Average speed: 26.6 kmph
Maximum speed: 71.5 kmph
Temperature Minimum - 4
Temperature Maximum - 16 degrees
Metres climbed: 1809
Ride time: 5hrs 19mins
Wind direction: Was kind to us today and predominately was behind us.
Road Kill update:
Well I just wanted to explain that no-one has stepped up on this trip to count the road kill. Which is a huge disappointment as the kill count would not only been extremely high but variantly interesting. The past two days I have been kind of loosely making a mental list of the different species of animals I have witnessed squashed on or off to the side of the road. Wallabies are the most common and vary from being torn apart with limbs up to 20 metres away, to fully intact ones that look as if they have lay down for a peaceful sleep. Birds have been quite common but the most shocking and sad kill was when we passed by two white geese that did not quite make it to the other side of the road. In yesterday's snow storm Rowan and I passed a huge wombat that was fully intact, on its back, all four legs spread and two of the whitest balls I have ever laid eyes on. Of course Marto saw it as well and has not shut up about it for the past 24 hours. One of the riders suggested that wombat was a dead ringer for our old mate Andrew Watts. Out of respect for Watty we only laughed for five minutes at this very poor joke about our mate.
The short stage that is never short
So with just 140 kilometres to travel today and after the epic ride we all went through yesterday, the later start of eight-am was appreciated by all. The snow continued throughout the night and was still snowing when I went to bed at 12:30. But on awaking at seven-am a quick peek out the door, while letting in a gush of cold air, also suggested that the worst had passed. There was even a hint of blue sky and the wind had dropped dramatically. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as I know all the other riders did and felt the same way. For me personally it is so important that I complete this journey around Australia knowing that I have pedaled the entire way. I only intend on doing this trip once and never want to return to have to complete a section that I was unable to do due to inclement weather. So a huge thank you to the weather Gods for taking pity on us and only throwing the one stupidly bad day of weather at us, thus far!
Hill, hills and more hills and one supreme climber!
So our eight-am start saw all riders present and accounted for and sent on our way by the ringing of the cow bell by the friendly road crew member Cheryl King. While it was cold, the rain stayed away, and the misty and moist conditions were actually quite pleasant to ride in. The highland country of Cradle Mountain was gorgeous to ride through with its craggy peaks, perfectly lush green fields, happy cows and sheep and cows that kept running away from me when Mr Mason asked them that bloody annoying question; "If Sharky is gay please run away", which they bloody-well always did. Damn it! Anyway while the climbing continued throughout the first 90 kilometres of the day, most of it was pleasant with only a few that needed to be completed through gritted teeth and steely determination. Malcolm "Maddog" Bourke loves to climb. He stated that climbing is best combined with a killer 50km/h headwind, sideways rain and a gradient of at least 17%. He went on to say that compared to yesterday all the climbs today were graded no higher than a 2.5 out of ten. Because of Maddog love of climbing his nickname has now been changed to "Mountain Goat" Bourke.
The descent that finally came after 70km's
I guess we all thought we were at the top when we left our accommodation but really it took 70km's of rolling hills before we lost any real altitude of the 930 metres we had gained the day before. When it did come it was fast, wet in places but reasonable safe. Natalie Gordon came into her own and descended so fast that she passed all the lads going for it at the front. I found out all this later as I started at the back and missed all the excitement of seeing Nat mix it up with the boys. Nice work Natalie.
The ultimate pace-lining session by the riders
It was after our lunch break at Zeehan, a lovely small country town famous for its steam train collection and old fashioned architectural buildings, where we had a nice visit from Kate Warren's partner, Brent's parents, Denzel and Jeanette, who were given the honour of ringing the cow bell to send the riders on their way. It was from here on to the finish that the road was either a gradual decline or flat with a few rolling hills that the group had their first Smiddy moment when the pace-lining began in earnest. 40km/h for up to ten kilometres was the order of the day. It was beautiful, a little painful, but at times like this I can feel the energy within the group and I feel like my mate Adam Smiddy has come down to join us. I love those moments as they are infrequent but when they come man they are so damn awesome!
A surprise visit to the ultimate sand pit
Just eight kilometres from the finish and our little Rabbit Warren, Kate had a surprise in store for the riders; we were directed off to the side of the road, a short 500 metre ride down a wet and muddy fire trail, bike shoes off and a walk up huge sand-dunes to incredible views of the Indian Ocean, which also maybe the Pacific Ocean, depending on who you talk to and whether Google is correct in a court of law. Anyway it was fun to feel the softness of sand on the soles of your feet after being in hard cycling shoes for thousands of kilometres. The photo opportunities were aplenty with a head-stand in the sand being attempted successfully by Mel, although she was aided by Anna, who I think just wanted to hold onto Mel's athletic legs while upside down. Who else can boast a feat such as that?
Marto wraps up the huddle
The finish into Strahan Caravan Park saw the riders and road crew celebrate
exuberantly to make up for the fact that we missed out on it yesterday due to the inclement weather. Marto was given the honour of taking on the huddle as guest speaker due to his ability to think on the spot as I gave him exactly and precisely two seconds warning that he was the guest huddle speaker. And of course he spoke lots of rubbish about him being a good rider and we all laughed and he was the world champion not only in sausage rolls consumed but smashed it today when he actually went to the front of the peloton on not one, not two and not three times, but on six separate occasions.
Watty delivers a nice surprise
Tonight's dinner was held at Hamers Hotel and the food was plentiful and very yummy. If you ever pass by here be sure to ask for the double choc banana split with choc covered strawberries...
A nice surprise tonight was when Watty shouted tonight's entire meal for the group of 36 people and then asked each person to donate $20 back to Smiddy. So a fantastic $700 was raised for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation thanks to Watty's generosity and excellent idea. Row delivered his usual excellent wrap up of the days ride and Nicole and Maddog did a great job reading out yesterdays blog to the group.
Tomorrow is another epic day of close to 4000 metres of climbing, 182 kilometres, with an expectation of rain and headwinds after lunch. Six-am is roll out and I have set a record by having this blog completed and posted prior to nine-am.