Day three and the previous days difficulty had its effect on the field of riders. Of the 43 riders that left Sydney two days ago, 34 riders had made the time cutoff and were continuing on to Melbourne.
The white board showed that the riders were being taken care of by a group of endurance volunteers. A super effort thanks to Peter Makin and crew.
At 4:30 two riders that left Canberra the day before had yet to arrive. With only minutes to spare before Laurel Hill closing time, Wolfgang and Hamid arrive. I don't have the riding times but that must have been a long day for these two!
4:50 and Linton is happily eating breakfast. Within 30 minutes he has ridden away from Laurel Hill, discovered the freewheel hub on his bike is broken, walked back and is now quietly waiting to hear if there are any bike shops or other riders in the area that he can borrow a wheel from. Luckily, a local rider offers Linton his wheel. It's a two hour dent in Linton's day and somehow he has kept it all together, well done on not wasting energy on factors out of your control.
Michael and I spent some of the morning not knowing if we were transporting DNF riders or bikes to Melbourne. There seemed to be a general feeling of a lack of urgency by riders to get back out on the road. More likely that there was no nervous energy left after two difficult days. Bike riders were quietly making their way out of camp, I was glad when it was decided our services were only required for conveying a single bike and we could set off.
Many fast riders left early, those that required more sleep left later. The field of riders were going to be spread far over today's course.
Jingellic was the first quick checkpoint, restocking well here for the 90km slog to Lake Hume checkpoint was important. I don't recall any services between the two points and it was getting warm.
From Lake Hume to Beechworth and we don't encounter many of the riders.
This won't excite anyone on the ride, but I find a sky with clouds to be a beautiful thing, a sky with clouds has character, so in the absence of riders I took photos of clouds. Looking for the next potential place to stop and wait for our riders i thought about how the riders we've seen over the three days looked both on and off bike.
Some stern faces would smile enthusiastically when they saw us, others had their heads dropped and were hurting both on and off the bike. Most riders had a calm look on the bike, others looked like they had a job to do and were getting on with it. But off the bike they dropped the game face and happily chatted with volunteers. There were also the chatty ones that could be heard before they were seen, dealing with the third day of over 300km in their own way.
I finally got my head out of the clouds and we were at Greta Valley Public School where Phillip, Matt and Chris were dishing up food.
Final stop for the day at Lake Nillahcootie Camp. Dinner at 23:00 which was early compared to many of the riders that would be out riding for many hours yet, a repeat of the previous nights efforts.