Tour De Chance – Hedge Clipped – Day 2

February 25, 2018

The traditional King of the Mountain was run and won on day two of the Tour de Chance, with the Bulahdelah razorbacks of the Wootton Way challenging the cream of the climbers over a three kilometre course averaging about a 7 per cent gradient.

Punters are still looking for bookmaker “Nifty” Nev Hedge, who was clipped severely when well-backed 10-1 chance Scott Chadwick edged out the 3-1 omen bet, Dave Lemond, and 6/4 favourite Peter Wallace.

The race was cat and mouse up the 210 metres of vertical rise on the steeps of the old Pacific Highway and after pitches of 10 per cent to 15 per cent there was barely a wheel in it at the top. Lucky punters Steve Keats and Cam Taylor have pledged their winnings to the Fighting Chance cause, once they catch up with the fleet footed Nifty!

The 153 km ride from Stockton to Red Head near Taree began with a flat and spirited thrash to Nelson Bay, the dawn breaking in a splendour of pink, lilac and gold aver the flats of Williamtown.

The ferry from Nelson Bay to Tea Gardens avoided ugly miles and delivered the peloton to the delights of the Mungo Brush in the Myall Lakes National Park and a low-traffic ride through paperbark and casuarina forests and groves of banksia. The road was pinched between lake and sea at points, the soft susurrous of sea on sand almost drowned by the whirring frenzy of the cicadas in the morning heat.

This idyll was rudely interrupted at the Bombah ferry, where a 200 metre voyage delivered the riders to a 7km stretch of unpaved rock and gravel, with this run into Bulahdelah punctuated by flat tyres and other mechanicals, wounds salved by a pie inhalation at the local bakery.

After slogging up the great rocks, or Bulla Della in local language, there was a cooling shower for the descent, with temperatures dropping from around 34 to 27 degrees, giving some respite. The 45kms into Red Head included some freeway but all arrived safe and happy to the warm embrace of a cold drink and a Dave Creecy barbecue.

Tour fact : Dave Lemond take comfort than namesake Greg ran third and then second before winning the first of his three Tours de France in 1986 – and never won a King of the Mountain either.

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