After deciding early this year to enter the Tour de Timor, I looked forward to the trip for a number of reasons. Riding was the 1st thing about the experience, but having Miriam fly post race for a holiday together was a nice thing to think about while spent a lot of time away form home training leading up to the race. The training was made a little easier with the help of Coach Cupcake and regular riding partners such as Al Cook and all the other Usual suspects…
This is a picture looking back toward Dili where we had dinner the first night in town.
Arriving in Dili the Wednesday before the race I was not really that sure what to expect… As this was my first overseas Holiday, there was a lot of sensory overload going on in the first few days!The one thing which scared life out of me and Miriam when she arrived though was the Traffic, (all I will say is I am not sure if there are any traffic rules) ! After having a few days to get use to the weather and fitting in a ride at least once a day I was feeling ready for the race!
Meg and Mark on a nice ride heading out towards West Timor a few days before the race
DAY ONE - DILI TO LUCLUBAR
Arriving at the start line feeling nervous as I knew I would be but I was keen to get going…
The Start was Quick from the gun. I felt good and was able to stay with the main pack for the first 30k in to the race riding a few turns near the front and also trying to stay out of the wind when I could. The entire first day had us riding into a head wind which is not ideal but unavoidable!
I was dropped by a few early groups of riders until I found a good group to work with, and share a few laughs along the way also. We rode together until the base of the last climb of the day which worked out to be about 20k’s long, where I was able to climb a little easier. The night in Luclubar was good, and I liked the town with its strong Portuguese influence, though some catering issues occurred where about 50 riders, needed to stand around waiting for more food to be cooked not getting into bed to about 9.30pm.
The lesson for the day! – Turn up early for dinner!
DAY TWO - LUCLUBAR TO BEACU
The first part of today was like been at home riding up South Boundary Road, though riding through the villages lined with Children and Adults alike cheering you on was a great feeling and was something which we experienced the entire race. From the start I felt stronger than day 1 which was great! The result of this was I left the group I spent most of day one with and rode alone for the best part of the day two. I felt good climbing with the knowledge I was able to push myself harder and I enjoyed the day and terrain we passed through.
This was an amazing old building right on the beach in BEACU
The Camp site at the end of day Two
DAY THREE - BEACU TO ILIOMAR
Today found us riding from the beach to the mountains again. The pace of the race increased in the first part of the day, as we followed the south coast line until we headed inland at the first KOM of the day. I had awesome day riding with Rhino until he needed to stop for, let’s just say a Nature call! The last climb of the day was amazing as we wound our way up, a loose but good climb into the village of Iliomar. The greeting by the locals was very impressive!
Lesson of the Day! - Putting a bit of hurt on the competition before the climb is good to split up the pack!
A church up on the hill in Iliomar, which had a very nice looking accommodation next door. (this meant not a tent and it had some sort of bed)
DAY FOUR - ILIOMAR TO COM
From the mountains to the beach!
The morning started with a short decent followed by a 4 k climb on cold legs. Well they were cold at the bottom but toasty warm by the time we reached the top. The rest of the day was rolling hills and good riding. I was by this stage feeling great and was able to continually ride away from the groups I found along the way, the strength of my day was rewarded by been the 43 ride over the line which was my best result for the 6 days of riding. The Stand out for the day on the bike was riding through Francelina ‘Anche’ Cabral's home town of Los Palos, there were Thousands of people lining the street, the feeling was amazing!
Lesson of the day! - People ride within your abilities! ( As I got to see one very spectacular crash in the last decent of the day.)
Looking back up the beach from the resort at Com.
The President decided to call down to see me while I was in town...
DAY FIVE - COM TO MANATUTO
The start of the days racing was postponed and everyone was made aware an Australian Army soldier who was assisting the organizers of the Tour de Timor had been involved in road accident and was in a critical condition. Once we started we had a 143 k’s of good roads ahead of us to complete before we could relax. The flat early stages of the day were fast averaging high 30’s and low 40’s in big groups. The riding was like this until the 80 k mark where we experienced the first climb of the day. The climb took us into the town Baucau, which is the second largest in Timor Leste. The remainder of the day was good riding for me I spent time riding with a few different groups until getting dropped when I needed to stop for water. Reaching Manatuto we were again welcomed by hundreds of people , but also the news the soldier involved in the accident earlier in the day had died.
This is the site of our camp for the last night on the road. It was really hot as we were surrounded by building on all sides.
DAY SIX - MATTOTO TO DILI
The LAST DAY!
My legs felt a little cooked after a big day yesterday, but once warmed up I enjoyed the days riding. We followed parts of the same route from day one so we had knowledge of what to expect. Once we reached the top of the last climb of the day it was all downhill, well mostly!
Riding Back into Dili, was the most awesome experience I have ever experienced on a bike. There were Thousands of local people lining the streets cheering us on, as I rode most of the streets of Dili with a Timorese’s rider the noise and support for him was amazing!
Back in Dili and Time to Catch up with Tinker for a photo
Meg up on the podium after taking out her category in awesome fashion once again!
Would I do it again? YES!
It was the best 6 days on a bike I have experienced.
Would I recommended it to others? YES!
Like any race there were a few issues alone the way which affected me and many others but over all I think the organisers did a fantastic job, in the environment they had to operate in.
So what’s next?
After completing my first ever stage race I liked the challenge and the concept of this type of racing!
So after talking to Miriam while enjoying a holiday in Timor following the race, October next year will see ride the Crocodile Trophy
Big thanks firstly need to go out to Shannon from Koiled Imports!
Shannon's assistance in keeping my bikes running smoothly is awesome, and meant I again had a race where not one mechanical issue occurred the entire duration of the race.
A big thank you also need to go out to Rach, Coach Cupcake, TR, Al Cook, Andrew and everyone else for the support along the way.