How good is the Tour Down Under, it's Australia's premier cycling event and it really does make Adelaide shine as one of the best cycling cities in the world.
The event attracts cyclists from all over Australia and the world, but what makes it so special is the how centralised and accessible the pro peleton is. On any given day, you ride through the lovely Adelaide hills with another 1,000 cyclists, head to your chosen vantage point and watch the race woosh past you at awe inspiring speed.
Then you have the choice to zoom down the hills and watch the finish on a big screen, catch a crit, a side event or watch all the mechanics doing their work on the bikes after the race. We were lucky enough to get behind Bridie O'Donnell and watch her smash the UCI hour record.
For this years TDU, Curve Cycling;
The Belgie was huge; Negotiating 60+ riders in an Adelaide urban all terrain assault over 42km and 800 vertical meters posed its challenges. But people had rolled up with nervous excitement, roadies (a few CX bikes), and their sense of adventure.
Everyone was ready for the single track, brutal climbs, gravel and the carnage to follow! The 8 person simultaneous flat (sorry, maybe we should have detoured that concrete block) and the gravel steeps shattered the group across many waves. At the front the crew battled for bragging rights, the rest were battling for survival and that sense of achievement, soaking in the amazing views offered at the top.
On return, the Vale beer, the Aperol Sprits and war stories were flowing. The vibe was awesome. So a big thanks to Rapha Australia, and especially thanks to all those who joined in on our adventure.
This may have been from a previous Paris-Roubiax inspired Belgie, but Tom Southam sums it up perfectly
The best races have one thing in common the unpredictable. We love the classics for the cobbles, the crashes and the TGV gates... It's unpredictability is what turns it from another race to the most exciting race.
But unpredictable doesn't even describe the feeling of dodging shadows down a Brunswick back alley, a whiff of weed smoke in the air and the sound of back alley dogs barking their heads off, as the group clatters on through the dark. The Belgie PR ride had unpredictable in spades, the cobbles were all there, but so were rusty nails, kitchen sinks, abandoned shopping trolleys, cats and a bridge that swayed enough to make me feel much drunker than I was. Despite the unavoidable punctures and the odd soul who was forced to abandoned ship, just like the actual PR, I can't think of anyone there who wouldn't do it again in an instant.
Photos: @Tom_Wallis, @Doc_Ryan, @b.ethanymags