HERALD SUN NEWSPAPER TOUR: THE RACE TO EDINBURGH
A day where our pre-race reportagé preparation couldn't have prepared us for, but a day where it paid to be an unpaid-non-official-cycling-media-bro. A stage, and a day that was truly cooked, and quintessentially Scottish – but despite all the hardships, it was a day where #summerofcycling and the #summervibes would again rise to the top and reign supreme.
I: PRE-WORKOUT BONUS PRODUCT REVIEW
Sir Chris Hoy gave birth to the movement, and it was championed by fellow velodrome lords Perko, Theo Bos and Robert Forstemann. Adopted by our very own Directeur Sportif Harry, it is the "Squats for Watts" and is an important piece in the puzzle that is perfect form. Considering the sun would be shining and the #summervibes would be channeled all afternoon long, we felt it was necessary to hit the gym and get them muscles looking good (or better) before heading out of town for the bicycle races. For this special edition of product review, Harry gives you an insight to the importance of his Converse All-Stars.
Following the words of many spectators who witnessed us quenching our thirst with this iconic beverage: "woah where did you get the Chinotto?" it was obvious that we were the only ones who had planned ahead. When the weather is too warm for caffé latte you have to lean on something else, and what better choice than the bitter citrus drink your Nonna would force upon you as a child. If Peachee rescued days at the Tour Down Under, this wonderful drink by our friends at San Pellegrino saved our Sunday the 7th February 2016.
IV: A LESSON IN HISTORY
1420AD, Edinburgh (Scotland)
In the particularly (and historically significant) chill year of 1420AD King Arthur found himself atop a grassy knoll pondering the deepest thoughts of life. He had conquered all that feared him throughout the British Isles, east through west. Though he had all a man could ever want, it was on a #wavy day where he found himself thinking that the throne he spent most of his time upon could definitely do with a chilled upgrade. Upon making this decision, Arthur hand assembled his finest knights; all chosen for their courage, nobility and cuteness. They were sent on a crusade across the lands in search for the finest carpenter to build him this new seat. Whilst the knights thought this was a preposterous, a truly cooked idea they did as they were told and began scouting lands far and wide for the finest craftsmen.
Amongst the Pinus Radiata forests of Edinburgh, a small scouting group of Knights took shelter for the night in a forest Inn. Whilst wetting their mouths before slumber, the Knights asked the Barmaid of the Inn if she knew of anyone who was worthy of fashioning wood for such an important piece of furniture. She directed them to a small workshop that sat atop a rocky formation within the Edinburgh town limits. The following day they made the treacherous journey to the top of this rocky knoll, and met the fine carpenter who went by the name of Arthur. Having such a soft spot for people of the same name, once King Arthur heard the news he appointed Arthur of Edinburgh chief carpenter of his new seat and demanded that he get to work immediately, with a brief of building a chair that would emanate #summervibes, a chair that would be the most chill seat in the whole world, and that its construction would be completed in time for reclining during Indica season. Needing the silver on offer for completing the job, Yung Arthur the carpenter said he would most definitely be able to knock something up and got to work immediately. Seven days and seven nights of tireless work followed, and on the eighth day the seat was presented to the Knights. They commissioned a local artist to sketch a drawing of the seat, and via Peregrine Falcon it was delivered back to King Arthur's castle. Once his tick of approval was received, the Knights carried the chair for forty days and forty nights on their way back to the castle. It was presented to the King during a large scale ceremony which included song and dance. The King was thoroughly satisfied. Never before had a seat been so ergonomic, so #modern, with such a design that the seat seemed to flow and mould as if it was one with the environment around it. Sitting in it for the very first time, the King declared that he would chill for 7 whole days and 7 nights, announcing that his nation may also participate in the chilling. However it would be after three days and two nights that the nationwide celebration would be rudely interrupted. Art – the king's bike messenger sprinted from his chambers to seek King Arthur in his royal gardens. He was delivering news from Rome – Artorius Caesar had caught wind of King Arthur's seat, and with it the current lack of productivity due to #chilling. It was because of this that Artorius was declaring Cage Warfare on King Arthur's kingdom.
