Five Rivers to Jacks Point
I don’t know what it is about these things, but before any big cycling event I never sleep well. My friend Barclay has a theory that my body is getting itself geed up and floods me full of adrenaline in preparation. Well adrenal glands, you’re not helping, not one bit. This, coupled with me being roommates with a wild snorlax whos name may or may not rhyme with Smalex Smim meant I had about 30 minutes sleep the night before we set out for the first stage of the Tour Of New Zealand.
We set off into the mist of a moody South Otago morning and immediately there was action. Somehow mixed into my group there was a bunch of fast dudes – a bunch of punters and then a bunch more fast dudes. We found ourselves stuck behind excited novices flailing about while the real race got away on us at the gun. We flicked the switch soon as we could and were red-lining straight away to get back onto the disappearing bunch – from there on it was full gas from beginning to end.
Today was my kind of day to be honest. No major climbs, plenty of opportunity to work hard for my team and pull some big turns on the front. My chance came somewhere around the halfway mark through an infamous stretch of road called the Devils Staircase. It’s a series of power climbs that come one after the other with little time in between to get the heart-rate back under control.
The first climb is probably the biggest and we were in a group of about 80 riders. We’re racing on open roads and some traffic came through at a bad moment that caused the group to split down the middle. I was in a good spot to close the gap so went for it with everything. Chasing them down through a line of cars pulling my teammates with me took some doing, and we managed to close the gap just in time for the next climb! Starting a hill when you’re already pretty cooked is no fun but we hung on over the top, and again, and again, constantly battling to get the heart-rate down before the next one, knowing I was going to crack sooner or later! The legs gave out somewhere in the last 5 k’s, but not before we launched 2 of our guys off to finish with the quickest of the bunch. That was bloody satisfying.
After finishing with the rest of my teammates who hadn’t gone up the road it was off to the first Peloton Party – held at Queenstowns Skyline Restaurant. Sited at the top of one of the peaks overlooking Queenstown it is accessible only by Gondola and affords truly world class views of some of the most amazing scenery there is.
This is gonna be an epic week.