Ask RIDE…Tour Down Under: Cancer Council Classic
I thought it appropriate to update Ask RIDE with the details of my time down in Adelaide at Tour Down Under (TDU). Why? Well, after coming to two previous editions of the race, I know my way around the city fairly well on and off the bike. I have my favourite cafés, pubs, and restaurants – not to mention a thorough catalogue of rides that take in all my prefered hills and more memorable roads. Since all of us at RIDE try to answer all the great questions that come into us for this website I will hopefully be heading off any questions that may be coming up – and for everyone who can’t make it down here for the week, I hope you enjoy the pictures and stories.
So over the next week, I will update the website with the rides I have done, using data from my Garmin Edge 800, and include plenty of photos from the day and details of what I have been up to when the bike is left in the apartment. If you see me out over the next week, come up and say hi – I am going to be in the RIDE Kit. Hope you all have a great time in Adelaide.
As I said before, this is the third consecutive year that I have come down for the race, though my first working at RIDE. I have always stayed with the same group of mates and this year is no exception. When looking at the rides you should consider that in this group is quite a range of body types and fitness levels. I wait at the top of climbs (my 63kg helps a fair bit here!) and my mates slow a touch on the flat if I am losing contact with them. Everyday as we ride, people are added to the group as we meet them and then peel off as they do their own thing – some stay for a bit, others will tag along for the whole ride (some even join us for every ride after that). I think that that will be enough of an introduction – I am a little nervous about sharing my ride data for others to judge!
Sunday was my first ride and I started with a familiar route over Norton Summit and across the rolling hills into Lobethal. I met for coffee at Cibo on Gouger St (a block south of the Hilton) for a much needed hit of energy after quite a night (more on that below). Cibo is a franchise of coffee shops that seem to be everywhere in Adelaide, their distinctive red logo makes it easy to spot. But don’t think it is an Australian Starbucks. The coffee is really good, there is a great variety of food and the standard across the stores means that if you need a brew and your near a Cibo, you can head in and not worry about getting a dodgy coffee. [Plus they know their piccolo latte from double macchiato].
The ride up Norton Summit is still surprising and spectacular after two years. Compared to Sydney riding, the roads that snake up the outside of the hills feel Pyrenean! As you climb you have no idea of the growing view developing as you ascend at a steady gradient until the road brings you above the trees and all of Adelaide is laid out below. It’s a much more difficult climb when you are desperate to catch your breath taking in the surrounds. There is a pub at what you might think is the top of the climb (its not!) where you can grab some water and a quick break if your warm-up didn’t prepare you for ‘real’ hills. The top of Norton Summit marks the start of the Adelaide Hills. Every ascent is matched by a descent, and both can test you.
Head into Lobethal for a break if you need it and take a left onto Cudlee Creek Rd. There is another great stop in Cudlee Creek if you need to refuel before riding down Gorge Rd (a real favourite of mine) and back into the suburbs. The descent down from the Dam is fantastic. No need to pedal – it wouldn’t make you go any faster – just get into your most aero position and keep your eyes on the road (you can check your top speed at the coffee shop).
That was my ride for the day and I highly recommend it. What I also recommend is a dinner at the General Havelock. On Saturday and Thursday nights the pub puts on one of the best deals that I have ever come across. This is not an overstatement: $24 gets you two massive chicken parmigiana’s with chips and a schooner. Split it with a mate for $12 each because you are not going to eat two – even after the biggest day in the saddle. And this is where I was Saturday night for dinner, and then drinks…and then a few more. There are long benches on by the road that allow for all your group to sit together.
The food is all well and good but if the racing wasn’t world class, the crowds simply wouldn’t be here. The Cancer Council Classic was as good to watch as it has always been. TV simply can’t capture the ferocity of the peloton ripping around the tight criterium circuit. A break went, and was caught. Then a late crash on the penultimate left hander added to the tension before Matthew Goss surged across the line. Most in the crowd saw the HTC jersey and assumed that Mark Cavendish had pulled off the win from the overhead vision shown on the large screens – but the Manxman finished in the bunch and was all smiles as he pulled in to congratulate his team-mate:
There is plenty of new gear in 2011. Here are a few snaps of new equipement – more to come over the week!
If you are unsure what the atmosphere is like around the circuit, check out the balconies of the pubs that are opposite the top of the finishing straight (below). It was shoulder to shoulder around the bar before the start and all of Rundle St was packed following the race.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the next 7 days!