And so it came to pass that the cycling division of the mighty Black Fish set out to tackle the gruelling 135km pain-fest that was Stage IV of the 2011 TDU. After months of a monastic devotion to Dicky Spin, hills rides and depilation, the team - Sam W, Alex R, Sam E, Richard W and Finola D - was ready. The night before the ride was long. Each team member could only manage brief moments of sleep, before waking in a cold sweat, terrorized by visions of Checker Hill and strange premonitions of fat men with creepily-bandaged unilateral leg oedema hacking them down.
A warm and still morning greeted the warriors as they assembled under cover of darkness at Dicky's house o' pain. They were soon at the start line in Norwood, and ready for battle.
(A special thanks to former Australian batsman Dean Jones for coming out to see us on our way)
And so the race began....
As with any great adventure, the day brought many and varied tales; comedy, tragedy, heroism. Tales almost impossible to capture with words alone. So instead, we present a summary of the highlights and lowlights of a seminal day in Black Fish history. Lowlights first:
- Finola's flat tyre at the 0.2 km mark
- The entire 8000-strong peloton vanishing into the distance, along with the support vans, police and ambulance, leaving the Black Fish in exactly last place
- The limitless procession of slow-riding idiots who found it acceptable to ride in the right lane so that all passing manoevres required a pact with the devil
- Aforementioned leg Oedema Man's singular effort to prevent at least three Fish from completing the Checker Hill climb
- All the other clowns who, like Oedema Man, sought to prevent any of the Fish from completing Checker Hill (which they have previously proven to be within their capabilities)
- Sam E and Alex R kissing some dirt on Checker Hill
- Sam W crashing into a stationary car in Mt Barker, leaving an attractive sunscreen-smear on the rear window
- Having "We Built This City" by Starship as an (inexplicable) earworm for the majority of the six-hour ride to Strathalbyn
- Other teams with hilarious 'pun' names (examples: "Diff'rent Spokes", "Mud, Sweat and Gears")
- Bizarre sub-zero temperatures at the Macclesfield refreshment station
- Sam E's wrong turn in the final kilometres (and subsequent heroic, but bonk-crippled attempt to rejoin the group)
- The traffic jam in Strathalbyn on the way home
- And not just finishing, but all Black Fish arriving in style, looking fresh (and still pretty), with no fractures or bleeding
- The glorious weather for almost all of the race
- Not being in outpatients
- Rejoining the peloton in Athelstone after giving it a 30-minute head start
- The super work by Katie E and Kate W to bring the heroes home
- Beer number 1
- Beers 2-5
- Richard and Kate's drunken lamb
So, while an additive analysis would have the lowlights outweighing the highlights, in a weighted analysis where "finishing" has a weighting of infinity, the highlights are the clear winners. A perfect day, and another chapter in the proud history of the mighty mighty Black Fish.