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Tour of Tahiti by Simon Davies

Logan's picture

By Logan - Posted on 25 June 2013

Simon has sent me over his account of his time while racing the Tour of Tahiti. It gives a great insight into the life of what a PRO must be like. Simon had a very strong ride at the Tour including holding a number of Jerseys and wearing Yellow for a couple of days as well.

Some additional Pics to be uploaded later tonight.

Tour of Tahiti by Simon Davies

Hearing tales from Harro, Kor and Tom Patton from last years race I jumped at the invitation to compete in the 19th tour of Tahiti. My team, La Klinic Du Velo (local Tahitian bike shop)/ TreadStone IT (Sydney's premier IT support company) started a man down after a crash in the battle of the border unfortunately ended Matt Slee's trip before it had started. The remaining three of us, Dion Wilkes from Grafton and Zach Baker the 'Bathurst bullet', were never going to be a threat for the overall win but were all excited about riding our bikes in a tropical paradise and ripping some legs off.

The race consisted of about 15 teams of 4 (55 starters) and was seen by the local confederation as an opportunity for the local riders to test themselves against some invited overseas competition. Racing was competitive, hot (especially for this pommy) and extremely picturesque.

Prologue. 4k flat. When Joel, LKDV owner, offered me the use of his $12k Scott TT bike for a discipline I had never tried I couldn't resist. I didn't do the bike justice with a 10th place finish but the experience was awesome.

Stage 1. About 100k's flat with a sharp 1.5k steep finish. No sooner had the Bathurst bullet and the first break been reeled back in at the 50k mark he then earned the first red jersey of the race by setting off in the 2nd break which wouldn't be caught until the last climb of the day. The 'most combative' jersey might have been awarded for his threat to his fellow breakaway riders "don't bother challenging for the sprint points, I want the green jersey and I'm forking fast!" The threat worked and by the end of the first stage our modest team had the green, red and blue (masters) jerseys.

Stage 2. 110ish k's flat. Having sat in all day on stage 1 I thought I'd have a crack on a stage which would suit me - no hills!. After a few skirmishes I managed to get a gap with another masters rider after about 10k's. With the old blokes little threat to GC the gap opened up steadily and when it went over 1:10 I realised I was in virtual yellow. I called for a bottle from Kor (LKDV/treadstone IT team manager) on his vespa and excitedly told him my good news. The peloton took a while to react and when the time gap stretched out to 4:30 with only 30 k's to go I felt comfortable we would stay away. The last 5k's I will remember forever. Heading back into the capital, Papeete, with police motorbikes blocking roads, sirens whaling, and megaphones blaring, ripping through roundabouts and into town pushing as hard as possible to maximise the gap - how good is this!. It would have to be my most memorable experience on two wheels. I ended up in the yellow jersey with an actual lead of over 3 minutes, the green jersey (having taken all of the intermediary sprints) and the masters jersey.

Stage 3. 100k's flat. Not much to report other than taking in the sights of the world famous surf break of Teahapo'o. It was a weird experience wearing yellow and being a protected rider with team mates busting themselves on the front all day, holding the break in check and fetching bottles on request. I had never been in the position before. It might sound strange but I would have loved to have swapped places with a team mate. You always hear the pros say they couldn't have done it without their team mates and I now have a better appreciation of what they mean. It was a humbling experience to see guys I had only known a few days turning themselves inside out to protect the yellow jersey.

Stage 4. On the neighbouring island of Moorea, 100k with a couple of k's of dirt (Maddog territory) before a hilltop finish. We were warned before the stage that there would be changes to GC as a result of the dirt and so it proved to be. A number of fancied riders suffered flats which would rule them out of the overall win. After sitting in again as my team mates buried themselves the pace lifted dramatically as we hit the dirt. I thought I'd escaped a flat until we got back onto tarmac with about 3k's to go and felt the rear tyre go all soggy. Kor, with a spare wheel, had been caught up in the carnage on the dirt so I managed to plough on for about a km, tyre rubbing on frame, before I could swap it. In damage limitation mode I rode the steep gradient to the finish well and truly in the red. I recall Kor shouting encouragement from his vespa just behind me but by the time I got to the line my senses were failing, my eyes were swirling around my head and I collapsed in a heap. When a Tahitian tv film crew asked me how I felt I dribbled some franglais jibberish which wouldn't have done anything to enhance the reputation of Aussies abroad.

Stage 5. 110km with the last 5 or 6 uphill. Harro and Kor had recommended training on Pretoria parade before heading to Tahiti and stage 5 proved why. Again my team made it comfortable for me for most of the day. Whilst the current 2nd and 3rd place riders on GC watched me Ben Harvey and Aaron Watts from the 2nd Australian team got in the break and impressively rode away and into the top two positions. The last few k's were designed for little people less than 60kg who like saunas. Not me. A serious of ramps ranging from 15%-20% were enough to see me lose enough time to lose the yellow jersey and drop back to 4th overall. I may just have been the most relieved rider ever to lose a yellow jersey.

Stage 6. 110k flat. At last, I was able to ride free of the 'burden' of the yellow. The first hour was hectic as attacks came from everywhere but the right combination couldn't get away. Eventually Chris Aitken got a gap and rode away solo only to be caught in the last few k's before a bunch sprint.

For me the week had been an insight into a pro cyclists world and by the end of it the daily routine, breakfast, bus, race, presso, bus, lunch, massage, sleep, beach, dinner, sleep was wearing thin. How the pros do it over twice the daily distances, bigger hills and for 3 weeks in the big tours I'll never know. They are probably on!

The trip was an amazing opportunity to meet new people, make new mates, see different cultures and spectacular scenery and do something we all love, ride a bike as hard as you can. The tan may be fading but the memories will last a lifetime.

scottknscc's picture

Awesome adventure story Simon!

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