Posted on February 21 2020
January brought on the annual pilgrimage to Adelaide for the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under. This year 9 keen cyclists from Dunsborough made the journey. The standing rule: What goes down in Adelaide stays in Adelaide!
We decided to road trip from Dunsborough in Western Australia to Adelaide, part through necessity of having cartons of Connal Kit samples to take and part we had places to see and family to meet on the way. The rest of the Dunsborough crew opted for the quicker mode of flying. Four days on the road, a week in Adelaide and four days home again. We had one day in the Adelaide Tour Village at the Maker 2020 with our popup ConnalKit shop. Our new range of touring cycling kit was on display. This was exciting, our first pop-up show display where we met lots of people, received great feedback and had a lot of fun. Next to us the Roller Frenzy unfolded on the centre stage which provided plenty of entertainment for the Friday evening crowd. Thank you to everyone who visited our stand and spent some time chatting to us. It was motivating.
|Connal Kit pop up at Maker 2020 in the TDU Village|
Road tripping to Adelaide – it is always great to move into a different routine for a few days - the opportunity to spend hours side by side in the ute, swap driving every two hours, listen to heaps of podcasts, drink bad coffee, pay huge amounts for fuel and once again be immersed in the vastness of this land. The simple on-road routine of finding a camp site, setting up the rooftop tent, eating and going to bed with the sun, next day packing up and driving on again to the next chosen stopping place. It is quite grounding but also gives a great sense of freedom. Our trusty roadies were safely occupying the ‘extra cab’ space directly behind us.
We encountered the aftermath of the bush fires which had shut down the east west road route until only days before we were due to leave. The gravel short cut from Hyden to Norseman also being impacted by the fires. The weather had cooled but we were buffeted by strong winds causing high fuel consumption and such a flapping of the tent at night it was hard to sleep. The vastness of the Nullarbor, the stunning cliffs of the Great Australian Bight, the roadhouses and small settlements dotted along the route to sustain the constant stream of travellers, the coastal communities and farming communities all with their own characters and features. From painted grain silos, to long wooden jetties, an amazing collection of windmills, vintage tractors used to launch boats on the beach, Space Lab junk, The Dog Fence, The Rabbit Proof Fence, granite sculptures, stone cottages, beach shacks, country pubs, the 90 mile straight, aircraft landing strips on the roads, the hazards of camels, kangaroos, wombats and emus – all this, only in Australia.
|Road Tripping WA to Adelaide||Peace and quiet|
Subtle changes in an apparent sparse landscape make for never ending visual variations in the long drive. Because there appears to be nothing you notice the smallest variations. A different shrub growing higher than all around it. A rock catches the sunlight and reflecting brighter than its surrounds. Tiny birds darting from cover to cover. Animal tracks on the dry earth. Insect homes. The name Nullarbor meaning no tree perhaps is misleading. There is life and growth - perhaps nothing to create shade for us to shelter under but the vegetation creates home and feed for many creatures.
Road trips, walking or cycling – it is all a chance to connect directly with the earth, touch the bark of a tree, smell the bush and the ocean - feel the breeze, listen to the birds. This vast, timeless, magical land we call home – Australia.
A contrast to the road trip peacefulness as we arrive into the heart of Adelaide. Busy and buzzing with activity and excitement around Australia's biggest bike race. Enthusiastic cyclists from all over Australia have travelled with their bikes to experience the thrills of tour stages and to see some of the best riders in the world. Every hill route out of Adelaide becomes like an ant trail with group after group of avid cyclists taking on the challenges of another day of cycling, finding the vantage point for the day's stage. All praise to the locals for their patience and courteous driving.
The Dunsborough crew of 9 met up each day for coffee, rides, lunch and dinner. The stronger of the crew attacking every tour stage hill they could find, day after day. The leg weary opting sometimes for a coastal ride with coffee and cake at Glenelg, Brighton or Henley Beach. The social media connections allowed us to join up with some of the Geraldton Wolf Pack, included the ‘tricycle race off – face-off’ between Pete and Paul at Stirling. The daily cycling options are endless with access to so many varying routes to find vantage points to spectate the Pro Women's and Men's Teams riding the Santos Tour Down Under Stages. Opportunities to watch the race starts with festival like atmosphere, the QOM and KOM struggles, the sprints and the finishes.
|Dunsborough Crew "CK Day" on a Sunday Beach Ride.|
The devastating aftermath of the bushfires around Cudlee Creek and Lobethal made for a sombre, reflective ride through these areas. The acrid smell, the scorched earth, the crumpled remains of sheds, the crisped vineyards, only a hint at the loss and devastation experienced by many areas in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales this summer.
Our appetites led us to try out many of the great pubs and eating establishments in Adelaide and we were never disappointed. Even finding a 24 hour bakery in North Adelaide to satisfy our random cravings for something sweet and delicious or a late hot chocolate. Our group seemed to do a lot of eating – many very classy photos stuffing food into our mouths seemed to emerge on our WhatsApp Group.
South Australia and Adelaide certainly put on a show. Street parties in Prospect, Glenelg and Norwood. Race stages showcasing Adelaide and much of the South Australian countryside. A spectacle to watch the race flash past at various vantage points on each day in the Adelaide Hills or out in the Barossa, or McLaren Vale. The locals making the most of the carnival atmosphere with roadside picnics set up under shady trees to watch the event unfold in their backyards.
Thank you Adelaide, we hope to be back again next year.
Jen & Greg TDU2020