2001 Schools Tour
It used to be [well at least when I was at school], that the only way to escape the drudgery of lessons was to join the school band. Hell it didn't matter
if you were tone deaf or musically gifted, the acoustics were that bad they didn't know who was in tune and who wasn't. I ended up playing the triangle and
although it didn't lead to a career in music I am sure it helped me [in the end] gain a new appreciation of the class room. It was the fabulous 50's, a new era
just after World War 2 when sport was played after school and on the weekends. Ahhh, the good old days when we would gather round the flag and dedicate our
allegience to some distant monarch. The flag was the focus, the school fife band belted out Waltzing Matilda [that was until I taught them "The Yellow Rose of Texas"],
we drank our free milk and then marched in to the dog boxes they called classrooms. They were the "good old days" when kids were tough and going to school meant
being at school and not out on some fancy excersion. Right? Wrong!! Those were the days when maths could be done in your head and things were far simpler. Todays
students need time to recover from the pressures of achievement at all cost and what better way to do it than by belting up and down the roads on the south coast at the annual
SASSSA Bicycle Express Cycling Tour. Oh yeh!! Forget running around the oval, forget flip flopping up and down the local pool and yes, forget those trips to that stuffy old museum,
the cycling tour is definately the in thing [it's groovey baby]. And so once again we all made the trip south of the city to the hub of cycling, to the land where retirement villages
abound, where pensioner specials run seven days a week, where peace and harmony is only broken by the twittering of little birdies. That is until the tour arrives and then its time
to let those gleeming bicycles rule the roads and a time when anyone over the age of 18 is old while someone my age is ancient. It won't be safe on the streets down south for two days
as the "youngsters" [under the watchful eyes of officials, teachers, a few mums and the odd dad or two] dice wheel to wheel in fierce competition [that is unless you happen to be in
the "A" girls social club division]. So lets get down to the excitement and all the action of two days of madcap racing on the two wheeled machines.
DAY ONE ....stage 1
Did I tell you the tour is very laid back. No! Well if being punctual is your thing you'd better forget it if your on the school tour. It's a tradition for the school bus to arrive late,
for the trailer with all the bikes to still be on the road somewhere, there's never enough officials until all the willing parents are roped in and none of the kids seem to know what school they
come from, what grade their in and whether they have paid or not. That means the tour starts late and everyone from Mr Baird [the big chief] to poor old Mr Cooke [he's the man in the car with two
giant speakers on the roof and a flashing light who keeps yelling "stay on the LEFT side of the road riders"] are convinced that stage two will be that late that all the shops in Victor will be shut
including Nino's Pizza shop where they are expected for tea tonight. Then there are those hard working time keepers led by the Florence Nightingale of cycling Catherine Braithwaite. Yes those time
keeper who have plenty of paper but not enough biro's to write with. Oh yes, did I tell you there is just one time keeper to get the times and the places in each grade. Thats six time keepers and
yes, you guessed it, six grades. Thank god its not raining, that would be the end for all of us. What am I doing? Well I'm looking for the chequered flag so the kids can see the finish line and get
a bit off a buzz if they happen to be a placegetter [there are no winners on the tour, every kid or young person who finishes these two days gets my vote as a winner].
Where was I. Thats right I'm standing roadside on Charles Sturt Drive downtown Hindmarsh Island. The first group off only get 300 yards and there's a prang. Someones bounced off their chin and will
require stitches. The rest of the grades go round and round. The "A"Grade Ladies Social Club lead by Rene` and Lauren are enjoying the first of their four social rides [where do they find so much to
talk about each stage]. This bunch has a rule that they only race the last 400 metres of every stage. Their past the "hey we look good on a bike stage", or the "gee aren't we good lookin" bit and anyway
there aint any boys on Hindmarsh Island, is there Naomi. The "C" and "D" grade boys are all enthusiastic and inexperienced. It will be a miracle if they don't come to disaster. The "A" Men are just that.
The "A" men. Their full of hormones and some haven't felt the nick of steel on their stubble, but they are here to race and thats what they do [and they don't notice the "A" Grade Ladies Social Club either].
The "B" graders are nearly as dedicated as the "a" graders as they keep a watchful eye on each other. In no short time the racings over and its time to head north to the mainland and the time trial.
DAY ONE ....stage 2
Now the Time Trial is called the "race of truth" and many of our schoolies are about to find out that the truth is they know even less about time trialing than they do about racing. Here we are on Airport Road
at Goolwa [yes, it's Goolwa, not Ghoulwa or Goolwah] with all the riders lined up single file awaiting starters orders for the 5 kilometre dash to Middleton. Forunately this will be a short report because Time
Trials are ridiculously boring to most people including the riders. It's not a bad run to Middleton and if you blow up [that is, go too fast, too soon and die in the bum as they say] the scenery is pretty good
and makes it a pleasant ride to the finish line. So how did the "race of truth" go. Well buggered if I know. There were 78 riders leaving at regular intervals. I did get a heap of photos and the results aren't
available till day two so thats all I can say, and then I went home. No I didn't stay at "boot camp victor" and I'm glad I didn't. An un-named person told me that the "A" Grade Ladies Social Club" even talked
in their sleep. Oh no, I can't believe it! Say it isn't so!