Tour de Nouvelle Caledonie Blog: days 4, 5, 6 & 7 – still ALL GOOD!

All good; in bike racing terms meaning without puncture or crash on rougher roads then Christchurch East!  And asides from achieving this goal, I won the time trial as well (my primary goal).  I have had one mishap – a very untimely dropped-chain at the bottom of day 6’s main climb, but otherwise I’ve had a really enjoyable and rewarding time.

Day 4: I was disappointed this day that I did not make first group over the hors categorie climb.  More so because it happened when my own team mate David attacked!  He apologised and I moved on.  A pretty big reason for enjoying myself is that David (and defending champion) and I get on really well.  We’ve spent some time in the car; today we talked most of the way home after the stage.  It also turns out that I did not win the time trial the following day by enough to put me in the maillot jaune so losing time wasn’t the end of the world.

This day I was exposed to the very ‘different’ way of racing here in NC.  We were somewhere like 10minutes behind the front group but it didn’t stop our group of 30 constantly attacking all the way to the finish.  Not fun when you have to play dodgem-potholes all day when following the surges.  A bonus from today is that I won the most combatitive again despite being dropped!

Day 5: was all about conserving energy in the morning stage for the time trial in the afternoon. I did get a little excited at one stage but generally sat in as 2 breaks dominated the day.  I was really happy with my preparation – timing (getting everything done without rushing, on the most part); rest (nanna nap); and warm up (including a massage and a good ride on the TT bike to re-familiarise myself).

I was disappointed however with not going hard enough up the 1k climb in the final 2kilometres.  Difficult when I hadn’t reconned the course but at the end of the day I’m happy, as was the team.  Always good to get a stage win!

Day 6: during a tour, especially one this long, days merge into one so it’s nice to get to yesterday and know recollections will flow more easily!  We reconned the final circuit including a really nasty cat 1 climb (something similar to the Le Bon’s Bay road but shorter) and the goat track for the descent on the other side.  I wasn’t too impressed particularly given my secondary goal of not crashing!  Maybe it was for the best that my chain dropped at the bottom of this climb, as I was feeling great and looking to go with the leaders.  I know if I had just been there or thereabouts at the summit I would have wanted to race the downhill, which fellow New Zealander Karl Murray did to the expense of his scapula.

Today! After both David and I had chain problems up the hill yesterday – as David so eloquently puts in his French accent – “let’s go to war!” was today’s mantra.  So we attacked and attacked and attacked.  I killed myself and was a little demotivated when nothing stuck.  Everyone tells me I’m a ‘marked’ man meaning, despite being 10minutes down the yellow jersey team won’t let me go anywhere!

Unfortunately for my legs (but fortunately for my racing nous for future races – it’s always good to refresh this), I wasn’t able to go with the front 5 today in the penultimate climb, but I was about 7th strongest in the field ascending and I finished 6th today after a late attack (from the chasing peleton – a ‘trick’ I’ve picked up here!).

So tomorrow we have the hardest stage – a 6k climb up a dirt road to a mine, on top of a mountain.  One thing for sure is that this tour is improving my climbing!  I am 12minutes down, a stage in hand and looking for another.  David and I agreed this afternoon on our plan of attack – we go to war!

Final note is on the ‘Island life’: well I wish I had known about the beach we were staying at over the last two nights.  Discovered it this morning – awesomely beautiful!

Tropical wildlife: while spending sometime awake in the middle of the night I’ve finally experienced the allusive lizard (no matter how hard you look after they make their ‘croak’ I can never find them!), gigantic moths, palm trees, but no warm temperatures in the sea, insect bites or ant trails.  Of note to potential travellers – this place is ridiculously expensive.  I’m guessing since everything but the nickel that IS their economy, is imported.  A huge lack of agriculture is evident from this Kiwi!

Thanks for reading


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