Monday, February 1, 2010



TDU report from The Course Director: 'The TDU Saga'

Arose at 4.30am - which is technically the middle of the night and tried to eat as much as I could without being sick.
Rode to Frank's at about 5.45 am and met most of the Bastardi - all keen to get going.
Joined the immense queue on the Parade at about 6.00 am in the company of Frank, David H, Gav, Dan, Michael G, Steve W, Andy T, Rob 'Mad Dog' Rau, Ron from Qld and 6000 other idiots on bikes.
Ride started at 6.15 am and we all passed the start line just before 6.30 am.

Ride to Athelstone was uneventful - cruising with the fellow Bastardi as the sun came up.

Many of you may have seen the large lady on a cheap heavy mountain bike who had stopped at the top of the Parade and was looking to get some spectators to help with filling her water bottle - she had a 'long' day ahead!!

Our group hung together quite well up the Gorge Road until we reached the first climb to the dam wall where Frank, Steve, David, Michael and Dan took off. Surprisingly our international representative (Gav) was also on fire up the Gorge - even after having not been on the bike much for quite a while - would he last???

Gav and I have ridden together quite a bit on these longer rides as we seem to be about the same pace but on the TDU day his climbing was exceptionally strong and I had to go flat out downhill all the time to catch up.

We passed quite a few people on the Gorge Road section and passed through Cuddly Creek and onto Fox Creek Road. By then the riders had spread out quite a bit and Gav and I rode on our own to the foot of the KOM at Fox Creek. There was a lot of riders on the KOM climb - all with differing climbing capabilities, but again Gav stood out passing numerous riders ahead of me. I tried to just stay steady and get to the top without blowing up too much. About 250m from the top two young guys caught up to me and as they passed one said to the other "shall we sprint to the top?" - which they subsequently did at incredible pace! I, on the other hand, maintained my conservative dawdle. We did not stop at the top of the KOM although hundreds of others did.

I caught up to Gav on the downhill and we rode together through Lenswood and Swamp Road catching and passing a reasonable number of riders along the way. We both had good runs over the climbs to Woodside, which we rode through - planning to stop at Littlehampton. The section from Woodside to Nairn was fast and we were fortunate to group with about 4 or 5 others to push the pace up into the 40's most of the way. We stopped at Littlehampton for only about 3 minutes - not realising that we then overtook Frank, and the others who must have been there also.

On the long climb out of Mt Barker we grouped with 3 or 4 others and set a solid pace through to Wistow where the fantastic quick section began. With a tail wind and long descents this was the best part of the ride except when Gav got the most amazing ' tank slapping' speed wobbles at over 80 kph on one of the downhills. It all got a bit hairy when I had to go out around him as he tried to slow and gain control - I think he evacuated his bowels and I was close to doing the same.

Surprisingly David, Michael, Frank, Steve and Dan we just behind us and witnessed the 'almost' carnage, so we regrouped with them and rode on to Strathalbyn and 40+ pace.

The group stopped briefly at Strathalbyn and it was here that I decided I might leave a bit earlier and let them catch up on the way to Langhorne Creek. Fortunately I was able to get onto a group from UniSA just outside of Strath with about 10 riders that was moving quite well in the low 40s. About 5 km after that another group of about 40 came up behind and I jumped onto that group as they were moving even faster. (Talking to Ron afterwards it seems he was in the same group but I did not see him!) This was probably the easiest part of the ride as the group held together and was moving very quickly with the tail wind all the way to the Lake. Then everything went bad!

The head wind split the group very quickly and unfortunately I was dropped off the back with a few others(Lesson: stay in the middle of the peleton at all cost.) By then we were experiencing a lot of slower riders who had started at Woodside - all of whom were struggling and it was a bit hazardous because everyone was trying to get to the left hand side of the road to take advantage of any shielding of the wind. This also meant you would run up the backside of the slower riders if you were not on your toes - I was a bit dangerous.

I had planned to stop at Milang but it was chaotic. So I rode through heading for Finnis as my last stop. The next section was legendary for its difficulty. I was not with a group and there was only slower riders that I was passing - no-one that I could work with. Then a group of 4 younger blokes rode slowly passed me - one of them was struggling and was being physically pushed by his mates. I latched onto the back of them trying to work to the sheltered position on the left hand side. The big bloke at the back was fairly accommodating and let me have that spot for while until he realised that he was doing a lot more work and politely asked to swap - what could I do - say NO! It was amazing how much harder it was in the direct wind. We were doing about 22-23 kph and passing lots of carnage on the side of the road as well as very tired riders on the road - most doing about 15 kph.

After about 5 km I just could not keep up and dropped off the back (Lesson: do not drop off the back of even a small group when riding into a strong wind.) My speed dropped to about 17 kph at one stage and my legs were starting to cramp. I tried a few different approaches to reliving the cramp but I could not get rid of it completely (Lesson: with both legs cramping do not stand up on the peddles!). That road seemed to go on for hours - even though I had ridden it twice before it seemed to be 10km longer. I was so glad when I finally saw the Finnis corners. I had next to no water left and my legs were killing me.

I slowed into the stop, unclipped and as I swung my leg to get off the bike both legs cramped again - it was extremely painful and I though for a second that I might now struggle to finish (just like my episode 4 weeks before!!). Many people had stopped and were obviously suffering from cramp and other fatigue ailments. I though that if I stayed too long I would only feel worse so I got going again as soon as I filled my water bottles.

As I left I got a slap on the shoulder from Gav who coincidently happened to be going through Finnis at that time. He said that Frank, David, Dan and Michael were just ahead of him. Given that situation I must have been the first to Finnis of all the Bastardi so I declared that Finnis was the major Sprint and I won the points - again!

My legs were still very sore and the first climb after Finnis really hurt - especially because Gav took off again and I saw him sprint off into the distance. After the Ashbourne turn-off I started heading south which meant I finally got a tail wind again. I could see Gav about 100m ahead but could not catch up. I started to feel a lot better and the cramp had stopped which meant that I could increase pace to the mid to high 30s - some times into the low 40s with the wind assistance.

After the final short steep hill at Currency Creek I knew that it was only about 5 km to the finish and predominantly downhill so I pushed up to the low 40s. A couple of guys latched onto my wheel and one of them shared a bit of the work at the front which kept the speed up. About 2 km from the finish we got a bit tangled up in traffic and the third guy at the back overtook us and raced off. The other one was pretty pi$$ed off because he had him on his wheel for miles and had done all the work at the front. We decide to work together and push hard to overtake him before the finish - why not after 160 km?? Over the last km's we caught up to Michael as we entered Goolwa and pushed down the main street at about 50 kph including the last 100m or so at 55km+ - it is amazing what adrenalin does.

Generally the ride was good except the Milang to Finnis section.

I set three goals -
Arrive at Goolwa before 12.00 noon - arrived at 11.57 am
Take 5 hrs 30 mins total time - took 5 hrs 30 mins + 40 secs (ride time 5 hrs 18 mins)
Average speed over 30 kph - average 30.8 kph

So overall I was happy with the outcome - it was much more satisfying than the practice ride in December.

Only criticism of the event was the lack of telephone access at Goolwa which made it hard to contact others.

Brian Virgo