Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Terra Australis: Day 5 (The Queen Stage)


110kms & 3200m climbing
Time: 7.22
Place: Bright – Mt Buffalo – Bright

Rain from start to finish of the queen stage of the Terra, making a difficult day even more challenging. The objective of the day was to maintain reasonable position for the first three or four hours but leave enough in the tank for the biggest climb of the race up Mt Buffalo. We had a much better start today and were just off the back of the Torq team when we started the ascent on the bitumen climb up Buffalo (we would climb it again at the end of the day from the southern side). The muddy conditions made the descents challenging, particularly one steep, rutted section that we have rode, half skated across.
The scenery was incredible towards the bottom of the climb and all was going well when I snapped a chain (and front derailleur I later learned). It was a reasonably quick fix compared to our tyre issues on Day 2, but annoying. We soon re-passed the teams that had come past when we were on the side of the track and hit the climb up Buffalo – 1000m in just 11kms – in good spirits. Jess dug deep all day and put in a fantastic climb on a gradient that doesn’t suit her and I. We crested the mountain in sleet and cold and were both concerned about the condition of our brake pads. A day of riding in mud and sand is hard on brakes and we hoped they wouldn’t let go on the 10km descent. About a third of the way down we glimpsed our rivals on the side of the road repairing a flat, which gave us some incentive to take a few more risks on the run into the Buckland Valley. We by-passed the last feed zone and caught one team heading up the valley but were caught by a time trialling Torq team (Mark Fenner and Jo Wall). As we turned off the main road and into the pine forests with 10kms to go there were four teams altogether.
The gaps started to open up and though Jess managed to hold a great tempo we couldn’t hang on to the others. We finished the day in close to 7.5 hours – a long and satisfying day in the saddle.


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