Ready to start the day, we began from the Highlands of Tarraleah where water hyrdro station powers Tasmania. Starting out along the dirt road, was a water pipeline and next to it was a small wallaby hopping around and scurrying about. Most of us were bundled up with layers and long gloves along with neck scarfs, booties, base layers, arm warmers, leg warmers, vests and jackets. Even without moving, it was cold. We entered our first challenge of the day, a long and arduous climb that brought warmth to our cold bodies. Bone chilling cold swept through the group at a rapid pace as we followed each other downhill during the rapid descent to quickly and safely regroup at the base.
We then moved along a bit until we stopped for our first road side meetup. The group arrived like a fine wine flowing from a bottle. We were located directly in the geographical center of Tasmania, I mean smack dead center. There was a plaque, lake and most importantly SUN overhead with clouds parting like a peloton splitting a roundabout! Slowly but surely we started to thaw out and began to feel somewhat normal again from the frigid start, to the upcoming long day. Shots of teams were on the menu as well as an all-inclusive group picture. With the warm up starting to begin and everyone back on the road, we were off to our second challenge of the day, 27km of unpaved gravel road. The dirt and gravel roads were challenging, it required constant focus and navigating to ensure you avoided potholes and large rocks. As I was riding I heard hiss and my rear tire went flat, I didn’t have to wait long for help because before I knew it, a car pulled up and help arrived leaping into action like a F1 racing team to swap my rear wheel with a temporary rear wheel, allowing me to catch back up to the group. Not even 10 minutes later, a little ways up the dirt road, the car pulled up again and expert mechanical crew asked ‘want your wheel back?’ to which I responded with a resounding YES since I knew within 30 seconds I would be back on my way good as new. After another challenging effort we were greeted with constantly improving scenery, and when the trees parted, a beautiful lake with sun shining and smiles on peoples facing ignoring the pain faced.
As they say, what goes up must come down and after a quick refuel we were onto our 3rd challenge of the day - more ‘rollers’ of Tasmania. They tested many of us in the group and everyone worked together to help stay as a peloton and support each other through the hardest parts. There really was teamwork here, with hands reaching out to give support on multiple occasions like the ‘hands of God’. After the never ending rollers we got to have a little ‘free play’ and the fun was on for one last push before the biggest descent of the day. The descent did not disappoint, like roads from the Tour de France, we leaned, accelerated, braked very hard (sometimes barely enough) on 25km/h hairpin turns until lunch greeted us at the ‘Chalet’ along with a beautiful view of the valley below as we refueled our famished bodies. After a quick meal and not enough sodas to go around, we were off again as a group for the final push.
Today was a long day and it was by far the most challenging, testing each of us in our own individual way. Along the way back, we found more gravel from road construction that felt like quicksand as we slowly muscled through it, and the struggle was real as our legs begged for a break! One more special stop at a park named Kearney Cycling Centre to refuel. For those interested they took a spin around the circular velodrome track to feel the ‘speed’ and sensation of what racing must feel like on a velodrome. The track surrounded other ramps and objects in the center. Before we knew it, we heard the dreaded ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’ and again we were back on the road to our final destination. With a few rollers and deep conversations, before we knew it we arrived safe and sound in the town of Launceston. Our rear ends thanked us greatly for finally getting off of our bike seats… now onto Day 5, its all downhill or flat from here, right?
After rolling into our Launceston accomodation, we enjoyed a massage and then it was time for dinner and presentations.
Following KordaMentha's team presentations, the next lot of competition jerseys were awarded.
- Navy "Spirit of Chain Reaction" sponsored by LSH Auto Australia went to Kaine Lanyon, captain of the Marshall White team
- Orange leader's jersey, sponsored by Pure Storage went to Alex King, who has raised an incredible $35,595
- Polka dot, Buildsafe jersey went to Mark George of the PwC team
- Green "Sprinter's jersey", sponsored by Domain went to the speedy Tom Hayne of the Marshall White team
- Black, Mercedes-Benz Melbourne jersey went to Belinda Drew of the KordaMentha team
Congratulations to you all on a great effort!