At about twelve kilometres into the race, I was following in about fifth wheel, when there was an unwelcome hiss as my rear tyre punctured. I pulled over to the left, and the whole peloton waved me goodbye for the second day running. This was my first mechanical problem on the road (I had replaced the bearings in my bottom bracket after the Time Trial in Laura) so I had been quite fortunate up to this point. I used a CO2 cannister, hoping the tyre had sealed, but the Stan’s sealant was spraying out. I repaired the tyre, probably not nearly as quickly as I should have been able to, and set off alone. I hoped I would catch some riders at the Depot at the thirty kilometre mark.
After twenty kilometres I spotted the red and white shirt of Zbigniew Mossoczy, who was running with his bike. His free hub had seized up. I thought he would have an extremely long day ahead. I then passed an Italian female cyclist, who was also fixing a puncture and seemed pretty unhappy with the whole situation. I passed through a rainforest area with a creek crossing and a warning sign about crocodiles being in the vicinity. This was one place I didn’t want to become stranded.
At the Depot, there were a number of riders, and I passed straight through. Ahead, I spotted Kristof, but he was holding his left arm awkwardly and had bandages and blood on his elbow. He had crashed badly, hitting a hole which he couldn’t see for all the dust being thrown up from all the riders ahead. (I later found out that he had needed stitches within the torn muscles of his arm). We turned onto the sealed road and, by this time, our group had swelled to eight riders. With a strong headwind we began to rotate as a pace line. This was hard work, but clearly too much for some, and the eight were reduced to two.
As we started the hundred metre climb to the top of the hill, I passed another rider from the Amy Gillett team, holding his arm across his chest. He was another victim of this day of carnage, and had broken a bone in his wrist. The climb proved tough and it was a relief to get to the steps and the final walk to the finish. The Crocodile Trophy was over.
I finished in fifth place in M2 and 22nd overall. Pete finished 17th and Martin 26th and the Il Pastaio / Rocky Trail Racing Team finished second, only to the Tenni/'s - Cairns Home Loans Team of Elite riders. On final reflection, this has been a great experience and, being my first ever stage race, I have learnt some valuable lessons. I have been able to identify some areas of weakness and this is what I intend to target in my future training. I would certainly welcome the opportunity to tackle one of the many great stage races which are run around the world in the near future.