Tour Down Under - RADelaide adventures

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Sometimes things just fall into place.
I have had a pretty amazing adventure and Summer so far, going from a pretty busy work schedule training up in the hills for Tour of Bright, finishing 7th on Women’s B General Classification, getting really sick, preparing for wedding, getting married, Christmas, training camp up in Falls Creek till new years day, Ballarat for the Australian National Cycling Championships, work for a week, then over to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under.

Von and Stephen Lane back of Falls Creek. Photo: Shane Miller
It was a pretty organic organised holiday - I wasn't sure if I could get time off work until the week or so before and the first one for a while where Shane Miller and I were going to ride each stage, enjoy the weather, take the pressure off from racing big events and just R E L A X.

Work slotted into place, accommodation sorted out the week before and suddenly my husband decides to enter a Veterans race series around Adelaide! OK, it didn't take too much to convince me to throw my hat in the ring - but I drew the line at bringing my Time Trial bike!

When we arrived in Adelaide it was nice and warm Saturday afternoon and we got to go for a walk on the beach and look at the shops along Glenelg. Somehow our hosts for the week had gotten the dates mixed up and we were waiting for a meet up on the wrong day!

Going on the memories of the awesome rides last year we headed out for a reconnoissance of the Mt Barker Rd hill climb the SA Veterans had in store for us later in the week. We went up the climb and then somehow got lost in Stirling going up to Mt Lofty. We found it in the end and ran into a few Stay True racing guys. Always a nice surprise to see a familiar face in a random place while cycling around. The descent was good fun down and alllllllll downhill back to Glenelg.

Top of Mt Lofty. Photo: Shane Miller
That night we went into town to watch the criteriums. It was pretty warm and made it JUST in time to catch the TDU promo caravan and get AWESOME swag of freebies. Noise makers from Europcar, Bike Exchange, The Advertiser. Hats from Santos, SA Uni, Skoda. Adam Internet blow up ball, Skoda drink bottles, Bupa sunscreen, Santini Lanyards, Jayco Thongs, Hahn Superdry keyrings, Oakley blowup hand, and a supply of Loreal for Men products for Shane :)
The first Santos Women's Cup race was fast and furious. It took a few laps for the big-screen to kick in and I cooled off with a slurpie on the side lines. It was great to wave to ex-team mate Lauretta Hanson on the start line and I saw Jenny Macpherson waving too. There were a few other local Melbourne racers in there that I've ridden with before, Nicole Whitburn, Amy Bradley. A few international riders like Rochelle Gilmore, Jo Hogan, Emma Mackie etc.

We had a healthy dinner from an awesome burrito joint on Rundell St. We also met Durian Rider the vegan cyclist & Freely the vegan banana eating machines.

SA Vets 22km Individual Time Trial from Woodchester to Langhorne Creek and back

A welcoming and well organised setup of rego, road signage, automated timing, Baker's Delight goodies afterwards, and prizes for all (yep, those that didn't place got door prizes!).  I came in first for 30-34 women with clip on TT bars. It was my first TT since TOB and it was just as hard as I thought it was going to be. OUCH!

Picking up the 1st prize in SA Vets TT. Photo: Shane Miller
That evening we went into Santos Women's Cup round 2 at Prospect. I can still remember the heat from last year, must have been closer to 45degrees! A balmy low 30's at 6pm and the racing was HOT from the start. The tiny hot-dog or footy frankfurt course was max sprint each lap from each corner. NO REST for the wikkid riders. You have to be in sharp form and not let anything go in this one. In what seemed like 10 mins half the field was gone, and over the rest of the race more were whittled down to a select few as Jo Hogan soloed away from the field and time trialed to victory. It was impressive to watch and very inspiring.
Jo driving the pace early on. Photo: Veronica Micich
Woke up and rolled to the start in of TDU in Prospect. After waiting 25mins for coffee, I snaked the line when the announcers started calling up the riders and everyone went to spectate. We then went to explore the famous corkscrew that the TDU were to race up the next day. It's so nice to ride the roads in the warm weather straight out to the hills and you're warmed up. Out Gorge Road and straight up the corkscrew. Shane had to remind me we had a hill climb TT the next day and to back it off when I got to the bottom. A little excited we enjoyed the views of the steep sides around us, the house with a moat, lemon trees with fruit rolling down the hill and then the +5% start. Tapping it out into a rhythm and the road kicks up again into tighter gradients and switch backs that reminded me of some of the climbs in France that I did last year. I had in my mind it was 6km climb and was wondering what else it had in store for me when the gradient backed off and a Euro tourist called out to me that we were nearly there! WHAT?! I asked him if he was sure and he replied in a thick accent that it was just around the corner and sure enough 500m and we'd popped out on the main road. One quick word to Shane and we climbed up again from there to the church look-out above the corkscrew. Amazing! The fast descent back in town was Soooooo much fun. I like the flowing speed and relatively open corners to then zoom straight back into town.
Corkscrew Road... Ouch! Photo: Shane Miller
The first stage was still in progress, so we grabbed some lunch and rolled into the Tour Village that had been setup with big screen TV's showing the final 2hrs of each stage. Thule (pronounced Tooola) is one of Shane's sponsors and they had Valet Bike parking where you could lock your bike up and wander the village or just hang out and watch the race. We caught up with them and enjoyed our lunch in the shade watching the end of the stage.

