Day 3 – Peloton of Sheep.
After another restless night in my little concrete den, I was glad to get going and get the hell out of Keith. It was sunny, but coolish as we lined up for the morning pre start ride photo.
We hit the road and before long John was on the front doing a terrific job of dragging the group along. As usual, The Whippet couldn’t help him self and effortlessly pedaled up the right side of the bunch to have his normal go at setting the pace. Actually, it was a great morning with everyone having a crack at the front. We had a slight tail wind, but we would be traveling slowly up hill all day. It was a short day and the weather was good. Everyone was in good spirits. The first stop was Willalooka.
The usual feed, drink, stretch and banter between the guys. I think it was the 100th time we heard someone say to Dave “Wipe your face Dave!” He explained to me later on the trip that he had whiskers of Velcro. I don’t doubt it, most stops he would end up with crumbs of god knows what all over his dial. He was also handy a spilling coffee all over the bloody place. After a good looka at Willalooka, we were on the road again for a short, 28km run into Padthaway. It was a glorious day for a ride. The sun was out, canola fields were abundant and we were moving at a pretty rapid rate.
I got to a point on this little stage that my back was starting to spasm again. I rolled up to the front and asked Tony if we could have a quick rest to I could do some stretches. All good, so I stopped at a place where there was a bit of room and laid down and did some hip rolls and other stretches. When I stood up, Big Gary sidled up behind me and told me to cross my arms. He then wrapped his arms around my front, leaned back which lifted me clear off the ground. Then he jerked and my back, or his, made a crack and wow, instant relief. I went from panic to joy in moments. Thanks for that Biggen! This actually happened on day 4. See next blog post. Back on the bike it was a short belt into Padthaway. A few photos probably tell the story best.
It really was a great way to spend lunch time. Laying on the grass, in the sun, listening to old jokes and stories from blokes who I now thought of as mates. Especially the big bloke! Then, a request that had me scratching my head. Wendy wanted us to have our photo taken with some sheep. Again, I will let the photo tell the story.
Don’t ask me. Wendy, would you like to comment?
After being made to embarrass ourselves, we were off again on the final leg of the day into Naracoorte. Again, we pushed along at a great pace. It was on this stretch that I took the opportunity to get a photo for my buddies in Adelaide who told me echidnas would be a huge problem for me on the roads of South Australia.
About 6kms out of Naracoorte, I was at the front doing a nice turn of pace when the Whippet rolled past me in his usual fashion. I locked onto his back wheel and after a minute or 2, I realised we had dropped the group. “Hey Matt, slow down mate” was the call. He sat up and I rolled up next to him. Then, in a voice like that of Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral, he said “Lets go for a break away.” I don’t think I have ever been asked a question so politely or in such a correct manner. How could I say no.
We took off. Well, he took off. I sat on his wheel as the speed, and my heart rate slowly increased. We were pulling a nice gap, but I was having troubles staying on his wheel. Damn his legs and fat free torso! With about 3kms to go, I turned and saw the slightly concerning sight of Gary and Tony reeling us in. The hooked on. Damn. I got on the front and gave it everything I had. I felt like a poor mans Jens Voigt. I was hammering. We were going all of about 42kph. I started feeling my legs letting me know that I wasn’t going to get away with this much longer. Some short pains in my chest. Seeing stars. No breath and I’m done. I veered left and let the 3 strongest sprinters go at it. They gapped me in no time. Looking at the stats in the Garmin file now, just before I passed out, we were sitting on 45.9kph, cadence at 105 and heart rate at 178. My date was probably 500m behind me as well. Damn that honey voiced young bastard, I just knew my legs wouldn’t let me forget this tomorrow.
I have no idea who won that sprint, but we hooked a left and had a short run into the Naracoorte caravan park. On the way we saw a real live echidna. Matt and Tony went all Leyland Brothers and were filming it from all angles. We then cruised into the caravan park and into the office to sort out our lodgings. The lady behind the counter reminded me of Mrs Sloccombe from the old British comedy “Are you being served”. After the dog box at Keith, I scored a high class cabin with a separate bedroom and modern TV. At some point in the trip Matt was heard complaining about a TV they had that was smaller than the microwave. You can imagine the response.
Some of the group went for a walk into town. I took the time to have a lay down and squeeze my sausage legs into the compression tights to try and combat the soreness that I was sure would hit tomorrow.
Then it was off for a 15 minute walk to the local chinese restaurant for dinner. Another great evening eating and telling stories. It was probably my favourite day of the trip. Maybe because it was a short ride at only 108kms. Maybe the weather. Maybe the fact that I joined in a sprint of sorts. I don’t know, but it was enjoyable. It is why I love riding a bike.
Off to bed I went. Compression pants over boxers. The Sudo cream had been put on with a trowel for the saddle sores and I really wanted to help the legs. It wasn’t long before the compression pants, after quite a struggle, went sailing across the cabin. Roll on day 4.