Day 5 – Dangerous Dave. Is He Doping?
The snap my back made just after I woke up and had my pre get-out-of-bed-stretch, was a huge relief. The same sort of relief as answering a private number and finding out it isn’t a government department. We all know that feeling right? I was packing up when Big Gary wandered over to see if I was up. Apparently their alarm had failed them and they had just woken up, 30 minutes before the Grande departe. Bugger. I was sad to be leaving Norbury Manor, but we had another 140kms to do today, so leave I did.
The weather was good, with a bit of a tailwind to assist us. We were going to be riding on the main highway today, so everyone had to be on their game. We were making great time, averaging about 30kph for the first hour when I noticed my front tyre seemed a bit spongy. We pulled up briefly for me to put some air in the tyre and then it was a short burst to the next stop, the Big Koala.
One of my regrets of the trip was not snapping a photo of Big Gary in front of the Big Koala. It was a longer stop than expected because the support van had gone missing. Apparently Wendy got caught up getting supplies, so Tony decided to head off and meet her up the road at the first rest stop of the day. Experience helped Tony take out the first sprint of the day, that or he saw the van first.
As can be seen above, Tony gapped Matt and the rest of us didn’t even bother. We stopped at a rest area and cracked open the fruit cake and other assorted snacks and drinks. Some people even had a nature break in a very picturesque spot.
55 kilometres down, another 80 odd to go. It was mainly climbing this day. And some good climbs too. Dangerous had started to struggle on the climbs, so Gary and Tony and I think even Ashley were giving him a push up most of the longer climbs.
We made another stop so as Wendy could get some photos across the road from Great Western Wineries at about halfway into the day.
A few more rolling hills and were were approaching Ararat. The sprinters went from a very long way out this time. Everyone, including Dangerous, took off. There was only myself and Little Johnny who rolled into town at a leisurely pace. A vote not to eat at McDonalds, and we found another terrific bakery. It was then a longish lunch on the steps of the Ararat courthouse.
After lunch, it was more uphill. I wasn’t feeling too bad, but Dangerous was struggling again, spending a bit of time with Big Gary’s hand on his back getting a shove up some of the steeper pinches.
About half an hour after lunch, Wendy was pulled up in a sort of rest area. I can’t remember why, it seems very close to lunch to be stopping. Anyway, we had a ten minute stop, but we were still climbing. It was decided to send Dangerous Dave off on his own to give him time to get to the top of the climb. We were just about to take off when Wendy started to drive off, completely forgetting the picnic chairs in front of the van. Luckily, no real harm done. It was then off to catch Dangerous Dave.
You might have noticed the start of this post mention Dangerous Dave and doping. I ask that question because of what happened next. I was at the front of the group when we got to the top of the hill, and there was no sign of Dave. As we built up speed going down the other side, I spotted him, way, way up the road. His posture on the bike suggested he was pushing pretty hard. This wasn’t part of the plan. We fairly flew down the hill and hit the flat. Despite that Dave was pulling a gap. I was still on the front of the group, and was getting slightly agitated. I ramped it up a bit. Still not closing. A bit more, slowly, slowly reeling him in. We were sitting on 35-42kph and catching him slowly. He was going like a vegetarian running away from a butcher! According to the Garmin data, we chased him for another 8 minutes averaging 38.6kph. It was just Gary and I at this point. Gary said something along the lines of “I’m not pushing the bastard up any more hills” and I snapped. It isn’t often I am capable of doing 50kph on the flat, but that was the speed I was doing when I finally caught him. I told him to slow up and wait for the group.
The rest of the group caught us. I was still at the front with Dangerous following me when I flicked the elbow, all professional like, expecting Dave to have a go at the front. What did he do? He bloody took off again. Jaysus! Tony was beside me and probably sensed my frustration. I am not all that good at hiding things like that. Tony assured me he would slow up soon. There was a hill coming. And what a hill.
Wendy might have been having an off morning, but the afternoon she was on fire. She took one of my favourite photos of the trip as we approached Beaufort.
I can tell you, that hill looked even worse from where I was. I blew up completely on that hill. I think I burnt too many matches with my mini tanty earlier on chasing Dangerous.
What you can’t see in that photo is the dark cloud just above me. I am sure about halfway up the climb, I was screaming “POWWAAAHHHH” to my legs, much like Jeremy Clarkson in Top gear, but with out the wooden teeth and pubic hair on the head.
Tony waited and helped Dangerous to the top. What a top bloke. I was ready to leave him there. Luckily, my mood changed on the fast and furious run into town. Dangerous went for it but was easily reeled in by Tony and Matt. Apparently they were going over the legal speed limit when they went through the set of lights being manned by the local plod due to a black out in Beaufort.
Tonight, we were all in a motel for our final night. The power was out, so no checking in right away. We sat around and discussed the days riding.
After a shower and getting some washing done, it was off to the local pub for dinner. Apparently the power would be back on at 6:30, just in time for dinner.
Once inside, it was the regulation pint of Bullmers for Gary and I. Even Ash had one. Lamb shanks and salad for me as they didnt have veges ready. God knows where the lamb shank was cooked, but it was superb. We demolished dinner in record time. It is amazing how hungry you get after a long days riding.
A short walk home and I collapsed into bed. One more day to go, and what a day it would prove to be.