Date: After five days in the half-hour time zone vortex that is South Australia (GMT +9:30)—which by the way is the Festival State, apropos because the Tour Down Under is nothing if not a bike festival!—I no longer know what day of the week it is, or what number day it is from memory or my own brain thoughts, but I checked my phone and it's apparently Wednesday, January 22nd.
Manual For Speed Team Addendum: Today we were joined by Tubular Tommy, and not only did he drive us around all day, but at one point he graciously held my brand new hat, which hat is 1000% impossible to effectively shoot with while wearing, and which hat is therefore 1000% useless to me.
Stage: BikeExchange.com.au Stage 2
King of the Mountain (otherwise known as Man of the Mountain, or MOM) #1: Golden Grove—Category 2 (9.9%, 1.1km long, 34.8km in)
King of the Mountain (otherwise known as Man of the Mountain, or MOM) #2: Checker Hill—Category 2 (13.3%, o.6km long, 56.3km in)
Weather: Sunny, hot in the sun, warm otherwise. No clouds. Light wind. Pleasant really.
Race Synopsis (According to the Santos World Tour Down Under 2014 Race Manual): "Tourrific Prospect will welcome the race back for the third year in a row and there's sure to be a great atmosphere as riders prepare to contest this stage. The peloton will head into the Adelaide Hills and towards the town of Stirling, known for it's beautiful historic buildings and leafy surrounds. Fans are sure to line the roads and cheer you on as you complete two laps through Stirling before a final push to the finish."
Objectives: See a koala bear, take a photograph of Graham Watson for PROJECT: #grahamgram, photograph the race, document the race, behave professionally, succeed at life.
Today's Retraction: Previously I've stated on multiple occasions that the People's Choice Classic was a "fake stage." That's simply not true and characterizing it as such was bad and wantonly, brazenly misleading. It's much closer to what's known as a "Parade" or "Showcase" Circuit Race. I apologize to the world for my actions, and while I don't deserve it, I can only hope for forgiveness.
Manual for Speed Classifieds: For sale is a Like New Excellent++++ Akubra Coorong in olive green size 59. Used less than once. Still have the bag it came in, hang tags with information about product features and benefits, care instructions and proof of purchase.
First things first: today at approximately 11:56 AM I saw a koala bear in the wild. It was in a tree curled in a ball, and apparently sleeping and/or otherwise reposing arboreal-style. I also learned some things from Tubular Tommy while driving around Torrens Valley Scenic Drive and the surrounding hills in an effort to see the race multiple times:
- People eat kangaroo meat, in fact some supermarkets sell it; it's a bit bloody but otherwise totally edible.
- A Pie Floater is an Australian food dish which commonly consists of a traditional Australian-style meat pie, usually sitting, but sometimes submerged (and sometimes upside down) in a bowl of thick green pea soup. He reckons he was eight years old the last time he ate one.
- A Lamington is an Australian dessert that consists of squares or "cubes" of sponge cake coated first in a layer of chocolate icing and then covered in coconut.
- It's okay to call your buddy a cunt, if you're Australian.
Tommy, thanks again for driving us around today. And we're sorry you had to operate/maneuver a manual transmission Toyota Yaris in and among the hills and rolling countryside of rural Adelaide.
Project #GRAHAMGRAM: Checker Hill
Watching Simon Gerrans ride home, alone, from the finish through a suburban neighborhood choked with post-race-conclusion cars and cyclists, like under the radar-style. Like he was just riding home from work at Subway Eat Fresh, or over to a friend's house to play video games—only he was wearing the leader's jersey and he was sweaty from having just finished Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under. Side Note: The road he was riding up, Ayers Rock Road, is otherwise known as a segment on Strava called Bitch Hill.
Learning (from Tommy) where to purchase the pink, yellow and blue hi-vis, extra tall cycling socks I've been seeing on all his friends and various other hipster cyclists all over South Australia.
