Stage 5 this year is the classic double climb of Old Willunga Hill – the ride of the tour you don’t want to miss. Brad Ward and Chris Hedley give us the run down on all that is cool.
With a name like this, this stage was tailor made for the TDU tour Queen, Rebecca Snell, and from all reports, she lived up to her vastly growing reputation of mixing it with the boys. Never too far from the front of the pack, and ready to pounce if there was a slacking of the pace. Rebecca has been mixing it up all week and the results on Strava show. Awesome effort.
With Schleck Scheiner out of the picture (remember, he was pulled by team management) , there were a number of brave souls that tried to imitate his silky climbing skills up Old Willunga Hill, only to capitulate and to forever remain in his shadow – I haven’t checked but I wonder if his top ten climb is still standing? It was another smash fest for the Manly riders with everyone making the most of what is often considered the final day of the Tour.
Limpet/shadow/conjoined twin Antoni Mikac was also out of the group action for the day, apparently suffering from an allergic reaction the night before. Apparently he was told that he would have to lead the pack to the McLaren Vale start and had an anaphylactic shock due to the possibility of being “seen” at the front of the bunch. The shock couldn’t have lasted too long because he lead out one of our MWCC underlings, Brad Ward, for 105km – the last 45km into a hard hitting headwind.
Chris and Maria Hedley also reported in on their Stage 5 Shenanigans –
Maria and I woke up feeling a little worse for wear this morning, largely due to hammering it on the 145km BUPA ride the day before. Naturally we had been avidly reading the updates from the FFS Special Forces advance squadron and felt a sense of awe, dread and worry about what was to become of us if we signed up. Additionally after the exploits of the day before we were doubtful whether we could keep up with a four year old girl on a tricycle, never mind Fozzie-the-terminator and the Pilu-Express. We decided it was imperative to devise a plan B.
Our Plan B turned out to be awesome! We hooked up with the Norwood CC, based in Adelaide. Now if you haven’t heard of these fellas they are the oldest CC in Australia. Started in 1883 they apparently didn’t get their first bike until 1907. They also have their own clubhouse, with bar, and van. Repeat, Clubhouse, BAR, and Van. On an awesomeness scale of 1-10 that is a 14 if anyone is listening…
Anyway I digress. Willunga Hill day is the biggest day of the year for Norwood CC and they, along with the always stylish Rapha make a big fuss of it all, running an escorted ride for all riders to Willunga with a perfect destination and food/drink thrown in for a small donation. Turning up at their clubhouse (yes CLUBHOUSE – did I happen to mention that?) at 8am we had a delicious coffee from the Rapha coffee cart and all two hundred or so of us were off!
We rode down there via the most beautiful hills and hooked up with Paul, their President. Despite being from South Australia he was a charming gentleman and more than happy to stick with Maria and I as she struggled with empty legs after a big day in the saddle the day before. They even had put on outlier scooters which Maria took full advantage of on some of the stickier hills!
Fortunately, despite the weight of the Lanterne Rouge on her shoulders Maria still had full support from John-from-Norwood in the van. He had to drive at 12kph for 100km behind M – that’ll teach ‘im!
Anyway I digress. We arrived at Willunga to be greeted with icy cold drinks, pumping music, great food (Veggie as well – yea baby!) and the best spot on the hill. We even had a sofa though as you may notice some people seem to prefer the floor! Norwood seemed to have limitless quantities of food, drink and music, and great company too! BEWARE NORWOOD – We will be back next year for sure!
The official estimate was 150,000 people on the hill and it felt like it! The riders made two passes of the hill – the first was a KOM, with the second the finish. Whilst there were barriers to keep the crowds at bay these were considered largely irrelevant, particularly if you were in a tellytubby outfit waving a large pink Rapha flag. The atmosphere was electric and every rider was given a hero’s welcome.
Unfortunately there is one photo I don’t have. Just before the riders turned up for their second climb of the hill I bump into Mitch Dixon. He’s lost, hot and thirsty. He is wearing full club kit however it looks like he has decided to clean the entire drive chain with his jersey. Oil everywhere. Not a good look. Hairy legs too – ewww. Anyway I quickly get him a semi-cold Solo and usher him on his way – naturally you understand I don’t want the good name of MWCC sullied by one oily top.
Maria and I bid our fond farewells to Norwood CC and belt it back to Adelaide. Bumping into ridiculously-oily-Mitch again only resulted in him tagging along with us as he was again abandoned by his so-called-friends (names withdrawn to protect the innocent)
130km done and back in Adelaide we catch up with Mitch’s friends, Gavin, Evan & Tommo, for a beer. Good times.