|Day||Ride Time||Distance||Average Speed||Elevation||Calories|
|2||5 Hours 40 minutes||154.7 km||27.3 kmh||1020 m||3153|
I’ve done a lot of bike riding, in lots of different places, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a single day ride with the variety of this one. Hammering through open plains, twisty descents and tough climbs … today’s ride had it all … and set against the incredible backdrop of the Flinders’ Ranges and South Australia’s mid north region.
The peloton set out at 8am, full of spirits and with the wind at our backs. The first section took us through the outskirts of the Flinders’ Ranges National Park, across a rolling open plain with a strong northerly wind pushing us towards Quorn. Before long, we were riding comfortably at 35-40km per hour and starting to really get cohesive as a group. Niall won the sprint finish into Quorn with a fast burst … this was definitely the entrée for an amazing day in the saddle.
After a short morning tea in Quorn, we set up and over the Pichi-Richi Pass towards Port Augusta. The Pichi-Richi pass is a beautiful ride through a mountain gorge, criss-crossed by a pioneer railway, with red ochre walls and (in the spring) green grass and wildflowers. It is not a tough climb up, but it is a gorgeous descent. As soon as we summited the climb, a small group put the hammer down and rode in a tight sprint formation through to the next stop at Stirling North (congrats Andreas on the sprint win).
Lunch was had at the side of the road before we set off on an unchartered section between Stirling North and the highway leading to Horrock’s Pass. What we found (Old Wilmington Rd) was a bumpy, potholed, crusty path akin to roads of the fabled Paris – Roubix spring classic. We were on that damned road for 20km, fussing and cussing, while Richard took a cheeky move off the front and built an unassailable lead up Horrock’s Pass. By the time the peloton made its way onto the highway, Richard was already close to the finish and tasting the sweet scent of ‘King of the Mountain’ victory. The climb itself, was gorgeous as the road snaked its way up the valley an over the pass. I went up with my brother Marty and enjoyed climbing fast as a pair. Others followed and we had a celebratory picture at the top, before a smokingly fast descent into Wilmington and a Johnny Pops sprint win.
The last section of the day took us south of the Goyder Line. We rode past beautiful crops, thankful for a good winter, and towards Melrose. After a big day of sprinting, we established that teams worked better than individuals and small groups started to form with 5km to go. The peleton stuck together through 3km, then 2 km and with 1km to go into town, we saw the town sign and the sprints started in earnest. Wheels changed leading into the line, but finally (on his birthday) Andreas took the sprint by the width of an inner tube.
It was a wonderful day of work in the saddle, with climbs, sprints and group work taking us over 155km and through some stunningly beautiful South Australian scenery. Tomorrow will be a different day as we head off on a 195km trek towards the Yorke Peninsula. Undoubtedly though, there will be the same spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition that made today a wonderful day of cycling.