King Arthur, a proud Englishman would not have a bar of this. He would rather see his seat destroyed than in the hands of the Romans, and so in the dark of night he sent his seat back to Arthur of Edinburgh with a short letter:
That Artorius Caeser dude hear about my chair. I'd rather trip in the mud and have someone lower than the upper-middle class witness it, you feel? That is why I have returned to you this fine seat you have built. It needs to be disguised, to be hidden from the Romans in the wake of their impending arrival. It is imperative that it must remain within our kingdom to keep the #chillvibes going. In return I will reward you with one thousand pieces of silver, and have the magnificent grassy knoll your workshop resides on formally known as Arthur's Seat. Just think of the potential increase in work, and free advertising. Anyway, I must depart you to get the last of my chill time on this seat brah. My knights will be carrying it to you personally across a journey of forty days and forty nights.
Arthur, your King.
p.s Isn't it funny we have the same lmao. Small world.
With this new task, Yung Arthur the carpenter used what he could of the seat, and with upholstery produced by his wife, padded with the freshly shorn wool of his sheep a new kind of seat was fashioned. It was a piece of furniture never before seen and it was quaintly called the "couch". Following it's completion, it was hurriedly carried for 38 days and 38 nights by King Arthur's men to Portsmouth, where it was installed in the Captains Quarters aboard the semi built H.M.S Supply.
1788, Botany Bay (NSW)
252 days, and 252 nights after leaving Portsmouth, England – the First Fleet, led by the H.M.S Supply arrived in Botany Bay to the watchful eye of the indigenous owners of the land. Fitting for its name, the H.M.S Supply provides exactly that, supplies – sending them in all directions across the vast new lands. Following the completion of its mission, the H.M.S Supply is sent southward to begin a free colony to be called Melbourne. Upon settlement, the couch is given a position in the middle of the grand lounge hall of Toorak House – the residence of the first Mayor of Melbourne, protected by the largest gate in the land.
1802, Port Phillip (VIC)
A carpenter from Edinburgh named Arthur Jnr. sails into the Port Phillip Bay on a ship called the Lady Nelson. After a brief stop off at Portsea to indulge in the wares of the local Inn, the crew of the Lady Nelson continue to travel along the coast of the Peninsula for the rest of the morning, thus giving an origin to its name. On the horizon, Arthur Jnr. spots a small rocky mountain range, one which looks strangely familiar. Flicking through photos in his pack, he finds a photograph of an absolutely identical mountain. The mountain in the photograph is Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, with his great great grandfathers now world famous workshop perched upon its summit. Overcome with ecstasy, Arthur Jnr. jumped ship with his belongings secured inside a zip-lock bag. He swam ashore and spent the afternoon climbing the rocky knoll, reaching the top just before sunset. That evening was spent carving a sign which read: Arthur's Seat, claiming settlement to the land in honour of his ancestors. Not knowing the fate of the original seat and that it was still very much alive in Toorak, Arthur Jnr. vowed to build a second seat, his masterpiece. It would be in tribute to the Ye Olde English Epic of UFC1420AD (King Arthur & his table of Roundies vs. Artorius Caesar of Rome). The seat was completed, but it's exact location and aesthetic was never revealed. In the following weeks and months, Arthur Jnr. established a well known, and sought after woodwork shop atop the most elevated grassy knoll on this #new Arthur's Seat, attracting business from central Melbourne and other outlying settlements such as Geelong and Inverloch.
to be continued...
V: THE NOT SO GIRL GUIDE
The aim was to create, and self publish arguably the most pointless guide to a bike race in the history of cycling. Considering we were up against the Herald Sun who published guides to the tour itself, the prologue and the final stage, we were certainly up against some mighty stiff competition. This was possibly the first, and definitely the last time Andrew Bolt would feature on the cover of a race guide, and despite their contractual obligations to the Herald Sun we managed to prize away Susie O'Brien, Andrew Bolt and Rita Panahi to contribute their wonderful writing skills. Having caught wind of their "little bit of cash on the side" job, Mark Knight then contacted us about wanting to make a few extra dollars, so we gave him the opportunity to draw up a limited edition Chris Froome x Caillou post card. When we started the Soup Boys we had no idea that journalists and illustrators of such ~high calibre~ would want to join us on this adventure. Thanks to them all we were able to hand copies to Orica GreenEDGE, the Race Director, the voice of cycling Phil Liggett and award Chris Froome with one of our hand cut post cards. But importantly it was the common folk, people just like us who share a deeply entrenched love for summer, cycling and fun that snapped up copies. Of our limited number of guides and accompanying postcards, we were only left with enough to give our friends, and to keep a single copy for when it is nominated for a Pulitzer.
