Wow is it only day two? There's so much going on it's hard to keep up, let alone fit it all into one post. If you, like me have been glued to your screen for the past 36 hours you may have slept almost as little as some of the racers. It's tough out there dot watchers so let's stay focused!
We've seen the front runners smash out a ridiculous pace and cover over 600km in the first 24 hours! The weather has been pretty wild but tailwinds seemed to have favoured the riders at times. All the usual suspects filed into position out of Perth and set the rhythm for others to follow. The seasoned professionals are all used to opening with such a punch as to unnerve their rivals. For the drag race that is Allegaert vs Hall it might not be decided until we are onto the other side of the Nullarbor?
In harder to digest news we have had some big names scratch from the race today. It can be really hard to hit these events with peak form let alone when you have a niggling injury or health issues. Jesse had put so much effort into the delivery of this event and he was really looking forward to finishing it. Speaking to him on Friday he joked that at least now that everything leading up to the race was organised he could relax and go for a bike ride! Whether he finished or not we can all say he's set up what is a truly iconic race! Kudos mate!
Durianrider has also scratched citing injuries sustained in a crash. Being his first foray into ultra endurance racing I was eager to see how he would go. He also helped attract his fans to something them may not have otherwise known about. If he continues to pursue this style of racing further I'm sure he will do well!
Whilst the Facebook page has been out there getting coverage that puts all of the television networks to shame, it's impossible for them to cover all the players and stars! So I'm going to shed some light onto a few lesser known rivalries and some names you might not have considered to come home strong:
The INM (inner North Melbourne) bikepacking posse:
Eoin Gareth and Ben (left to right) are fiercely competitive and will do everything possible to beat each other to the Opera House. They have also done the bulk of their summer training together so it's going to be an interesting showdown to watch. Gareth has the experience of racing the TD, Ben has his youth and awesome pink socks and Eoin has already ridden around the world a few times.
Rumour has it one of these fine chaps is also on a scientific quest to find The Best Potato cake in Australia. They have set up an instagram account for the purpose of the deep scientific research they are undertaking in their quest for high carb food! Check it out, it should get very insightful as we get into SA!
Again I digress. At the end of day two there a bunch of people who all passed through Norseman around dinner who have a chance at the overall minor placings or better still! It's far from over
Jackie Bernardi is not too far behind Sarah and hovering around the top ten. The long flat straights should suit her. She won last years Tour Divide which is sure to give her a boost!
Seb Dunne was doing a good job chasing down Mike Hall in the Tour divide a few years ago when his fork snapped causing him to have to hike out miles to the nearest road. Once he got it fixed he met up with his wife Bethany and they finished together. Seb might start to gain back some ground as Mike and Kristoff duel it out.
Kai Edel should never be underestimated, two decades as a bicycle courier is enough muscle memory to last most other peoples lifetime, he played a great long game in the Trans Am last year and might be playing it again.
Mitchell Luke is a Victorian local who I have witnessed finish with ease some of the toughest Audax events around Victoria, he's been training for this style of ride for a few years now so wish him good luck.
At 10 pm on Day two Kristoff and Mike are about to hit the longest straight piece of road in Australia. Once they leave Balladonia roadhouse it's 147km without a single bend and its dead flat! How far will they push into the night? Will either push onto the 24hr roadhouse at Caiguna? Stay tuned for more insights from the keyboard tomorrow!