On the 1st of February 2015 I didn’t go on a day jaunt. The jaunt came to me. It was the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and with the ride taking in the roads of Geelong and the Surf Coast we didn’t have to travel far to catch the action.
For Cadel’s last race we went all out with our set up at the top of the cement works hill. We didn’t have a camper like we did when watching the Tour de France but we set up our retro caravan and strung out a huge sign that we were sure Cadel and the TV camera crews would see.
Kevin the Kangaroo was there. He was famous in France, a hit with kids and the Gendarmerie alike but for Cadel’s last race he was unceremoniously occy strapped to a pole.
Then we waited for the action to start…
Of course action is a strange way to describe watching a cycling road race. It does involve standing by the side of the road for a long time. During this time I often have no idea what is going on in the race and I wonder if it would have been a better idea to stay inside and watch it on telly.
Then the helicopters appear. They get closer and closer. (At this point I always start thinking about war novels I’ve read like “Tomorrow, When the War Began”, but I’m pretty sure that’s just me.) The road goes eerily quiet for a moment as through traffic is stopped. This is followed by a sudden flurry of action as photographers on the back of motorbikes hurry through in front of the riders and get into position to take their shots, the police clear the way and race officials swing by in their sponsored cars. Soon there is the sound of cheering from down the road and the riders sweep by. The excitement only lasts a few minutes.
When they come in small groups I can usually pick out a few of the riders, glimpse a number and piece together who is where in the race. But when the peloton rolls through I usually have to rely on looking back through my photos to work out what the hell is going on. At this point I again usually wish that I was watching it on TV.
The riders came past our spot 4 times and we were so sure that our huge sign would make it onto the television coverage. But when we watched it back later in the evening we realised that barely a corner of our set up made it onto the coverage. But the important things is that I’m pretty sure Cadel saw it.