Tour Down Under

This weekend we got to enjoy Phil's Christmas present, a trip to Adelaide to watch the Tour Down Under bike race.  We headed over early Saturday morning and hopped a bus that took us to McLarren Vale for the 5th stage of the race.  We claimed a good spot along the road just after the start and took in the atmosphere as we waited for the race to start.  Right next to the start line was a gum tree missing most of its leaves; perched on a branch was a koala taking a nap, unimpressed with all of the racket surrounding it.  Only in Australia.

The race started in a flash of colour and spinning wheels.  The sound of all of those bikes ring by just seconds apart was impressive.  After they passed we boarded the bus and headed down the road to Willunga in preparation for the hill clim portion of the race.  The bikes passed by five times in total before an exciting finish just after the hill.  

We stayed right in the middle of Adelaide City, which made it very easy to walk to the final stage, taking riders on eighteen loops around the CBD.  The riders were all pretty much together for the first seventeen laps, then on the final lap some broke away to race towards the finish.  It was eye opening for me to see just how much of a team sport biking is.  Three or four riders would stay together out in from in the break away, and the rest would work together as a pack at a distance behind.  Each team stayed together during the ride, with riders taking turns in front to share the burden.  The draft this peloton creates makes such a difference that the riders in the middle are hardly peddling at all.  It's not until the last minute that the teams fall out to let the top riders fight it out for the finish.  

It was a lot of fun to see, and Phil was wagging his tail the entire time.  In the evenings we enjoyed some good dinners along the Rundle Mall and took some amazing dessert from a place called Cocolat back to our hotel to watch the Australian Open mens' and women's finals along with the cricket one day test.  It's been a month filled with sport in Australia with the Olympics just a few days away.


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