Another year, another tour down under!
Every year, a contingent of SUVelo members and friends of SUVelo join the cyclists’ pilgrimage to Adelaide for Tour Down Under – Australia’s answer to the Tour de France. Pro men and women cyclists from around the globe make the journey to race six stages, kicking off their season in the gruelling heat of Adelaide summer.
For some this was their first TDU, for others – their 5th or 6th and a few have clocked up 10 TDUs since it started in 1999.
So what keeps us coming back?
Where do I start. Let me talk you through the average day and you’ll have a good understanding of what makes this an incredible way to start your cycling year.
Our rides start at the very civil hour of 7am. Early enough to avoid the heat of the day. Late enough to allow for a pre ride coffee and catch up with friends.
Reason #1: the civil start to the day – sleep in, coffee, ride
We roll as one bunch and our new kit looks the biz. In no time at all we’re on the first climb of the week, and the city of Adelaide disappears into the distance. If you know what’s coming you might settle into a cadence and power that’s sustainable for the road ahead… think of all the best climbs in Sydney. Mac pass, Mt White, Akuna. Double them. Put them all together. 10k’s out of town. That’s Adelaide!
Reason #2: the climbs
We regroup at the top of the climb to cater for everyone’s differing abilities, number of beers the night prior, and levels of TDU preparation. Waiting for the group to reassemble often affords the opportunity to see some Australian wildlife up close.
Reason #3: the koalas!
And now for the reward for all that climbing. What goes up must come down. Adelaide’s finely engineered, quiet tree lined roads make for the most amazing descents, they just go on and on.
Reason #4: the descents (closely aligned with Reason #2)
30 or 40k’s into the ride usually comes a scheduled stop at the bakery. Seems a little soon but you’ll probably have done more climbing than a north ride, and we’re on holidays. If we’ve rolled into Handorf, it’s the German bakery – get ready to choose between the famous Kransky, beesting, or apple strudel. At Lobethal bakery, apparently the vanilla slice is better than any, and the pie is so good you don’t need sauce. We inevitably make repeat visits through the week so you can sample everything to validate these claims.
Reason #5: the bakery treats
Bellies full of strudel, doughnuts, pies and vanilla slice we pedal off. Some head for a faster longer harder loop. Others keep it short and avoid the heat of the day. It’s your holiday. You can choose your own adventure.
Just as the heat of the day starts to bite, and Garmin watching becomes more frequent just remember that the last 20k’s of any Adelaide ride is downhill.
Reason #6: the end of ride downhill return to town (closely aligned with Reason #4)
The bunches roll back into town before the temperatures hit the highs – sweaty salt encrusted kit, biddons of water warm as tea, heat radiating off the road. There is only one place on the mind of every rider – the air conditioned comfort of the Franklin. The understanding owners let us roll the bikes through and brace themselves for cyclists wanting immediate hydration and feeding. Again claims you’ll need to substantiate. “The best”… chicken schnitzel, steak sandwich, chips, all served in generous portions. They also put the race on so we can yell at the tv with a cold beer and large plate of tasty food. The Garmins upload and we relive the ride with some Strava chat.
Reason #7: the post ride beers
After realising we’ve been in our kit for the best part of the day, we depart for our hotel rooms – usually in scooting distance of the Franklin. Time to do…. whatever you want. Napping is a popular choice, but there’s also catching up with friends, pro spotting (stalking) or getting out to one of the wineries for a boozy lunch. The event village holds hours of entertainment with the main players showing their latest editions and offering test rides. Again it’s your holiday and you can choose your own adventure.
Reason #8: the post ride freedom
Of course some brave the heat and remain out in the hills to see the races in action, usually finishing on the outskirts of Adelaide. There’s plenty of opportunity to see the pros in action. Crits are held in the city with some of our own club members competing – nothing like cheering on your friends as they race against the top pro riders.
Reason #9: the top class racing – in real life, on our timezone
As the twinges of hunger start to kick in, it’s almost time for dinner and more catching up over beers, wines and good food. One of the favourites is La Trattoria for enormous plates of pasta and waiters who have a Rainman like ability to remember everyone’s order without writing it down. Also good for pro spotting (stalking).
After dinner, the evening is young for some who head for the Hilton bar for more pro spotting (stalking). Others chose home via the gelato bar, prepare the bike and call it a night, in preparation for another day ahead of… exactly the same!
Reason #10: Eat. Sleep. Ride. Repeat.
If you’ve never been to TDU, there are 10 reasons to sign up for 2020 and get down to Adelaide – even just for a couple of days, if you can’t make the full week. Watch this space for details, dates and reminders.