We awoke to a slightly less frosty morning, but none-the-less still coolly brisk start to the day. It didn't help that camp had been set up so that the marquis shaded the tents, so it took a bit for the sun to peek over the top and warm us up.
Savoury scrambled eggs for breakfast, washed down with a spot of OJ, pack up tent and we were on our way. At the previous night's ride briefing we had been advised of a route change, designed to limit our time on the Gore Highway, and improve the safety of the riders. So instead of a 50k day, it would be a 60k day today.
A thoroughly enjoyable ride today, if a little boring. We barely cracked 100m of ascent today, which meant for a flat ride. This might sound ideal, but those hills are what mixes it up for us and keeps us alert. It is too easy to be complacent on rides like today and that's when accidents happen.
Happily for me it was a relatively easy day, riding solo and passing as many as I passed today. The morning tea break had some superb fare, with 4 pieces of slice for $3 - an absolute bargain by any standard! Today's recipients were once again the scouts, but being a school day there wasn't a child in sight, so it was up to the mums and dads to make the sales.
Took the detour onto the longer route and for just the tiniest moment there was hope of a tailwind. That hope was dashed pretty quickly as it seemed that the wind whipped around and changed direction every time we did. It was either in our face, at a our side or a combination of the two! But to offset the wind, there were some great false flat sections - where we had the added bonus of gravity to assist our average speeds.
Ok, I know I mentioned karma in the title, so here it is. Remember my story about throwing another rider under the bus so to speak? You know, the magpie story from earlier this week? Well Karma came a-knocking today and evened up the score.
About 9k out from the lunch break, I noticed a bird soaring straight at me at a great rate of knots. Not from behind. From directly in front. Like right at me. Like he was playing chicken. He got so close I could see the shiny black of his beak and the brown of his beady little eyes. I had nowhere to go, so I just gulped and figured I may be about to die from a brain injury caused by a magpie beak puncturing my frontal lobe.
At the last second that little bastard made an upward arc and I breathed a sigh of relief and thought I was clear. Not so. He then proceeded to perform a manoeuvre reminiscent of Maverick in Top Gun, inverting in a downward loop and proceeded to swoop me for the next 100m.
I hit a gear that Cadell Evans would be proud of and motored out of there at 40+ kph, heart hammering, eyes darting over my shoulder and ears peeled for both the thwock, thwock, thwock sound familiar to only those who have fallen victim to these vicious little vermin, and any cars that I may inadvertently swerve in front of in my mad rush to get out of the swooping zone.
To make matters worse, I was then absolutely shattered from my short sharp escape and faced a headwind the rest of the way into town. Oh and Ben may have heard about my previous swoop victim and told the story at the nightly briefing while we enjoyed our lasagne and mud cake!
So what did I learn? Don't sell out other riders. Take your medicine. Don't tell Ben stories you don't want repeated. Hope I remember that when we double back over that road in the morning, and that the magpie is so exhausted from chasing 500+ riders yesterday, that he is on a rest day.
What do you think my chances are?