That night we had a dinner party with our hosts and their sailing friends. They were so inspired by our racing tales that they were going to join us at the hill climb TT the next day.

Up early and out to Mt Barker Rd for the SA Vets 6km Hill Climb competition.  I warmed up and did the last 3 kms with Shane at a moderate pace, then dropped down to the start and tried to think calm zen thoughts, but all I wanted was a coffee! I took off and started up the very narrow track and had to come around someone JUST as another rider took that moment to drop back onto the bike path coming right for me. Close call, you might be able to see the moment on my strava file I hit the brakes and then crank it up the hill with gusto.  
Shane met me off the course further up the climb as I pegged my power. Head wind all the way it was nice to have someone shout at me during segments - a bit like how GreenEdge had race radio all the way at the Nationals TT.
I came in 2nd in my category and with a power PB which was really a bonus that lifted my spirits after not being on structured training plan for the last few weeks.  When we got back in town we rode back into the city to the village to watch the pros climb the corkscrew - like it was FLAT! Riding home it was hot and we were happy to get a few more kms in - but nearly got wiped off the road 2x from turning vehicles not looking or even indicating before turning!
Drinks and watching the finish on the big screen TV in comfort. Photo: Shane Miller
That evening we went into Unley for the Hyde Park crit final. I got some GOOD curry from the street festival and found a spot on the inside of the track to watch the women. Each year this crit is messy with crashes. It is another small tight block with pave tiles and 2 long speed bumps that add a crunch each time. The women fought it out with a breakaway from Nicole Whitburn and another rider that was brought back to another bunch finish that Kimberly Wells won. The Specialized SA women are looking strong with her form in their team this year. The elite men who were on afterwards had a hideous stack in the final lap with broken bones, carbon and a real mess. I was horrified that the riders continued after the race official told them to STOP very clearly several times - including the crowd screaming at them to stop!

This was the fun part of the trip. I had been waiting to see what this would be like - parade car for Thule. We didn't have any cool things to throw out the window, or massive kms to drive on our day - but we did have full aircon and mad tunes on a 37 degree day in Stirling. 
Looking official in my "Who's your Caddy" - Thule tshirt. Photo: Shane Miller

We missed the briefing due to a cyclist vs truck vs bus accident on the Anzac hwy, but made it just in time to take a few happy snaps and jump behind the wheel. Full turbo diesel around the corners and hanging on for dear life! We had to keep formation and not slam into the back of the Loreal car :) We made it to the start line and I grabbed coffees and lunch from the Unley bakery and wandered up to the start line to take pics. I got a phone call from Shane to let me know the engines were running and it looked like we were rolling 30mins before the riders!! EEeek! I sprinted back to the navigators front seat just as we drove off in formation. 
Thule Parade Car in formation - ready to Roll! Photo: Veronica Micich
We took off honking the horn at receiving waves from the crowd and zipped out the course to stop a few times for the other cars to hand out freebies. We make it out to Stirling and its HOT! I watched a few laps live, and then sit in the aircon in the car trying to keep cool and eat lunch. Then I think Shane remembered the chaos of getting home on the bike last year - and we took off early back to the TDU village to watch the finish. Glenelg Beach was a nice place to cool off that evening. I made my first even Bread and Butter Pudding out of leftover fruit bread from the Vets race. It was SO GOOD!

