Inside the Peloton Melbourne 2023 Day 3

14 Mar 2023
The day started pre-sunrise in Methven with a clear sky and a fresh 6 degrees after the fresh snowfall on the nearby Southern Alps from the day earlier. We knew we would finish on the other side of the Alps so a big day of climbing was in store. Most breakfast conversations centred on the weather and the type of clothing that would be needed to get through Arthur’s Pass; with talk of maybe riding through the snow. Leg warmers, tights and warm jackets were stashed in the day bags - just in case.The day started with a deceptively steady climb out of Methven along the straight (and not really so flat) roads of the inland Canterbury plains.
A steep descent in to the Raikia Gorge was followed by an equally steep wake-up climb out of the other side.Morning tea at Sheffield was the precursor to the main climb of the day.  Nervous chatter throughout the peleton, as we were told ‘4km flat, 4km up and 4km down’.  The ‘4km flat’ description was stretching it a bit, and everyone’s legs were feeling pretty beat up after the 80km of riding to get to this point before the climb over Porters Pass.
Traffic management was seamless and excellent as the peleton stretched out over the hill.  Porters Pass is the new code word for ‘grovel’.  A quick re-group and the teams set off individually towards Castle Hill to raise their Lycra egos for team photos and videos in the breathtaking scenery.
From Castle Hill to the lunch spot at Bealey’s Point the road followed alongside the braided Waimakariri River, with yet more energy zapping climbs.  Some relieved faces amongst the stretched out peloton  arrived for a well deserved lunch at Bealys Lodge.
Regardless of how well you studied the stage profile, there was always a sneaky climb or two that took everyone by surprise.  That surprise was offset by the most perfect cycling conditions through the most incredible of dynamic landscapes.Rolling out from lunch was meant to be a quick and dirty 25km to Otira.  Lunch sat heavily as a series of climbs to and through Arthur’s Pass to the peleton to top of the Otira Gorge.The landscape just kept delivering, as the gorge narrowed and avalanche warning signs became more numerous.
The peleton paused at the top of the gorge as everyone got ready for the last 15km - a steep winding descent.  The Otira Gorge descent commences with a fast crossing over the Otira Viaduct, with old avalanche debris beneath, then hugging the gorge through an avalanche tunnel and beneath a waterfall bypass.  Those with calliper brakes are hanging on for dear life as the decent steepens and the highway snakes down the valley.
A small group of tourists applaud the peleton’s arrival in Otira as tired bodies head for bus to Day 3 accommodation in Greymouth.The Chatter on the bus to Greymouth was louder than a Harry Styles concert as stories of the day were enjoyed over a few beers. As we enjoyed these refreshments we relaxed our tired legs, uploaded our stravas and thought ahead for the next couple of days down the West Coast. 

Photos from the day: CLICK HERE
Daily Video Highlights: CLICK HERE