Day 2 - Reality sets in.
After a smooth first day the peloton were off to bed early last night. The new riders following the lead of the seasoned riders who knew that ahead the next day was over 2,300m of steep vertical climbing, with the first 1,000m of climbing done in the first 30kms. A brutal warm-up, and a tough day cycling, the speciality of ride route coordinator Tim Chadd.
The previous night’s jersey presentation was an impressive affair. With the Lendlease/Slattery team leading proceedings, Roger Teale, Chain Reaction legend, shared with the broader group a little history of the Big Show team, with this ride being the 5th Ride for the Big Show with a growing and proud alumni of riders. The team shared a history of the Yellow jersey which this year moves into history books, replaced with the Ochre jersey in line with the Tour Down Under. It may also be known as the Orca jersey going forward due to a slight slip of the tongue during presentation.
During the presentation the group acknowledged International Womens Day the day prior and the 3 Women riders in the peloton. Thoughts also went back to wives, partners and family back home supporting all the riders to participate.
The jersey winners for Day 1 were presented with their sponsored jerseys as follows:
Mark Glenn - Blue (Kay & Burton)
Adam Gandolfo - White (Domain)
John Hunt - Polka Dot (Rialto)
Angus Clark - Green (Newmark Capital)
Roger Teale - Black (LSH Auto Australia)
Andrew Staedler - Ochre (Pure Storage)
The Ochre jersey is presented on Day 1 to the rider who has raised the most thus far and Andrew at over $71k is well deserved.
With the previous day’s jersey winners at the front of the peloton, the group rolled out at an early 7:00am from the motel in Kiama. A quick few loops around the lighthouse with scenic lookout to the famous blowhole, to watch the sun rise and warm up the legs before the first hills of the day.
Then it was abruptly into the first Col, testing weary muscles physically and testing riders mentally with thoughts ranging from “Have I done enough months of trying” , “Did I remember to pack my PJ’s”, “Did I fill my water bottles up”, “Did I check my tyre pressures”, “Did I eat enough breakfast” and most importantly “Did I put chamois cream on”. This preparation and planning the evening before and early morning with weary brain often goes unrecognised but is as big a drain on the riders as the physical exertion. More than once our fantastic crew have reminded weary riders to remember their essentials!
After climbing out of Kiama along a beautiful single lane farmland road lined by old dry stone walls reminiscent of European country farmland lanes with views of the coastline, the riders regrouped at the top of a 23% pinchy climb to recover and descend together. Safety is always a priority for the organisers and riders and as is common on the dangerous descents, coach Dave McKenzie led the group down safely into Jamberoo.
What could have been a scenic and satisfying descent turned to manure quickly as it became evident that the farmers had moved their cows along the road just a little earlier for the morning milking session. The road was covered in manure and then the bikes were covered in manure and then the riders were covered in manure! As we rolled into morning tea shortly after the public park tap and hose got a work out cleaning bikes and riders as best can be. Many of the team had thoughts of the distinct intersection between these city dwelling executive cyclists passing through and the local farmers tending the land and providing the food on our plates. Those thoughts were quickly dashed as the toot toot of the horn of the lead car went and it was time to roll out again, 30kms done.
The following 20kms were brutal - a steep climb up into the mountains through dense rainforest, with many of the riders commenting that it was one of the most difficult climbs they had done. Steep with limited flat sections for respite, corners with more ascent around the bend that dashed hopes of being near the top and cloud cover - although welcome to shield from the harsh sun, but providing high humidity conditions that meant that riders were dripping sweat continuously and dehydrating. The peleton breaks into smaller groups on the climbs for safety reasons and it is common to find yourself alone at times, in this serenity, reflecting on why we are doing this ride. The thought of the kids in need and their families, who benefit greatly from the monies raised by Chain Reaction, provides much needed motivation to keep turning the pedals over - left right left right. Once the climb was over, rolling hills awaited as we rode along the Bunderoo National Park and the tea break seemed elusive and to take forever to reach.
After a welcome food and rehydration break at The Famous Robertson Pie Bakery the riders then formed back into the peleton and rolled up and down light hills across the range of the valley, one last quick food break, before a scenic descent into the 30 degree hot Kangaroo Valley for lunch at the Friendly Inn. Most of the riders were excited not only to reach lunch, but also at the news from Tim, Ride Master, at the last food break that due to safety, time taken so far and the logistics of the late afternoon bus trip to the night’s accommodation, the ride’s extra Kangaroo Valley Loop would be eliminated and the overall day’s ride shortened slightly. After the tough day so far and the day’s peak conquered, not many were complaining. After a welcome feed, quick shower in the local pool, the weary riders piled into the bus, bikes were loaded into the truck and we set off for Canberra. Day 2 was done.
Muscles are definitely sore. Hydration levels need replenishing. And another tough day awaits tomorrow. The chatter from the riders on the bus was about the course tomorrow, about aches and pains, Strava segment times and their next bike, amid calls back to home to update loved ones. For the many that had fallen asleep on the bus, no doubt there were dreams of the finish line, memories of loved one’s a very long way away and thoughts of the charity partners that will benefit from the big effort of Day 2.
Jersey winners for stage 2 as follows:
Tim Jamieson - Blue (Kay & Burton)
Justin Krongold - White (Domain)
Tom Davis - Polka Dot (Rialto)
Ange Ritchie - Black (LSH Auto Australia)
Sam Grindal - Green (Newmark Capital)
Seb Catalfamo - Orange/Ochre (Pure Storage)