They all turned up early but, in what could only be considered a major fashion blunder, they were wearing the same thing, most of the 6,000 and whatever of them! Yep, I’m talking about the Bupa Community Challenge that took place over the Stage 4 of the TDU on Friday. Dr B and Youngest Uncle, the latter riding his maiden TDU Community Challenge, set out from the start at Unley to do the whole distance of 148.5 Km. I was to meet them at Victor Harbor at the end. YoungB had hoped to ride, too, but state crew training for rowing and his uni summer course made that impossible.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, with my two out of my hair early in the morning – YoungB left at about 5.00, Dr B at about 5.30 – I’d have been out of the door and on my own way fairly smartly, too. By the time I’d cleared the kitchen and washed dishes and cleaned the car windscreen and done a rubbish round and checked everything off my “please remember to do and/or take” list – all those itsy, bitsy sorts of things – three hours had passed. I’d anticipated being long gone before YoungB was home from training. Yeah, well, plans are wonderful things and it’s necessary to have them.
Dr B had gone to a lot of trouble setting up a route on our GPS navigator so that I could get to the finish line without fighting the cyclists (I’ve been there, done that in the past and it’s horrendous; so never again, thanks, no matter how many extra kilometres it takes). It worked remarkably well, taking me via back routes I’d never hitherto encountered but not entirely away from cyclists. Obviously, those several large groups didn’t get the memo about the TDU Community Challenge! On the whole, they weren’t that much of a problem: clearly practised and confident, not all over the road or doing silly things and even, in one case where I was quietly motoring along behind them, waving me forward when I couldn’t see whether it was safe to overtake.
I reached the freeway without incident. You enter a freeway doing a good sort of speed, so there’s no room for changing your mind. I exited it almost immediately because the GPS said so! (No, I knew perfectly well it was the wrong exit but it had done a fabulous job up to that point and, like I say, you can’t be changing your mind and making wild manoeuvres on a freeway.) Yeah, right. I lost close to an hour just faffing about trying to get back on track! Eventually I did, but you know all those kilojoules the boys were burning out there on their pushbikes? I reckon I burnt at least twice that many just stressing about how late I was going to be. As if. Even with that lost hour, which meant that a trip that usually takes two hours and had this time been going to take two and a half took three and a half, I still had stacks of time in hand to drive around looking for a park at the Victor Harbor end.
Victor Harbor is a lovely spot but parking there is not particularly good and easy at the best of times. That has ever been the case and although there’s been some improvement in recent years, you don’t want to put money on being able to park anywhere near where you think you might. And quite clearly, a day when the town was about to be overrun by thousands of cyclists was never going to be the best of times and the inadequate parking meant long, long walks for folks like me. That’s okay. I truly don’t mind walking, so once I snagged a park within a reasonable radius of the finish line (the GPS put it at about 2 Km), off I went quite happily to stand about and await the boys.
Youngest Uncle had told me he’d be wearing yellow knicks, so I’d been looking out for such a thing. Sometimes, a little bit of easy identification makes the rest fall into place. I saw no yellow knicks on anybody who looked remotely like him. It turned out that he’d changed his mind and was wearing red-and-black knicks. Okay. That was always going to mean I wouldn’t pick him out of the bunch! We did meet up, though, and then we waited for Dr B. He’d had a fair ride but slower than he’d have liked it to have been, having encountered a few problems with cramp on the way. Still, he made it and, as ever, looked in remarkably good shape at the end. (To this day, I marvel at how lucid and upright he was at the end of PBP!)
The celery? Yeah, in among the package of goodies given to the riders was a pack of pasta and a stick of celery: obviously intended for use in a fortifying meal at the end of a long, hard day. And, you know, if lots of celery was good enough for Oppy, why would anybody argue its inclusion in a cyclist’s feedbag?