Tour Diary: Day 4

Tekapo to Geraldine

More than a few times this week I’ve had to stop and ask where the heck I was. We’ve hardly stayed in one place for more than a few hours. Since we assembled on the start line south of Queenstown four days ago it seems like a month has passed. We’re up at the crack of dawn, bags to the team bus and out for a warm up. Race briefing at 7.45, race start at 8. Once we finish it’s back to the van, lunch, travel to next accommodation, organise gear for tomorrow, then do as little as possible all afternoon to rest up for tomorrow. Dinner, early to bed and then up again at 6 and do it all again.

People in these parts know a thing or two about sheep farming. Church Of The Good Shepherd – high praise indeed.

So it was nice today to roll out from the hotel in a town that looks like all the other towns we’ve stayed in, head down the road and around the corner and see one of the most well known and beautiful locations in New Zealand – The Church Of The Good Shepherd in Tekapo. As is often the case with things you know well only from pictures it seemed smaller and almost a little nondescript in real life.

I was super fired up for today’s stage. Fast, flat, not much climbing but lot’s of downhill. My kinda day. We also knew the bad weather was coming and I was much better prepared for what was to come.

The stage started straight into an uphill stretch out of town so I made sure I placed myself on the front of the group from the get-go. I was able to set the pace for the climb and crested at the head of the group – no one was in the mood to fire things up that early. My plan worked! Once we were over the top my teammate Tim and I started to wind things up with a few other guys. We managed to split the group early and get away up the road with only about 15 riders. Not long after that we caught the next wave and blew past them as fast as we could. Some more from our group fell off at that point to join the slower group and others joined us. We were now about 20 riders and had the hammer down, this was when the rain arrived.

There’s something about riding hard in rough weather that really adds drama to the day. I love it! It’s all primal and tough and we’re all in it together trying to get home as fast as possible so we can get dry and warm. I was super happy with how I rode today – easily the best I’ve gone all week. Tim and I were able to put a lot of pressure on the group with some strong turns on the front and withstand it well when others tried to do the same to us. Tim’s a lot like me – first to attack a descent, struggling through the climbs, and happy working hard with a solid group. It was a great feeling rolling across the line next to him at the finish – even better looking at the times and seeing some good gains over guys we’ve been battling with through the week. Yep, I’ll have some more of that please!

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