Day 7 – Thredbo to Albury
Route: Thredbo to Albury
Total Distance So Far: 924km
Total Ascent so far 10881m
If yesterdays ride was put down as one of the best in history then today’s ride was right up there again.
The day was going to be an epic one anyway if you looked at the stats. 237km with over 3500 meters climbing would challenge most riders.
It was a day of contrasts, from -3 degrees at Dead Horse Gap for breakfast this morning to 30 degrees as we travelled along this afternoon, from the mountains at Thredbo to the rolling pastures of the plains, from the mountain streams to the great Murray River and the huge Lake Hume, from the long ascents to the wonderful descents and from Sunrise to Sunset the whole day was magnificent.
The day started off at 5.00am when we exited our accommodation in the Thredbo Village. As we exited there was a collective gasp as the cold air hit our face and we felt our ears start to freeze!
Everybody was dressed for the conditions but even a combination of leg, arm and head warmers and big coats were no match for the freezing conditions.
To top things off there wasn’t the normal breakfast waiting for us when we rose. We had to do some work to get it this morning with a climb in the dark to the top of Dead Horse Gap.
This was the designated breakfast point today as it was the start of the decent down from the mountain. As we started the ride up the hill there were many groans and moans as the legs are a bit stiff in the morning and there was no chance to warm up before we were straight into the climb.
My legs were bloody killing me!! It was not the start to the day that I wanted but as I warmed up it wasnt so bad.
As we crested the hill we could see the welcome site of the Canadian Kitchen (our caterer) who had a very welcome cooked breakfast for us.
As we stood around eating breakfast the cold was setting in and one of the Garmins (bike computers) read -3 degrees and you could feel the cold on every part of your body. We were fortunate that there was no wind and it was very still.
As the sun started to crest the mountains it seemed to get even colder and we found us all huddled together like penguins weathering a storm in the Antarctic.
When it was decided to start the decent we all moved into position and set off in ten rider pelotons for safety. When we started moving the chill was even worse and we could not feel our fingers and I am sure that I had frostbite on my nose!
The first decent seemed to go on forever and it was only briefly punctuated by a couple of rises that were welcomed if only to get some blood running again and warm up. It was 15km to the bottom of the hill and then it was on.
In our first session for the day we travelled 75 km and did 1500 meters climbing so you can imagine that given that we had already spent 6 days on the bike this was hard work. By this time some of the riders had already retired due to injury and fatigue but most of the pelotons were making great time.
The school that we visited at today only had 16 students with one teacher. Khancoban was once a thriving Snowy River Scheme town and the school had up to 120 students in its time but it was now reduced to a shadow of its former self. Pat Carpenter enjoyed a game of Aussi
After our visit we set off again. Our day was to be littered with lots of climbs of various lengths but all taking their toll on our bodies. The climbs were taken at a quite slow pace so as to allow all the rides to get up to the top in a comfortable way. Some of the steeper climbs were designated as “Climb at your own pace” so the peloton was spread out over a couple of hundred meters and regrouped up the top for the decent.
As we headed for lunch it was a welcome change that most of the terrain had changed to descending and we had a wonderful session of fast downhill running. This is Snowy River country and we were travelling along the river that feeds the iconic generators that pump out the power for millions of people.
When we arrived at lunch we were greeted by a wonderful couple who allowed us to use their front lawn for our lunch break.
These two were excited to have us as visitors and they were keen to let us know that they had been married for 61 years and lived in the same house for all that time.
As we finished our lunch all were contemplating that there was still a lot of miles to travel so we set off at a good pace. I am not sure what it is about this year’s tour but as often as we have had lunches we seem to be climbing right away after lunch. With full stomaches and cold legs it seems to be the worst time for a hill but we always seem to conquer them.
The next part of the journey was one of the best for the day. As we headed for Albury we crossed the Murray River and for a few kilometres we would be in the state of Victoria. Once we were into Victoria we met up with the huge Hume Dam and travelled along the edge of the dam for good 20 or so kilometres.
The conditions on the lake were like glass and it was a welcome distraction from the tired legs to have such a majestic lake to ride with. The lake was full to the brim and one of the Victorians said that if we were a couple of months earlier it was down to just 7 percent capacity which would have been a sight in itself.
At the first opportunity we crossed over the top of the dam and headed back into NSW and on to Albury. As we were racing to get to our destination the sun was setting and it just beat us as we rolled in to the thunderous applause of our team mates who had finished the same gruelling journey just a few short minutes before.
Today’s ride was an epic journey, one that was sent to test our resolve and our strength but we rose above the pain and make one more step in our journey to our finale in Melbourne in a few days time.
At tonights dinner the following people were awarded catagory jerseys
Blair Martin – Focus
Garrick Transell – Inspiraton
Simon McCarroll – Attitude
Rebecca Snell – Guts
Kim Cummins – Doer
Owen Barnett –Thinker
Tomorrow we head south to Shepparton a journey of about 180km. Although this is a long way I think that our legs will be thankful that there is not much climbing to do!
Here is the days video
Here is todays Garmin readout
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