Insider: The Pioneer – Day 6 – Snow Farm to Lake Hawea
Riding alongside the majestic Lake Hawea, Alex and Mike feel every pedal stroke. Still cradling the hangover from yesterday’s epic Queen stage, today’s penultimate stage into Snow Farm was a long battle with fatigue and exhaustion.
Although stage 6 was significantly shorter in distance, Cyclist has quickly discovered that nothing comes easy in the Pioneer. Today was not going to be easy. There are no gifts for the riders, it seems, even as the finish line slowly comes into view with tomorrow’s final stage.
“I’ve decided that even the easy days are hard and the short days are long here. Since when does a 60-odd kilometre ride take over four hours to complete?” Alex said.
“One can only laugh – or cry,” he joked.
The stage started out by covering a hot lap around Deans Bank Track. The circuit, with a more structured and traditional track, was an enjoyable change for both Alex and Mike.
“The Deans Bank Track was definitely one of the highlights. The trail is really well built and was a welcome change being able to flow through berms and jumps as compared to 20% gradients and farms tracks we’ve been tackling,” Mike said.
The more traditional and clear-cut trails found on Deans Bank and the lower slopes of Snow Farm, however, began to fade away as the team began tackling the final stages of the climb towards the finish.
Up We Go
“Like all things Pioneer, nothing is as it first appears. Just when you think you’re heading for a groomed dirt road the course [on the Snow Farm climb] ventures off into the abyss and along a goat track that, if you were leading a group of mates back home, would make them very unhappy,” Alex said.
“Alas, this is just standard Pioneer riding. It’s not meant to be easy and the beer wouldn’t taste so sweet if it was,” he laughed.
After completing the sixth stage in a strong position, our Cyclist boys are keen to have a beer, reflect on the week so far, and above all else, get ready to give this last stage absolutely everything they got.
Tonight Alex and Mike sleep in the Pioneer ‘tent city’ for one final time, before riding towards the final destination in Queenstown. It’s been an all-consuming week for the team and tomorrow’s stage is set to be a bittersweet goodbye.
“I’ve never slept in a spot like this, sitting at 1,500m above sea level,” Mike said, “I’m going to miss my orange Marmot tent but looking forward to a real bed that doesn’t require unpacking every night.”
STAGE 6 – Details
Results – Stage 6