A wonderful days riding badly tainted by the news you never want to hear on a ride.
Magnificent red sunrise over the paddocks and was looking at a relatively early departure until I went to turn the bike over and found my repair job hadn’t held, so got to start the day doing what I should have done yesterday – putting in a new tube. Off down the valley heading south with the legs feeling like lead. King River Estate winery was doing coffee and pizzas, so availed myself of the coffee and while normally would think it a little early in the day for pizza didn’t knock back a slice when it was offered. Plenty of cloud cover and temps a little cooler than the last couple of days were welcome, but the first part of the main climb out of Whitfield was still pretty warm work but was pleasantly surprised at how far I got up the hill before the first break.
Have always enjoyed this climb and today was no exception. As we approached the plateau the temps actually got pretty close to pleasant, and was feeling quite fresh as I turned off onto the gravel to Powers Lookout. Enjoyed the views and was returning from the somewhat over engineered second lookout when came across 2 of the motorcycle road marshalls who gave us first indication that there’d been a serious accident near Mansfield and they’d closed the road and were holding riders back at the lunch spot, so no point hurrying. When we got to lunch got the horrible news that one of the riders had died.
By the time I was there they were letting riders through but with a diversion around the accident site. Had stayed nice and cool on top with the occasional drop of rain but nothing significant. Got to do the long descent without hardly seeing another cyclist and was once again hot and humid – and now also dusty – as we rode around the diversion on the gravel roads, finishing with a final few km of bitumen on the Midland Highway. Set up camp with plenty of room around us and views across to Buller and Timbertop. Once again the only really pleasant part of the day is in the evening when the heat finally drops away. Wandered down to town after dinner for a coffee, continually monitoring the weather radar as the line of storms brushed toward us.
Back at the tents in time to see some spectacular lightning flashes before the rain started, then it was batten down the hatches time. Lulled to sleep by thunder and continuous rain with the tent lighting up every time the lightning went off. And we get to sleep in tomorrow.