Its funny how things work out sometimes.
I've been ardently supporting and following the TDU since it's inception in 1999. Back in those days I used to give my all supporting my local mates who's ride for the UniSA team. I can count the number of stages that I've missed on one hand and have planned annual leave around the race so as not to miss the opportunity to take some splendid images, ride big miles, drink beer and get a nice tan.
In 2001 I was doing chemo after being diagnosed with testicular cancer for a second time the month before but I still got out there and gave my all. On Stage 2 in 2001 I could only get as far as the foot-hills so I dangled off the Freeway tunnel lip with my signed UniSA banner as the peleton flashed past underneath me. Luke Roberts won that day into Strathalblyn....I kinda like the chances of him doing it again today.
This year I decided not to take leave...save it for the Giro in May, but I still managed a few shift swaps etc so that I could whizz around like a blue-arsed fly and enjoy. Yesterday was the first day I've had to work during TDU week, but being a Paramedic based in Stirling I thought I might possibly be able to savour some of the action.....as I said, It's funny how things work out sometimes.
I was delivering a patient to Flinders Medical Centre just as the Peleton whoooshed by at the end of the neutral zone....they were doing 70km/hr at the time...in neutral!! Bonus for the day I thought :-) We got back to our home station which is just after the KOM point just in time to watch the peleton roll on by again. The breakaway was around two minutes clear at this stage and there was another group of three dangling in front of the peleton containing Timmy Roe and the PACC poster boy Angel. I gave Angel a shout-out as he went past my Ambulance...he turned and gave me a smile...not pretty but I think it was a smile. Angel doesn't have Arty Vichot's charisma as he hasn't really been blessed with handsomeness but he sure does love riding a bike.
Bonus #two...not bad getting paid to watch these dudes ride past :-)
Both my partner and the Student we had riding along were hoked with the fly pasts. They wanted more so I managed to talk them into sitting in the Big White Truck down at the bottom of the hill rather than the air-conditioned comfort of the comfy chair on station....an ooportunist at worst. Whilst Ambulances can normally park where the fuck they like, space was at a premium in all the good vantage points on the two laps of the Stirling/Bradbury loop but my Student managed to bat her long eyelashes at a nice Officer who let us park at a Junction about 800M from the line where just before the barriers.
The break was still away by then but the peleton were chasing hard being led by Radioshack trying to protect Robbie's lead. A colleague lives at about the 300M to go spot (next to the wood-yard) and so I grabbed the Hand-Held radio and chanced my luck at a walk up to a better vantage point for the next lap when my pager went off...damned inconvenient. The tour has it's own Medical entourage and there were Bike Ambo's and Vollies amongst the crowd but there was someone collapsed near the finish line so we were dispatched. My student was so excited at the prospect of driving with lights and sirens up the finishing straight that I almost didn't get the door closed as I jumped on board. We headed up the hill grabbing a little attention as we went past and were directed into the restricted access area...which was a shame as our patient was nowhere near there and by the time I'd managed to fight my way through the crowd and find her, she'd drunk some water and was a lot less whoopsy. I still had to assess her so missed the peleton getting the bell lap but I heard form the crowd noise that Lance had led them through in serious mode.
My patient didn't need transport but I delayed her assessment long enough to get our Ambulance 'stuck' until at least after the race had finished :-) I grabbed my I-phone and headed towards the finish (carrying a little equipment so I could get a little let me to the barriers sympathy) but was once again called to duty and had to listen to the commentary of a finish just metres away...I retained my professional integrity despite the temptation.
Another 'faint' so no need for hospitalisation, but as I headed back to my Ambulance (where my partners in crime had been sitting after 'losing' me in the crow) I could see a crowd up on the hill above the oval. Someone was holdin a LiveStrong Trek above their heads and it was a sea of Black and Yellow so i didn't need to be Paul Sherwen to know what that meant.
Now...I've lost both my testicles to cancer so I feel a small amount of association with Mr. Armstrong but despite my passion for the sport, I'm not a groupie so I've never met the guy in person. I'm more of the kind that would love for him to come for a BBQ or join Tufty on a trek up into the mountains for a few days but I wasn't going to wast a chance to get UCAP was I? We had a chat and shook hands...not quite the same hand-shake as Ballan gave me but the poor sod had just busted his ass for Robbie and was being hassled by a zillion people...maybe I should've introduced myself as 'Flatbagger' :-)
Funny how things work out.
Whilst in the 'restricted' zone...and on a roll..I thought I'd push the boundaries and see how far a uniform can get you even without the necessary accreditation....it gets you anywhere.
Sorry about the quality of the pictures...the I-Phone was more inconspicuous :-)
Day off today but I'm supporting my lovely lady in the Community ride..I took a photo of her racing in E Grade on Monday night..cool pic I think.
BTW. heres a linkie to the Pictures I took on Stage 2