My trip to Adelaide was a short one this year. Sandra couldn't make it and I had just the weekend to ride my bike, see friends and watch a bit of racing.
I finished packing the bike Friday night, had a couple of hours trying to sleep and was up at 3:45 am to get on the 5:30 DJ flight. All very exciting as I had not booked a hotel room or rental car for the weekend. True, I have old friends (like family, actually) that I can call but everything had been decided so quickly, I didn't call anyone.
At the airport in Adelaide, a text came through as I was setting up the bike for the weekend of riding - "the key is in the letter box, beer in the fridge, see you on Sunday - Phil". Well, that's all I needed apart from his address...
Thirteen or fifteen minutes of riding and I was in the city of churches, to the letter box with the key (I wasn't thinking about beer) no more than 6 km away, took me forty five. I wasn't doing very well. I was riding in big squares, as one does in Adelaide.
Dropped my bag, filled my bottles and looked for a map at Phil's place. That's all the time I had as the race was about to start and I had to get to Willunga Hill before the peloton.
Ok, nobody has maps these days, they have Garmins, iPhones and GPSs so I just headed to the city again and then south, looking and chasing cyclists who looked in a hurry like me. I did find them and the ride to McLaren Vale was more like a Cat 2 race. I had to ignore the fact that I went there to relax and ride my bike in Z2.
Nearing the township, the atmosphere was fantastic. Thousands of people camped along the way waiting for the peloton to come past. Waiting for anyone to come past as I got a good share of encouragement as I raced trough the township and to the bottom of the hill.
Climbing Willunga Hill was fun. There were thousands of people. Walking, riding, or just sitting around having a good time. Near the top, the crowd made sure every rider felt like a King of the mountain. Really funny!
For me, the highlight was to see Cadel Evans flying past the 800 m mark with no other rider on his wheel. I think everyone on that hill wished his attack would last.
Unfortunately for Cadel, a Spanish duet had other plans and made sure they caught him before the finish.
After a small meal, it was time to head back. This time, I wanted to stick to my low HR Zones even if that meant getting dropped by every bunch. That's what actually happened until I got picked up by a small group travelling on a smooth and constant 30 km/h.
And smooth it was, perhaps the smoothiest bunch I have ever riden with. A quick look and I noticed a green and gold band on one of the rider's jersey. Another look and I noticed the OMEGA PHARMA LOTTO kit and the race number on the Cannyon (#34).
The guy next to me said: "Yeah, some of us went to school with Matt and came here to support him on the race..."
Good on you, guys and yes, I did ride with a pro cyclist in Adelaide. And... I loved it!