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27 September 2011

Visualization of Day One

The team will be meeting up at the Adelaide Hilton on Friday 21st October. No donations will be going to fund our accommodation, each of the riders are paying their own way, although the Hilton, as a Bronze sponsor, must be subsidising the accommodation somewhat so that we will not be having to sleep by the roadside for the rest of the tour!

I would have preferred an earlier start, but we will be completing some formalities, including the official team photo, before heading for the Adelaide Hills by 9am on Saturday 22 October. Within 5km of the starting point we will commence our first climb up to Mount Barker. The climb will last for a fair distance - 14km, with a maximum gradient of around 8%. Following this we will surely know that we are now "on tour"! It will be quite a baptism of fire, initiating us early on with a toughie. The rest of day 1 will certainly be easier, but at almost 150km, will still be a test of our endurance. During a ride of this duration it is very important to keep refueling and hydrating since it's quite possible to deplete the body of all readily accessible energy resources, and grind to a halt - literally, also known as "bonking" in the cycling fraternity! From previous experience on a day similar to this each rider will be burning between 8,000 and 10,000 calories, and these need to be replaced during the ride. Professional riders riding competitively literally eat on their bikes, with support crews providing feed bags and liquid to the riders on the go. Our group, however, will be stopping at a number of pre-determined points along the route to fuel up, and stock up with provisions thanks to our support crew. We will also have a short break while we cross the mighty Murray River by ferry at Wellington.

We will be riding in a bunch most of the way - this enables riders to consume up to 20% less energy compared to if they were covering the same course alone! This is particularly important if the weather conditions are adverse i.e. if there is a head wind or cross wind! As will be the case every day, I guess, we will be very pleased to roll into Meningie in the afternoon.

I have been in Meningie once before, and from memory it would normally not warrant much more than a fuel stop. It is a very small settlement along the salt lakes of the Murray estuary system. I recall a bakery/cafe, a garage and the hotel lining a very short stretch of the main road! I can imagine that I will be looking forward to a good cold drink, putting my feet up, and a good dinner in the evening so that I am ready for day 2!
Profile of a typical morning ride around Watsons Bay to Bondi

From a difficulty index point of view, Day 1 ranks third, primarily due to the distance being covered, however I think the climb, of 500m over 14km so early in the day will substantially add to the difficulty. As a comparison, during a regular morning training ride around Watsons Bay to Bondi return, a distance of about 35km, I will climb a total of 570m, but with a welcome few down hills interspersing the shorter climbs!

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