Woke to a sea of white tents this morning as the frost had settled in overnight, making for a very cold start to the morning. I didn't bring any winter riding gear, but was pleased that once the sun was up over the trees, the light wind jacket I packed was enough to keep the nip at bay.
Our trip from Warwich started with a spot of misadventure, as someone had changed a couple of the signs which sent early cyclists off in the wrong direction. I don't think anyone got lost, but I do know of a couple of people who didn't plan to do the long option, but pretty much did the same distance after being sent the wrong way.
I was happy to lock onto the back of a pack for a little over 5km this morning. I'd forgotten how nice it is to be dragged along by a pack with little effort of my own. However once we hit the hills I was a goner, and once again trekked along on my own. I don't mind riding solo as I never feel that I have to worry about holding people back or dropping a buddy, so I guess the lone wolf style suits me.
I left pretty close to 7 today I think, which meant I was at the first rest stop by 8 and then travelled through to the lunch break where I enjoyed the falafel and hummus wrap at 9.30am. Hmmm no wonder the days seem long when lunch is at 9.30!
The scenery started pretty much the same today with some gentle hills and lots of grazing land and crop farms, but gradually it began to change to more wooded, with trees shadowing the road, ridges beside the road and red dust creeping into the landscape a bit more prominently.
The headwinds from yesterday made an appearance from the 20km mark and continued unabated right through to the 80k finish site today, but with a bandana pulled over my ears, it didn't play as much of a mental game with me today as I concentrated on my cadence and pedal technique. Don't get me wrong, there were times when it would have done my head in, but I would just start to sing a song to distract myself from the negative thoughts. It was quite effective, apart from the fact that I had the same song stuck in my head for the better part of the 60k. Oh well whatever works I guess!
Now the only other problem with the headwind is that with the extra wooded areas, the kangaroo and wallaby population also increased. I didn't see any live ones today, but I certainly smelled the ones on the roadside long before I spotted them. Those headwind carried the scent of decomposition so well that sometimes it would be 50m before the actual roo that you'd start to smell it. You learn to breath very shallowly from the moment that that first pungent waft is carried toward you or risk a huge inhale that you will taste long after you've passed the crow-pecked carcass!
Although there were no short sharp climbs today, we still ascended over 500m today, with some sections of uphill that just kept going up and up and around and up some more. It was a great opportunity to use the training I've been doing on the Trainer Road program to detox the legs and ignore the burn to continue uphill without stopping to rest. Feeling stronger every day.
The BQ team have also added in some new options for post-ride this year, including a daily stretch class to ease the muscles and teach people stretching techniques they can use. Val, our instructor is an absolute champion who motivates everyone with a quick wit and cheeky attitude. We are getting 20-30 people per session and it is one of the highlights of my afternoon.
The other highlight is of course my massages. I started with Anna, who was great, went to Laureen once when Anna wasn't available and today I went to Lester on Laureen's advice because of my dicky shoulder. Talk about a miracle worker - I have more movement after that thirty minute session than I have had for a long time and he explains it all as we go so I understand what he is doing and how it will help.
We are in Leyburn tonight, and after a delicious meal of chicken, mushroom and leek penne pasta, I am listening to the Caxton St Jazz Band and loving the sound. Camp life is great and I've met some wonderful people over the last few days. They all have such interesting stories to tell if you just sit back and listen.
Looking forward to heading to Millmerran in the morning and may even go the long ride option if I feel up to it in the morning. Until then I will hunker down and try to keep warm as the temperature has dropped significantly again tonight. Gorgeous clear skies though so a bit of star gazing before turning in for the night.