Sunday, April 11
Well, we were a happy bunch of riders this morning as we set off for our ride from Arrowtown over the Crown Range to Wanaka. The route is one of the finest anywhere and the weather was warm and dry, despite the 60% chance of rain forecast. Here we are lining up outside our Arrowtown accommodation before we set off over the hill and down in to town for the start.
While Geoff was looking very happy here, he was feeling a lot of pain soon after. When he and others were attaching our bike trailer to our bus, somehow the drawbar dropped to the ground and landed on his right foot and Mike’s too.
Geoff was the worse off of the two. Thankfully with quick application of ice and then some stoic perseverance on the road he clocked the fastest Team Akina ride of the day – I hour 53 minutes for the stage which was 53km with 780m climbing over the pass. With his team mates of Kaye, Kieran and Corrie close behind, our Team Akina ‘race’ team won third place in the Mixed Teams category in the day’s racing. A very impressive performance, team!
But before the ride, we had a delightful hour in the heart of Arrowtown with coffee, and for Rod a sticky bun crammed with mincemeat, in the garden of the Provisions cafe. If Geoff looks a little pained in this picture, he is right to be. His leg is up on a chair with an icepack on his big toe. And after coffee, we hung out near the start line.
It was a real treat having Myles riding with us today. A delightful young Irishman living in Queenstown, he rode with us in the 2017 Tour of NZ. On the last day of that Tour, he beat all-comers including a pro rider, to win the criterium race in front of Parliament. Team Akina’s greatest Tour victory ever! His riding’s gone from strength to strength, including a very good placing in the latest Tour of Southland, the most fiercely contested race in the NZ calendar which attracts quite a few pros and lots of semi-pro riders. He’s off soon to the National road race championships in Rotorua in his age class. He joined us today in his 2017 Team Akina kit and accompanied us up the Crown Range. While we sweated our way to the top, he seemed to barely elevate his heart rate – this was a social ride for him, not a training session.
Today we had a mass, controlled start. We followed the Race Marshall’s car at a moderate pace for the first few kms out of town and down to Arrow Junction. Then it was full on up the steep zig zags, across the Terrace (which is not flat, as its name suggests, but just a lesser climb) then on to the final push to the summit with some hard sections along the way. Oh, and the two false summits can be very discouraging to riders who don’t know there’s more work to do.
More than half our team mates had summited before us, so there was just Mike and me for a photo with Myles.
While I was saying goodbye to Myles before he swooped back down to Arrowtown and home to Queenstown, Mike was off down the other side of the mountain to Wanaka. The road falls 800m in the 40km to the finish line but you have to pedal after the first steep 1.5km, particularly today because we were riding into the brisk wind blowing up the Cardrona valley. I rode the first 23 km on my own so I was very glad when David and Margarita from the Unicorn team caught me up and I tucked in behind them. Then a few kms from the finish line we caught Mike and some other riders and crossed the line in a small bunch.
The stars of the day were the Oxford Edge team of young riders. Cathal, Kieran and Leonie’s nephew, was second to the summit while his team mate Guy Yarrell was first, taking the King of the Mountain title…and they donated their $200 prize money to the Child Cancer Foundation, one of the Tour charities.
Cathal was well-fuelled for the ride. This was the size of his breakfast bowl this morning, in comparison with his uncle’s and Geoff’s:
One of the many bonuses of biking is you’re always ready to eat. So, we topped off yet another great day on our bikes with a drawbar lunch at our trailer and bus parked in the A&P Showgrounds in Wanaka where all the Tour vehicles parked a few kms past the finish.
And here are some more fabulous photos from Scottie and his team, the official Tour photographers, from the Tour’s Facebook page: