Ok, so I'm writing this a few days later than the actual day one, but in between stages, resting up and bike prep have taken up all my blog time!!!
I flew in on Saturday night and was lucky enough to catch up with my sister (who is the event photographer) and Rebecca Rusch (she's a good chick... Hard to want to beat someone who's so nice!). Sunday we headed out to check out the first 10km or so of our first stage for Monday... The part we checked out was a 4WD track that followed the rail line with some pretty nasty, long sandy patches along the way. In the least, the ride had me pre-warned to run a low tire pressure, but it wasn't looking too inspiring just yet.
Monday morning, stage 1 was a 40km stage which started with a police neutral escort through the town centre of Alice Springs. When the hammer went down at the start of the fire trail, there was just a massive billow of sand and dust that rose from the group. This made it a little difficult to suck the air in at near max heart rate, but once the field spread out a bit, the cloud dispersed. So we rode along the fire trail we had scoped out yesterday, often having to dismount and run our bikes across vast sand pits in the middle of the trail, then turned onto what was named the "hell line"... We had been pre-warned about the hell-line and told it would be the worst piece of trail we would ride all week... To be honest, I had an ace time riding it! It was, at times, a little sketchy with overgrowth covering the trail and surprise rocks, ruts and holes bucking you off in different directions, but it was all good. After the hell-line, we ended up on some sweet technical singletrack... Alice Springs has a lot of rocks, and these trails had cool little rocky obstacles and steep little technical climbs that put a smile on my face. We finished off with a lap of the local velodrome, the stage 10km longer than promised... All can be forgiven with the provision of sweet singletrack!!!
I finished stage one in 9th place for female category, which was a little short of my expectations for the day, but I had a solid ride, and hey, there's still another 6 stages to go!!!
The afternoon saw us lining up for our time trial hill climb up the only hill in town... A short, punchy climb known as ANZAC hill. This was a flat-out, one minute death-by-bike that left us coughing up the morning's dust at the top. I came 7th in the hill climb, an improvement on the morning. AyUp team mate Andy Fellows took out the hill climb stage overall in a blistering 44secs!!!
Photo credit: Emily Dimozantos