Newsletter - 2007 Archive

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Scott and Melissa are now living in Australia. (Not news to most of you.) Scott rode the Flèche Opperman (April 28-29), and shared the experience in an e mail message to a few friends. I couldn't resist sharing it a bit more widely (with Scott's permission of course.) There are some interesting local variations in Audax Australia's rules and traditions.

From our correspondent down under:
Flèche with a Southern Accent
by Scott Gater

Hi All,

Well I completed the Fleche Opperman over the weekend, the Australian version of the Fleche Pacifique. It was run in typically fleche weather-sunny to start with and then rain starting once the sun went down. Some interesting differences with "our" Fleche - all their teams start at the same time - 9am Saturday morning. Thus a good nights sleep is done the night before. Here in the State of Victoria, the finish location is the town of Rochester, birthplace of Sir Hubret Opperman, winner of the 1931 PBP (back when it was a pro race) and past patron of Audax Australia. So the finish is in Rochester with the town's high school band playing as each team comes into the finish area. The local football club lets us use their change rooms to change and shower and then into the footy club for breakfast. Not as nice as the buffet at the Harrison Hot Springs resort, but still a pretty good amount and quality of food for sleep deprived cyclists. Well, not all sleep deprived. See under Audax Oz rules, you can stop along the way for as long as you want. In fact they book the foot ball club in Euchuca (Yeew, Chuk A is how to pronounce it, there will be a test later in Ozzie terms) so teams can sleep there over night. So some folks go gang busters, ride their 340 kms or so, get to Euchuca, sleep for a few or more hours, then get up and leave town at 7 am ( to meet the 22 hour rule) and ride the 26 kms to Rochester.

Not my team, nope, we arranged it so that we were out for the full 24 hours, much to the shock of other riders when we stopped at the football club in Euchuca to get a cup of tea at 6:50 in the morning. When asked where we slept and we said, we hadn't, they all started asking how much mileage we had done. Obviously we must be mileage hounds. Nope just riding in the spirit of the event - it's a 24 event, one must ride for 24 hours, not ride like the dickins for 18 and then sleep.

Our route had a fair amount of hills in it in the first 200 kms, and then once we hit the flat parts, the rain and head wind kicked in. For those of you who thought that OZ was flat - nope, sorry to break down that conception. Victoria is lumpy and getting greener. You cannot complain about rain here. We have had a 1/4 of the rain fall to date that we had at the same time last year, so when it rains, it is a GOOD THING.

This year is the first one that they are running at Easter, in an attempt to make it similar in time frame to France and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere (this is the only fleche in the Southern, for those keeping track.) So here is it held in Fall, sun setting at 6pm, raising at 6:30am, not cold at all, just darker then I'd like it to be.

Other differences - I was one of only two bikes with mudguards - the other fellow is a friend of Melissa and mine and he is an accomplished cycle tourist who has lived for years in Tasmania, where they know a lot about rain. So when it started to rain on our fleche, my two ride buddys watched me ride up to the front and stay there until the rain ended. We had a support crew, Micheal, a son of one of the riders drove around and cooked supper for us late in the evening. It was really neat to have someone cook up a meal, many of the smaller towns don't have anything open 24hours - most places seemed to have something open until 11 or so, but you had to find a pretty major town to get 24 service. All in all, lots of fun for 24 hours riding to go 371 kms. Took a couple days for the gear to all dry out, but at least the bike got washed.

Hope all your Fleche rides are safe and fun.


May 2, 2007