Bicycle Network: Ride On magazine
Tour de Flinders
In November 2011, Owen Crombie and 12 others flew in to Flinders Island to take part in a charity ride organised by the Flinders Island Lions Club
I rode my own bike in the 2011 TdeF!!!, what have you done this year?……
But I have never made a 100 in the backyard at Mum’s.
Of course, all the real cognoscenti realise that this is the Tour de Flinders we are talking about.
No, not the Mornington Peninsular, not South Australia, not the Shire of Flinders near Townsville, Queensland, nor Flinders 2529 in NSW.
This is Flinders Island, just off the north east coast of Tasmania, or if you like just a bit south east of Wilsons Promontory.
Easy to get to by air from Essendon, Moorabbin or Bridport, or by ferry from Bridport. How’s this for convenience? Get your bike out of the plane and ride to the hotel in under three minutes!
Now the Tour de France has about 180 starters, and about 165 finishers, that’s about an 8 % attrition rate, and represents about 0.00027% of France’s 65 million population.
It covers 3500km or so or 0.35% of all the paved roads in France. The World Bank says 100% of roads in France are paved (why would THEY care?), but I am fairly sure I found one which was not, they may also be confused by pave (cobbles) and paved (bitumen).
These people are seriously not trying!
The 2011 Lions for Sight Tour de Flinders had between 40 and 50 starters, (they count on their fingers there so they are not sure), representing between 6% and 7% of the population of 700.
A distance of 85km or 42.5% of the 200km of available sealed road was covered, with a retirement rate of only 4%.
And there’s none of this wander round all morning start in the middle of the day stuff: they get rolling by 9am.
This is a tough contest, even though it is not really a competition.
So the ceremonial start is from the front door of the Lady Barron Hall, at the fork in Lady Barron Road just past Barr St, with signal being a “ready , set, go “ call from the Lions Club President, and honorary race referee.
The field sprang immediately into action there being no need for a neutral zone, and the early break away was established within 400 meters as the peloton swept past the Eastern end of the Holloway Airstrip.
At the 7km mark, after passing through undulating farmland, the field had to negotiate the sharp right turn onto Lackrana Road, which with a more northerly direction was straight into the headwind as it meandered through the forest.
The breakaway had built up to four riders as they went past the first feeding station near the Lackrana CFA, coming back into open farmland on the way to the first rated climb, the infamous Col de Martin, a twisty piece of road ascending to 300 feet past Summers Road, which takes you to Stoney Lagoon.
Meantime, back in the field there had been a mass cattle breakout, and the autobus was pursued by about 100 head of determined bovines, that sure brought them back to the field!
The descent to Memarna past the old Summer Camp in the forest brought the field to the 30km mark, and a left turn out of the headwind, which was still boring in from Bass Strait unhindered by the distant mountains of the Wingaroo Conservation Reserve.
A picturesque unrated climb followed through the Darling Range Conservation Area, with a short technical descent to the intermediate sprint into Whitemark, at the 50km mark.
The breakaway were a little disappointed to find the coffee shop shut for Sunday, but fortunately the Team Catering Crew were there to resupply riders with fruit chocolate and water, so with the finish only 35 km away, the riders pressed on.
From Whitemark again there was a gentle undulation through farmland towards the Strzelecki National Park, which was skirted by the major climb of the route the Alpe des Ingineurs, a long and punishing 10 % climb to over 1000 feet.
Lovely views of the surrounding farmland and the ocean out past Whitemark, and then back into lightly wooded countryside for the gentle descent back to Lady Barron.
There were no cow bells, very few blokes with their shirts off by the roadside, and when a car came along as they did every 10 minutes or so they would slow down and wave cheerily to the riders.
The podium finish was very relaxed with a BBQ at Yellow Beach, just a few hundred metres down Pot Boil Rd to the east of Lady Barron, this was real Tour stuff!
Catering on a grand scale for the elated riders and their supporters.
Notes and Disclaimers: the Author paid his own Entry and Accommodation costs, and arranged his own travel from Moorabbin also at his own cost. He would like to thank Furneaux Tavern for an excellent couple of nights’ accommodation, and Flinders Island Aviation services for allowing use of the Holloway airfield and refuelling services. Support from the Royal Victorian Aero Club was invaluable, in showing how to fit bikes and riders into such tiny aircraft.