Tour Down Under
Thirteen hours and twenty minutes is a long time to hang in the sky from Los Angeles to Sydney to then connect to Adelaide by another flight, but this trip was well worth it!
What a great international, professional, but "down home" race the folks at Jacob’s Creek winery put on in the truest European style. After running six years worth of races now, the organizers have gotten all the bugs worked out and they put on a tremendous show! Needless-to-say, I was impressed and look forward to the possiblity of taking a group down under in 2005 to both see the race and to pedal some of South Australia’s beautiful wine country and a little of the "outback" on Kangaroo Island.
I was most impressed with the cast of characters from the international cylcing circuit who attended this event. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen were there. Those of you who follow The Race will recognize these names as the "voices of cycling" on the Outdoor Life Network. Liggett has reported on The Race for twenty years and Paul Sherwen has worked with him for eighteen of those years. Indeed, I spent a day in a guest car, literally "inside" the race itself with Paul Sherwen as driver and commentator. He even catered sandwiches ("ok guys, you have three minutes to make and eat your sandwiches or the racers will catch us!") I have to say, that day was one of the best non-biking days I’ve had, watching all the action from the inside of a professional bike race!
Graham Watson was there, as "PHOTO 1", that is, the official race photographer. Take a look at his great photos here to get a feel for what the race was really like. Graham is no doubt the most famous of the photographers who cover The Race. Having him cover the Tour Down Under, along with Liggett and Sherwen, surely validates this races as having made it on the international racing circuit.
Among the other events I enjoyed during the several days in Adelaide was a banquet honoring the great "legends" in Australian cycling. Phil Anderson was there, the best know among Australian racers, and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics gold medal pursuit team was there for the event. On Sunday, January 25 the tour sponsors hosted a barbecue and dinner for about 700 participants and guests. I was there to celebrate the successful end of the 6th "annual" Tour Down Under.
The great thing about being in this business, of course, is getting to travel and see some great sights, eat some great food, and plan new tours! So I spent four days on this trip exploring the famous South Australian wine regions of the Barossa and Clare Valleys and the McLaren Vale area. Finally, I’ve been wanting to get to Kangaroo Island, off the south coast of central Australia, for years, so my hosts kindly obliged and took me to Kangaroo Island for two days. Did I see kangaroos? Indeed I did, and koalas and the more rare echidna (a dinosaur-age relative of our porcupine). And I saw some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world (almost as beautiful as my own homeland on the Oregon Coast!)
Stay tuned for a possible ExperiencePlus! Tour Down Under in late January to coincide with the 7th Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under (give us a call if you need more information).
– Rick Price