VI: NOT SCOTLAND
So as it turns out the race wasn't going up the Arthur's Seat we thought it was. See we thought that with the very noticeable British element to this years Herald Sun Newspaper Tour that perhaps the race would be heading for a flyaway final stage in the much more Brit-friendly conditions of Edinburgh in the middle of winter. After all it would only be fitting. But alas, a day on the coast with weather in the 30's would greet us instead. Honestly an easy mistake to make, which we're sure you'll agree. Fortunately for us we had a spare change of clothes which allowed us to enjoy the day and blend in with the crowd who were truly channeling the final month of The Australian Summer, and it only got better from there.
Proof that it pays to be unofficial cycling media, we didn't arrive track side until the race hit the Arthur's Seat climb for the first (of three) times, meaning that of the 120 or so kilometres they were racing, only a bit over 30 remained. We took the opportunity to educate members of the crowd upon the importance of the race through the light distribution of our guide, and watched as the race head over the summit of Arthur's Seat. Taking no chances to sit down and relax, the riders took on food and continued on their merry way, descending down the back side, and looping back around to the climb once more – a small circuit that we estimate is about 10-15km in length. The second time around we were stationed down on Rapha corner, having traversed a kilometre or so down the hill, passing bongo drums, free gelati and its accompanying 300m long line, and found Dean Jones nestled deep in the shade of the Rapha tent. As the race came past it offered Harry a chance to cheer on his childhood hero Christoper Froome, something he had never had the opportunity to do in person. Watching Froomey power beyond the reach of any of the other cyclists truly proves that he is the man in the pro-peloton with the MOST panache, deservedly garnering the loudest cheers of Allez! Allez! as he rode past and on his way to a resounding victory atop Arthur's Seat. As the rest of the tattered field trickled up the hill, wheelies were popped, and Crown Lager's were sipped (identities of riders hidden so that they may continue this utterly chilled approach without reprimand). Despite Adrian's confident prediction of Caleb Ewan taking the stage victory he was nowhere to be seen, whether that was at the front of the pack or out the back popping mono's.
Arthur's Seat, despite being the "other one" to "the one" we thought it was, served up a brilliant atmosphere all afternoon despite our rather minor gripes. This was all capped off by a wonderfully charming podium interview given by Froomey who took home the final stage win, and the overall victory. Truly Panache, Truly Chapeau!
FINAL STANDINGS TOP 3
1. Chris Froome (Sky)
2. Damien Howson (Orica GreenEDGE)
3. Jonathan Clarke (United Health Care)
1. Joe Cooper has to get a shout of for his attack on the second ascent of Arthur's Seat. No cyclist should be left daunted by his opposition, including when that opposition is former mountain biker Chris Froome.
2. All of the riders, and there are certainly too many to name who performed their best Danny MacAskill impersonations on the way up their final ascent.
3. Whilst not directly "race related" (and not in THAT way), a shout out certainly must go to SBS Cycling Central for the headline used for this article. As well as the fact they managed to squeeze in the second sentence take a drink.
VII: THE OFFICIAL SEAT
2013, Ascot Vale (VIC)
Ascot Hill, the former residence of the Soup Boys own Adrian is sold for redevelopment. In the confusion of a household parting ways, the enigmatic character only known to cycling circles as Wombo gifted his family heirloom couch to Adrian. During a thunderous night, asleep on this couch of couches, Adrian was delivered a message from Zeus himself. Having given life to not only himself, but the rest of the Soup Boys, he orders Adrian to keep the couch, for it is more than what it seems.
Adrian wakes from his sleep, and following the recital of three prayers, three signs of the cross and the collection of his deep thoughts the decision is made to keep the couch. Upon migrating to Soup Boys HQ, this special couch helped bring the #summervibes to the enclave of Whiskey Hill, a small, leafy and elevated pocket of the neighbourhood of Ascot Vale. It became a place to recline on over countless balcony Shishas and served as the perfect comedown couch. It was on one fateful, potent Porcini mushroom fueled eve where their lives would be changed forever. Feeling like they were behind the wheel of a Saab in 1980's Miami, a limited edition pair of Ray Ban's went missing. The boys searched like they had lost a single turtle, yet came up agonisingly short. Whilst in a last ditch attempt to find the missing sunglasses, they began reaching into the inner sanctum of the couch. It was here that they stumbled upon a small carpenters mark. A crown, the word Arthur written in Curlz MT, and a QR code that opened this link.
