his face that he was hurting in ways that I couldn’t understand. He was on drugs that were keeping him alive and he was still undergoing treatment. If this man was riding on Tour with TdC, then I had absolutely no reason to complain about any of my soreness during that 10 days. I had the pleasure of riding with Nathan again in 2015, when we rode from Adelaide to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road. I have a great memory of us riding side by side up the front of the peloton as we soaked up kilometers of the picturesque Great Ocean Road. It was one of the best days I’ve had on a bike and I couldn’t have shared that moment with a better guy.
Nathan suffered from melanoma and sadly in September 2016 we lost Nathan to this beast of a disease.
Nathan was the father of three beautiful girls and he was taken way too soon from his family. I just can’t imagine what this family has gone through. As Mike said tonight, its like an earthquake had hit.
I haven’t yet met Mike in person, but I can’t wait ride beside him and make some new memories with another Jones family member. Mike has trained hard, he's picked up Nathan's helmet and will be riding because Nathan can’t.
I know that Mike will do Nathan proud out there tomorrow.