Stage One: Invercargill to Gore 167km

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This week, the Oamaru Mail will be publishing local cycling enthusiast Adair Craik’s experiences through each stage of cycling’s recent Tour of Southland. Pick up tomorrow’s edition for ‘Stage Two.’

Predictably, the weather was unpredictable, yet again – rain, hail and cross winds.

This was going to be interesting to watch, not so much fun for the poor cyclists though.

One of our riders lost contact when a cross wind nailed him and he drifted back. So what happens when a rider drops off?

The convoy can’t usually ‘tow’ up a rider that drops back from tiredness, however the rider may use the vehicles in the convoy, if he can keep up, to get up to the peloton. The convoy provides protection from the wind and if a rider has enough strength, they can work their way back up to the peloton, by cycling between the convoy vehicles and getting protection from the wind.

It doesn’t come without risk, If there is a mechanical ahead or some riders decide to stop for a comfort stop and the front vehicles stop suddenly, the ripple effect is chaos further back, so a rider risks getting squashed between the vans.

After a mass comfort stop or on a steep hill, there will be riders right through the convoy, in front, behind on both sides and you are travelling at 55km per hour, so the danger of crushing a cyclist is always there.

There is also little point in putting gear in the back of the van as inevitably it ends in your lap at the front. This may include twelve spare wheels, tool boxes and food, it gets messy.

The amazing thing for our team was that Ben Johnstone’s father, Lee, was also doing the tour. This was the first time in the history of the Tour, a father and son were competing.

Suddenly our team was all over the television, TV One news and Sky were loving the rivalry between the father and son, It became a race within a race.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED – The team lines up.