They had stumbled upon the original Arthur's Seat from medieval times. It was made obvious that this was a sign for the Soup Boys to attend the race in honour of the history, and the magnitude of this recent discovery. With the knowledge that Australia's own Arthur's Seat was named after its Scottish predecessor, a search far and wide for a seat with a mark just like it was undertaken, but to no avail. It was only following the race, as a British Nobleman posed with his prized trophy that they realised where this seat lay. Like the true king of the pro-peloton, and possibly unto his knowledge, Christopher Froome found himself perched upon the seat built in honour of the late King Arthur, a former ruler of his adoptive country.
*Whether or not anybody else (historian, academic or civilian alike) has made this truly grand discovery we cannot tell, however after taking this roller coaster ride of a cooked adventure we feel the need to share it with the world.*
VIII: GOOD, BAD & UGLY
- Chinotto – for the reasons previously mentioned. What a truly beautiful drink. Nonna's worldwide would be proud knowing we love it so much.
- Wheelie, or as they are known here: Mono competitions. In the same way that videos of Peter Sagan doing them up Alpe d'Huez get talked about years on, yet nobody remembers the days victor so too will we remember those in the l'Autobus sitting it on one wheel up 8% gradients.
- Fish and Chipperies. We love Old Salt, truly, but sometimes geographical location and our levels of hunger just don't fair well for our brand loyalty. That being said the fare at the local store by the Amcal in Dromana hit the spot, especially the chips. We know at least 4 other hands that will raise to that statement.
- The sweet, first kiss of the ocean as we walked in to chest height was enough to make us forget even the harshest pains of the day.
- Scott McGrory for giving his thumbs up of approval for our proposal for a secret fifth stage: a chainless DH race from the top of Arthur's Seat down to the pier via the grassy channel where the old chairlift used to run.
- Road closures which added an hour either side of our ventures – both to the race, and to the beach.
- The free Gelati stand features again, but not for the gelati itself. But for the line. Yes it is summer, yes it is free gelati at an event, but our hearts were dashed the moment we realised how long the line actually was.
- The script certain professional bicycle racers have etched into their brains for their post race interviews. The word: uncharismatic comes to mind.
- One of the best things about spectating bicycle races is the fact that you can get up close and personal to the best in the business. Which means it boggles the mind to see so many barriers up the Arthur's Seat climb. Is there a history of incidents that we don't know about? Because if the Tour de France can make it through Dutch Corner, surely the Herald Sun Newspaper Tour can make it through 3.0km of coastal ascension.
- We keep missing Dan Wilkins at every race, this time all we got was a glimpse of him descending Arthur's Seat at an estimated speed for 88kmph.
- Race suspension, no heat insulation and a fibre glass seat, making the 60km each way journey in the team car not the most comfortable ever.
- Now we are not here to be starting arguments with everyone, so the identity will remain hidden. But to see someone who is quite prominent on both cycling "internet" and formal cycling media throw out insults at a few casual passers by whilst in the social spotlight on Rapha corner...well that has left us with a bit of a bitter taste in at least one of our mouths.
- Sunburn. You see the stringlet Harry is wearing in the photos. Now picture the sunburn on his back. Glorious.
- Whatever went on between Pat Shaw and Peter Kennaugh out on the road. Not necessarily for the actually event itself, because bicycle racing is bicycle racing – we've seen elbows and fists thrown at a local level – but for the Facebook comments in regard to it. A beautiful reminder to not read the comments.
As mentioned just a moment ago, the bad part about spectating a bike race by the coast and in the middle of summer is that the temptation of ditching it all to dip into the big blue is all too great. We had only been atop the mountain for fifteen minutes, but once we laid eyes on the wonders of the bay side beaches of the Mornington Peninsula it was the only thing on our minds. Once the race reached its conclusion, and with hardly needing to convince others we met at a local Fish & Chippery. Following eating our fill, a dip in Port Phillip Bay's majestically blue waters was had in a not too dissimilar fashion to the AFL teams during their morning after recovery (that's post game). Several other stops were made along the way as the temptation of the coast was far too great to ignore. If a "Good" column could be epitomised, if it could be made photographic, well this is truly it.