A $19.00 burrito called the Americano from Montezuma's on Melbourne Street.1 The Americano is a beef, cheese and bean burrito wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, covered in olives (3 to be exact) and baked in an oven. Montezuma's has this to say on the front of their menu:
The Original Montezuma's, the taste of Mexico. "Your Majesty Queen Isabella of Spain, the siege was successful and upon entering we were overcome by the inspiring decor, the colors of the gardens, and the rooms filled with golden trinkets and treasures. But the most impressive being the food of the Aztecs, the delicate but tasty flavors were indeed pleasing. It was a great feast which was laid before us, we ate our fill and drank the best of wine, we have indeed found the true treasure of this new land."—Hernan Cortes, Conquistador
In an effort to photograph the finish I walked into the finish area and waited with the soigneurs until the finish, and when the racers passed, I photographed them. This is all super straightforward, right? Only I continue to not have credentials (e.g. a green or blue vest, see #upgradecreds) because, well I don't know why. But I didn't. In the middle of photographing the racers as they passed, a member of the security staff asked me to leave the finish area and find my way back to the other side of the barricades.
I attempted to reason with him, stall him, beg him, bribe him, whatever-it-takes him, but he would not be assuaged in regards to the burden that is the security-in-the-form-of-access-regulation of the Santos Tour Down Under.
At any rate we had a civil enough conversation, no shouting or pushing or violence of any kind. He continued to ask me to leave, I continued to bargain with him and intimate that I would leave just after an uninterrupted moment or two to photograph the finish that was, let's be honest, nearly finished at this point. At one point he asked if I had emailed the Media Director, and I was like "Dude, have I ever!" Understandably frustrated he asked for my badge/credential/name information, which I happily provided. He said that he was now forced to bring this altercation event-type deal to the Media Director's attention, on account of the fact that I continued to not leave the finish area, on account of the fact that I was really and seriously truly continuing to try and take an employable photograph or two.
As we separated I accidentally knocked his sunglasses out of his hand and onto the ground, where they skittered four or five feet across the pavement until coming to a stop, roughly between where Cadel Evans and Nathan Haas were then currently standing. I was worried this development, due to prior developments, looked/felt suspicious, but because this dude was a reasonable and kind man, and because it was in fact a bona fide accident, we laughed it off.
And then shortly after returning home for the day, I received this email, reproduced here verbatim:
Thanks for the additional information which I did not had a chance to look at until today. Prior to deciding on whether to allocate green level photo access to you I received a report from our security department that you refused to follow the direction of a security guard to leave the track at the finish line in Stirling.
At the time you did not have the appropriate access credential and, he reports, you were not wearing the orange photo vest that you have been issued.
In light of this we have determined we will not proceed with an upgrade for you at this time. I also ask you to respect the access guidelines for the race from this point forward and follow the directions of the security personnel who are are briefed in line with race policy.
We held a briefing for all media on Sunday to go through the processes and answer questions. I do not recall seeing you at this briefing. Details of the access restrictions were discussed at the briefing and detailed in the media notebook guide provided to you when you collected your credential.
We welcome media coverage and in our experience professional media working on major sporting events are well aware they need to follow guidelines. Those in place here are far less restrictive than at many other events both here and overseas. However if you do not feel able to abide by the conditions of your accreditation please return your credentials to the media office.
To which I responded:
Thanks again for considering my credential upgrade request in the first place, and in light of what happened this afternoon in the finish area I'm just happy you're not demanding my credentials and orange vest back immediately. Which really when you think about it I should be grateful for what I have instead of dissatisfied with what I think I'm missing. Please extend my apologies to the gentleman I spoke/argued with this afternoon in the finish area, it wasn't fair to put him in what was a difficult and awkward position. I feel as though I let my enthusiasm get the best of me, it's not an excuse (though it's true!) but the whole way over here from the United States (it was a 36 hour flight!!!!) all I could think about was being in the finish area and photographing the racers as they came past me on their way to victory. I completely understand why you alluded to my lack of professionalism and inexperience, missing that meeting was inexcusable as its clearly cost me a lot of unnecessary hassle and turmoil. I'm beginning to think I've started to let shooting a couple of Grand Tours, Stage Races and Spring Classics throughout Europe and the United States go to my head! This was a much needed wake up call. Hopefully, this finds you well. I look forward to the rest of the tour and I promise to abide by the conditions of my accreditation—as we say in our country, "Scouts Honor!"
Prospect, Start (0 km)
SKODA King of the Mountain: Checker Hill (56.3 km)
Ayers Hill Rd. Roundabout (approx. 105 km)
Stirling, Final Lap (approx. 128 km)
Stirling, Finish (150 km)
Addendum: A Typology of Cyclists Legs Before Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under
- Publisher's Note: So you CAN get an Americano in Australia. [↩]