Here, all that was fluffy is now slush. All that was white has gone gray. The river has freed itself from its icy cover, and sea birds cluster together and bob with the current. Those who ride their bikes evoke snorts of derision from pedestrians and motorists. They slip and slide in the frozen muck and spew it from their back wheels as they go.

In Australia, a pack of ludicrously skinny men are pedaling their bicycles through the Southern summer, racing each other, while those of us on this side of the planet cling for warmth to burgeoning body fat.

If your boots aren’t waterproof or you’ve opted for style over substance, you are likely sitting at your desk in sodden socks contemplating hypothermia. You raise your eyes to the horizon, looking for some sign of spring, but lower them again. We’re not even close.

And so, it’s oddly dissonant to read about Mark Cavendish struggling for form, to see pictures of the pack sprinting for the line, to even contemplate racing a bicycle right now.

For me, the Tour Down Under is a potentially great race. Picking up from our last Group Ride, Australia is a sports mad country. It offers beautiful countryside and friendly people. The Aussie contingent of the pro peloton is growing and growing. The TDU is everything the UCI’s globalization plan seeks to achieve, planting the seed of cycling passion in fertile ground and tending it carefully.

If we tilt our heads to one side and squint just the right way, maybe we can see the first tendrils of the new cycling season pushing through the earth. It’s a trick of perception and imagination, and one we need desperately to pull off, while our socks are drying.

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International



  1. craig

    Getting my pro cycling fix while waiting for the Boston snow to melt is the only thing keeping me from going stir crazy right now.

    Now if we could only get more than a 30 minute tease 20 hours earlier. By the time Versus “highlights” the stage, I’ve already read everything there is to know about it, as well as seen any relevant footage. It’s as if versus and the STDU promoters want us to lose interest.

    If you know of a live feed stream out on the interwebs somewhere (outside of steephill.tv and cyclingfans.com non-feeds) please let me know.

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  3. Jim

    The dissonance of your title is too hard for me to overcome right now. It’s simply too early for roadracing in my world. My road cycling world is bounded by La Primavera and Worlds, and in years when I’m feeling particularly amped, by Lombardy at the far edge. Right now is the tail end of cross watching season (the Rainbows are on the line and we’ve got one strong American threat in the W’s and a couple outside shots in the Jrs & M’s!) and personally it’s frigid pre-dawn MTB rides to prep for spring racing (probably mostly on the MTB) and avoiding the trainer and the buffet line as much as possible.

    Like the dormant grass I am still waiting for the first signs of spring, and then my road cycling fandom will bloom with the Northern monuments and demi-monuments.

  4. mpres62

    You raise your eyes to the horizon, looking for some sign of spring, but lower them again. We’re not even close.

    Love that line, great image.

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