While most people spent their Christmas Eve with family, friends, or having a drink at the pub, I was boarding a Qantas Airlines flight from Dallas, Texas, bound for Sydney, Australia. At 16 hours in duration, this is the world’s longest commercial flight.
Because of how timezones and the International Date line works, departing the USA on the 24th of December at around 8:10pm Central USA time, means I arrived in Sydney, Australia, at around 6:15am on the 26th of December.
If you can swing the cash, or have a $hitload of airmile points to burn (my case), I cannot recommend Qantas Airlines Premium Economy class highly enough. It is almost identical to Business Class, barring a different seat, and not as much legroom. However, the awesome food and comfy seating mean you can catch some sleep, watch a movie or two, while the flight ticks away.
Some photos below from the flight experience; plenty of legroom, delish vegan meals (dietary choices for everybody), entertainment and endless drinks, should one desire that.
Is the real deal no matter what class you fly. Everything about long distance travel upsets your system. Sleeping, eating and pooping routines are all thrown out of whack. The best way to deal with this business in my opinion, is to adapt your sleeping pattern immediately to local time. In my case, an 11am arrival into my home town of Adelaide, South Australia, means I’d be awake for quite a while.
Time to Assemble the Bikes
Accompanying me on this trip is a laptop, a suitcase of bollocks including cycling kit and shoes, and a Ritchey Breakaway CX bike. I have a road bike too, which typically resides at my dad’s house.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) did their usual search of my bike case, but found nothing too interesting in there. Unfortunately, the rear wheel lost a bit of spoke tension due to being jammed into a case and chucked around by baggage handlers, but nothing a truing key cannot fix (thanks for the help there Rodman!).
Insert eight hours of sleep here.
Day #1 – Chilled out Road Ride
My good mate Rod (referred to as Rodman), invited me out for a ride along the coast of Adelaide, from the seaside suburb of Glenelg, to Outer Harbour, and back again. With jetlag and knackered legs, this is just what the doctor ordered!
This route is a favourite among local cyclists in Adelaide, including many of the professionals who visit, or make their home here. I ducked out of the abode at 6:40am local time, to perfect sunny weather, and temperatures in the mid 60’s Fahrenheit.
I met up with the Rodman led bunch at around 7:15am. Our little grupetto contained another long lost friend, Mark the Doctor. This ride was rapidly turning into a social occasion! Our group chugged along towards Outer Harbour, averaging about 32 – 34km / hr, collecting a rider or two along the way.
We were joined by a lady who introduced herself to me as Anna. We were having a good old chinwag about places we’d ridden, when she made reference to the time she’d raced the track in Colorado Springs. Yours truly put two and two together, and realized this was Anna Meares! I asked her the obvious question… “are you Anna Meares?”, to which Anna replied, “Yes”. I almost fell off my bike. Super nice lady, zero ego, and modest. The consummate professional.
Half an hour later, our bunch was joined by another local legend, Peter Taylor, and his daughter, Carlee Taylor. Carlee is a professional cyclist with the Aussie owned Green Edge road team. I’ve had the pleasure of riding with Carlee in the past; anytime the road tilts upward, prepared to get dropped by her… and, she’s modest too. Tiffany Cromwell also joined our group at the coffee stop, although I didn’t have a chance to chat with her.
Every ride should end like this…
Local coffee shop, seaside town, with your mates. I blew at least an hour at the Europa Cafe, catching up with old friends, talking about life, cycling, jobs and the amazing weather! Southern Hemisphere summer, giddy up!
I did learn that dirt and gravel road riding isn’t well known in my home town. There is a huge network of dirt and gravel roads in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley, which I hope to ride beginning tomorrow. I’ll be doing my best to convince one of the locals to join me for at least a day. I’ll also do my best to document my experiences. I don’t believe anyone has written anything about dirt and gravel down under!
Between my next blog post, enjoy the photo gallery from my LONG travel day, along with a couple of pics from stooging around Adelaide on day one.
Gallery – Click a thumbnail image to see full size (hosted by Flickr).
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