Melbourne to Adelaide is another big drive, 2 days with 2 over nights, one in Warrnambool and one in Mount Gambier. Warrnambool is a nice town, bigger but I will always remember it for the night I had a great dinner at the local gentleman’s club of yesteryear, no not what you are thinking. This was the strictly old guys only club with bar, dining, pool tables and absolutely no ladies allowed. Amazingly enough it stayed that way until not that long ago, changing over 10-15 years ago. Tonight there were more ladies dining then men. Right after, a trip to the local hospital emergency room for me to address a flared up hip injury that I got late last summer on a road ride crash. I spent about 4-5 hours getting checked out without a lot of relief other than some advice about not doing much exercise. Yeah, right, Adelaide is up soon and plans to do major rides while there. Back to the hotel, up early the next day and a drive to Mount Gambier, home of all kinds of caves inside the town limits as well as the Blue Lake, a very, very blue lake that is the source of drinking water for the town. We did another tour, through one town cave and then tried to find our hotel at The Barn. Apple maps weren’t helping much so we tried Google and eventually found the place about 6 k out of town. Bushy was worried as we drove up thinking that he finally failed finding an above average over night stay. Just the opposite, it as probably second only to Risby Cove, huge rooms for each of us, beautiful manicured gardens out side our patios, only problem was we were only staying one night. We did have to drive back to town for dinner, it was Friday night and the on site restaurant was booked full. (Bookings are still a main way of confirming dining plans, there are still walk ins but not nearly as prevalent as in the US) We found and nice cafe in town that was ok with a walk in, had dinner and drove back to the Barn, only to get lost again, one wrong turn. The detour was worth it though as there were kangaroo sightings on the little detour.
The next drive got us to Adelaide, great, big country town in South Australia, fourth region of the trip. (New South Wales first, Victoria second, Tas, third). It’s great driving over the Adelaide Hills and coming into town, great scenery.
This is the home of the Tour Down Under and where we will stay for 9 days, through Australia Day. The Windsor Apartments is the place to be, downtown Adelaide, easy walking distance to just about any part of the city center and the tour village. Of course the Coopers Tavern is right next-door, home to a great schnitzel dinner, Saturday nights dinner. The week included numerous bike rides to Glenelg, the beach town 10 k south of Adelaide, really just part of Adelaide, which is spread out. Of course the tour is going on so we got a chance to watch the Crit stages in town as ell as numerous out of town stages ending in towns like Parracombe, Wollunga and Mount Barker. A day in Handorf, a German tourist town that the tour went through twice. In between were shopping trips; morning rides every day to the beach and around
Adelaide and eventually the day I was really anxious about, Friday, the Bupa Challenge that Bushy signed us up for. The normal ride for the amateurs and racers was from Glenelg to Mount Barker, 150k. Bushy and I planned to ride the 10 k to Glenelg, do the ride and then ride home from Mount Barker, another 40 k or so. 200 k for a sprinter, my longest ride in the last 2-3 years of riding. By Friday my hip was not great but seemed ok to go so off we went. Up at 4 AM so we could eat and get to Glenelg for the 6:30 start. The first 50 k was ok until it started to get cold and rainy and I ran out of energy. Lucky there was a rest break and I recovered and did ok for a while and then started to fade again. We stopped had some food at a cafe and road on. Lots of climbing, which I used to like but haven’t done a lot due to track training. I kept eating and eventually coming back to life in a town called Strathalybyn when Bushy asked if we should short the route and I told him no way. The race did catch us about 10 k from the finish in a small town, Echunga, after we got off course due to lack of signage. Without that detour we may have been able to beat the racers. That must have been the mental adjustment I needed because I was strong for the rest of the ride, including the 40 k extra which ended up being the hardest section of the day including a climb up to the top of the Adelaide hills on a 16% grade, luckily not very long. A great 50 k an hour 5 to 10 k drop into Adelaide didn’t hurt. Success was ours to be rewarded with a homemade curry feast made by Lyn while we were riding.
As always, Bushy made his mark in Mount Barker. We finished the official ride through a gate set up so our ride time was calculated. (We were given chips that had to be on the bikes). As we were trying to get out of town we rode up to try and cross the official race finish. There was a course Marshall guarding the area and he would not us through even though the road was empty. As Bushy was discussing it with him, we hear a voice from behind us yell out “Let him finish”. We turn around and see that it is Robbie McEwen yelling, he Paul Sherwin and Phil Ligget are doing a video shoot right above and behind Robbie and us stopped to give us support. Didn’t help but was fun to hear. We found a gap 100 meters down and got on after the finish and left for out of town.