A massive tailwind up the coast road to try find the Vets crit track in the industrial back blocks of Adelaide. The circuit was quite similar to National Boulevard except dead flat. It was hard to get to on a work day so we kept on going out to Modbury for the TDU start. I was feeling a bit cranky with all the trucks and uphill headwind for 20kms. After a coffee and break to watch the start of the stage we tapped out the climb up to Millbrook Reservoir. Shane was getting a bit impatient and started pushing me past the Bupa riders and over my limit. When the road started flowing into rollers and downhill, he had to chase to catch up or even overtake. It was a long roll from there downhill, down gorge rd and back into town. We had lunch at the Village and watched the stage end. It was hard to watch all the crashes in the final kms. 
We had a nice dinner out with the sales guys and sponsored athletes from Thule. Somehow we got talking about mountain biking and agreed to do the Mont 24hr race in Canberra this year. 

We rode out to Willunga Hill on the bike path that followed the hwy. At one point we stopped and saw the team cars and vans head out. I got a wave from the GreenEdge car full of riders - that made me giggle. There is a lot of road works where they are duplicating the hwy and i was glad to have a steady stream of locals to show me the way through the detours!
Coffee in McLaren Vale, watched the start and hunt and gathered for lunch. Today was Australia Day and I was excited to see 1 last lamington left in the bakery. It was a mini fancy one with jam and cream, not often found and I presented it to Shane (one of his favourite bakery treats) when I came out with the rest of the lunch to go.
We rode to the top of the hill and napped under the trees while we waited for the race to come by and tried to get to the finish line but missed out on a view of the big screen. 
Nearly at the top of Willunga Hill. Photo: Shane Miller
When we saw Gerro sprint across the line for the last time we were shocked and stoked that an Aussie wont he iconic stage on Australia DAY!  
A few years ago we came over to do the Masters Games in RADelaide and knew the back road down to McLaren Vale, it was awesome to zoom down with no traffic and jump back onto the main road as the pro bunches rolled back toward town. Last year I tried to sit on one bunch as they took the main hwy back to town and didn't make it over the first hill with the bunch (and resigned myself to the bike path home), this year I was easily keeping pace and overtaking a few guys. We filtered to the front of the bunch as more and more people couldn't keep pace with the Garmin Cervello and Astana riders on the front. I think we had the BEST Coke Float on the way home :)

Got up what seemed like super early and drove out to the Vets crit course. Without much time for a warm up I jumped on the bike, pinned on a number for the D grade race. I was feeling a bit excited on the bike, final race, long car trip home, let's expend a lot of energy and see how many times I can attack or chase them down. I got a few half lap leads but in the end my last attack on 2 laps to go, wore me out and I couldn't shake them. I rolled in with the bunch for 8th place, happy with all the efforts until the one other woman in the race who I hadn’t seen in the second half of the race rolled me on the line... after I’d stopped sprinting when the first 3 places were finished.
We stuffed ourselves with Bakers Delight goodies and hot coffee for the presentations and it was great that our hosts for the week came down to watch us race. As part of our thanks, we game them all the local cafe vouchers to enjoy. 
Taking the corner at speed. Photo: Shane Miller
Packing up our base camp and finding a good park to get out of town, we then made our way into the professional Tour Down Under for a real lunch in the Corporate stands. Thule had very generously given us 2 passes to a free buffet lunch and bar. I was not sure exactly what we were going to be able to see/do in there, but when we settled in there after a good feed we met up with the guys and then checked out the media section.  We saw all the even luckier ones jump into team cars and zoom off down the main straight. I then realised there were a few seat spare near the finish line in the stands and we settled down to watch the race unfold. The dessert buffet came out and we were set for the day! 
2 Lammingtons for the Llama. Photo: Shane Miller
It was great to meet the owner of Adelaide Euride stores and hear his perspective of the new tech coming out and his plans for an NRS team in 2013. Griepel won the day and we travelled the long road home without event back to normality. 
A little overexcited with the seats right on the finish line!! Shane keeping his cool in the heat. Photo: Veronica Micich (selfie-lol)

I'd love to say that all my holidays are this good, but sometimes things just fall into place.

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