Friday 18 March 2016

Tour de Coromandel - home again, home again but no jiggety jig, hooray

There's nothing worse than packing up a wet tent [there are lots of things worse than packing up a wet tent] so in view of the predicted heavy rain overnight, the cannier amongst us took the chance to take ours down while they were dry yesterday evening, and spend the night in luxury in the woolshed. No exaggeration: a proper roof, room to move, a real mattress, even double beds if you wanted; plus pool and ping-pong tables, a big screen TV, kitchen and a shower - complete with a set of bathroom scales, even. Who knew shearers had body issues?
There was snoring, however - that's the downside of communal sleeping; and the early risers were hard to ignore. I was neither riding nor walking today, hanging out instead with the volunteers, so I could have had a lie-in, but since it would be under the basilisk stare of several wild boar heads opposite my bunk, I got up too. After all, the cook was up at 5.50am.
Off went the walkers, then the cyclists and runners, and finally the riders, all being checked out by the timer lady, who does nothing else - once the last person's away, she heads to the end point to count them all in again, with not much of a break in between. They were all on the road today, since the rain made the tracks too treacherous, so I was quite glad to be in various vehicles with the volunteers. 
First was Ken the toilet guy, who was also in charge of the fuel stop - coffee and snacks, that is. We had two goes at setting up since the first site, on the beach, was objected to by some locals - and since we were in the spot where there were three Armed Offenders Squad call-outs in the last three weeks, we thought we wouldn't argue. It's Coromandel, after all, at cannabis harvest time.
Back in town, on the back of Steve's quad bike ("That's illegal," said the medic, who's reassuringly particular about rules), we met the first riders home at the pub, where the obliging barmaid served them through the window ("This is actually illegal," she whispered). More and more horses clattered into town, the shovel man turned up, there were marshals in hi-viz vests, a few interested locals, and then, just like that, the Tour de Coromandel 2016 was over. 
That night there was a raffle, some sponsored beard and head-shaving (with a LadyShave! And horse clippers!), lots of thank yous, plans and enthusiasm for the next event, and music till the small hours. Steve had been disappointed that the numbers were smaller than he'd hoped - but the trekkers liked it better that way, and in the end it raised more money for multiple sclerosis research than bigger events. So everyone was happy. Especially Jay - but then, he always is.

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