Zuzana’s Tour Down Under Experience – January 2020
For the first time in my life, instead of planning a dry January and the “new me” start to the year, I chose to escape the January blues and go on a big adventure to Australia. It would be the best time to escape societies mood drop and get back into fitness and shape after Christmas.
On my first day there, all I could notice was warmth, blue sky, big buildings and big roads. We went on the first spin around Adelaide and coming from beautiful calm Mallorca, I wasn’t very impressed, but I was wrong!
The second day we headed to the coast and had a ride by the beach. With the sun shining, empty roads, happy holidaymakers everywhere, running, cycling or just chilling by the beach. The beach houses looked very impressive. Back in the hotel you could see the Pro Teams arriving and Pro riders coming back in from their training rides.
Day 3 was even better! In fact, every day until we left felt like it was better and better, so many new experiences! The Adelaide hills start only 5km from the hotel and suddenly it’s only you, the uphill road and in beautiful nature. The best moments are when you see a koala or kangaroos or to see a pro rider that you recognise. When you think after one day in the hills, you have seen it all, like me you will be surprised how much hidden beauty and how many little villages there are. The Adelaide hills have never ending options of cycling roads, lots of short, but painful climbs, many quiet rolling roads and exciting descents. Back in the town you are spoiled with choices of bars and restaurants. Pic. Zuzana spotting another of her daily Koalas!
It was worth it to arrive one week before the tour, just to experience the quiet roads, small villages starting to decorate and getting excited for the Tour to start.
Once the tour down under village is open you have to start planning, because you don’t want to miss a presentation, interesting talk or the entertainment. We could meet the pro riders in the hotel, tour village or in the restaurant and everyone was very friendly. Once the race is on, suddenly you see cyclists everywhere, in groups, or on their own turning up for the start off the race or cycling to watch the Finish. Maybe they are doing a morning ride and then watching the race in the tour village. Every evening, there is a festival on the street where the race starts the next morning, all the locals get involved and love being part of the tour. There is lots of daytime and evening entertainment in the tour village, but if you would like to go for a wine tour or wild life tour, the options are never ending. Pic. The Veloway early morning
If you have a favourite pro rider, you can ride with most of the pro teams, especially on their easy spin days. Riders are happy to have their picture taken or have a chat. If you would like to learn about pro cycling training, racing and nutrition tour village offers that and more. You can be right in the centre of everything happening. My only previous experience of tour life was from TV so it was an amazing experience to be part of it and just meters from the pro rides who are so happy to be recognised by their fans. Pic. With Jumbo Visma by Cudlee Creek
The highlight of the week was definitely the Legends Dinner. It was a nice change from lycra, to be dressed up, be entertained by legendary pro riders and be inspired by their stories. Meeting local cyclists who share the same passion is always nice. We made friends and got invited to a barbecue. At the BBQ, there was a koala in the garden! People from Adelaide are very friendly and helpful! Our friend Ian showed us his favourite vineyards and the best secret treasures of Adelaide’s hills. One day we visited the Whisper dam wall, the best cakes, coffee stops and the famous climbs.
Before the end of the Tour, there is an Australian ‘Sportive’, called the Challenge Ride. You can enter and have a go. Riding the stage before the pro riders do. It was a challenging 100 miles with a lot of climbing, but well organised, safe, and a very exciting event, you could even try to win the KOM! At the Finish line there were lots of people cheering, food, drinks and a party.
The last day of the tour is the most exciting day and it looks like all the cyclists from Australia can’t miss to be at the finish line supporting Ritchie Port to win up Willunga Hill again. It is almost like the Dutch Corner of Alp d’Huez at the tour down under. The only negative thing about a trip to Australia, is the fact that you have to pack your bags and leave.
Luckily, I didn’t have to leave straight away, as we had another week to wind down and explore the region more! There was Australia day with it’s carnival, bands in the park and finishing with a fireworks display. We revisited the coast on bikes and spent time at the best spots. Real beach time without the bikes! For those on Strava, not forgetting the inevitable breaking a few of our segment record times from the first week!
So, what did I think about Adelaide? It is cycling friendly, clean, safe, a great infrastructure of roads with wide cycling lanes. Adelaide is located close to the hills, close to the beach, the peddling is the same but the views are amazing, unique and breath-taking.