Now that we are halfway through the ride, it seems a good time for a bit of explanation on how the ride works.
The riders are split into groups (known as pelotons, a French word that seems to mean “a bunch of cyclists”) with a car in front and a car with a trailer at the back. The cars are protection, and the front car also navigates the route. The riders are either in single or double file, depending on the traffic and the terrain. The first four or six riders take turns on the front of the group, as right at the front is where all the hard work is done (because of the wind resistance). Sitting behind another rider is a lot easier, as the front rider does all the work.
Coming into iconic Tanunda in the Barossa Valley – Day 4.
This morning we set off from Rowland Flat into a clear cool morning into the gorgeous Barossa Valley. Some undulating hills got the heart rate up before we had a nice downhill run into Kapunda for the first coffee stop.
From Kapunda, there was a little bit of confusion in peloton 1 when the course designer was concerned that the peloton had taken the wrong turn, but later had to admit his error and is due to buy the navigator a bottle of something. Fortunately we still got to Truro, with the second peloton behind us. Peloton 2 had a great run to Truro, with the ladies in the peloton taking the front positions and setting a cracking pace.
Another drink stop and then the riders headed north towards Eudunda. The wind started getting up from the north east at this stage, but it was still a nice flattish section and a fairly quick run.
After Eudunda, we came across some road surface that hadn’t had much maintenance on it for some time. This isn’t usually an issue in a car, but on a bike this can make things very uncomfortable, and slower. One of the issues of bike riding occurred again with peloton 2. When you are riding in a group, and can’t stop without hurting people, how do you relieve aches and pains, and other issues, such as blowing your nose. Apparently one of the peloton 2 riders had a nasal congestion issue, and unfortunately the discharge landed on another rider who was downwind.
Blue skies continued for Day 4 of Mercer SuperCycle 2017.
Again in peloton 2, a pair of very experienced riders decided to cool off by squirting water at each other from their drink bottles (as you do). This lead to one of them dropping his water bottle. The rule on the ride is that if you lose a bottle or a light, you don’t stop. This is a safety requirement, because jamming on the brakes when you have 20 riders behind you doing 35kmh can lead to disaster.
So what were peloton 1 doing all this time? They were adopting a somewhat relaxed pace, probably due to the weight of years in the peloton. However, apart from having to get off the road to avoid being run over by a very large combine harvester, and a couple of riders having a rest in the car for a while due to various aches and pains, it was a fairly uneventful day.
Tomorrow is the long day to Wallaroo, but for tonight we’re having dinner at the best Italian restaurant in country SA (La Pecora Nera, who always look after us). Good chance to ingest some carbohydrates.